I’ve been a bit slow in getting around to posting this, but here are a few stats in response to the most commonly asked questions relating to my time away. It’s taken a while to compile, but it should give you an idea of what to expect if you’re about to embark on a similar journey of traveling the world.
I haven’t been as diligent in the record keeping as some people that I have met on the road, who would religiously keep track of everything, down to the hours spent on each mode of transport. As a result, there have been certain occasions where I’ve asked myself what I did while I was away. However, when I look back at these stats, I realize that it’s been quite the freakin’ whirlwind adventure.
A lot has changed over the past two years, from the reasons for travelling to particular places as well as the pace and methods of getting there. If I was presented with these statistics two years ago, it may have been enough to the put me off from boarding that flight to Mexico.
Continents – 4
North America, South America, Asia, Europe.
The North America I’m referring to would be classified as Central America from Mexico (yes I am aware that Mexico is classified as North America still) to Panama. I did have intentions on going to Antarctica, but when I decided to extend the travel period, I decided that the enormous expense of getting to the 7th Continent would have been put to better use in keeping me on the road for a longer in Asia.
Countries – 25
Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Australia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Turkey , Iran, Singapore, Thailand
These include total number of countries that I visited at least once. If you count the multiple border crossings across Chile/Argentina as well as multiple trips into Thailand/Vietnam then the total would come to 35 stamps in the passport.
Best Food – Vietnam without a doubt. The scent of grilled meat and bubbling soups would fill the air from early morning and well into the evening. Food preparation is always a visual feast, with most of the cooking being done at the front of house, and food vendors would smile with delight whenever I’d bring new faces to devour their entire menu. I could eat street food, noodle soup and banh mi, all day and every day in Vietnam.
What constitutes as good food? For me, it boils down to: freshness, accessibility, breadth of choice, uniqueness and cost.
Most stunning vistas – At first, I was only interested in food, but when I reached the Andes mountain range in South America, my focus changed to landscape photography. Of all the places, nowhere impressed me more than the mesmerizing landscapes of Chile. From the lunar like landscapes in the Atacama desert, to sailing down the coast in a cargo ship for four days through Southern Patagonia, no other place captured my attention like Chile.
My most memorable moments were the five days of trekking through the pristine back country terrain of Torres Del Paine in Patagonia. Despite various degrees of ligament damage in both knees, the stunning landscapes and crazy lenticular clouds that hovered above the Patagonian mountain ranges, were enough to keep my mind occupied and get me through it all. It was during those moments that made me realized that I was at my happiest while exploring the mountains.
Friendliest locals – Iran. I thought the Burmese were the nicest when I spent two weeks in Myanmar, but the hospitality, pride and the welcoming nature of the Iranians really touched me. I cannot wait to return there.
Most underrated country – Ecuador. I wish I could have spent more time here, but the trekking and adventure options and scenic mountain lakes in Ecuador is somewhat unknown to many people.
Most dangerous country – Honduras. Known as the murder capital of the world, I stayed a night in the capital, Tegucigalpa and it didn’t sit well with me at all. It were moments like that where you realize why all of the bus stations are in fact, fortified compounds.
Land Border Crossings – 11
These were all throughout Central/South America. They can be nerve wrecking experiences because you’re constantly alert and on guard, keeping an eye out for your own safety and possessions.
The worst border crossing encounter that I had was at a checkpoint in Ecuador/Peru where the guard wanted to see all of my immunization forms and papers and kept asking for more documentation, which I produced. All he wanted was a bribe which I wasn’t going to give in to. In the end, he must have gotten fed up with my ignorance and let me go though.
The best border crossing would be crossing the Andes mountain ranges from Argentina into Chile.
Number of towns/cities – 130
The most number of cities/towns visited was in Vietnam (12). My favorite cities were definitely the ones that I spent the most amount of time in such as Medellin, Colombia (1 month) and Hanoi (4 months) and Saigon (3 months) in Vietnam.
It’s important to slow down every now and then, to enjoy the moments of travel and immerse yourself in a local culture. It’s within that period where you’ll discover those nuggets that aren’t in a guide a guide book, develop genuine and lasting friendships and walk away with the fondest memories that will make it all worthwhile.
Accommodation – Hotels/hostels/guest houses/Couches/Floors/Ships/Airports – 153
I spent a good amount of time staying in hostels, especially in South America. After a while, you develop a routine on identifying the best beds in each room and hope that would be void of any bed bugs. I’ve met people who have spent quite a few nights in airports before, but I only did it once because I had a 18 hour layover in Doha, Qatar.
The worst part about leaving a place is the packing. No matter how many times you do this over and over again, it doesn’t become any easier and you don’t become anymore efficient.
Long distance transport – 182
- Flights – 33
- Buses – 94
- Boats – 25
- Trains – 20
- Car rides – 9
- Scooter – 1
I’m sure I may have left a few out, but if you’re expecting to travel around South America, then expect to catch plenty of long bus rides buses. My longest stint was over thirty hours between Guayaquil, Ecuador to Lima, Peru. After a while, twelve hour bus rides become the norm.
Best transport experience – Iguazu Falls to Buenos Aires – 18 hours. If you get the chance to book first class, then book it. This bus ride was like flying business class, with 180 degree reclining seats, large screen televisions, champagne or whiskey on arrival and even an attendant who would clean the washroom after each use.
Worst transport experience – Probably every minivan experiences in Mexico and in Laos. They both involve mountainous regions and bus drivers who had Formula 1 racing aspirations. Let’s say that most passengers required vomit bags.
Number of times being sick – 1
Only once in Laos with the flu. Haven’t had food bad food poisoning yet.
Number of ATM cards lost – 2
I actually lost the first one in Mexico on my second day of the trip, where I stupidly left the card in the ATM and walked off. Having being used to the card being returned prior the money being dispensed like they do in Australia, I took my cash from the machine and walked off before the card was returned. Two months later, I did the same thing in Belize. It wasn’t until two months later that I could have a new card sent to Colombia because of the sketchy postal system in Central America.
Injuries – 2
I would consider myself quite fit, but there’s nothing like trekking town steep terrain to realize that the ligaments in your knees aren’t like that they used to be. It’s also not wise to over compensate for one injury and then damage the ligaments in the other knee, whilst on a 5 day trek in Patagonia. Somehow I managed to scrape through, limping 40 kilometers and taking copious amounts of pain killers.
Number of haircuts – 2
What can I say, I got lazy. I could never grow a beard, so I thought I’d see how I’d go at growing my hair long. Cut number one was 9 months into this trip and cut number two was a few months before I came home when I decided that got in the way more than anything, and that there were way too many dudes rocking the man-bun.
Cost of travelling for two years?
Less than you think. I haven’t gotta around to compiling the numbers, but will save it for a future post.