11th July 2014. We’ve been two years on the road – 104 weeks, or 730 days – where has it gone?!!
And now we’re embarking on Year 3 …. But only for a month, then we’ll be home, which we all have mixed feelings about! Can’t wait to see all our friends and family, enjoy some home comforts and we’re pretty happy about enjoying (hopefully) a pleasant British summertime. In those 730 days we’ve explored three continents – South America, Asia and Australia, plus Oceania – the collective name for the Pacific islands, which are not considered part of any continent. We’ve visited 32 countries, and unbelievably taken 57 flights – I’ve no idea how we managed so many considering we actually try to take trains, ferries and buses when we can!!
In the past year we have lingered where we wanted, but also tried to up the pace in between to fit in extra adventures and still make it home in time for a new school year! Zoe’s serious passport-page shortage crisis, has been survived thanks to very accommodating immigration officials stamping where we asked them and one even putting a visa over another stamp. He didn’t even request a bribe!! You can see the details of our routes in our ‘Journey Pages’ drop down menu at Our adventures so far…. the first year and Our adventures so far … the second year
We seem to be reflecting a lot these days on what we’ve experienced, what we’ve learned and what it will be like going back home and we’ll share it all, eventually, probably after we’re back. Suffice to say, travelling together and spending 24x7x730 days on top of each other isn’t always a bed of roses, even if our stories sometime make it sound that way. Sometimes it drives us crazy! We’ve had our share of homesickness, illness, stitches, allergies, parasites, we have our own song for getting the runs, the kids squabble and fight, we get sick of packing yet again, of saying goodbye to new friends almost as soon as we’ve met them and we’ve often fought and torn out our hair as we struggled to make road school work for us….!
But the rewards have been great – we’ve grown together, and closer (in between squabbling!) travelled in the footsteps of great explorers, received the most amazing welcomes, had some wonderful adventures, made many new friends and learned how to cherish them. We’ve discovered so much about the planet and the people in it, how powerful yet fragile is the world – the havoc wreaked by natural disasters and by man – war, earthquakes, tsunamis, genocide, displacement and yet so much beauty and harmony, friendship and kindness.
Last week, we were excited to be featured in an article in the Boston Globe that you might like to take a peek at ‘Gappers’ Leave Their Lives Behind for a Year (or Two) to Travel When I look back, I am endlessly thankful for what we’ve been able to do and staggered by how the kids have changed. When we watch them boldly interacting with the many different people we meet, navigating new languages and currencies, across cities and tackling crazy Daddy-challenges, I can’t believe how they’ve transformed and yet they are still just themselves too! We have no idea how they’ll get along back in a structured school environment, it will be so different but if their ability to adapt day to day in our travels is anything to go by, they’re going to be fine! This is how they looked before we left June-July 2012 – life back home and many goodbyes to friends and family…
And here they were with Oma as we set off for our flight on 11 July 2012 – Ben still has this red day bag and the rugby top (a bit holey) and trousers (a little short now) and a lot more hair, we can’t remember him having it cut since New Zealand!! Zoe’s clothes and bag are long worn/grown out of and replaced , her hair hasn’t been cut at all and has grown long! Lara’s bag was lost in Vietnam a couple of months ago inside a holdall of stuff, left in the street when a taxi dropped us off all weary from an overnight train ride and none of us picked it up! Her clothes which were well worn, especially the Barbie top finally gave up the ghost this year! She hasn’t had a haircut since Tonga but her hair just doesn’t seem to grow!! All trainers have been replaced once or twice as feet have grown! As a family, I think the running total of flip-flops has easily reached 20 pairs, though Ben has been determined in making his flip-flops last to their final breath and has only had four pairs!
A year ago, I posted some my ramblings about our first year at ‘A year of adventures half way round the world.’ Year Two has seen us leave New Zealand, island hop some more in the south West Pacific, make a big loop around Eastern Australia before crossing on a 3 day Indian Pacific rail trip from Sydney to Perth, then we’ve zig zagged our way through South East Asia, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Southern India and North East Asia, as you can see! Blogs are still lined up, hopelessly behind as ever, meanwhile here is a quick photo-fest and some favourite moments from this year…..
July 2013 we celebrated our first year birthday in New Zealand…
August 2013. Back in the Pacific, we swam with humpback whales in Tonga, basked in the warm welcome and waters of Fiji and watched stunning Mount Yasur erupt in Vanuatu
September – October 2013. Our Australia Adventure was incredible – in 6 weeks we whizzed all over by road, rail and air, we stayed with and had some fantastic times with alot of friends and family in Sydney, Cairns, Geelong and Philip Island, we camped, took two campervan trips and criss crossed the country on the classic Ghan and Indian Pacific railway journeys.
November – December 2013 And so to Asia, Bali was so amazing we went back for a second month in December and January, flitting off to Sumatra, Malaysia and Singapore briefly in in between!
January 2014 So we eventually tore ourselves away from Bali – if it wasn’t for the 1 month Indonesian visa, we’d probably still be there! We headed to Malaysian Borneo, and then to KL before heading off to Sri Lanka, all on insanely cheap Air Asia flights that we couldn’t resist and really made us shift our itinerary to take advantage:)
February – March 2014 We flew across the Indian Ocean and stopped in Sri Lanka and then the Maldives before landing in S India
April – May 2014 Back to SE Asia to enjoy much craved Thai food, a rare month in one place in Siem Reap, Cambodia and a wonderful journey from south to north in Vietnam before we flew to Hong Kong for the last birthday of the trip – Zoe’s 9th!
June 2014 After thinking we wouldn’t have enough passport pages, we managed to get china visa squeezed into our passports in HK, so headed off to do a speedy circuit around China and somehow packed in just about everything on our China bucket list!
Post script. Some days have passed as I’ve been finishing this post – we are back in India, this time in the north. We are in Agra and today were roaming the mighty Taj Mahal – we finally step inside the great mausoleum, shoes off and with signs everywhere to be quiet and not to take photos, it’s surprisingly even more humid and hot inside. Ben and I are lingering and examining the tombs are in the centre. Zoe groans and exclaims ‘Why do we have to be here? Why are you so interested? It’s just a big lump of old marble!’ She picks up back outside where she and Lara find tadpoles to catch in the ornamental ponds until they get told off…. and she’s happy enough taking some fun shots with me before we leave….. but perhaps we’re ready to come home!