Those were the days! Okay. So yes I was just thinking about it and I realised it has been over 10 years now since my last big trip. My last totally solo trip. 2011 was the last time I did something close to ‘Round the World’, although technically I didn’t go around the entire globe so I guess I can’t claim it as such. But I did visit three continents, and umm… let me count in my head here… eleven countries I think it was, which actually compared to previous long trips in 1999 and 2004, is a pretty small list of countries.
Those were the days. Going from country to country, crossing borders, meeting people, being amazed, new lands (actually only half of the countries were new to me) and you know – that feeling of freedom. Of course, back then I didn’t blog religiously, which frankly was GREAT! Something less to worry about and fill my time. Now I am planning a bit of a dream trip…. Nothing so long, and you know, I’m aiming for second half of 2022 probably at the earliest, and I realise I will probably have to devote a day here and there for doing blogging and vlogging too. Which kinda might turn it into a working holiday in many respects. Although I like the idea of once a week taking a day off from travelling to write and edit. Already, even though there aren’t even vague guarantees that the world will be open to us then, I also worry that I won’t be able to find WiFi with the right speeds to upload videos lol.
To think that 2011 today reflects a ‘different time’ seems in some way ridiculous. A whole decade has past! Life is so different now, I’m married, I work around 40-45 hours a week (which I never did before 2011 so I don’t know how I saved for such a big trip). I was happy with most cheap singles and even was still staying in the occasional dorm room – mostly in the United Kingdom. Oh and I didn’t travel with a mobile phone! I didn’t have data, or roaming. It was possible I think, roaming at least. But I would leave home without my phone now. Actually I didn’t have a smart phone until 2014! You rarely see anyone travel without a mobile phone nowadays hey? Even though the technology was there back in 2011, you just didn’t see people living connected to their devices like you do today.
I flew a number of airlines, I can’t remember all of them but I flew Swiss Air from London to Cameroon, and I flew China Southern a number of times as well as Air Asia. Oh an Spring Airlines, a budget domestic carrier in China, I flew them Shanghai to Xi’an which was the most memorable flight of the whole year because we were stuck on the tarmac for over two hours and the passengers got hostile towards the cabin crew who got down on knees to beg for forgiveness from the passengers. Very surreal.
This was my first trip to Central Asia, and as followers of my blog will know, this quickly became one of my favourite regions of the world. From the bizarre Astana (now Nursultan), hiking in European-esque mountains in Kyrgyzstan and then through the heat and desert if Uzbekistan, I was introduced and fell in love with one of the world’s less talked about regions.
I fly Air Baltic from Tashkent to the UK, a basic smallish jet on an overnight flight, where I realised it’s nice to have a bigger plane for flights over 5 or 6 hours. And then a quick night or two in London and I was flying to Cameroon for nearly three weeks. I’d hoped to get to Gabon also but in the end felt it was better to devote the time to just one country. Another country I actually had flights to which I cancelled was South Korea.
I had planned a short stay in South Korea and then a flight to Hong Kong, but when I was in Vietnam the tsunami and Great Tohoku Earthquake hit Japan, only a couple of weeks before I was due to arrive there. I was due to fly in and out of Tokyo I think. I felt maybe Tokyo was a bit far north and maybe too close to Fukushima. Anyways, my plans changed and changed again over those weeks and flights were cancelled and dates changed, and I left SE Asia a few days later and travelled to Kansai airport and started my Japanese discovery in Kyoto.
After the wonders of Cameroon I flew back to the UK and had a very Doctor Who related time there for nearly a month. Highlights included five days in Oxford and also discovering the Welsh capital of Cardiff. Then to Luxembourg, Germany and France – biggest memory is being in Lyon where it was around 40 degrees every day, and as much as I loved Lyon, well, boy it was hot. And I went to a riverside pool for a swim and they wouldn’t let me swim in my swim shorts, I had to buy a pair of swimmers instead!
Also I earlier met my wife on the trip, so I returned to Japan to spend a few weeks there with her. I mean, we got married in 2012 so she wasn’t my wife at the time, obviously. And then I headed to Georgia – the company Teach, Learn, Georgia paid for the flight from Tokyo which was nice.
Then the last three months of the year were spent teaching in a small village in Georgia, which was an amazing and at times bitterly cold experience. It was unseasonably cold in November and we saw quite a bit of snow. But all in all it was a brilliant experience. And then, again paid for by the company, I was able to fly home to Melbourne a couple of days before Christmas. The flight went through Urumqi Airport, which I’d already been through, on China Southern. Decent airline I guess, not the friendliest or most comfortable. Took five flights during the whole trip with them making them my most used airline!
And since 2011, although I’ve been places and had more adventures, I haven’t travelled this way again. But that’s the way it goes I guess when you get married. You have to ‘adult’ as some call it. I have still managed 6-7 week trips a couple of times since, and some shorter ones. But nothing like this. Do I miss it?
Such is life! May the Journey Never End!