So decision made, ticket booked and pants suitably cr***ed. I have decided to start my 7 month odyssey with six weeks in (drumroll)………INDIA.
Birthplace of 4 of the planets major religions; Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism and formerly under British Empirical control, India now has the second largest economy in the world fuelled by a population 1.2bn. These things, combined with huge disparity in wealth, chasms between social class and an infrastructure working way beyond its capacity have created a society that is both beautiful and terrifying to me in equal measure!
I have absorbed all the warnings and horror stories aimed at inexperienced travellers starting here. It seems you haven’t been scammed until you’ve met a taxi driver in Delhi or a ‘freelance’ tour guide in Agra but there is just so much to see and experience.
UPDATE: there have now been two train fires in as many weeks in India. Both incidents occurring in the air-conditioned sleeper cars which are to be my primary mode of tansport. If my research is correct over 90 people died on the Indian rail network in 2013 alone. I find myself worrying about this more and more as the days tick by; I have to keep reminding myself that 91 out of the reported, 18-25 million daily journeys taken is not a very big number at all
It seems so far from a comfortable, Surrey existence that something tells me dropping into the middle of that chaotic way of life must force you to find some kind of inner-peace. Sink or swim, mend or break, either way India will define the whole trip. In fact the only downside I can see right now is that I may never want to leave!
After India I fly to Bangkok, landing on the 19th April, my next scheduled flight is on the 1st September…from Bali to Brisbane! So I have a huge chunk of time with which to see Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, a ‘quick drop’ into Malasia and finishing with Jakarta, Bali, Lombok and the Gilli Islands.
Or if you’re my Father, a larger period of time which will be marked as successful if I manage to not get, mugged; lost; sold into slavery; a tattoo from an infected needle; any one of Malaria, Polio and the Ibola virus; have my bungee cord snap (I certainly will not be doing a bungee) and shack up with a Bangkok LadyBoy.
As soon as I land on the 19th April I’ll be hopping on a plane bound for Myanmar, home of the 2nd Century CE Plain of Temples and a host of other cultural and culinary delights. The plan is still very loose after this – visa logistics make it easier to do the return flight from Bangkok to Yangong (formerly Rangoon) as a lay-over rather than activating my Thai visa on entry.
I want to immerse myself in different cultures and experience the diverse ways they look at life and the world. I have and still am atrocious at seeing other people’s points of view, I’m hoping some added insight will give me the perspective needed to do so in the future. That may come from the Indian Ashram I will visit, it may not.
I will be avoiding the main cities for the most part, spending just a few days at a time and travelling by bus, train, boat and bicycle. Accommodation will be homestays and hostels, so if you’re looking for recommendations on Boutique hotels please look away now.
Blogs over the next few weeks will concentrate on planning and packing for a long trip. The best sources of information on anything from flights, accommodation, budgeting, and equipment purchases all aimed at helping you sort the wheat from the chaff and me to fully commit. The internet is an amazing tool but it can also obscure the more relevant/correct information.
Once I leave it will be all about the people, places and the reality of this big wide world and a few pictures with my new camera.
So if you made it this far, thanks and until next time!