The 8 month long trip I took last was supposed to send me off to Australia to milk cows or something for a year or maybe two, BUT careless (if not extravagant and unnecessary) spending, redundant drinking (good work liver!) and the arrival of a certain little monkey back home (hello Albie, my gorgeous little nephew) had me feeling all a little travelled out and longing for the comforts of my own bed.
So I hopped on a bus..and into a tuk tuk, then on a train, and then the sky train and finally a plane and 36hrs later my right fist found itself clenched against my own front door..in hippie pants..in the cold..in December, all in the name of surprising my Mum with a unannounced appearance.
It was really good being home. I had a long soak in the tub, a nice stretch and roll around in my big clean bed and a big mummy bear hug before heading to my sisters to meet my nephew for the first time (he was already 5 months old by this point). The festive period was a wonderful time to come home, but also an expensive one!
By January 1st, however, the novelty of home comforts had worn off, the bitter cold had truly set in and it was costing me almost as much to get to work as I was making at work. So, with a huff, and a puff, I started putting together the itinerary for my next trip. And here we are.
My first stop is a place that is a little off the average backpackers radar. Mongolia – best known for it’s vast rugged expanses, nomadic people and Genghis Khan – struck me as a place I’d love to explore after seeing Jimmy Nelson’s incredible photos of nomadic Mongolian eagle hunter’s in his book ‘Before They Pass Away‘.
However, it always seemed a little inaccessible to me, especially as a lone traveller. And then I recalled The Mongol Rally – a challenge run by The Adventurists where teams race the 10,000 miles from London to Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbataar, in a vehicle with an engine size of 1.4 or less. The challenge got me buzzing, I was so keen to put together a team, find a suitable car at the bottom of a scrapyard, brush up on my tyre changing skills and head for the ‘Stan’s. The more I considered it, the less appealing it actually became. The trip wasn’t going to be cheap considering all the visa’s required, petrol, accommodation, car repair costs and the fee to get the car shipped back to London- that’s if it even makes it to the finishing line! And although I’m certain the journey wouldn’t be one you’d forget in a flash, I don’t like the idea of racing through so many beautiful countries, with little chance to explore.
The ‘Stan’s are firmly on my to-do list, but for now I’m going to skip to Mongolia where I will spend one month volunteering on a ranch near the Gobi desert in return for food and accommodation, I’m so excited to embark upon my first workaway and stay with a local family in a traditional Ger (round, felt covered tent).
Admittedly, China has never been high on my wish-list, but with a train running directly from Ulaanbaatar to Beijing (taking a painstaking 48hrs) it would be silly not to. Also – who skips the opportunity to cuddle baby pandas??
Tibet has been in mind for a long time, the tight entry restrictions always put me off. I have recently read the photobook ‘The Tibetans: A Struggle to Survive’ by Steve Lehman, an American photojournalist who spent years documenting the Tibetan struggle for freedom from the Chinese. Tibet today is one of the most repressed and closed societies in the world. After more than 60 years of occupation, Tibetans still resist China’s rule and defy its oppression.
Like Bhutan, it is only possible to visit Tibet as part of an organised group tour. You are required to hold both a Chinese visa and a Tibetan permit.
Hiking the Everest Base Camp trail is the prime reason I will visit Nepal. I’m also interested in how the Nepalese are getting on one year post earthquake. If I like it here and feel I can be of use, I may stick around and volunteer.
I saw the beaches, the backwaters and the Taj on my last trip to India, this time it’s all about the North. The mountains, the spiritual ashrams and the colourful culture of Rajastan (we were briefly introduced, but I feel there’s more to be said). I plan to spend the longest time here – about 3 months, and maybe longer if I decide to volunteer!
Tropical beachy paradise! Although this will probably be the most holiday-esque of all my propsed destinations due to it’s talcum powder beaches, clear waters and gushing waterfalls, it’s probably going to take a bit of effort (and more money) getting around, as it’s an archipelago made up of a few thousand islands!! I will treat the Philippines as a holiday from my long “holiday” before cracking down to work down under.
Thankfully, a working holiday visa is pretty easy to come by for the under 30’s, and the wages are good! I plan to spent at least a year in Aus, recouping funds, eating shrimp straight off the barbie and adhering to some sort of a routine – something I actually long for when on the road for such a long time. I’m actually keen to do the farm work which will allow a second year if I wanted it.
The rest of the story is unwritten from here, but i can see it going something like this: New Zealand, Fiji, L.A., Central, America, South America, Africa, The Moon.
If anyone has useful tips, warnings and recommendations from any of these places, I’d be really grateful to read them. Equally, you can drop me a comment just to say Hi. I like Hi’s too.
*None of these images were taken by me*