Eighty-six days is a long time to go travelling for. Yes, some people go all in and travel indefinitely, but for me, I think I can safely say I have never undertaken anything quite like it — there’s something quite different packing what you need into a suitcase and going round foreign countries away from what you call home.
Of course, doing such a trip is time-consuming and expensive. We spent over a year planning it, looking at accommodation, things to do, places to go. It was a major commitment to undertake planning the trip, on top of trying to complete a PhD. Further, this trip has easily cost at least NZ$17,000, a not insignificant amount of money. That money would have come in quite handy to do other things like paying off some of my student loan or helping to move overseas for a job. Also, to be honest, I could have done with some more money for the trip, to fully take advantage of the time we were there, to experience everything properly — though I still think we experienced a lot.
However, in the course of 86 days, thats just under $200 a day which is brilliant considering that covers everything from food to flights, beds to experiences, and I wouldn’t have changed any of it for the world. Over the eighty-six days of travel, I experienced so many things, some of which I have written about in this blog, things I have immensely enjoyed. It will come as no surprise that these memories will be some of the most treasured that I will have.
Not only did I see giraffes grazing in the wild in Kenya surrounded by their calves, I saw the great migration of animals into the Masai Mara. I saw the gorgeous temples of Angkor Wat, the trees reclaiming the temples wrapping their roots around the buildings. I experienced the gorgeous food of South-East Asia, and the amazing hospitality in Cambodia. I experienced and breathed in the history of Europe, drank the fine wines of France and the sangria of Spain. I saw the beauty of Scandinavia, experienced the British swinter, and the disbelief and fun of Oktoberfest. All of these places, these experiences, are things I now have.
Each place that we went had its charms, and its pitfalls. I think I can safely say that for me, Cambodia and Kenya are the two places I would highly recommend. Both of these places had people with the kindest and warmest hearts, the countries as beautiful as the people. They were warm and enjoyable and I wouldn’t hesitate to go there again. In contrast, I wouldn’t go to Dubai as its sterile in my opinion, the complete opposite of the two above. Its glass and metal, air conditioning and desert. There are much better places in the world.
In South-East Asia, I would definitely go back to Koh Samui and Koh Chang, probably to the same places where we stayed this time. I would probably skip Bangkok — there wasn’t much to do past the temples really for me. Next time though, I would want to add Vietnam and Lao at least to the list — apparently they are amazing. Of course, I would need to add a few days in Singapore to be able eat a whole lot of their food.
In addition to going back to Kenya, spending time in Meru and Masai Mara, maybe volunteering some time at the orphanages, I would have to add Uganda and Tanzania to the list — they looked amazing based on what we saw in the photos from those who went on. Thats in addition to Egypt and Morocco.
I have to say the French were lovely, nothing like I was lead to believe — indeed I think I would love to spend more time in Paris, experience the city more. In contrast, as much as I enjoyed Italy, I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as I thought I would, though whether it was because I was sick I don’t know (I’m hoping it is). I also need a lot more time to explore Germany, Spain, and Switzerland and to visit Greece for the first time, and to enjoy one of their islands.
If anything, this trip has made me realise some things. Firstly, we are incredibly lucky here in New Zealand, to be able to have a working public health and education system, to live in a clean country, and have a great quality of living. It also makes me incredibly glad for EFTPOS — I really hate the idea of cash being king in stores.
Secondly, it made me realise how much I want to see the world, to be able to experience different places, to see the riches of the world in person. Yes you can watch TV shows or you can read about it in books or on the internet, but there is nothing quite seeing the works of art in the Louvre centimetres from your eyes, feeling the warm tropical air on you while you drink cocktails, or plunging towards the ground from the top of a rollercoaster. There really is no substitute.
Lastly, it made me realise how some things are the same all over the world — that good company makes all the difference no matter how bad the place you are is. Sure you may have bed bugs, or cold water showers or none at all, or be sick or have no accommodation, but as long as you can share it all with someone, its fine. We were lucky to have meet some incredibly awesome people on our Topdeck and Intrepid trips, friends that I am sure that will continue to be friends into the future. And I was incredibly lucky to travel with Edd, who was a brilliant travel companion. Thankfully, we didn’t fall out over the trip as so many travel buddies do and I have someone who knows exactly what the trip was like and how amazing it was — something that is sometimes hard to put into words.
I think it is safe to say that I have the travel bug. Plans for the next holiday are already forming in my mind, the places I want to see again or do anew. My next and last post on this blog will be all the things I learnt on my trip, things I wish I had known before, though I guess thats part of the fun — learning things on the go.