Any blog written on a Eurostar back home to see you family for the first time in 17 months whilst suffering from lack of sleep and being simultaneously high on caffeine and a bit drunk is unlikely to be my finest work. So forgive me if the quality of the prose in this post is somewhat lacking.
It’s very difficult to put into words what I feel at the moment because to be honest I’m not entirely sure yet. I still struggle to comprehend some of the places I have visited. The truth is intensive travel doesn’t actually give you too many opportunities to reflect on what you have just seen as you are all too often off seeing the “next” thing. Hopefully after a week of sleep I will be able to look back on everything in greater detail.
When I left I thought getting back would bring with it a sense of achievement, but for the moment at least, there doesn’t really seem to be any. Maybe it’s because whilst some of my destinations and travel choices may have taken me along the road less traveled, they have none the less, been traveled and written about extensively. Its not even as if this is a new thing from the age of the internet. After all, lots of people have travelled around the world without flying. Marco Polo, Magellan etc etc. Hell, Phileas Fogg managed to get round the world in 80 days whereas it’s taken me 511. (although a hot air balloon clearly counts as flying so maybe he can be discounted)
Everything has gone swimmingly. There have been no disasters. No thefts, no missed trains or buses. Even the crossing of the Caspian Sea which I feared might derail the whole thing turned out to be almost disappointingly straight forward. And the things I have seen… Well putting them into words when I have tried to write about them in my blog has been a permanent struggle and I am hardly likely to be able to do justice to them in some all-encompassing summary of them here. I will simply satisfy myself by saying that the world is truly a thing of breath-taking beauty.
And so for the most part are its people. As the news continues to be full of stories about the depths of evil and selfishness to which some people can fall, I honestly feel strengthened by my experiences which have near universally shown people from all walks of live, race and religion to be fundamentally bloody nice people. I have never been more convinced than now that despite whatever perceived cultural differences we are essentially the same, living our lives the same way and sharing many of the same dreams.
Well, for now, that’s pretty much all I have to say, except perhaps an apology and some thank-yous. Apologies are primarily to my parents for doing something which at the end of the day is rather a selfish indulgence. I shall endeavor to stick round the UK now for a little while at least…
Thank-yous are due to many, many people, essentially everyone I’ve met in the last 17 months! I don’t think I’ve ever truly felt like I was traveling alone despite only having had traveling companions for about 20 days out of the last 511. I’m enormously grateful to all the hints from those who had already gone before me, particularly in Central Asia. And I should in particular like to thank all those who showed me around their home towns and let me on local secrets, and apologies to those who I know would have extended the same courtesy if only I had managed to make it their town or city.
Finally thanks for reading the blog too. It’s never exactly been swamped with readers, but it’s certainly attracted more than I might at first have thought and its often felt like a connection with friends, old and new (as well as to a few strangers!). I’m not sure what I will do with it long-term, but I will definitely add a few more posts in the coming weeks.
But now I’m home and its time for one hell of a lie in…
Welcome back Dan!
Glad your travelling went so well – including perhaps the hardest & most formidable part of it all: getting onto a Eurostar and it going all the way through to London without it being delayed by a failed train in front, illegal immmigrants at the tunnel, or a an “operational incident” this side…
Starting several months after you, we’ve followed your travels with great interest. Your tips helped us across the Caspian Sea, and we are currently in Malaysia. So glad you were able to persevere and complete your dream trip! I know your folks are happy to have you home safely. Thank you for sharing your experiences!
Thanks Karen! Still feels weird to be back at the moment but good to hear from people who are still out there! If you make it to Malacca keep a look out for the very brightly decorated (mostly with Hello Kitty and tinsel!) cycle-rickshaw type things, blaring out Chinese and Korean pop music as they go along! – the most surreal transport option I think I came across!