Plans continue apace…
I’ve managed to sort out the majority of my UK commitments so the stressful side of going away is gently dissipating, to be replaced with a genuine excitement about the journey I’m about to undertake. I have a shiny new jumbo passport.
My plans have evolved massively since I first decided to go away last year. The endpoint remains the same, however I’m now going to South America the wrong way round the world, and on land/sea for as far as I can.
My journey starts on a train in Somerset on the 4th August, via Eurostar to Brussels for the night. From there I’m taking the train to Hamburg, up into Scandinavia via a couple of nights in Copenhagen, ending my land journey in Stockholm. From there, a 2 night cruise ferry to St. Petersburg and 8 days split between there and Moscow.
From Moscow I have a few stops booked- Yekaterinburg, Lake Baikal and Ulan Bator before pitching up in Beijing on the 6th September.
The next day I start probably the most exciting and definitely most expensive aspect of the trip so far, with a 5 day tour of North Korea. Genuinely fascinated to see the interior of this mysterious country.
Unfortunately, whilst I’ve been caught up with trying to sort out Russian trains, visas and the like I have slightly lost some of the ‘go anywhere on a whim’ feeling that I have craved from the start.
This is an unfortunate consequence of the planned journey, and the visa requirements of the countries I’m visiting. For a start, the Trans-Mongolian railway isn’t really a ‘hop on, hop off’ affair due to the berth system and you really need to get at least the popular segments booked in advance. Secondly, everything in China needs to be pre-booked in order to get a visa. Everything.
I’m finally getting there and my visa applications are ready to go in next week. Barring the slightly annoying mandatory visit to the Russian Embassy in London.
But, I’ve finally started the fightback, to get my holiday back on the spur-of-the-moment basis that it was from day one. Whilst feverishly searching for fully refundable flight tickets out of China I hit upon Kayak’s open search option. Shanghai-anywhere on the 22nd September. Spon-ta-naeity (and a Billy bargain, maybe)
And the wheel of fortune pitched up an unbelievably cheap flight to Manila in the Phillipines. £45, with a hold bag. Sure, it’s a flight at a horrible time of the morning on an airline that makes Michael O’Leary look like Santa when it comes to stealth extras and negative reviews, but it’s forward movement. And hey, after trudging round Russia and China doing a proper journey I surely deserve a couple of weeks bumming around on beaches sipping cheap but suspicious local beer? It’s BOOKED.
This leads me onto the depressing realisation that I’m heading inexorably towards Oz though. I didn’t want to go to Australia.