Three and a half years after leaving New Zealand, I arrived back home.
From July 2015 to December 2018, I lived out of a backpack, sleeping wherever I could, running for trains, getting scammed. But apart from this woefully updated blog, what exactly do I have to show for it?
Let’s start with some numbers. During this trip, I visited 53 countries, spending 1,241 nights abroad. I wrote 797 pages in my diary and took 95,023 photos. I busted a camera in Bulgaria and a lens in Bosnia. I left a phone in a London taxi, broke a laptop, and lost my headphones when I fell down a gorge on my way to see the Dalai Lama.
That fall was responsible for one of my two hospital visits of the trip. That total could’ve been more, had I got medical attention when bitten by a dog in an abandoned mine in Montenegro, or after standing on sea urchins in Croatia.
Then there was the sickness that started from drinking river water in Kyrgyzstan. Not that my travel style exactly promoted good health. I had grueling 40 hour journeys across India, shared my bed with fleas, rats and worse, and even slept on the streets.
I hitchhiked hundreds of times, from giant trucks on Europe’s highways to motorbikes in Rajasthan. I rode buses through the Himalayas in Nepal, took “flying coffin” boats along Borneo’s rivers, and saw suicidal driving around Tibet.
I trekked to Everest Base Camp, around the Annapurna Circuit, through Tiger Leaping Gorge, in the Terskey Alatau mountains and the mighty Caucasus range. I slept in the Thar Desert, crept through bat-infested caves in Mulu National Park, and watched the blue fire in Kawah Ijen’s crater. I saw rhinos in Nepal, orangutans in Sumatra, and pandas in China. I visited the otherworldly Zhangjiajie, climbed Tai Shan, and breathed Beijing’s poisonous air. I even acted in a Bollywood movie.
All in all, that was one hell of a 12 months. Add another 2.5 years into the mix, and I’ve got a few stories to tell. Starting with this one: Seeing the Dalai Lama — and almost dying in the process