World Trip 2012-13: The Sights (Part 1 of 4)

I have now been back in Australia for over 2 weeks struggling with the return to ‘real’ life or what could be thought of as a distraction from the great joys life can bring. The common question you get when returning home is ‘What was the highlight?’ which is no easy question to answer when you have circled the world for 139 days.

In considering how to answer and recalling this trip I think it’s easiest to address this epic adventure in 4 different ways:
1) The Sights – what activities I enjoyed by country
2) The Culture – what did I learned about the different cultures and religions
3) The People – the people I travelled with who I remember fondly
4) Travelling – how I travelled and what I learnt about travelling.

THE SIGHTS
I visited 19 countries during this world trip:
Part 1: Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Iceland, England.
Part 2: Germany, Spain, Argentina, Chile
Part 3: Antarctica, USA, Mexico, Cuba
Part 4: Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.

1) Singapore
Way back 28 September 2012 my first full day away was pre-tour independent travel which wasn’t the main form of travel on this trip. It seems like a life time ago that I visited Sentosa Island and later that day a visit to the Singapore Night Zoo. I also visited the Jurong Bird Park, went shopping and watched the glamorous night sky from the harbour.

My friends Suet Wai and Natalie Pemberton helped a lot with the selection of activities in Singapore. I was only in Singapore for 3 days. I found it to be an incredibly well run city state, extremely hot and humid for the days I was there. I wasn’t impressed by the shopping but I’m sure if I went to high end places it would have been great.

I’d be happy to have a short stopover in Singapore again in the future, especially if I had enough money for one of the Harbour View Hotel.

2) Malaysia
I was in Malaysia for 6 days as part of the Colours of Asia Tour with G Adventures lead by Cat Thongnigh. The trip started with a trishaw ride in Melaka and visit to my first ever Taoism Temple. Visits to religious temples / churches / events were to become an ongoing highlight of my world trip. You can see that people have a desire to find some type of connection and understanding of why we exist. It is probably one of the universal connections across all world cultures.

I won’t forget Kuala Lumpur anytime soon. The National Palace (just completed) and National Mosque are enormous establishments. At the Mosque the girls in our group had to get covered up in colourful robes which I actually thought added to the visit. Sarah’s portable fan made her a group favourite at this point.

Other highlights in Malaysia included visiting the Petronas Twin Towers at night in Kuala Lumpur and hiking in the Cameron Highlands.

3) Thailand
I finished my visit to South East Asia with 7 days in Thailand, 6 of these days finishing the G Adventure tour. There wasn’t a boring day in Thailand. Riding an elephant (Koh Samui) was an experience I’ve glad I have done at least once. On reflection I’m not sure about when I patted the tiger on the same day all I can say with certainty is my heart beat was raised considerably.

The crazy truck ride in Koh Panghan is still with me. It seemed we were going to crash at every turn and we were lost in some forgotten world getting to our remote accommodation. The overnight train to Bangkok from there bought back memories of my earlier travel days when I regularly took overnight transportation to save money. The kicking boxing was also memorable.

But my favourite memory was kayaking with Lydia and Sarah in the Gulf of Thailand in particular having to push against the roof of a cave to get our boat into a beautiful cave. An adventure with two stunning girls how could you go wrong.

4) Iceland
Just getting to Iceland was an experience as it involved 4 flights and airlines over 2 days, 5 countries and 8,800 miles to just get there starting with a 6 am start in Bangkok and a 11.30 pm finish in Reykjavik.

All my activities in Iceland where on independent travel over the 5 days with most booked via Icelandair. Iceland’s landscape seems like another world, very different from anything I’ve experience before. I got to experience the landscape with an ATV ride over what I felt was the surface of Mars. The visit to the Blue Lagoon was also worth it even if very expensive. I’m not sure if the cleansing mud on my face had the desired effect of making my skin come more alive J

Witnessing the Northern Lights was a disappointment because they weren’t very strong the night I went. I actually saw the lights better on another travellers high end camera that caught the lights better. The best days was on 18 October when a 4WD took me to visit the old meeting place of a Viking Parliament and visiting 4 gigantic glaciers.

Iceland exists because of volcanoes and 99% of it’s energy comes from geothermal sources. I would love to come back some day and explore more of this fascinating and remote country.

5) England
I was only in London for a 3 day weekend but it did give me the chance to catch up with Gareth and Emma and their young sons Henry and George. It is always an experience to catch up with fellow travellers from an earlier trip.

The short visit still allowed me to do a lot including visiting a West End Show (Yes Prime Minister), going on an historic tour (Spies and Spycatchers) and going on a 20 km ride around London on a Sunday that allowed me to discover the Canals of London, the Olympic site and Sunday Market at Brick Lane.

I feel I could live in London and I’m envious that my good friend Jonathan got to do that for a few years.

Next up: Germany, Spain, Argentina and Chile.

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About Nathan

An Australian World traveler who has been fortunate enough to experience 56 countries so far. https://nathanburgessinsights.com/travel/
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