East Timor is so untouched it is a travellers dream; we had morning tea with the UN Pakistani peace keeping contingent and lunch with the President of the Democratico Party while he was on the national election campaign trail. We’ve seen a wild orang-utan in Borneo and stayed in a Bidayu tribe village high in the Borneo mountains who in a couple of years will be moved due to a newly completed dam. In Burma we took a boat down the Ayeyarwady River, visited more temples than we could count, rode in very squashed pick up trucks and on the back of motorbikes and flew through a monsoon storm.
In Mongolia we bounced around in a Russian Jeep, rode camels in the Gobi Desert, stayed with nomad families, rode half-wild Mongolian horses and drank/eaten every yak, camel, horse concoction you can think of. In the Indian Himalayas we survived one of the world’s most dangerous roads to get to Ladakh, a piece of Tibet outside Tibet. We also rode an elephant in India and gazed upon the Taj Mahal. In Bhutan we travelled through the Himalayas and admired the chillies and the willies. In Kathmandu we’ve checked out some UNESCO World Heritage Sites. And of course we’ve seen Mt Everest.
We’ve survived every type of climate from heat, humidity, to monsoon rain to snow.
We’ve met soon cool people, both local and not, and benefited from the kindness of strangers numerous times.
We’ve slept in a heap of different places and taken all manner of transport…
Different places we have slept:
Hotels/Guesthouses – 31, Backpackers – 3, Catholic convents – 3, Beach House – 1, Nature Lodge – 1, Homestays – 1, Night Buses – 3, Gers – 7, Camping spots – 7, Buddhist nunnery – 1 = 59 in total
Number of nights of beds not like concrete/hard ground = less than 10 and half of those were in Bhutan.
Flights – 19 (to home), Taxis – 22 (everything from mini pick ups to mini vans to battered old cars), Concrete Trucks – 1, Buses – 33, Hired 4WD – 1, Metro systems – 2, Monorail systems – 1, Boats – 10, Ferries – 2, Minibuses – 2, Private Cars – 4, Pickups – 5, Rickshaws – 3, Car and driver – 2, Jeeps – 2, Autorickshaws – 4, Russian Jeep – 1, Motorbikes – 3, Horse and Carts – 3, Bikes – 1
We’ve eaten in countless restaurants and only got properly sick once. We’ve de-caffeinated after not drinking coffee for nearly 2 months (proper coffee, where you can get it, is too risky and instant coffee is just too awful to contemplate).
It’s been epic!!
However, we are sick of hotels and we’re sick of eating out. We’re looking forward to not having to negotiate the price of things, to not getting touted or hustled for business or a higher price. To not having to play money games, e.g. breaking the big notes, rejecting and palming off the scabby notes, juggling dual currencies and trying to convert everything back into NZ$ and balancing how much we need with having none left as we leave the country.
We’re looking forward to fresh air and clean streets. To food we know. And meat, as we stopped eating it in Malaysia after being given bad chicken and bad beef – both in nice restaurants (we ate neither) and seeing meat and fish being old in way too many markets. To salads we can actually eat (often washed in the local tap water so to be avoided), to juices and shakes we can drink (milk and water based), to fish and seafood which apart from a couple of tins of tuna in Mongolia we haven’t touched the entire trip.
To music that we know; it’s amazing how after weeks of being away, you hear a familiar song, and you recognise it instantly and enjoy hearing it so much it makes you break into a grin, even when it’s the cheesiest, crappiest song ever.
Finally and most importantly to the people that we know and that know us. To whom we don’t have to explain who we are or where we come from. That have our stuff in their garages, spare rooms, driveways and sheds. That have read this blog from start to finish even though it is just full of waffle and things we want to remember when we are old.
It’s time to go home.
But don’t even bother to ask if homelessness and unemployment (for one of us) for 4 months away was worth it- read the opening paragraph again, go read all the rest of the blog… and we skipped winter, you know. Whatever comes next we have seen and experienced things that will stay with us for life.
One final tip: never take on a trip your oldest undies with the intention of binning them before you head home. When you do your own laundry a lot you end up hanging them everywhere, and it’s so not cool.
Over and out.