For those not familiar with computer terms: FAQ stands for “Frequently Asked Questions”, a collections of questions often asked about certain topics like how to use software or hardware. And ideally accompanied by an answer. Then sometimes also called Q&A, meaning “Questions & Answers”. I selected FAQ for good reasons: I don’t always have answers to some of those questions I have often been asked in the recent weeks. Let me try it anyway:

What are you actually doing there?

I am about to set out for backpacking in China and other Asian countries. Meaning: All I have is in a backpack and I try to live on small budget to be able to see as much as possible before I am running out of money. To be honest: Money is by far not my largest concern. But using simple means of transportation and lodging also means to get a lot more into contact with people, especially locals and other backpackers, than if going all the time by plane and sleeping in 4- or 5-star hotels.

My backpacking experience is small: I know how to pack a backpack (which is more than some other newbies know!), thus, I am content with just 50 liters, which includes a lot of eletronic equippment like this laptop. But I have never organized my trip day-to-day without a detailed upfront plan.

Where will you go?

Don’t know exactly…one of those backpacking things I need to get used to. But I certainly have some ideas and hopes. And they are: China (QingDao, YanTai, DaLian, TianJin, BeiJing, DaTong, Xi’An, Lhasa (a bit vague at the moment), China’s south-west like KunMing, LiJiang, once again YangShuo), Taiwan, Vietnam, a bit of Cambodia, Thailand (just to relax at the beach), Buthan. And if I am after all that still not yet exhausted, then I would continue via Malaysai, Singapur, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, to the planet’s most happiest country: Vanuatu!

How long will you be travelling?

Oh…if only I would know that…would have made it simpler to choose the health insurance.

I would expect that China alone takes a minimum of 2 months, likely more if I want to enjoy it, even more if there is unexpected trouble like this Tibet thing. So we are talking about 3 months, maybe 4 in total. I’ll tell you once I’m back, OK? 😉 Also depends quite a lot if I can stand this type of life for so long. I’ve never done it before. But now’s the chance! 😉

Why now?

I have been in Shanghai for 2.5 years on a project of my firm. That was highly busy time, I coudn’t even make use of it to learn much Chinese. And Shanghai is not China. But certainly I got quite some insights, just see posts tagged “Shanghai” for details. And I started to like this country.

I was expected to stay on the project for 1 or 1.5 years. After 2.5 years I finally managed to roll off, as the last remaining German. And then I thought my time has come to make use of all my collected vacation. I put 3 months of Chinese classes on top of my so far quite limited Chinese knowledge and started dreaming…

You speak Chinese?

Well, a bit. Chinese is not exactly difficult, in fact, it is the simplest language I have so far experienced. But it is at the same time so completely different to European languages that even with a lot of effort progress is slow, especially when it comes to learning vocabulary as all “words” are entirely different and cannot be deducted (unlike learning English as a German, where many words are similar). The fact that Chinese uses nice, but sometimes complex characters instead of roman letters doesn’t make things easier either…

So in fact I can come up with very simple conversation, but it stops as soon as it gets interesting. I should be able, though, to get to all places and order most of the things I wanna have. Busses, trains, planes, hotels should not pose much of a difficulty. As long as people don’t ask a lot of questions, that is… 😉

I am sure I will learn a lot in the next 2 or 3 months… 😀

How long, did you say, are you on vacation?

I have vacation until the end of the year.

What…that’s 7 months of vacation! How can you afford that?

3 things play a role here:

  1. My company is so kind to allow so long absences. This is part of the culture of Accenture: It has always been (and hopefully stays to be) possible to take a break as it is very well known that our job is a hard one. And during project time it can be partly difficult to get vacation as the project plan dictates life to a certain extent. There shall be some kind of incentive hidden in the hard work. This is possible as just normal vacation (like I do it know, see below number 2) or even without being paid (that is then called “leave of absence”).
  2. I had collected so much overtime that in fact I had not taken any single day of regular vacation until this year’s March. All other vacation, flybacks, or days off I could “pay for” from my overtime account. That means that all regular vacation of my last 7 working years had accumulated on my vacation account. And that’s nearly sufficient to have off until year’s end.
  3. To make things a bit more comfortable—just in case I start to like travelling so much that I stay abroad even longer— and to have something left after I return I even reduced my contract to an “80% countract”, which basically means: 80% working time, 80% salaray. I don’t work, but it likewise means that I have to put in only 80% vacation time. This effectively lengthens my time off, too. Certainly, I get only 80% salary on the other hand. Should be sufficient at the moment…

So in conclusion: I have worked hard to be able to afford it!

I envy you anyway!

That is allowed 😉 it won’t cause me feeling bad, though. And it’s not exactly a question, is it? 😀

Do you keep your Frankfurt appartment?

An often reappearing question. And the surprising answer is: Yes, I do. It is actually quite comfortable to return home and find my own place, no need to rely on friends or family being available. But the true reason is two-fold: I never expected to be gone for so long. And I was too lazy to get rid of the appartment when it started to become obvious how long I would be away from home.

I do not maintain a car, though. And rarely ever did.

What do you take with you?

Not much. As said, a 50l backpack plus a small day pack must be sufficient. See here for a picture of what’s in.

Categories: AsiaGeneral Infos

Originally Created: 06/02/2007 12:33:56 PM

Last Edited: 06/02/2007