We've been back about, what, six months? and I never rounded the whole thing off. Lets kick off with some numbers:
- Countries visited - 22
- Number of flights taken - 40
- Distance Flown - 80,619 km (50,094 miles)
- Cars rented - 12
- Budget employees that have been marked for death - 1
- Cars Chauffeured - 6
- Distance by car - 24,008 km (14,918 miles)
- Distance driven to fetch a puppy - 1,247 km (775 miles)
- Number of times pulled over - 3
- Number of times pulled over while avoiding legal redress - 2
- Coaches/Busses used - 3
- Distance by coach/bus - 1,384 km (860 miles)
- Boats chartered - 2
- Ferries - 4
- Cruises - 3
- Distance sailed - 12,446 km (7734 miles)
- Trains taken - 4
- Distance by train - 1,205 km (748 miles)
- Puppies fetched - 1
- Wild Penguins observed: New Zealand - 3; Chile - approx 150,000.
- Tarantulas eaten - 2
The questions we were invariably asked by friends, relatives and colleagues about the big trip were: Where was best? where was worst? What would you miss out if you did it again? What would you like to have included that you didn't do? That's a long time in each others' company, did you fight? Which food was best? Did you get ill? How safe did you feel walking about? Why does Chantelle's hair keep changing colour? How do you get red wine stains out of beige carpet?
The general consensus was that Easter Island and Bhutan were our favourite stops in terms of sheer adventure.
Tahiti was the biggest letdown, I think. I mean it was all very picturesque and everything, but the cost was extortionate and the service incommensurate. There are worse ways to break up a trans-Pacific flight, however.
New Zealand was the one place I really had the "I could live here" feeling for. I don't know if it's because it's more British than Winston Churchill eating crumpets while riding a bulldog, or whether it was just relief after spending two months in the Spanglosphere, but I enjoyed every moment of this bit. I kinda wished they voted for the new flag though; they're their own place.
An honourable mention goes to the not-too-insubstantial road trip around the States. 10,000 miles give or take. The scale and diversity of the US lends it's populace some charity for often not owning passports. I do have a particular fondness for driving on massive roads in oversized cars powered by petrol that's cheaper than own-brand cola.
The last handful of blog posts go over the Asian aspects in more detail and with a clearer memory than I can muster here. I didn't find any spiritual enlightenment (but then I'm not calibrated for it), but we did see some weird and fantastic shit. I ate spiders. We also met lovely people who might never get a chance of a life without hunger and imminent peril because the land they're tilling might kill them without warning - due in no small part to their country being a scorched chessboard for foreign powers decades before they were born. We saw the ravages of totalitarianism and corruption, while nice people did their level best to work around all that and forge a half-decent existence. I helped a Hmong chap in Laos practise his English; he occasionally Facebook messages me for help with his homework. We enjoyed ourselves -thoroughly- but not without being exposed to enough perspective to appreciate our only mildly corrupt government and museums with boring but politically-unbiased curation.
As things were winding down, we were pretty content to come home. I wouldn't say we were homesick or tired of travelling, but we'd seen and done the things we were going to do. And I was really hankering for a sausage butty.
There is an egotistical aspect to this blog, as there is to all such media, but personally it's been a means of storing the memories as quickly as they were being made, before they drifted off and became lost in the miasma of experiences. I know several of our friends and family (and at least one Hungarian Uber driver) have followed this account and we thank you for your attention.
We'll keep this site ticking along, as Chan is always planning the next country to invade, but this adventure is officially -if somewhat belatedly- concluded.