10 Years Since the Last BIG ONE

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.

Me on Sentosa Island Singapore 2011, my first stop

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.

Spring Airlines boarding in Shanghai, just before our two hour plus wait!

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.

A view of Kyoto from the tower

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.

Colin Baker – the Sixth Doctor at an event i England

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?

HELL YEAH.

No explanations for this one.

Such is life! May the Journey Never End!

14 thoughts on “10 Years Since the Last BIG ONE

  1. BBQboy

    Ha! You made me laugh with that last one.

    There’s pros and cons to solo trips. Solo you can do what the heck you want which is great. And you can eat fast food and stay in cheap hotels. Its kind of fun sometimes. But I also remember many trips where I got kind of wistful seeing couples and wishing I had someone to share the experience with. So today I much prefer travelling with my wife (although a couple of days to myself is always nice 🙂 )

  2. Wow, you had quite the epic trip in 2011! I went to China/Taiwan in 2011, just before starting university…it’s incredible just how time flies by, doesn’t it? While travel internationally is still very limited, things are continuously improving, and I’m sure you’ll have something lined up in 2022!

    1. 2022 i think will still be domestic Rebecca for me, I dont think theres any chance the borders here will open for at least another 12 months if not more. and I want to see that things are a bit more stable in terms of closed borders and lockdowns before embarking on what I hope will be a truly epic journey in 2023…

  3. There are many ways to travel, which can vary over time by adjusting to other life variables. So moving from Canada, where many people have a three-week paid holiday, to a situation in France with an eight-week holiday allows for other choices to be made. But the most important is the curiosity to look beyond the horizon.

    1. EIGHT week holiday? I knew they were generous there, but WOW! At my job you get, in theory, 5 weeks per year (the standard here is 4 and thats what I get for my second job) however, if you work more hours beyond your contract you earn more leave, and you are not obligated to take that five weeks in the one year, so hours can add up and I’ve been stockpiling for 18 months now and am looking to do so for the next 18, take a short holiday here and there whilst its not possible to travel overseas for Australians.

      1. I don’t know all the details yet in France, basically it’s also 5 weeks plus 3 weeks to compensate for the fact that the 35 hours per week is exceeded without overtime payment. Part of it could be simply paid or capitalized to add to the pension or take a long break for a special project (going to see my family in Australia is not a special project).

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