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YEAR IN REVIEW: DRIVING FROM SINGAPORE TO LONDON | Best Life in the World

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54,885km. 33 nations. Numerous new pals. And never a single flat tyre!

Our mammoth journey from Singapore to London is definitely one we’ll always remember. Not solely have we tackled our dream of retracing the unique Land Rover expedition undertaken by Oxford and Cambridge groups in 1956, we’ve additionally amassed a treasure chest of unimaginable tales and epic life experiences which can stick with us endlessly. Extra importantly, we’ve learnt a nice deal about ourselves, happiness, journey and the unimaginable world we reside in. From the bizarre ‘n’ wacky to the fantastic, listed here are a number of the highlights, challenges and largest classes learnt from our 2015-2016 Greatest Expedition within the World.

WHAT WERE OUR TOP THREE COUNTRIES?

BEN

Myanmar: It was an eclectic conflict of historic and trendy influences. Being there to expertise the three-day Thingyan Water Pageant was good timing. A celebration environment, continuous water fights and smiles all spherical.

India: An unimaginable melting pot of the friendliest individuals, the tastiest meals, wealthy historical past, faith older than the earth and landscapes that blew my thoughts; beautiful seashores, hectic cities and naturally the majesty of the Himalayas.

Pakistan: My new favorite “shouldn’t go to” nation indisputably. We met thrilling individuals, drove the size of the Karakoram Freeway and picked recent fruit from glacial, mountainous valleys.

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India: The entire time we have been in India (10 weeks), I couldn’t wait to get away from bed within the morning. Round each nook, one thing thrilling was ready to be witnessed, from the splendidly unique to the brilliantly brutal. The road life was a supply of endless leisure. India delivered a continuing assault to my senses, and I beloved it! The landscapes have been spellbinding and extremely numerous. The individuals have been welcoming and full of character. There’s nothing fairly like India.

Kyrgyzstan: To say the least, it was utterly wild. From the distant yurt stays with nomadic tribes and nationwide sport of Buzkashi (goat dragging) to the grand lakes and vodka-infused sauna events, the entire expertise felt like a loopy dream.

Pakistan: This was probably the most hospitable and beneficiant nation Ben and I visited throughout our journey. The individuals have been hungry to point out us the opposite aspect of Pakistan – the one we’d by no means seen within the media. My go to made me realise I wanted to take every part I learn and heard with a chunky grain of salt. Fact can solely be found by way of firsthand experiences, and it’s typically much more heart-warming than anticipated.

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WHAT WERE OUR TOP THREE MOMENTS? 

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>> Unpacking the Colonel in Singapore at first of the journey. The realisation we have been about to start out the journey of a lifetime was phenomenally thrilling. With 12 months forward of us, one million unknowns, new nations to discover, strangers to satisfy, associates to go to and one other BIG life journey for Sophee and I, it was the end result of 18 months exhausting planning.

>> Crossing the very best street on the planet – the Leh to Manali Freeway. After battling administration to get the allow, we put our religion in Colonel Mustard (our 30 yr previous journey) and summited the 5328m Tanglang La Move the place the rewards have been distinctive. Snowcapped mountain peaks, wealthy inexperienced valleys, huge deep gorges and high-altitude desert tundra….oh god take me again!!

>> Standing on prime of the Rock of Gibraltar wanting throughout to Africa. On the finish of a tiring few weeks battling the chilly and brief days of Europe’s winter we made an immediate determination to cross into Morocco and we’re so glad we did. Again into actual, uncooked journey which examined our senses and minds each second of the day.

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>> The Thingyan Water Pageant in Myanmar was an absolute spotlight. Your complete nation joined in an enormous water battle for 4 days. The beating coronary heart of the motion was Yangon, the place the primary streets have been lined with levels, hydrant fashion hoses, monumental audio system blaring techno beats and hundreds of pleased locals. Getting drenched and dancing with strangers was probably the most enjoyable I’d had in years.

>> Tuscany was each bit the dream. Ben and I had the chance to remain in a 16th Century fort (Castello Banfi) surrounded by hectares of premium winery, which was kissed by an excellent tangerine sundown on the finish of every peaceable day. It was heavenly – the right place to take pleasure in a vacation from our vacation.

>> The unassuming city of Chefchaouen (Morocco) blew me away. Once I lastly discovered my strategy to the normal medina I used to be immediately captivated by the labyrinth of iridescent-blue backstreets and vibrant market stalls. Including extra magic to the second have been the native males who walked round in hooded cloaks, wizard-like beards proudly on show.

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WHICH COUNTRIES WERE THE BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT?

BEN

Not with the ability to journey by way of Iran. Through the planning for the journey and from the conversations I had with individuals within the lead as much as the journey I knew it might be probably the most thrilling nations to journey via. I used to be massively disillusioned to seek out out three weeks earlier than we have been because of enter the nation, my visa software had been rejected. It wasn’t a lot the 6500km detour we’d should take round Iran, extra the frustration of lacking out on someplace as iconic and off the crushed monitor.

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Greece. I feel Ben and I explored the fallacious elements of this well-liked bucket listing vacation spot. Aside from our stint in a quaint mountain village, we didn’t encounter the unimaginable magnificence we’d anticipated. Most of the most important cities appeared fairly rundown and soulless. The primary city on Corfu island was charming, however the remainder of this vacation “paradise” felt a bit shabby. Maybe late autumn wasn’t one of the best time to go to. Based mostly on what I’ve heard from different travellers, I undoubtedly want to offer Greece one other shot!

 

WHAT WERE OUR WORST THREE MOMENTS?

BEN

>> Losing 10 days sat in Delhi ready for the bureaucratic bullshit from the Chinese language Embassy officers to materialize into….completely nothing. Type our your points with India at a political degree, inform individuals making use of for his or her visas the reality behind a refused software and don’t cover behind your minions on the entrance desk as you’re too spineless to return and talk about the issue in individual! There, I’ve acquired that out.

>> Loosing our minds to the fixed demand of social media and the will to supply extremely epic photographs on a regular basis. Sure, journey across the globe is great, embracing and splendidly immersive, however the trendy calls for we place on ourselves to repeatedly inform the story throughout our digital platforms may be massively detrimental to your precise enjoyment on the time.

>> Being refused my Iranian visa. Within the months main as much as our journey I’d learn, heard and dreamt concerning the wonders of Persia and couldn’t wait to spend a couple of weeks exploring its historic lands and assembly the individuals. Nevertheless being denied entry did take us into Central Asia and thru The Stans (hyperlink to information of The Stans on greatest life weblog) – top-of-the-line elements of the journey.

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>> At sure factors all through the journey, life on the street turned depressingly monotonous and unhealthy. Journey fatigue often took maintain at these moments. Eat, drive for Eight-16 hours, arrange the tent, eat, sleep, repeat. This routine wasn’t so enjoyable within the winter months or once we have been following boring highways and racing to a distant vacation spot. Fortunately, these durations didn’t final greater than every week or two, however they appeared to go on endlessly on the time.

>> Huge arguments with my #1 man have been by no means enjoyable, and we had a number of of them in the course of the journey. As a result of it was simply the 2 of us (more often than not), these moments have been very isolating and complicated. Destructive ideas can simply blow out of proportion if you’re on a yearlong street journey, particularly if you don’t have buddies or household round to assist in giving you a actuality examine. On the flip aspect, the expertise pressured Ben and me to depend on one another extra, study to be weak with one another and discover methods to beat issues as a workforce. This journey undoubtedly introduced us nearer collectively greater than it nudged us aside.

>> Maybe my worst second was the flight again house. My thoughts began to panic. What on earth was I going to do with my life in Brisbane? How might I’m going again to “regular life” after all the unimaginable locations, individuals and prospects I’d seen? What did I actually need to make me really feel joyful? Earlier than I left for Singapore, journey was meant to assist me determine a lot of these issues out. As an alternative, our journey has left me feeling extra confused! I can perceive why many individuals in the identical post-travel place simply hold travelling. My days have been crammed with fixed highs for therefore lengthy, it’s arduous to return to the humdrum.

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WHAT WERE OUR TOP THREE CULINARY EXPERIENCES?

BEN

>> Devouring a Goan fish curry in Panaji, the capital of this well-known beachside state. India is aware of the way to mix spices and recent meals to supply a few of the tastiest meals on the market, however the expertise of sitting down for a fish curry at one of the crucial well-known eating places within the space, Ritz Basic, resulted in an hour-long celebration of native meals. Magnificent.

>> Singapore is a melting pot of cultures, religions, structure, mild exhibits and naturally meals. Throughout our first week of the journey we stayed at Betel Field Backpackers with its pleasant proprietor Tony Tan, who runs among the best meals excursions we’ve been on. All through the night time we learnt, purchased and consumed over 30 totally different dishes together with, in fact, the notorious Singapore Chili Crab.

>> Pomp and ceremony aren’t all the time important components for a tasty delicacies expertise. Typically the only menu in a delicate location can ship a culinary crescendo. Following up on a invitation we acquired by way of Instagram we met Gian within the tiny village sq. within the Tuscan hills. He took us for lunch at his favorite hang-out, a small restaurant constructed into the sandstone partitions. We dined on nothing greater than freshly made pasta, a splash of olive oil, a dusting of parmesan and an excellent shave of regionally sourced white truffles. Why make life difficult?

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>> Our first yurt keep in Tash Rabat (Kyrgyzstan) delivered a type of, “Oh thank God, correct meals!” moments. We’d been roughing it for some time; so, our arrival at a group of luxurious yurts, which have been bordered by mammoth mountains, was like getting into the gateway to heaven. Once we entered the eating yurt, a breakfast feast match for 20 kings (or a small group of weary travellers) was served. It included salami, native cheese, recent bread with clotted cream and do-it-yourself jam, and a stack of mysterious morsels that have been midway between a fluffy pancake and the last word doughnut. We hadn’t seen these sort of meals since we’d left Brisbane seven months prior, in order that they undoubtedly hit the spot. At a special yurt keep in Kyrgyzstan, we had the chance to observe a nomadic household make recent lamb momo stew from scratch (i.e. from reside animal to feast). Whereas it was a bit difficult to observe, it was fascinating to expertise subsistence dwelling…the stew tasted fairly superb too.

>> Each meals expertise in India was unimaginable, although they have been typically served with a aspect of meals poisoning! The flavour-packed road meals (genuine samosa was a favorite) was value the bathroom time. I beloved my stays at India’s Hyatt Motels in Delhi and Goa. They served up Indian meals at its very best and there have been no nasty repercussions. Our go to to the communal kitchen at Amritsar’s Golden Temple was one other sensible expertise. Volunteers dish up lots of of hundreds of free meals every day they usually’re fairly scrumptious. Breaking bread with a corridor filled with hungry, non-English-speaking Sikhs was critically cool.

>> Throughout our time in Pakistan, Ben and I had the prospect to stay with a household in Islamabad. The standard home chef, Jamroze, was a culinary genius. He served up the perfect conventional meals conceivable, together with a flakey paratha that was lighter than angels’ wings. His Chai teas have been prime notch, too.

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WHAT WERE OUR FUNNIEST “LOL” MOMENTS?

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Lengthy days spent driving from metropolis to metropolis, throughout nations and borders can ultimately take their toll on the human spirit! However, not being ones to let a couple of thousand kilometres getting in the best way of getting an excellent time, Sophee and I made a decision to interrupt the monotony with an excellent old style water struggle. Take a gulp of water and eject it in as advantageous a sprig as attainable over the individual sat subsequent to you while driving in fact! On the time, completely hysterical!

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Pakistan delivered my most embarrassing LOL second. Upon assembly a religious Muslim household, I made the error of going to shake the patriarch’s hand. He kindly defined why this was a no-no and proceeded to introduce me to his spouse. She went to kiss my already blushing cheek, however my awkward return gesture meant we ended up kissing one another on the lips…in entrance of her complete household. I used to be mortified on the time. The second appears hilarious now.

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WHAT WERE OUR BEST ACCIDENTAL FINDS?

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The pure bridges of Cherrapunji. Constructed by the locals over hundreds of years by bending large vines at proper angles throughout the river. It offered the one approach to cross the river raging under through the rains, which in Cherrapunji are virtually each day of the yr being, formally, the wettest place on the earth.

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All the animals I needed to smuggle again to Australia. From the second I arrived in Singapore up till the time I reached the UK, I couldn’t assist however discover all the homeless animals. We don’t actually have strays the place I’m from, so I used to be each saddened by the neglect and out of the blue in animal-lovers heaven. There have been so many lovely, sweet-natured creatures in want of somewhat love. Up till Europe, I virtually had a brand new “pet” every day. Donkey, cow, buffalo, kitten, piglet – you identify it and I tried to mom it. Whereas Ben and I each discovered it arduous to drive away from our new furry pals, I liked having the chance to offer them a little bit of luxurious and plenty of consideration whereas I might.

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WHEN WERE WE PUSHED OUT OF OUR COMFORT ZONES?

BEN

Once we visited the slums in Mumbai I initially felt uncomfortable. Perhaps it was arriving in a reasonably apparent, overseas car, strolling round with a blaze of blonde hair, profusely sweating within the warmth and humidity, amidst the stench of the sewers while carrying an enormous DSLR digital camera that did it?

As soon as we’d had an opportunity to cease and chat to some locals, pose for a number of photographs and chill out into it, every part turned rather a lot simpler and we got here away having had a enlightening expertise.

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Undoubtedly whereas we have been in Kyrgyzstan. My welcome to this nation wasn’t one of the best, with a light case of molestation assembly me on the border publish. Spending time with a nomadic tribe was a captivating expertise, but in addition fairly surprising. We met one younger woman who’d been bitten by a horse. After raiding our Land Rover for a primary help package, we needed to train the younger lady learn how to apply antiseptic cream and bandages. The nomadic individuals (and their cattle) do it critically robust, particularly within the thick of winter. Whereas the locals appeared very resilient and fairly content material, I felt annoyed figuring out I couldn’t do rather a lot to vary the animals’ brutal dwelling requirements. The primary time I used to be uncovered to the bloody sport of buzkashi (“goat dragging”) I needed to stroll away and have a cry within the Land Rover. It was the one second all through our journey I used to be pushed past my restrict.

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WHAT WERE OUR SCARIEST EXPERIENCES?

BEN

Surprisingly nothing actually got here at us out of the blue on the journey. Sure, driving via a number of roadblocks and safety checkposts in Peshawar on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan was fairly intense and probably scary, however the police and safety forces handled us like overseas dignitaries and couldn’t do sufficient to assist out.

One of many scariest self-administered moments of the journey needed to be loading the Colonel onto the ridiculously precarious barge at Lake Attabad. Becoming a 5.5m lengthy, 3500kg Land Rover onto a slender, unstable, rickety picket boat took nerves of metal and greater than as soon as I appeared again at Sophee with a furrowed forehead and look of concern full with beads of sweat trickling down my brow!

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Undoubtedly being in North India and Nepal through the earthquakes final yr. When the primary main quake occurred, we have been on the sixth flooring of a rickety previous lodge in Darjeeling. The cupboards began to tremble, the constructing started to sway, and screams crammed the air. Ben and I bolted down a endless flight of stairs and joined the terrified plenty outdoors. As soon as we’d found what had occurred, our hearts went out to the individuals of Nepal. If we’d felt the earthquake lots of of kilometres away from its core, we might solely think about how horrific the expertise would’ve been nearer to residence.

Tremors continued to plague our time in Darjeeling and we needed to have a critical dialog about our plans to go to Nepal. Ought to we ditch them for the sake of our security or maintain calm, keep it up and cross our fingers? We selected the latter, as we knew Nepal desperately wanted our tourism dollars at this time limit. So, we packed a mountain of provides (to make sure we didn’t add strain to Nepal’s assets), got here up with security and emergency plans, and drove into the unknown…and we’re glad we did!

The time we spent in Nepal was unimaginable, from our nine-day trek to Annapurna Base Camp and wild safari by way of Chitwan Nationwide Park to our luxurious keep beside Begnas Lake and sit back time within the hippie hangout of Thamel. Positive, we had one other bushy second in Kathmandu when the second main quake kicked off. However, we caught to our security plan and every thing turned out okay!

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WHAT WAS THE BEST ROAD TRIP DURING OUR ROAD TRIP?

BEN

With out query the Leh to Manali freeway. Sure it’s the very best street within the street however the expertise goes far past simply the simplicity of bragging rights. I’ve by no means loved a street by means of the wilderness as a lot as this one. Each cross launched one other distinctive panorama from the hovering peaks, to the deep canyons, to the high-altitude desert tundra.

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I’ve to agree with Ben. The Leh-Manali Freeway is subsequent degree and must be skilled in a single’s lifetime. However, simply so as to add one thing totally different, I’ll additionally put my palms collectively for Italy. Our street journey from Bari to Sicily after which up the West Coast and inland in the direction of the Austrian border was the stuff of goals. Italy incorporates a lot pure magnificence, it virtually appears unfair. My favorite spots included: Alberobello (the village of “gnome houses”), Taormina, Cinque Terra, Florence, Montalcino (Tuscany) Rome, the Amalfi Coast, and the Dolomites. Meals, wine, style, landscapes, man-made masterpieces…the whole lot was simply lovely.

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WHICH PLACES DESERVED MORE TIME?

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Africa. All the time Africa…

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Having fallen not on time, we raced by means of Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Austria at breakneck velocity. If we’d blinked whereas passing by way of Liechtenstein, we might have utterly missed it! Ben and I barely had sufficient time to really feel utterly gob-smacked by this area’s magnificence earlier than our Landy was climbing out the exit door. The identical goes for Eire. We didn’t get an opportunity to do it justice, so we’ll merely have to return someday.

 

WHICH PLACES DO WE WISH WE HADN’T MISSED?

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Vietnam. Having the Land Rover with us wasn’t all the time the most cost effective choice, particularly when it got here to getting into Vietnam. The $500 tax for every week within the nation was an excessive amount of to abdomen, so we turned north into Laos, lacking it altogether. Subsequent time we’ll head again and do it on motorbikes as an alternative.

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The Bulkan States – particularly Croatia. By the point we made it to Greece, we have been a month not on time and susceptible to lacking Christmas with the rellies in England. Slightly than rush by means of South Japanese Europe, we took the ferry straight throughout to Italy so we might spend extra high quality time there and in Morocco. No less than I’ve an excuse to go to Europe once more sooner or later!

 

WHAT WERE OUR DREAMIEST SUNRISES & SUNSETS?

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Dawn – Annapurna Base Camp. I left the relative heat of my down-filled sleeping bag and traipsed into the frigid darkness outdoors our refuge, digital camera in hand. Watching the primary sunrays fracture the lightening sky will probably be one thing that stays with me eternally.

Sundown – on the flip-side the perfect sundown was on the recent and humid coast of Cambodia. With barely a breath of breeze, the glassy ocean consumed the flickering ball of fireside as we watched from a hammock hung above the lapping waves.

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Dawn – I need to admit, I like my sleep-ins, so I didn’t see too many! Having stated that, two of the sunrises I managed to witness have been actual beauties. After an extended night time of Full Moon Get together shenanigans throughout Koh Phangan (Thailand), I stumbled again to our beachside villa, climbed right into a hammock and watched the solar put its probing mild on the messy shoreline. Celebration litter apart, the sky’s tangerine glow was superb – the most effective hangover remedy I might ask for. Our daybreak balloon journey over Cappadocia (Turkey) was additionally fairly epic. Dozens of vibrant orbs took to the sky like dancers to a stage. We floated up and down with the wind, the solar’s crimson highlight illuminating our smiles and the mysterious troglodyte panorama under us.

Sundown – As cliché because it sounds, Tuscany served up my favorite sunsets. As every day got here to an in depth, a smooth wave of pastel colors swept throughout the sky and over the undulating vineyards. It was utterly dreamy.

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WHAT WERE THE MOST PHOTOGENIC LOCATIONS?

Ben

Robust one! It’s a lifeless warmth between the northern finish of the KKH (Karakoram Freeway) and Ladakh within the north of India. Each straddle the Himalayas, are so excessive up that the air is crisp and clear and have lunar-esque landscapes.

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Each nation with its toe within the Himalayas is nothing in need of spectacular. I’m satisfied this valuable a part of the world actually is the playground of the gods. Northern India, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan – I went wild with my digital camera in all of them and felt extremely impressed to seize the second. I used to be additionally captivated by the colorful tradition and sweeping desertscapes of Morocco together with the weird Door to Hell in Turkmenistan. However, if I needed to advocate one nation for aspiring journey photographers, it’s exhausting to go previous India. Each sight – from the spectacular to the ugly – appeared lovely when captured by my Nikon.

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WHAT WERE THE TOP THREE ITEMS WE PACKED?

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>> Handpresso espresso machine – I really like my espresso espresso within the morning – no milk, sugar or caramel pollution. Simply thick, wealthy, darkish, bitter espresso. Slightly than danger the standard of roadside Nescafe stops or motels with vintage filter machines I purchased a Handpresso hand pump machine and beloved it. It’s easy to make use of, requires nothing greater than boiling water and a robust forearm and delivers the right doppio each time

>> Nikon DSLR – armed with a plethora of lenses and a head filled with artistic photographs I lugged my dependable D7100 up mountains, threw it within the cubby field, dropped it, scratched it and nonetheless it continues to ship beautiful photographs.

>> My Hoka One One trainers – no different sport is so simple as operating. Each time and wherever I might I’d go operating on our Greatest Life journey, simply to maintain my health ticking over. Typically my vistas have been running-porn; the sweeping hillsides laden with tea plantations in Malaysia, the rain drenched seashores of Monsoonal Goa, the frost-hardened footpaths of Scotland and the dusty, street-dog crammed backstreets of Delhi. So many locations, so little time!

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>> I spent lots of time within the passenger seat of Ben’s Land Rover. Throughout our lengthy street journey stints, I couldn’t have survived with out my Macbook Air and XCom International worldwide wifi gadget. They enabled me to put in writing blogs whereas on the go and hold busy.

>> Scarves are probably the most helpful issues I packed from a feminine perspective. In scorching Southeast Asian nations, they have been all I wore (aside from my swimsuit)! Once I reached Europe in time for winter, they stored me comfortable as a bug. In conservative nations, scarves got here in useful once I wanted cowl my hair, shoulders, arms and decrease legs in locations of worship. In determined occasions, I additionally used them as towels or picnic blankets. In the course of the Annapurna Monitor, I rolled my scarves up like snakes and put them over my shoulders in order that they weren’t rubbed uncooked by my backpack. So many makes use of!

>> Top-of-the-line presents my husband purchased for me was a Kindle. I can’t sleep with out studying myself into the land of nod. Carrying dozens of books with us wasn’t a viable choice, so and e-book reader was the right answer. The one drawback is, it often ended up underneath my pillow as soon as I’d fallen asleep. I left my kindle in lodges a few occasions, and had it mailed to my subsequent vacation spot. Ben appears to assume my Kindle has achieved sufficient unbiased journey to put in writing its personal guide!

 

WHAT GATHERED DUST? 

BEN

I do know I’m responsible of carrying an excessive amount of weight within the Colonel on journeys like this however my motto since being a cub scout is all the time ‘Be Ready’. Perhaps having an enormous awning for the roof tent was an pointless luxurious? Okay we didn’t even get it out of the bag as soon as! And sure we carried A LOT of spares…simply in case. But when we didn’t have a flywheel removing software/spare four x exhaust mounts/shock absorbers and so on we’d certainly have wanted them…wouldn’t we?!

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Board video games. I’ve been on a few massive expeditions now, all the time anticipating to seek out myself in an entire state of boredom sooner or later. This by no means actually occurs, although. A pack of playing cards, then again, is all the time value its weight within the Land Rover.

I additionally took too many garments. Once I’m dwelling at house, I in all probability use 20% of my wardrobe 80% of the time. Whereas I used to be dwelling out of a Land Rover, I used 10% of my garments and 10% of Ben’s garments 90% of the time! Funnily sufficient, I nonetheless managed to persuade myself I wanted to purchase new garments in the course of the journey. India was my undoing.

 

WHAT WAS THE WEIRDEST MOMENT OF THE TRIP?

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On the best way again from an evening of enjoyable and festivities on the medina in Marrakech, we wandered again to our riyad, solely to seek out the Land Rover surrounded by a gaggle of round 50 individuals made up of some policemen, some safety guards and native males. All of them seemed to be pointing at one thing excessive up on the automotive that I couldn’t fairly make out. It was solely once I entered the group (standing out like a sore thumb with my blond hair and additional peak) I realised the reasoning behind their barely animated temper was the presence of the Western Sahara flag on the aspect of the car, one thing I painted on together with 30 different nation flags again in 2008 after circumnavigating Africa.

To me, it didn’t appear fallacious on bizarre to have it there, however to the ever-increasing group it seemed to be fairly offensive. Morocco doesn’t determine Western Sahara as a separate nation, merely a area inside their very own border the place rebels have shaped a disputed territory. They merely won’t recognise the flag, the identify or something to do with it. I’d brought on excessive offensive and proven help for the rebels by having it on the automotive…parked proper outdoors the royal palace!

I spent the subsequent two hours firstly eradicating the painted flag from the automotive utilizing thinners and a material, then being scrutinised by the key police, royal police and immigration as to why on earth I’d determined to color it there within the first place, what I used to be doing within the nation and what my intentions have been.

Suffice to say all of it completed quite amicably. They understood my mistake, noticed the reasoning behind it and waved me on my merry means!

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Palms down, our time in Turkmenistan’s capital, Ashgabat. “The White Metropolis”, because it’s recognized, was utterly reconstructed within the 20th century and redeveloped utilizing imported European and pretend marble. The whole lot appeared eerily pristine, and we found it was unlawful to drive soiled automobiles round city. For sure, we needed to cover Ben’s Land Rover!

Ashgabat was utterly state-of-the-art, with firstclass universities, buying malls, sport stadiums and racecourses on the prepared. The humorous factor was, they have been all virtually empty! The standard inhabitants of Turkmenistan is just simply over 5 million, however the nation boasts big oil and fuel assets and a thriving financial system. The individuals definitely appeared to have every little thing they wanted, however is was all a bit “Stepford Housewives”. Whereas every part seemed good, one thing simply didn’t really feel proper.

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WHAT HAVE WE LEARNT ABOUT HAPPINESS?

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>> Wherever you go on the planet surrounding your self with household and good pals is a key a part of having a satisfying life. Happiness could be present in probably the most unlikely of locations too. The slums of Mumbai, the distant, tiny villages of Italy and the desert cities of Japanese Morocco, have been all locations we had nice interactions with individuals who oozed real happiness by way of each pore of their physique.

>> Fabled as ‘The Happiest Nation within the World’, Bhutan confirmed to us it’s a fantastic place to stay, it’s untainted by the surface world and retains a purity of tradition, individuals and landscapes I’ve not seen anyplace else on the planet.

>> It appears the extra developed or supposedly ‘1st world’ nations aren’t essentially the happiest. This was strikingly apparent as we made our approach from Asia into Europe. The transition from subsistence dwelling to cities with such busy, work-driven lives means there merely isn’t sufficient time for individuals to casually chat with strangers or interact with others on the street. Individuals typically had their heads down, engaged in a web-based world fairly than appreciating the setting they’re in, what’s happening round them or interacting with potential pals.

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>> Human beings crave freedom – the liberty to pursue a life that’s aligned with their very own happiness, not different individuals’s expectations. In Western nations, many appear to disregard this craving, undergo the strain of capitalism, and concentrate on maintaining appearances and competing with others round them. Earlier than they realize it, their lives are packed to the brim with obligations, mountains of meaningless “stuff” and burdens which make them really feel stressed, weighed down and held again. It’s hardly shocking that the happiest individuals we met all through our journey have been those that lived merely. The shortage of “baggage” enabled them to roam freely, pursue their goals with out worry (that they had nothing to lose), and easily take pleasure in being within the second.

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>> As William Shakespeare as soon as wrote, “Expectation is the basis of all heartache”. As quickly as we put circumstances on our happiness, there’s all the time the danger that moments, issues and other people (together with ourselves) will trigger disappointment and unhappiness. If we will study to take issues as they arrive after which give attention to the positives in any state of affairs, life will grow to be much more satisfying. Simpler stated than carried out.

>> Real human connection breeds happiness. The highlights of our journey have been the moments when full strangers took us beneath their wing, helped us out unconditionally or enquired about our lives. It made us really feel like we mattered and we weren’t alone. This journey made us understand that if all we had in life was caring relationships, we’d nonetheless be fairly darn comfortable.

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WHAT HAVE WE LEARNT ABOUT LIFE IN GENERAL?

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The nations that get the toughest wrap within the media and are deemed ‘harmful journey locations’ are sometimes those the place the individuals are the friendliest and have probably the most to provide.

Having pushed the size of the Himalayas and the Alps, crossed the Pyrenees and dipped into the Atlas Mountains I’m satisfied I’m happiest within the mountains. Their incomprehensibly monstrous scale and sheer vertiginous vistas depart me in need of breath and gasping for extra.

Land Rover’s rock! There I’ve stated it. After four continents, 60 nations and over 150,000km in Colonel Mustard, there’s no different car I’d fairly have been in.

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It’s necessary to be open-minded. Positive, all of us have our values and beliefs based mostly on our upbringings, nevertheless it’s not truthful to guage others towards them. Aside from heinous crimes, there’s no proper and incorrect – simply totally different. When you can open your thoughts to different individuals’s methods of life and considering, it may provide help to turn out to be a extra well-rounded individual. Therefore, the brilliance and necessity of journey!

Worry is a crippling beast, which ought to be challenged at each alternative. Whether or not it’s within the context of journey, enterprise, relationships, health, creativity or different areas of our lives, worry holds us again from being our greatest selves and getting probably the most our of our brief lives. It’s fascinating to ask the query: “What would I be doing proper now if I knew all the things was going to end up okay?”. For many of us, the reply is one thing utterly totally different to what we’re truly doing. Worry is so highly effective and counterproductive – it’s loopy!

The world is filled with good people who find themselves doing nice issues. If solely the media gave constructive information tales extra airtime we’d all really feel quite a bit higher concerning the world, humanity and our future. Journey has injected me with newfound hope and optimism. It was nice to get away from a TV and newspapers for some time, and take in info by way of firsthand experiences.

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