What does it take to travel across three continents in five months?
Answer: approximately nine donkey rides, three camel rides…
After spending half the year exploring Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, I flew home from Paris exactly five months to the day I left for Hong Kong.
I’ve been home for two weeks now, and I’ve already gone through a range of emotions. On the one hand, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the months abroad—the experiences, people and perspective traveling across fifteen countries brought me. On the other, I am literally scratching my head in disbelief that it’s already over, feeling oblivious as to what’s next. Figuratively I am doing everything I can to resist scratching that itch to hit the road again that resurfaced after a mere three days.
In many ways, I know I’ll never be the same. That’s what travel does to us. It changes us. That’s why I chase after trips abroad in the same fervent manner that some people chase their life goals.
At the exact same time, however, things are exactly the same. I stood today in the exact spot where I had laid out all of my items for packing. It looks and feels the same all around me. My apartment is still here, relatively unscathed. My clothes are all here, too, but they fit differently on me (no complaints there.) The big questions I had before I left? They’re still here, too.
As I sort through all these new emotions, I thought it best to objectively summarize my trip. You’ll get a sense of where I went and what it took to get there. (Why did I take this trip? Catch up here.)
Days on the Road: 154.
Countries visited: 15. Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Burma, India, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, France.
New countries: 11. Return visits: 4.
Miles traveled: 30,673
Photos taken: 8,341
Money spent: $10,382
Pounds lost: 15.
Jobs lost: 1.
Books read: 21.
Border crossings on foot: 4.
Forms of transportation: plane, train, bus, automobile, tram, bike, walk, boat, motorbike, metro, rickshaw, donkey, camel, horse cart, camel cart, hot air balloon!
Buses taken: 52.
Trains taken: 25.
Boats taken: 36.
Donkey rides: 9.
Camel rides: 3.
Flights taken: 19.
Car rides/rentals/taxis: I didn’t keep THAT good of track, guys.
Different metros/subways used: 9.
Religions seen: Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, Jainism, Sikhism, Ba’hai
Languages heard: Chinese, Vietnamese, Khmer, Lao, Thai, Burmese, Hindi, Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish, Greek, Italian, French
Different currencies used: Hong Kong Dollars, Vietnamese Dong, Cambodia Riel, Laotian New Kip, Thai Baht, Burmese Kyat, Indian Rupee, Jordanian Dinar, Israeli New Shekel, Egyptian Pound, Turkish Lira, Euro, U.S. Dollar.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites: 39.
Major landmarks: Pyramids, Acropolis, Angkor Wat, Coliseum (round three), Taj Mahal (round two), Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, Eiffel Tower (round three,) Sphinx, Petra.
Major cities visited: Hong Kong, Hanoi, Saigon, Phnom Penh, Vientiane, Bangkok, Yangon, Delhi, Mumbai, Amman, Jerusalem, Cairo, Istanbul, Athens, Rome, Paris.
Cooking classes taken: 5.
Temples/mosques/churches visited: unknown. A lot.
Bodies of water scuba’ed in: Red Sea, Aegean Sea, Gulf of Thailand.
Bodies of water swam in: Dead Sea, Adriatic Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Ligurian Sea, Aegean Sea, Red Sea, Gulf of Thailand, Nam Song River, Nile River.
Bodies of water skinny-dipped in: None of your business! 😉
Major rivers: Mekong, Nile, Ganges, Irrawaddy, Tiber, Seine.
Animals encountered: Monkey, camel, donkey, sheep, goat, cow, pigeon, pelican, snake, rat, pig, elephant, fish, jellyfish (argh…) sea turtle, and many more…
Miles hiked: unknown. A lot.
Times sick: zero.
Times robbed: zero.
Compiling this list, I can’t seem to grasp how much life I was able to pack into those five months AND…how alive I felt every day! I also can’t seem to integrate that feeling with the starkly opposite routine my days have adopted since my return. It’s great to be jobless, carless, even a little careless when you’re running around Hanoi/Yangon/Mumbai/Cairo/Paris. It looks a little bit differently you insert yourself back into “real” life and find that you have nowhere to go but your couch.
Translation: How do I reconcile the person I was while traveling with the person I am at home?
So I find myself a part-time traveler once more. My equilibrium brilliantly thrown off by the greatest trip of my life to date — I’m again back at my desk pondering the balance between globetrotting and rooting oneself in a home. And I’ll be bringing you my findings here on Part-Time Traveler, so stay tuned.
What are your questions for me now that I’m back? I’ll be answering your FAQs — including those I received while I was away — next week!