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Oakes Weekly - July 1, 2004

On the Road...
Oakes Weekly July 1, 2004      
Written by Oakes

Vancouver, CANADA -

As you read this, it’s Canada Day. With the fourth being Sunday, it’s a long weekend across North America. For some reason, I have to work Friday. It’s okay, though, because I’m done work on Tuesday. Call it Freedom 29. No, I didn’t win the lotto, but I am fulfilling a dream. I’ve quit my job, left my apartment and I’m going on the road for a while. Right now I see it being five or six months, ending up in Vancouver for the holidays and after that I really don’t know.

In a nutshell, the trip started as Bamberg to Bangkok. Finances were tighter than expected and I scaled the trip back, rearranged some things, so now I’m starting in Poland instead. Still going to Bangkok, but I amended the China portion of the tour to what ultimately I hope will not only be more budget friendly but more interesting as well (in other words, no Beijing, no Shanghai, but more Yunnan and Sichuan).

Over the next 5-6 months, what you’ll read here is more or less the beer portion of the trip. I’ll have other things to say, too, but mostly I’ll tell you about the beers I meet along the way. I start with the famous dunkel at Spiż, in Wrocław, and all the pilsners and Baltic porters I can find. I will trek to Krakow and Zakopane, hopefully squeezing a trip to the Tatran Brewery in Poprad, Slovakia into my itinerary (I love their Pilsner).

From there it’s up to Lithuania to beer hunt with omhper. Lithuania has the richest beer tradition of the Baltic lands, and we’ll be investigating the farmhouse breweries of the Birżai region. From there I have a quick stop in Riga, Latvia before heading to the Ratebeer European Summer Gathering in Stockholm.

After that ludicrous display of drunken revelry, it will be off to Finland, where more revelry is scheduled as I do my best not to lege the Finland team – or at least tbone_, Jukkabro and jutuahol. I’ll also be staying on Diplomat’s farm, enjoying various sahtis, vintage Trappists and lambics and perhaps a little lapin á la Kriek de Ranke.

From there, I’m headed for Russia, with special focus on Moscow’s many brewpubs and the hop fields of Chuvashia. From there, beer takes a back seat to the sights, tastes and smells of Central Asia, China and Southeast Asia. Believe it or not the latter is expected to easily eclipse the former two on account of Bangkok’s brewpubs, Thailand’s Belgian beer bars and Angkor Extra Stout. It all comes to a close on a deserted beach on the far southern end of Ko Samet.

In preparation for this trip, I’ve spent a lot of time researching not only places to stay and transportation connections, but also beer places. I’ve uncovered a brewpub in Wuhan, China, for example, as well as one in Samara, Russia. It’s still a little bleak in the middle, and I’ll probably go about two months with a decent beer. But the way I see it, I’ll have so much material from Europe that there will be a long backlog of articles. So the Oakes Weekly will continue unabated even when I’m in places with no good beer and no Internet.

For more real-time travel updates, I have started a page at <a hrefhttp://www.virtualtourist.com>VirtualTourist.com. Search under user name RB_Oakes. I will be keeping a journal of my trip there, as well as adding updates on various cities that I visit. I won’t add updates from well-covered cities like Krakow, Stockholm or Moscow, but I will be covering some of the lesser-known places. I expect to be a little more up-to-date with this than with the OW, which will be backlogged due to the beer preoccupation.

For practical purposes, I’m still editor of Ratebeer, though I’ve delegated some of my day-to-day work. I will still be able to answer questions, especially when I’m in Europe. When I’m rafting down the Mekong, maybe it would be best to try someone else! Definitely if it is an urgent matter, talk to Bück Dich.

So even if I don’t always sound excited about things (so I’m told), I am very excited about this. I’ve never done a trip of this size before, or anything close to it. I’ve never been to Asia, either. So this is going to be one amazing experience. And with the Oakes Weekly and the Virtual Tourist log, you’ll be able to follow along.


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