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Anyone who’s known me long enough will know that I’ve been looking forward to this week since, what feels like, the dawn of time.
I write this post in the Heathrow lounge. Tonight, the other half and I get on a plane to another country and we won’t return to this one again until September next year. In other words, we’re going travelling.
FINALLY. For so long, this date was still 18 months away, still a year away, still six months away. Now it is finally actually really here. This thing that I’ve been planning for two years, that I have a gargantuan spreadsheet for that would crash most computers, is happening today.
On the note of planning, I’ve really gone for it. The spreadsheet I speak of has a row for each day of the circa nine months we will be away. What started off as a simple budgeting tool has grown into a colour-coded, multi-layered, multi-columned behemoth. It is the life of two people for most of the next year in cell form. If Google ever goes down, we’re screwed (that can’t happen, right?).
I am acutely aware that at some point, at least once, things won’t go ‘according to plan’. But I had to occupy myself with something for those last few months I was at my previous job and hating it, and having a spreadsheet open is pretty good at making it look like you’re doing work.
The longest I’ve been out of the country at any one time has been three weeks. I’ve only ever visited three places outside Europe (Japan, Sri Lanka, New York), and it took me a year to convince the other half that he also wanted to go (and by convince I mean ground down, with repeated “well I’m going with or without you”. He couldn’t exactly let me go on my own. So he did eventually give in. I think now he is finally excited).
To say neither myself nor my boyfriend have ever done anything like this before is spot on.
In terms of the route, and all things going well, it should go something like this:
That is India, Taipei, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Melbourne, New Zealand, Hawaii, USA, Mexico, Canada, China. The common denominator is the food. These are all countries I’ve been desperate to try the local cuisine in. That, or there are some serious landscapes and volcanic activity to get weak at the knees over.
I can’t say I’m looking forward to living out of a bag for all that time. I also fully expect the plug to be pulled on my guts at some point; I have an A4 sized ziplock bag stuffed with immodium. No doubt we’ll lose something important, get on the wrong train, be conned out of a few bob, and the rest.
But I suspect these blips will be outweighed by all the good stuff: meeting new and lovely people, seeing incredible things, eating sensational food. I’m also really looking forward to the more mundane things, like not having to do any washing up, change bed sheets, or hoover for nine months. Each big wins in their own right.
So that it doesn’t sound like I’m on one massive jolly (which lets be honest, this is), I’ve given myself some writing commitments. In terms of the blog and keeping those who are interested up to date, I will be writing a weekly post, published on a Sunday, that will cover the week just gone.
It will be brief and formulaic (I don’t want to bore), covering things like, my favourite meal, something I’ve learnt, an insider tip, photos, and so on. Also expect some hotel and restaurant reviews, and whenever time permits, I’ll try to write some more feature-type stuff. Sunset and palm tree shots will be kept to a minimum, but if I do become insufferable, I expect someone to tell me.
Right now, here in the lounge, it hasn’t really sunk in. Whilst we’ve packed up the house, drained the water tank for the first time since we moved in, and given everything worth anything to our parents (so if a scallywag does break in, the most expensive thing to steal is the toaster), it just feels like we’re going on a normal holiday.
I’m going to miss this city – I’m already looking forward to the time I see it again. By the time we get back, I believe the London Underground will be running a 24 hour service. Which means no more extortionate 2am Uber fares home.
Which is just as well, because I’m going to be severely broke.
Friends, family and London, we will miss you. See you in a few X
Week 0: Gone travelling. London – see you in nine months
Week 1: INDIA – Mumbai → Goa
Week 2: INDIA – Bangalore → Mysore → Wayanad
Week 3: INDIA – Kochi → Allepey → Kollam → Madurai
Week 4: INDIA – Pondicherry → Chennai → Mumbai
Week 5: INDIA – Varanasi → Udaipur → Jaipur → Delhi
Week 6: TAIWAN – Taipei
Week 7: CHINA & VIETNAM – Hong Kong → Hanoi
Week 8: VIETNAM – Sapa → Hanoi → Ha Long Bay → Hanoi
Week 9: VIETNAM – Hue → Hoi An
Week 10: VIETNAM – 6 day / 5 night motorbike tour from Hoi An to Da Lat
Week 11: VIETNAM – Da Lat → Nha Trang
Week 12: VIETNAM – HCMC → Mekong Delta → HCMC
Week 13: CAMBODIA – Siem Reap (and Angkor Wat) → Phnom Penh
Week 14: CAMBODIA – Sihanoukville & Koh Rong Samloem Island
Week 15: CAMBODIA – Kep
Week 16: THAILAND – Chiang Mai
Week 17: THAILAND – Songkran Festival in Mae Rim & Chiang Mai
Week 18: THAILAND – Bangkok → Koh Phangan
Week 19: THAILAND – Bangkok
Week 20: MALAYSIA – Penang → Borneo
Week 21: AUSTRALIA – Melbourne
Week 22: NEW ZEALAND – Auckland → Rotorua → Turangi → Whanganui
Week 23: NEW ZEALAND – Wellington → Nelson Lakes → Hanmer Springs → Christchurch
Week 24: NEW ZEALAND – Lake Tekapo → Mount Cook → Queenstown → Milford Sound
Week 25: NEW ZEALAND & USA – Queenstown → Hawaii
Week 26: USA – Hawaii (Big Island) → San Francisco (Oakland)
Week 27: USA – San Francisco
Week 28: USA – Los Angeles
Week 29: MEXICO – Mexico City
Week 30: MEXICO – Oaxaca
Week 31: MEXICO – Mérida (plus Uxmal and Kabah)
Week 32: MEXICO – Tulum (plus Sian Ka’an Nature Reserve)
Week 33: USA – Postcards from Washing DC & Cape Cod
Week 34: HOME (LONDON) – The best and worst from the past 8 months – Part 1