There are a few things that Shawna and I are not in total agreement on, when it comes to this trip. She believes we can make due with 3-4 pairs of underwear each. Me? Nope…I want 15-20…come on, nothing worse than sweaty….um, never mind. Bad visual. That was uncalled for…I’m sorry.
Anyways, although we have a few differing opinions (and that’s cool), one of the things we are very much in agreement on in slow travel. At this point, we are planning/budgeting for 15 months away. In those 15 months, we would much rather spend time in 15 countries, as opposed to whirl-winding through 37. There is nothing wrong with the latter, but we don’t believe it is exactly our style. But hey who knows…I try to tell Shawna I am ready for overland border crossings, squat toilets, and chicken buses. Reality is, I will likely be the first one looking for a Kentucky Fried Chicken and a bowl that flushes.
Now we are nowhere close to having a finalized list of these 15 (or 22 or 17) countries, and in all likelihood a lot of these decisions will be made rather spontaneously. That being said, there are a handful of very likely contenders. Places you will almost certainly find us visiting or short-term-living over the course of our journey:
Since the planning began, we have talked about Guatemala being our first major stop. We have been researching Spanish schools in both San Pedro and Quetzaltenango, in hopes of expanding our Spanish past “Donde esta el baño?” Mayan ruins, volcanos, lush jungles, and (hopefully) less crowded beaches are some of the things we are looking forward to. Additionally, Guatemala is fairly well travelled so this will be a great way to ease into things.
Our original intention was not to spend a ton of time in Europe, especially Western Europe at all…and then we heard about the Camino de Santiago. In a nutshell we would spend about a month walking 780 kms across northern Spain, finishing in Santiago de Compostela. The route is made by a few hundred thousand every year, so it is not like we are doing something which has never been attempted. That being said, it will be a helluva hike!
Shawna spent six months here in 2007-08 (see her Ghana blog here), and fell in love with the country immediately. For the past couple of years that we have known each other, I have dreamt of heading back their with her. This is one of the countries I am looking forward to spending time in the most. This might also be a country where we spend time in an African game park. Many people spend several thousand going to see “The Big 5″ while on safari in Kenya, Tanzania, or South Africa. This isn’t currently one of the things on our bucket list, so we may just settle for the walking tour of Mole National Park for about $5.
Providing I didn’t miss any of them there are seven countries which end in ‘stan’. Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Obviously Afghanistan is not real high on our must-see list at this time, but I do hope that we will be able to spend some time travelling through one of the other Stans.
Well, to be honest, some of it has to do with the fact that these countries are just fun to pronounce…try to say Uzbekistan without smiling. See? Seriously though, these countries are rarely part of any of the RTW itineraries I have seen, but those few who have spent time there, have incredible stories to share. I cannot wait until we have stories of our own!
There is no doubt we will be spending time in SE Asia, likely quite a bit of time, beautiful, safe, and cheap cheap cheap. We have heard so much wonderful stuff about Vietnam: cruising through Halong Bay, moped-ing through Ho Chi Minh City, massages on the shores of Nha Trang. Friends of ours who have spent time their rave about Vietnam, and we imagine we will too!
Honestly, our reasons for being interested in Oman are even more obscure than why we want to visit a ‘Stan’. We are fairly loyal followers of the reality TV show The Amazing Race. Last fall when we watched racers drive through the mountainsides, and search for “Ali Baba” in Muttrah Souq, we were intrigued. The final straw however was when a local man, sat with Phil at the pitstop, greeting teams with his Omanian accent “welcome to Oman”. Well, for some reason, Shawna is unable to get that line out of her head….she thinks he sounded friendly. And that is why, in all likelihood we will probably, or at least possibly, stumble into Oman somewhere on our journey.
Of course there are a few other countries which are virtual locks. Thailand, India, and of course, Madagascar would be included here…but wow, there still seems to be so much of the world left to explore. It’s funny, although we have told each other, that we recognize that there is no way we can travel to as many places as we would ideally like to, part of us still hopes that somehow there might be a way….
Any other suggestions?