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After a predominantly eastwards journey encompassing 15 air flights, various taxis and ferries, countless bus and train journeys, and a fair amount of walking, the Itinerant Traveller has returned from whence he came.  Suntanned, fitter, and healthier and with the travel-gene still active.

It was accomplished with perhaps a degree more comfort and a trifle more certainty than Phileas Fogg in the Jules Verne epic.  It involved no elephants or steamers, but plenty of trains, some unroadworthy taxis, crowded local buses, and a few rickshaws.  Note that any present day reliance on Amtrak to get passengers to their US destinations on time would be a foolhardy.

The journey was an absolutely fabulous experience, and was shared with many friends and relatives along the way.  It took in diverse cities:  NY, Toronto, Malaga, Marrakesh, Edinburgh, and Delhi, including time in Bicester and Glasgow.  It went from the burning ghats of Varanasi, to the thunder of the Niagara Falls, and from the harshness of the Moroccan desert to the refinements of the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid.  The culmination of the trip was a nine-day trek through the Khumbu hills in Nepal.

Along the way other travellers met tragic fates – including avalanches and a plane crash in Nepal, and a ferry accident in Hong Kong.  While travelling is not inherently risky, hasty decisions on the road can sometimes have serious consequences.  For example, riding shotgun in a grande taxi with Yousef and travelling at breakneck speed the 41 kilometres from Tetouan to Cueta along the La Méditerranéenne was probably not a good idea.  His only moment of driving sanity was just before the lone speed camera on the highway.

Similarly riding on camels in the desert is neither elegant, comfortable, or particularity safe.  Especially when you are perched on the alpha male who spends his time asserting himself over the other males and attempting to ingratiate himself to the females in the 14 camel caravan.

In the name of comfort, sometimes a planned 6 hour train ride, 3 hour jeep trip and a 10 hour bus ride from Varanasi to Kathmandu is substituted with a 45 minute flight on Air India.

Lessons Learned: 

  1. Travel very light.
  2. Use every opportunity to recharge your smartphone, camera, and Ipad batteries.
  3. Book train travel and accommodation early to enjoy the best rates.
  4. Carry toilet paper and soap in locations such as Morocco, India and Nepal.
  5. Avoid touts or anyone actively promoting some service or product.
  6. Be prepared to fork out funds to provide those reinvigorating moments of relative comfort on long trips – treat yourself frequently.
  7. Don’t drink vast amounts of alcohol on long bus journeys.
  8. Learn to be adept using a pit toilet.
  9. Don’t trust monkeys.

But above all, don’t forget the kitchen sink …..

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