In June 2006, Iain and I left England for China, armed with all the money we’d saved running a pub in the English countryside. Eighteen months and eighteen countries later, we arrived in Shanghai, where we started another overland journey, to Cape Town, in January 2011.
Our journey to Shanghai began in London. From there we travelled north through England and Scotland, then west by ferry to Ireland. After a few weeks, we took another ferry to France. Western Europe’s railways helped us to wind our way through the continent, and a train that departed from Thessaloniki carried us into Istanbul, where we first saw Asia across the Bosphorus.
In Turkey we rode buses, and buses eventually carried us south through Syria into Jordan. We chugged into Egypt on another ferry, and left on a bus to Israel. Then, after hurrying back to Amman, with plane tickets to Mumbai tucked away in my money belt, we flew – over Iran and Pakistan, slicing 4000 kilometres off an otherwise uninterrupted 39,000 travelled by land and sea.
After arriving in Mumbai, we imagined we’d spend about three months travelling around the subcontinent before being ready to move on to China, via Nepal and Tibet. We also expected that our money would soon run out. India surprised us: nine months later we’d spent less money than we did during three months in Europe, and we’d soaked up about as much as we could – in one visit – of a fascinating but exhausting country. We headed north to the Himalayan Plateau, took a jeep from Kathmandu through Tibet to Lhasa, where we connected with the world’s highest railway line and set off for Chengdu, in China proper. We took our second-last train to Xi’an then our last to Shanghai, where we stopped, in December 2007, and began our lives in China.
British Isles – 1 Month
The Continent – 3 Months
Near and Middle East – 3 months
Indian Subcontinent – 9 months
Sivananda Ashram, Neyyar Dam
Trek (An Improvised Ghorepani to Ghandruk Loop)
Sivananda Ashram, Netala
Lumbini (Vipassana Silent Meditation)
Far East – 2 months