Back home in Brisbane after our year-long journey
26.05.2011 - 27.05.2011 20 °C
We made it! One year onwards and we finally made it home. I still can't believe we travelled 69,609km (or 43,255 miles). That's more than one and a half times round the globe! Ok, so we may have flown some of that, but the stats don't lie. We travelled to 23 countries, took 77 buses, 23 trains, 10 ferries, and that's not including taxis, trams, tuk tuks, bicycles, horses, elephants, camels, metros, bamboo train, bamboo raft, cable car, moped, junk, funicular train, Mag-Lev, long-tail boats, helicopter, Cessna 182, Russian Furgon van and the back of a few trucks. Oh, and we might have even walked a few kilometres too.
Now that we're back, the most commonly asked question is, "What was your favourite part?" Frankly, it's too damn hard to answer, so I thought for our final blog entry we could answer questions like, "How many beds did you sleep in?" - 172, but who's counting? So I hope you like it. It's been a pleasure writing this thing. We've loved hearing how people have followed our trip and we don't mind in the least that you've all lived vicariously through us for a year. Hopefully we can all do it again in the future.
1) Top three places?
Matt - Easy! Mongolia, Victoria Falls, Serengeti National Park.
Annette - Too hard so I'm going to cheat. Top three cities - Hong Kong, Moscow, Stockholm. Top three natural wonders - Gobe Desert in Mongolia, Victoria Falls, Mt Everest (seen from 5200m, the highest I could go without dying from asphyxiation). Top three historical sites - Ankor Wat in Cambodia, Great Wall in China, Plain of Jars in Laos. Buy me a beer and I'll tell you more.
2) Most stressful event?
Matt - Getting locked into the airless space between two carriages by the train conductor whilst trying to get an upgrade from Hard Seat to Second Class Sleeper for Annette. Read more...
Annette - Trying to get through a road blocked by landslides in Tiger Leaping Gorge and having to scramble over boulders while being pelted with falling rocks and heavy rain. I realised how totally useless I am in a crisis. Read more...
3) Coolest night out?
Matt - Local Brewhaus followed by a live music venue in St Petersburg.
Annette - Singing a karaoke duet to Aqua's Barbie Girl at our impromptu wedding anniversary party on a Ha Long Bay junk in Vietnam. Read more...
4) Smile moment?
Matt - Playing with a group of 3-5yr old village kids, making toys for out of balloons, sand, pebbles and bamboo, whilst the rest of our tour went shopping for spices (Zanzibar).
5) Laugh out loud moment?
Matt - After our car breaking down for the third time on the way to Kathmandu, fellow traveller Gavin stepped in dog poo then realised that it was most likely human poo. Read more...
Annette - Forgetting to take my US$ out of my passport before handing it to the immigration officer at the Kenya/Tanzania border crossing. "No... I didn't mean...sorry about that..." I said with a crimson face. Shocked but smiling, he handed my $40 back and changed the subject by admiring the hologram of a kangaroo on my passport.
6) Most number of days without a shower?
Matt - Four days in Mongolia.
Annette - Ditto - thank goodness for wet wipes!
7) Most interesting accommodation?
Matt - Mongolian Yurt. See pictures...
Annette - Camping at the rim of Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, waking up to screams of a surprised camper as a herd of Buffalo munch their way through the campsite. Read more... See pictures...
8) Worst toilet experience?
Matt - About 7am on a Chinese sleeper train, after most passengers have used the toilet.
Annette - I absolutely agree. I think my worst toilet experiences were in China. Squat toilets in moving trains; I just don't think they thought that through. Also, try using a public toilet with no cubical door.
10) Coolest border crossing?
Matt - Zimbabwe/Zambia border - Walking through the spray across Rhodes' original Victoria Falls bridge which spans the Zambezi river. See pictures from Zimbabwe.
Annette - Changing the wheel bogies of our train, at the China/Mongolian border. We didn't even need to get off. Each carriage was hoisted off its wheels and replaced with wider gauge ones. I saw it happen from the warmth of the carriage, while Matt took pictures from the shed floor. See pictures... Read more...
11) Most interesting scam?
Matt - The Mongolian traders sharing and getting dressed up in designer clothes to cross the Mongolian/Russian border on the Trans-Siberian. See pictures from Russia.
Annette - The Russian system of visa registration. How much money did we fork out? Pay for the 'Invitation Letter', then for the visa, then pay a 'Registration Fee' in each place you stay more than 72 hours. Hook, line and sinker; everyone was benefiting except us. Read more..
12) Most bizarre food?
Matt - Mopane worms in Africa
Annette - Sweet chilli crickets (just kidding, I couldn't do it)
13) I couldn't have travelled without my...
Matt - Lipton Tea!
Annette - Wet wipes!
14) Most interesting person?
Matt - Hennie, the South African exploration driller working on a copper seam in Botswana.
15) Lessons learnt?
Matt - Sit halfway between the front & rear axles of a public bus in Africa. Read more...
Annette - Among others, I learned to ask myself, "What's the worst that can happen?"