That’s right, in just one month I will bid adieu to my house in Austin and embark on my longest and greatest adventure yet. No more ‘six weeks in this country’ or ‘six months on the road,’ this time it’s the infamous “sell all my possessions and buy a one-way ticket” scenario.
The wild part is that I only decided all of this only 96 hours ago.
But how? Why? Well as some of you many know, after returning from Central America back in 2011 I purchased my first house. Ever since the mortgage and other responsibilities have kept me either returning to the states every other country or limited me to doing sporadic USA road trips. It’s been fun, sure, but not as exciting as an open-ended adventure halfway around the world.
Now that I’ve sold my house it’s time to hit the road again, this time for good. Unfortunately this whole this is progressing a little faster than expected…
I only have a mere four weeks to plan an RTW adventure
that most usually spend six months or more organizing!
Hooray for me…??
That does not give me long to sell everything I own and come up with a rough plan.
Already I’ve started giving stuff away to friends and putting all my household items up for sale. I have two guest bedrooms, an office, kitchen, living and dining rooms, and then of course the master bedroom. Oh and the bathrooms and garage. Lots of stuff to spit-shine, photograph, and catalog for Craigslist, et al.
Yes, I plan on selling every last damn thing in my possession except for the foreign souvenirs I have accrued thus far in my journeys. Those will be sealed up in boxes and stored in a friend’s garage for the next few years, awaiting either my return or the order to ship them to whatever random country I’ve decided to settle down in and call home.
Whatever fits in this bag will be the only things I don’t sell.
So Where All Are Am I Going?
Only the first leg is for sure: I will be flying one-way to Asia where I will then slowly travel via land and sea only until reaching the Atlantic Ocean at Portugal. (The one big exception is North Korea, which requires that all Americans fly in from Beijing.)
The Rough Plan Is As Follows
After TBEX in Toronto I’ll be flying one-way to either Malaysia or Indonesia…I have not decided yet. From there I will progress up through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and China. At some point I will most likely pause for six months to a year and teach English while “getting my culture on” during the weekends. I will also be doing a side jaunt back to the Philippines to visit both old friends and new, as well as a guided tour from Beijing to North Korea followed by a more normal (and free) trip from Shanghai to South Korea.*
Prior to entering North Korea your passport must be surrendered in exchange for a tourist card it. It is this card that is stamped instead of your passport. You must then relinquish the card upon leaving the country, at which time you will also receive your passport back. All of this is a smooth and normal process unless you have a prior South Korea stamp in your passport, in which case you will not be allowed to enter the DPRK. Wild, huh?
Longtime readers of this blog know that me and North Korea have a thing. A complicated thing. Last year the DPRK copied my blog and they still continue to torment me with their Hotel of Doom. I have to break this affair off but it must be done gently, in person. After all Kim Jung Un has already threatened to bomb Austin along with Washington D.C. What did the Live Music Capital of the World do to get singled out? Yeah, it was me. I apologize to any Austinites reading this 😉
Next it is onwards towards Bangladesh and India, the latter of which I’m sure will end up spending a while exploring. India provides six month tourist visas but also offers 10-year visas (for Americans only). Since the six-month visas limit your stay to 90 consecutive days per visit (meaning you have to exit and re-enter the country), I may just get a 10-year one and then be free to spend a solid 6-8-10 months exploring India. If I like the country enough, that is. Then I can also freely return afterwards without having to worry about a new visa.
At some point around that time I’m also going to slip on in to Bhutan and Nepal. After there is no way I can pass that close to those two great nations and not poke my head in for a look around. Taktsang Palphug Monastery (aka Tiger’s Nest Monastery) has been beckoning for quite some time now and I really must investigate.
Again, all of this is just a rough outline of my current itinerary…
There is no telling who I will meet and where the road will lead!
Next it is onward to the seven -stans. This will be the most difficult aspect of this voyage as each of these countries will require a pre-approved visa, jumping through various hurdles, and learning to pat my head while rubbing my stomach. No easy task, to say the least. Have you ever tried?
I’ve talked with a travelin’ buddy who passed through the region recently and apparently I am not missing out on much. However I don’t see any bloggers postings pics from the ‘stans so that just makes me all the more eager to visit!
Next Comes Iran (Maybe)
Currently Iranian visas are offered to Americans for seven days only, however even with a visa entry is not guaranteed. As of publication the best option is to apply with the Iranian Interests Section at the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, D.C. and then keep your fingers crossed.
Since I expect it to be about a year and a half from now before I get to this stage of the journey, hopefully the current travel policies have loosened a bit by then as life in the country normalizes. But like so much else on this trip this aspect will be decided “on the fly” depending upon the current situation.
If worse comes to worse I will cut north around the Caspian Sea and then down through Georgia into Turkey.
Of all the places I have yet to visit, Turkey ranks #2 on my obsession list, beaten only by the infamous DPRK. In fact my friend Natalie runs the fantastic Turkish Travel Blog, one I would definitely recommend — especially for anyone planning to visit this impressive and historic country.
…And Then There Is Istanbul!
— Derek Freal (@the_HoliDaze) November 2, 2012
Yup, Still Need To Check That One Off The Ol’ Bucket List Sometime Soon 😉
Istanbul has been a pivotal and iconic city for many many centuries and such is rich in both history and culture. Napoleon Bonaparte famously said “If the Earth were a single state, Istanbul would be its capital.” Personally I just cannot wait to gaze upon this beautiful city with my own eyes. Something tells me I may hang around for a minute too. Good thing Turkey is one of the easy countries for Americans to visit, even if it has gotten more expensive in recent years.
Onward Into Europe!
No straight lines here. I plan to zigzag my way through as many different countries as I can. Eastern and Southern Europe primarily. The route will depend upon the backpackers that I meet in the hostels along the way. However, given how easily distracted I am, it’s safe to say that I’ll be trekking a pretty windy course.
Countries on my list include: Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France, Andorra, and Spain.
Eventually the road will come to end in Portugal once I hit the Atlantic Ocean. From there I will re-assess my finances and goals and bounce down to Morocco while I determine the next leg of this grand RTW adventure.
Down through Africa?
Over To South America?
What About Oceania?
So many places, so little time.
What Does This Mean For The HoliDaze Blog?
This trip marks the beginning of my serious travel blogging. Up until this point I’ve gone at it halfheartedly because I never planned to do it as a career, I was in it solely for fun. That’s why my posts are so sporadic and many of my adventures have yet to be written about. All that is about to change though. Now travel blogging will soon become a job.
That means you can expect a least a couple posts from me every week, as well as a deluge of new and interesting photos. I’ve never bothered to share many of my photographs or join in FriFotos, so that will be fresh sight around here. And one that I am kind of excited about!
And now if you will excuse me, I have to get back to work in the real world preparing for the grand adventure. Thank you for stopping by and reading about my plans, make sure to subscribe to my RSS feed to stay updated on my progress. And if my posts and tweets should ever suddenly stop, please send help to whatever location I last wrote about 😉 Seriously though. Y’all are my lifeline.