Saturday, 1 April 2006

Planning the dream with a new blog

This is the first post of my travel blog. The intention of this blog is to hold a record of my travels and associated photos. So here I am, April fools day 2006. Newcastle Utd have had an uncharacteristic win against Spurs (3-1) while I have been thinking of what to write here.

First a little bit of background: I'm 32 and I've been scrimping and saving for years to fund a global travel adventure that's been a dream of mine for sometime now. I love travelling and I've already visited around 30 countries. I love meeting fellow travellers from around the globe, like-minded folk with an adventurous spirit. I'm the kind of guy that can stare at maps for hours wondering what these places are really like. Is Mount Fuji really that conical? Do you really get short of breath trekking high in the Andes? What is the Gobi desert really like? Are the Thai beaches really that beautiful? Is the squalor in India that bad? I yearn to find the answers with my own eyes.

There are other reasons for my itchy feet. I joined the Royal Navy from school in 1991 and left submarines in 2001. On balance I enjoyed my time in the RN - plenty of variety. In contrast, since leaving I've had countless jobs and not held any of them for more than one year. Unfortunately, I have a very low boredom threshold and a mind that craves constant stimulation and fresh experiences. Working in an office environment does not provide this. Furthermore, I find the whole work concept absolutely soul destroying. People arse-licking their way up a corporate pole. Office politics etc. Nepotism. I'll face this crap when I grow up and have kids, only then will I relinquish my present freedom and become a wage slave!

So, a few years ago, I decided to concentrate all my efforts on realising this dream. This effectively meant I had subscribed to living like a tramp for two years saving every penny I feasibly could. I've spent many (albeit enjoyable) hours planning and researching the trip. This has involved trawling through travel websites and forums for tips, ideas and advice. My endeavours finally appear to be coming to fruition as the departure looms - I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and it's getting brighter everyday. I plan to leave on the 12th June 2006 - only two more months to go and I'm very excited - in fact I can't seem to think about anything else. The first leg of the journey is a £1 bus trip from Newcastle to Aberdeen - beat that!

I have just purchased the last of my vaccinations (£280 ouch! The price hurts more than the jabs) and organised my Mongolian visa. I still have to sort out my Russian and Chinese visas. I've paid for my trans-Siberian St Petersburg to Beijing train trip. I've sorted ferry tickets to the Shetlands, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and Latvia.

My house should be sold by the end of May and I finish my Post Graduate Certificate in Renewable Energy at Newcastle University next week. I've opened a Nationwide Flex account which doesn't charge for overseas withdrawals. I've also opened a high interest online savings account. So everything appears to be on track. I'm currently trying to sell every possession I have because my mantra is Possession is Theft!

So where am I going? Well I don't really have any solid plans as such. I'm going to go wherever the wind blows within the framework of a loose itinerary. I plan to travel for around two years spending around £20,000 in the process. I feel extremely lucky and privileged to be afforded this opportunity, very few people in the world can undertake a journey like this. 

I want to use as few flights as possible - primarily for environmental reasons and secondly just for the hell of it. My 'loose itinery' is: Ferry to Shetland - Faroe - Iceland - Denmark - Sweden - Latvia. Overland to Lithuania - Estonia - St Petersburg - Moscow - Siberia - Mongolia - Beijing. Ferry to Japan - South Korea - Okinawa - Taiwan - Hong Kong. Overland to Tibet - Nepal - India - Sri Lanka. Fly to Thailand. Overland Cambodia - Vietnam - Laos - Malaysia - Singapore. Fly to Phillipines. Indonesia - Australia - NZ - Pacific Islands - LA - Mexico - South America - Antartica - Africa.

Like I say - nothing is really fixed in the above list. I aim to do a 'Teach English as a Foreign Language' course in Thailand as I fancy working in Taiwan and learning Mandarin Chinese on completion of this trip. My other personal goals are to climb Mt Kilimanjaro, travel across both the Arctic and Antarctic circles, step on all seven continents, spend a month in Tibet and see Everest base camp, sleep in a jungle, spend a month chilling on a beautiful Pacific island and generally leave the spirit crushing monotony of Western life for a while.

Watch this site for fortnightly'ish' updates. Ciao.

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