Post 28 Last Thoughts!

40,214 miles 64,343 kilometres!

25 flights, 11 airlines.. all on time

13 countries

11 different currencies

11 Languages, some indecipherable!

A lot of amazing food, extensive use of chopsticks.

Amazing historical sights, cultural encounters and wonderful scenery and nature.

Being on Christmas Island and Cocos islands was magical.. truly in the middle of nowhere!

A few hitches with delayed luggage, lost passports etc but all were overcome with the help of kind people.

Choose your toilets wisely.

We had just 1 tummy problem and 1 insect bite between us in 12 weeks of travel, despite eating street food and in local cafes, and visiting jungles!

Careful planning, probiotics and good insect repellent pay off!

Everyone asks us these questions so we will answer them here!

Which was your favourite country?

Chris – 1. Vietnam 2. Australia 3. Sri Lanka

Anne – 1. India 2. Vietnam 3. Sri Lanka

Where would you most want to go back to?

Chris – Vietnam, Sri Lanka
Anne – India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and for both of us, always, Australia!

Anywhere you wouldn’t go back to?

Maldives and South Korea.. unless Menna and Jen were winning medals in the Paralympics!

Where was the food best?

Japan, Sri Lanka, India, Borneo

Best single experience

Seeing the Taj Mahal… for both of us!

Seeing Mt Fuji was a close second! Plus nature encounters like Leopard, Orang-utang, Wombat and crabs!!

We pushed our personal boundaries, visiting countries and cultures that were very different to any we had been to before.

Some places where English was a rarity and we had to use imagination in communication.

We were happy driving and navigating in some countries …but we would NEVER consider driving in others… notably Sri Lanka and India!

We were able to successfully master mapping systems, metro systems (including Tokyo), and Menus, and ate virtually everything we were offered, often without knowing what it was!

Japan has the most wonderful toilets in the world and has spoilt us forever more. If only chilly British campsite toilets had hot seats!

We never once felt threatened or unsafe.

Most people are very friendly and helpful.

Our age was not a barrier to anything we did.

Many cultures had experienced periods of violence, war and oppression. Their stories were humbling. But positivity and generosity shone through.

People are proud of their countries and what they have, however humble it may seem to us.

Often, the people with least were the most generous.

That there are many people who overcome enormous barriers in life… every one of those Paralympians deserves a Gold medal in our book!

This was a huge trip, and we know that we are very lucky. But exciting adventures can be had in your own neighbourhood. We marvelled at beautiful temples or a great view. But tiny things were equally special.

For me, the beauty of a shell, or life in a rockpool; for Chris, picking up a coconut on a beach in the Cocos islands, opening it and drinking from it like his dad had done, were really special moments.

For all of us, there are beautiful wonders and scenery within reach of our homes, we just have to make the effort to look for them and appreciate them.

We arrived home on Thursday night.

We spent Friday walking close to home on the Dorset coast path at Durlston near Swanage.

The scenery was as ‘Wow’ as anything we had seen on our trip (ok the weather was colder, but we did bring some sun with us as promised!). We also had another magical ingredient which we did not have on our trip. We were with Peter and Tracy celebrating Peter’s birthday. That made it extra special. This weekend we also get together with the whole family and close friends. No amount of travel can replace them, and we treasure them all.

Will we travel again?

Well, as Chris knows well, he married a nomad … I have planned at least 2 more trips while we were away on this one… closer to home this time, and in Boris!

But we know that the greatest treasures in this world are not things, but people and freedom.

Thank you to everyone who has followed these ramblings, supported us and been interested in what we do.

It has meant a great deal.

Now watch this space for the next trip!!

Bye for now. Anne and Chris x

All the photos in all the blogs are mine, and were taken with my phone, hence the variable quality!

Post 27 Deja Vu Dubai!

We arrived in Dubai at 7am (2am Japan time.) Excellent flight.. especially the incredible Japanese breakfast.

Chris stuck to croissants! In Dubai we were staying for 2 night’s in an Air BnB on the Palm belonging to Danna and Mike. Mike was our tour guide on day one, and we had booked another day with him to keep us awake! So we arrived at the apartment, did a quick change into shorts and set off, firstly to a bird watching area on the river, where there was a good variety of birds, including lots of flamingoes.

Then we headed to Abu Dhabi, another Emirate. En route we stopped at the Last exit services. Everything in Dubai must be different! This was a highway food stop with a difference. The main building, and all the food outlets were themed on Mad Max films. (Post apocalyptic fantasy which involved a lot of vehicle modification and cut throat survival!) It was eye opening!

The ladies washroom!!

Abu Dhabi is wealthier than Dubai, with more oil, and it was more elegant, with a less frenetic feel.

We first visited a heritage museum explaing how just 60 years ago this area was inhabited by fishermen and desert nomads!

A bit different now!

Then to the Emperor’s Palace Hotel.. originally built as a palace, and now one of the most beautiful deluxe hotels in the world. Real palm trees adorn the corridoors.. I’m wondering if there is room on the landing at home?!

We lived the life having “gold” coffee in the golden lounge! Sprinkled with 23 carat gold.

The skyscrapers are beautiful, and very individual. Apparently these 3 were used in a stunt in the film Fast and Furious!

The most glorious stop was the mosque. Built within the last 20 years, it was enormous, and astonishingly beautiful. Almost everything you see in the pictures is marble, including the inlays on the floor, walls and pillars, or glass. The chandeliers are huge and sparkle in the light. Breathtaking.

We ended the day with snacks at an ethiopian restaurant near the BnB!

Next day we explored alone using taxis and the metro. Uber worked well. We visited the falconry museum to discover the ancient use of falcons and the bond between man and bird. Alongside is the falcon souk, selling…. falcons! Along with every accessory you can imagine! They are highly prized and therefore well looked after.

Then back to the old town, and a snack at our favourite cafe from last time – The Arabian Tea House. Fab!

A walk through the souk,

then the metro to Ibn Batutta Mall where you could be forgiven for thinking you were in a different country, as each area is geographically themed!

Our day ended with a Middle Eastern buffet at Amaseena restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Awesome array of traditional food, with chef Rani to explain what each one contained and how it was cooked. Delicious.

Now we are at the airport, waiting for our flight home and wondering where the last 3 months has gone!!

Post 2 Off we go! First stop Dubai.

Jan 8th. Farewell to House sitters. Train to Peter and Tracy’s house. Taxi to airport. Catch first plane. What could be simpler? Anything apparently, as we missed the first train! It shut the doors 1 minute and 15 seconds before departure and would NOT open them! Luckily there was a lot of leeway built in, and despite a rail strike AND a big rail accident, we made it in plenty of time.
Our trip is huge, and is constructed around a 7 leg multi destination ticket, plus lots of short hops on local budget airlines. (Some of which may make Ryan air look luxurious!). I wanted to use airmiles to upgrade the longest flights to business class to try to avoid leg cramps. This was not permitted, but the lovely people at Round the World Travel found us a ticket with Emirates and Qantas for just a few hundred pounds extra, that gave us Business class on all 7 main flights, and included all our internal Australia flights AND free taxis to and from Heathrow and Dubai Airports. πŸ˜ŠπŸ™ƒ

So.. at Heathrow we headed for the Emirates Lounge. Wow… comfortable, peaceful and an endless supply of yummy food and drink. Veuve Cliquot Champagne Sir, or perhas a Chablis premier cru. The water was nice tooπŸ˜•.

Then to our business class seats…ooh..more champagne! Then hey presto…we have a lay flat bed. I never want to travel any other way!

6.5 hours later we land in Dubai. After recent news stories about people being arrested for having too many pills, I was understandably anxious about the small pharmacy I carry with me. Luckily our bags were checked through to Sri Lanka from London, thus avoiding customs, and immigration was a speedy formality.

We had a 17 hour layover thanks to a flight change, and had arranged to meet Mike, a german expat who hosts the air bnb we will return to in April.

He took us for a 1 day tour of Dubai. Old town, museum, souk, waterfront were fascinating, and we had a delicious inexpensive lunch at the Arabian Tea House. This is a traditional musical instrument…a skirt wrap covered in goat’s hooves!!!

Then on to the restaurant in the architecturally and decoratively stunning Burj al Arab – just for the amazing views. (See pic of tower below. Had I realised how ridiculously unsupported the platform is, I might have thought twice against going up!) We didnt eat there…this hotel is seriously expensive. We came downstairs and did splash out on drinks on the outdoor terrace -Wow!

Then onto the Palm, a massive area of reclaimed land full of hotels and apartments in the shape of a giant palm. By saying you are going for a drink in Barazura, you will get into the gorgeous Atlantis hotel. The interiors are stunning, as is the enormous aquarium.

Finally to Dubai mall, where, alongside carpeted shopping avenues, you could let your child drive his own car around, wonder at another huge aquarium, marvel at a 155 million year old diplodocus skeleton or gaze at the wall waterfalls.

Then outside to round off a ridiculously busy day watching the incredible fountain display, plus light show on the Burj Kalifa.

This is a city that invites you to suspend belief. Anything is possible. It is opulent, materialistic and frivolous… but fun and interesting! Seeing it through the eyes of a resident was especially helpful. This was just desert 40 years ago. We enjoyed Dubai much more than we expected to.

Back to the airport and free dinner in the business lounge again as we wait for our 02.45am flight to Sri Lanka!

These backpacking holidays, roughing it, are great!!! AhemπŸ˜‰