I will be in the air en route to Peking one week from today. By Saturday of next week I will be in Pyongyang. I am feeling a combination of excitement, worry and also sadness about the time I will be away. Excitement is understandable, and after the trip is over I will be bursting with ebullient enthusiasm in my travel stories and photo commentary. At the end of October, I will be holding a travel talk at the library where I work. I will choose a couple dozen photos and take the audience on a tour of the DPRK that no westerner, absolutely no one, has been on before. There are hundreds of North Korean travel blogs already, but the trip I am going on is the first ever of its kind. There will be a question-and-answer session afterward. I will be excited about this trip even a month after I arrive home from Pyongyang as I plan my travel talk.
What however has sunk in over the last week is a growing feeling of sadness. This is caused by the separation anxiety I am going to experience when I am cut off from everyone I know, not only by the largest body of water on the planet, but also from the connection of cyberspace. Since I will be arriving in China first, I have no desire to check E-mail so soon after leaving home. I can do without being on-line for a week, no problem. Last year Mark and I had no Internet access, or rather, we chose not to seek Internet access while we were in Cologne and Frankfurt. While I was in Halifax with Mark last month I was off-line for a week as well, even though I could have checked my E-mail when Mark and I were at the local library. I will miss the experience of blogging on-the-spot about my travels as they happen, yet when travelling in North Korea, you have no choice in the matter. Since I will be flying back to Toronto so soon after my last day in Pyongyang, I don’t want to check E-mail in China when I know that I will be home in a very short time. Why spend my last day in China sitting in front of a computer? Therefore for the duration of my entire trip, I will be unreachable. For those who ever try to contact me by phone, this is nothing new, since I never answer the phone anyway. What I find more worrisome is that I will have no communications outlet for myself. That’s a bit frightening, yet it also drills home just how reliant I am on the Internet for E-mail. No one will hear anything from me until I touch down back in Toronto.
Once I turn off my computer a week from today at 9 a.m., I will be unreachable until I get back home again on September 22.