(My God, that title photo came out a bit bigger than I thought…)
Six months ago, on March 6 2014, I set off from St Pancras on the mid afternoon Eurostar to Paris to start my journey to Japan and back, a journey I estimated would take me a year. I’m now 6 months in. So what’s changed? Have I “discovered” myself yet? Am I bored? The answers to all this (and more!) await you in what is my second attempt at interviewing myself. One of my ex-colleagues, Jo, said she liked the first one. So its her fault.
Q. How are you? Must be pretty relaxed after not working for half a year?
A. Well I need sleep. I feel like the aftermath of some horrible US Army experiment in which they try to work out how much sleep a person really needs. And working out where to go next or what Visa’s are needed and where to get them can be a bit stressful, (especially whilst I was trying to learn Russian at the same time) but I’m not going to kid myself, most of the time I get to wander around where I want and without having to think to much about life’s responsibilities. Its still awesome.
Q. So your not going to be coming back early then?
A. Definitely not. For one thing, I could probably count the number of times its rained where I’ve been on one hand. In fact I could probably do it in Russian…
Q. So its 6 months in, are you where you thought you would be?
A. Simple answer to that is….. No. To be honest my draft plan had me meeting up with some friends in Thailand in August but I spent that in Kyrgyzstan, so its fair to say I’m a bit behind. Oops. Also I planned to see Tajikistan but Visa problems coinciding with a security conference they are hosting in Dushanbe has meant I have headed straight to China. The flexibility around my route and how long I spend in places has been a definite highlight of the trip. I’d probably be much more stressed if it wasn’t.
Q. So when do you think you will get back?
A. Given my awful track record with time keeping so far there doesn’t seem much point in giving an answer to that question, I wake up each day thinking of new places to visit and I’m now pretty much resolved to try go all the way round the World rather than turn back at Japan. Spring/Early Summer 2015 maybe? I’ll probably have to pop home by then to drop of laundry at least…
Q. What’s been the most important thing you’ve packed?
A. The snood/neck thing I can be seen wearing in most of my photos. They were a leaving gift from colleagues at work. I lost one in Budapest and left one at home, so I’m down to my last one, but I wear it most days either as a way to keep sun of my neck or to stay warm. I think its basically taken on the role of comfort blanket…
Q. What do you wish you had packed?
A. A spork.
Q. What do you wish you hadn’t taken?
A. Well in hindsight I wish I had brought new shorts from the start rather letting sentiment get in the way and bringing the shorts I took round most of my previous travels. They might have lasted longer that way. They were being sewn back together before I even left Paris and by the time I was in Turkey they were increasingly being held together with duct tape…
Q. Travellers like to talk about discovering themselves and posting inspirational photos with quotes on Facebook. What have you discovered?
I still wouldn’t put milk in it though.
Q. Top 3 experiences so far?
No.3 Red Star Belgrade v Partizan Belgrade (read about it here)
No.2 Seeing all the monuments and ruins in Uzbekistan. In particular the courtyard of the Kalyan Mosque in Bukhara. (thoughts on Uzbekistan here)
No.1 The crazy post-apocalyptical feeling ruins at Buzludzha. (many more photos here)
Q. How come the drowning story didn’t get in the top three? That’s everyone else’s favourite.
A. I hate you.
Q. What are you looking forward to most for the rest of your trip then?
A. Wow. Difficult to tell. I mean of my top 3 experiences so far, seeing the monuments of Uzbekistan was the only one I planned in advance to do. I am though looking forward to seeing Hạ Long Bay
and hopefully seeing some friends in China and Hong Kong. Actually getting to Japan will be awesome also, even if I do now think that I will now try to go onwards to N. America rather than turn around and come back via Russia.
Q. Why didn’t you keep the moustache?
A. I did think (for all of 15 seconds) of keeping it, but seriously, I think I made the right call…