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Published: April 2nd 2010
(Day 731 on the road)
Well, who would have thought? Two years on the road, two years of Living the Dream - and going strong. When I made the rather impulsive decision in 2008 to quit my job to do something else with my life before it was too late, I sure didn't imagine any of this. I can't even begin to understand just how much I have seen and experienced or how many people I have met that had a profound impact on my life.
And how long is two years of travelling anyway? Here is one way to look at it: In my old job I had five weeks of holiday each year. Assuming that I would spend the full five weeks travelling every year (and not stay at home or with friends and family), it would take me 21 years to see as much of the world as I have seen in the past two years.
One year ago to the day, I published a blog about the highlights of my first year on the road, and I have decided to stick to the same format. Not only does it offer a nice overview of my journey,
it also forces me to sit down and really look back at the past year. Sometimes I find myself so engulfed in travelling that I don't stop often enough to reflect on the past; this is the perfect time to do just that. It also helps me to remember just how privileged I am to be able to venture this far and for this long.
Let me start off though with a few statistics I have put together, some mundane, some rather interesting I hope. To answer the question first that so many people keep asking me: So far, in two years and really keeping costs down (sleeping in hostels, utilising local transport, eating street food or cooking myself), I have spent a total of 22.500 Euros, or 900 Euros a month, or 30 Euros a day - with the cheapest month being in Malaysia (450 Euros, March 2009) and the dearest one in New Zealand (1510 Euros, January 2010).
I have visited 23 countries in those 24 months (16 in the first year, and only 7 in the second year, so I am slowing down considerably); on average that equals about a month for every country. The
actual time I spend in a place differs greatly of course. For instance, I spent a total of 154 days (over five months) in Malaysia (mainly due to the sheer beauty of the country and the amazing friendliness of the people, partly due to a long sickness), but only four days in the tiny sultanate of Brunei Darussalam.
I have taken and subsequently uploaded over 5500 pictures to my flickr account
(including 150 panorama shots and 155 video clips) that have been viewed over 250.000. To accompany the photos, I have authored 150 blog entries that have been read 60.000 times by people from 158 nations, with most visitors coming from the USA (8100), the UK (4200) and Germany (3800) - as opposed to one single visitor each from countries like Zimbabwe, Tajikistan or Papua New Guinea. And if I just connect the main points of my route
, I have travelled over 74.000km as the crow flies, and much much more if I were able to calculate my actual route.
As for the highlights of the past year (have a look here for a summary of my first year on the road)
, it has once again been incredibly difficult to compile this list. Last year I wrote that "it was remarkably hard to include certain experiences…and to
exclude others" and that "I was amazed to find just how much has happened, and how distant yet at the same time how vivid some of my memories are". Well, the same holds true this year, so let me just get on with the highlights of the past 12 months:
• Most beautiful beach: The stunning and deserted Kecil Beach at Bako National Park, Borneo, Malaysia
• Most unreal sunset: A blood-red sensation that was out of this world, also at Bako National Park, Borneo, Malaysia
• Most annoying place: The constant and never-ending hassle by aggressive touts in Bali and Lombok, Indonesia
• Greatest single day: Trekking the volcanic Tongariro Alpine Crossing on New Zealand‘s rugged North Island
• Longest time spent in one place: Voluntarily I spent two weeks in relaxed Kuching (Borneo, Malaysia) - and involuntarily I spent a month and a half in Kota Kinabalu (also in Borneo, Malaysia) after I fell sick
• Absolute low point: Nine days of hospitalisation after an ear infection that caused me to completely loose my sense of balance and part of my hearing, followed by being grounded for another month of recovery (Kota Kinabalu, Borneo, Malaysia)
• Smallest country visited: The tiny sultanate of Brunei Darussalam, with its pleasant and sleepy capital Bandar Seri Begawan
• Longest continuous time spent in a country: Experiencing the true New Zealand by driving around the country for almost four months in my great camper van
• Friendliest people: I would have to say Malaysians, for their sheer amazing friendliness and helpfulness - time and time again
• Happiest reunion: With my old university friends Henry and Carmen in Sydney, Australia
• Greatest road trip: Cruising the gorgeous Great Ocean Road between Adelaide and Melbourne in Australia
• Worst city: Jakarta in Indonesia - polluted, over-crowded, noisy, chaotic
• Most awesome place overall: Malaysian Borneo, hands down the most amazing place with the friendliest people
• Best diving: Diving with massive turtles off the island of Sipadan in Borneo, Malaysia
• Best snorkelling: Drift-snorkelling with a massive turtle and armies of colourful fish in the crystal-clear waters off the beautiful island of Gili Trawangan, Lombok, Indonesia
• Best place to get stuck in: Punan Bah, a tiny river settlement deep in the Borneo jungle, where we got stranded after the river levels dropped so low they were expecting the next boat only three weeks later
• Mightiest caves explored: The great Mulu Caves in the national park of the same name, which also houses the Sarawak Chamber, the biggest cave chamber in the world (Borneo, Malaysia)
• Best supermarket visited: The Jungle Supermarket - read: Collecting our own dinner from whatever grew in the jungle - deep in the remote Kelabit Highlands, accessible only by tiny Twin Otter plane (Borneo, Malaysia)
• Best city visited: Not easy, but I guess cosmopolitan Sydney with its gorgeous harbour did it for me
• Highest mountain climbed: Mt. Ruapehu in New Zealand, an active volcano with a stunning emerald-coloured crater-lake at the summit
• Toughest hike: Trekking far off the marked trails near Lake Mavis in Arthur's Pass National Park, New Zealand
• Longest time spent with a good friend: My old university-friend Suzanne, who came to travel with me around New Zealand’s South Island for two wonderful weeks
• Most overhyped tourist attraction: Bali, Indonesia - full of drunk Australians, with the locals screwing and ripping you off at every turn. Definitely not paradise
• Mightiest view savoured: The fantastic scenery of the Cascade Saddle in New Zealand‘s Mt. Aspiring National Park had me telling about it for weeks afterwards
• Funniest English accent encountered: French ("it is 'orribly 'ot today, no?")
• Most annoying English accent encountered: Like, American ("I was like, totally like cool with it")
• Best accommodation: Pitching my tent right on the cliff-edge on a mountain opposite imposing Mt. Cook in New Zealand
• Single most expensive item bought: My own campervan (my “mattress on wheels”) to explore New Zealand with for almost four months
• Cleanest yet most sterile city: Singapore, with its strange, authoritarian laws that seriously curb everybody's freedom
• Most inconsiderate people: Israelis, time and again so completely inconsiderate of others that is was almost beyond believe
• Most disturbing experience: Visiting a number of mass graves in Banda Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia, the biggest of which holds 15.000 unidentified corpses from the devastating boxing day tsunami in 2004
• Most unusual food eaten in a Muslim
country: Munching on chewy dog meat at Lake Toba, Sumatra, Indonesia
• Best wildlife encounter: Playing with the Orang Utans in Bukit Lawang, Sumatra, Indonesia
• Most memorable moment: Swimming in the open ocean from a tiny boat, with Krakatau volcano erupting behind me in force (Sumatra, Indonesia)
• Most savoured food: Gado-gado, a mix of freshly cooked vegetables topped with a rich peanut sauce (mainly in Indonesia, but also found in Malaysia or Singapore)
• Most imposing man-made monument: The mighty temple of Borobudur in Java, Indonesia
• Most imposing natural monument: Ayer’s Rock - it was worth the effort to get to this remote place smack bang in the middle of the Australian outback
• Most hostile behaviour encountered towards tourists: By numerous people in New Zealand, who made no secret about what they thought about tourists in their country
• Fastest and most widely available Internet: Taiwan - free wireless Internet every single time I switched my laptop on, and considerably faster than anywhere else
• Most impossible scenery: The mesmerising Bacuit Archipelago on the island of Palawan in the Philippines had me lost for words more than once - pictures simply cannot do this place any justice
• Saddest place: Angeles City in The Philippines, often said to be the sex capital of the world, with around 20.000 prostitutes working in the town
• Most unusual accommodation: In a disabled toilet at Jakarta Airport in Indonesia - after arriving in the middle of the night, with no transport, luggage storage or a safe place to sleep to be found anywhere
• Best soak in a hot spring: The officially closed and thus wonderfully peaceful Wenshan hot springs that flow into an ice-cold river (so you can regulate the temperature yourself), right in the stunning Taroko Gorge in Taiwan
• Most peaceful inner-city oasis: The wonderful and immaculate botanic gardens in Bogor, Java, Indonesia
• Shortest commercial flight taken: The 12-minute flight on a tiny Pacific Air 8-seater plane from Mana Island on Fiji back to the main island of Viti Levu
• Most annoying insects: The omnipresent swarms of aggressive sand flies all over New Zealand, which made spending time outside all but impossible in many places
• Country I didn’t do justice too because I stayed way too short: The Philippines - I have only seen a tiny fraction of this amazing place
Let me close however with my favourite statistic of them all: Despite how much I have travelled on this trip and during previous journeys in my life, I have still seen only 24%!o(MISSING)f all the countries in the world (63 out of a total of 263 nations to be exact). How long will I have to keep going to see half of the planet? 75%!?(MISSING)? 100%!?(MISSING)?? It sure is a big world out there...
Next stop: Viti Levu Island (Fiji).
To view my photos, have a look at pictures.beiske.com
. And to read the full account of my journey, have a look at
the complete book about my trip at Amazon
(and most other online book shops).
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