In this introduction:
- 7 continents in 1 year!
- I lost my passport first day of my trip
- maps, and more maps
Seven Continents in One Year!
I was always a great fan of those crazy travellers. For some, those people seem to be so far away, only can be heard of in TV programs or news channels. For me, it is something that is so close that I even know a handful personally. I first encountered a Japanese girl Miki in Nepal, and later she journeyed to 100+ countries within 2 years. I met Babi, a Brazilian girl who is still now travelling through the world, and her plan is 3 years non-stop. I even remember a Turkish guy I randomly met in Costa Rica who was gonna visit every country in the world. However, as a lot of others think: I do not have such connections as Miki, or thousands of followers for support as Babi, or straight corporate sponsors like that Turkish dude. Some also say: I have a negative balance in my accounts, how the fuck am I supposed to travel around the world? Indeed, traveling nowadays is such a luxury that few can afford for most of their lives.
I used to think similarly, until I slowly picked up ways to manage points, miles, and cheap tickets to fly me around this spinning blue ball, covering enough distance to reach the moon. I then figured out ways to minimize costs for accommodation, food, and expenditures. Now, a budget that lasts a vacationer a week can easily get me, a frugal backpacker, through a month. That is why I decided to join the ranks of globetrotters, a literal one as a matter of fact. Goal: traverse all 7 continents in 1 year. And as it turned out, I could also insert a super cheap trip around the world, counter-clockwise viewed from the North Pole, with a short side trip to the Arctic. Thus, after the first part of my grand plan this year, Australia 2016, I started my trip around the world, to become a real world traveller.
Welcome, to a real adventure.
Take me to…
last part in my 7 continents plan: Australia 2016
- Part 1: Kenya [Safari]
- Part 2: Tanzania [Kilimanjaro]
- Part 3: Zambia [Victoria Falls]
- Part 4: Scotland [Loch Ness]
- Part 5: London [Tower Bridge]
- Part 6: Norway Part A [Pulpit Rock]
- Part 7: Norway Part B [Fjords]
- Part 8: Norwegian Arctic [Polar Bears]
- Part 9: Munich [Castles]
- Part 10: Swabia & Paris [German Countryside]
- Part 11: Seychelles [Pristine Beaches]
- Part 12: Johannesburg, Shanghai, Taipei, Osaka
next part in my 7 continents plan: Bolivia 2016, where it begins the next segment named Voyage South.
【SPECIAL NOTE as of Aug 2019】 Most of these journals were completed in 2016, and were not exactly on par with the standards of my blog in 2019, so please bear with me as I finish all my back log and slowly fix all the old ones to match the current level of writing. This introduction is written in August of 2019 to make the series a bit easier to navigate. Meanwhile, you can compare some old journals with the newest ones to see how much I have improved! Thanks a lot!
What in Tarnation…
How did this monstrosity of a trip come to fruition? Well…
It all started with a cheap ticket on Qatar Airways that would fly me to Africa from Los Angeles and then to Europe for about 500 dollars, and it all snowballed out of control. I flew into Nairobi, Kenya, and then joined for a safari across the African savannah. I got to see lions killing buffaloes, herds of elephants, as well as the great African migration.
After 10 days of roaming in the African wilderness, I would eventually be dropped off at the border between Kenya and Tanzania, where I continued to Arusha, the starting point for the climb to the highest mountain in Africa: Kilimanjaro. 10 days of climb on the most scenic route brought out the best of me, and of the world.
I flew to Dar Es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania, and continued to Lusaka, Zambia. 4 hours of bus ride brought me to the most impressive waterfall in the world: Victoria Falls. Standing as mighty as her South American sister Iguazu Falls, it was mesmerizing to see millions of gallons of water pouring down a chasm deep beyond perception every single second.
2 hours of short hop brought me to Johannesburg, and I flew the return leg on Qatar Airlines to Edinburgh. Yes, it would be too easy to just go back to North America, so I decided to explore Europe for a month or so. Scotland was absolutely fabulous. I got to climb Arthur’s Seat, eat haggis, cruise on Loch Ness searching for the mysterious monster, and drank Scotch till I cry.
Next up was the imperial capital: London. Needless to say, it was a great time messing around in Piccadilly Circus, Trifalgar Square, and Elephant & Castle, but also in the more famous places such as the Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Westminster and Thames River banks. Those were the times, man…
From this mega-hub, it was easy to go to my most-coveted destination: Norway. I started in Stavanger, which was the location of the world famous pulpit rock. It is a large sheer cliff standing 600m/200ft above a narrow fjord, with absolutely no protection whatsoever. Just looking down the edge has got several people killed, so I took a little seat at the brink of death, just like any normal person would.
Then a train ride took me to the largest city of the Scandinavian country: Oslo. Grand musical halls, strange museums, eye-catching pedestrians, large empty castles and a beautiful harbor made up my days in the extraordinarily expensive city. Yep, all the Norwegian stereotypes concentrated in one place, just as promised!
Another train ride brought me to the coastal city of Bergen, where I chilled at the summer waterfront with my only friend: solitude, in front of beautiful medieval houses, as well as a ton of delicious food that I would never be able to afford without selling organs.
I hopped onto the world-famous Hurtigruten ship, and began the journey north towards the picturesque fjords. After witnessing hundreds of waterfalls pouring down into my soul, I was let go in the marvelous little city of Alesund. The view from the local mountains was simply unchallenged, and there is really nothing else that I can compare it to: this is Norwegian beauty.
Last stop in Norway was practically not Norway, as it is only a land ruled by the Norwegian government but not technically owned. It is so far up the north that it would be 4 hours of flight north of Oslo, which is already one of the northernmost capitals! Welcome to Svalbard, an island with more polar bears than human, and a sun that never sets. This, is Norwegian Arctic.
Hopping back to mainland, I arrived in Munich after a long day of transiting. Bavaria has so much to offer that it overwhelmed me properly. However, what inspired me the most was the castle that inspired Disney, built by a reclusive king only wishing to run away from his hectic life. Beauty in tragedy, or tragedy in beauty? You decide.
A long train ride across the black forest later, I arrived at the beautiful Swabian countryside to the west of the nation. Here resides my dear friend Alina, a goofy girl with fluffy, near white hair. We met during Panambia 2016 and later we did the Run together, so it was only fitting for me to bother her even more in her hometown: Rosenfeld, a village with barely 500 people, but a brewery, 4 bakeries and a whole lot of charm nonetheless.
Another quick train to Paris later, I was on my merry way to my single honeymoon in Seychelles. Yes, because I am a masochist and decided to torture myself by being single as fuck on the most romantic island in the world. I am truly a piece of work… But hey, at least I got to eat a couple’s combo meal myself every single day! Yay?
6 days in the single person’s hell was definitely enough as I was chewing my nails off when I saw couples frolicking on pristine white beaches the 1044th time in one morning. Johannesburg was a welcoming city indeed, and I wanted to see where history was made, so I took a dive into one of the most iconic slums in the world, Soweto. I learned how difficult life is in the area with no plumbing, fresh water, electricity or sewage. People showed me their ways to make money out of nothing but bare hands and junk, while repeating to themselves that they would never commit a crime just like their parents did. I paid homage to the Apartheid museum, Mandala’s house, as well as the Soweto uprising monument. Even though these people no longer had to bleed, but they are still suffering.
I flew back to Shanghai, and after a few days of chilling at my old home, continued to Taipei, only to hop on a business class flight from Osaka to Los Angeles, thus ending this trip.
Wow, what an adventure! It took me over 1000 words to just introduce the gist of this journey! This is my first mega-trip so there are many things that I was adjusting to, so please forgive me if there is anything that is amateurish since I did try my best to hold myself to the highest standard. Yet, it was not easy to balance fun and relaxation in a journey this exhilarating. Come on, it is a trip that would take me around the entire known world, literally!
So, are you ready? Let’s embark on an epic that will dwarf all others! Round’aWorld 2016, begin!
I was so excited when I set my foot upon the curb in LAX terminal 2 on the beautiful afternoon of Independence Day, July 4th of 2016. I had done some crazy things before, like a weekend trip to Tokyo, but travelling around the world, literally? Oh man, I never thought I would be able to actually do that by the age of 21! I quickly checked in and passed through security. I then realized I should be disappointed that I was in terminal 2, not the normal international terminal. As an elite member with OneWorld alliance, I had no business lounge access, so I had to sit amongst the common folks with wifi as fast as my laundry schedule (I have not folded on since the turn of the millennium, and do not intend to do so until the second coming of Christ). I was surprised that the wifi was not sponsored by DMV. Thank god the boarding began quite quickly, and I was able to get through priority lane via the hectic seating area that was more cramped than a soccer player faking injuries. Oh boy I hate LAX so much.
This is one of the longest flights in the world, as our flight time to Doha was clocking in more than 16 hours in this B777-300ER. It was actually quite nice though, since it had larger legroom and a full on entertainment system. I was seated in the front by the window on the starboard side, and the old lady with her husband sitting beside me were very pleasant. We talked a lot about our travel plans, our family, our lives, and our opinion on the current political climate. They were headed to Nairobi as well, and they were both as excited as I was for what Africa had for us! Among chatting, watching movies, and sleeping, we landed at Doha in no time. This was definitely one of the better rides I have had in my life, since sitting next to a crying baby for 16 hours would probably result in an emergency landing as guess what, this man-child can cry even louder. I once contemplated the plausibility of slitting someone’s throat with a plastic knife when I sat beside a couple making out on a 3 hour flight (yes, tongues involved), so I guess the old couple was possibly as great as I could hope for. Oh also, if you have read my thought about my horrendous flight to Australia in my last trip, you would understand this was some higher being’s intention to save this flight.
We landed in Doha Hammad International Airport at dusk the next day, and I had a tight connection. However, I wanted to try out the Business Lounge here in the airport, so I had to rush. The airport was poorly designed, despite being very modern. All transiting traffic needed to pass through a security checkpoint/chokepoint, and it was a 15 minute walk from my gate. I ran through the process, and I was quickly astonished by the legendary giant teddy bear of Doha airport. Trust me, Mt. Everest had nothing in front of this fucker.
I went to the Business Lounge, and it was obvious that this little corner of Lucifer’s armpit was designed to make you feel terrible. The real business class passengers on Qatar flights had a different, much better lounge, while this small lounge was used to stuff all the elite members. Seriously, I went to legit one during my Qatari Hop trip, and that was like the polar opposite of whatever this monstrosity is. It had an okay buffet, a great selection of drinks and alcohol, and 0 space to sit. It reminded me of China, if China is filled with a bunch of self-conscientious guests, and I was not ready to share a small table with 3 other guys who seemed to be sharing the same glass of lemon water. I quickly grabbed some alcohol and a sandwich, and printed out my Kenyan e-visa. Before I even washed down my chickpea salad with my rose wine, I was dashing towards the door.
I met again with the old couple waiting to board by the door, and I passed them with my priority boarding rights. (Being a colossal dick is part of me 😉 ) They sat beside me again on my flight to Nairobi, and we of course did not have to reintroduce ourselves. Who does not love awkward silence on a metal tube with nowhere to go? Hooray~! This ride is on a narrow body 737, and by midnight we landed in Nairobi. I bid farewell to the couple, wishing them an excellent trip. So far, everything was exceptionally smooth, UNTIL IT SUDDENLY WAS NOT.
I was in line waiting to pass through immigration, and the officer called for me. I casually waltzed to the counter: “Whassup my man?” My face happily contorted into a gangsta smile, trying so hard to fit in with the cool line that just escaped my mouth.
“Passport please.” The officer was clearly not amused by my genius comedy that seemingly went over his receding hairline.
I reached down my pocket for my little blue booklet that has my mugshot slapped on the first page.
IT WAS NOT THERE.
Like, it was nowhere to be found.
I quickly searched around everywhere I could possibly put it, and my passport kept eluding me like all the girls I have met. My head was blushing red like a chimpanzee’s buttocks, and I looked up to the officer, and whispered: “fuck.” I must had forgotten it on the airplane as we needed passports to board the aircraft. Such long flights do mess with your head, and I was so excited for this epic journey. And, and it was about to end right before it began!?
The officer was still not amused, and kicked me out of the counter.
I ran towards a ground staff and begged her to go look for it in my seat pocket. I almost fainted when she came back with a stern look. Without my passport, I would be on my way back home the first day I started travelling around the goddamn world! She asked my name, and nationality, and POOF! like magic, she handed me my passport like Jesus Christ handing out bread and wine in the Bible. I stopped my internal screaming, and thanked her profusely. My heartbeat was still over 500 per minute when I handed my passport to the immigration officer.
“These are my manly tears that expressed how overjoyed I was.” I pointed to the two trails of tears on my cheeks. The officer shook his head, stamped on a page, and gestured me away. His colleague, a middle-aged women, laughed as I strutted my way out of the immigration hall just like the manly man that I have always been. Wow, I did not know my charms were this effective at swooning girls of all ages.
Thank god after all this debacle, my driver was still waiting for me outside, as I was the last person to clear the immigration. He took me to my camp, and I quickly passed out in my tent, either from fatigue or nervousness. I woke up to a beautiful winter morning in the beautiful land of Africa.
What a beautiful piece of land! I was thoroughly astonished by Africa even though it was just my first morning on the continent. If just a random camp could be this mesmerizing, how soul-enriching could a safari possibly be? I gulped down my breakfast, and spent most of the day walking around in the beautiful garden of my camp, adjusting to the coldness in the Southern Hemisphere. I also organized my things for the upcoming safari. The camp is on the outskirts of the city, and the capital cities of African countries usually lack the plethora of attractions as their counterparts in Europe or Asia, so it was wise to skip sightseeing in Nairobi anyway. I met three Colombian girls around dinner time, and they were so nice to me as I wore my Colombian cap from my Panambia 2016 trip. I think I am slowly having my way around the world now 😀 We had a great dinner since the camp offered a buffet of local cuisine. We also played cards of some weird Colombian game, and of course, discussed about our future travels! Travelling truly makes you a different person, think about how many new people you get to meet!
Next morning, I was picked up early by the safari van that would take me to the corners of the nation looking for wild animals. I was absolutely stoked since roaming free on the savannah had been my childhood dream ever since my first Animal Planet documentary. Giraffes, lions, elephants, and so many more! I poked my head out of the window, and yelled aloud, startling many birds still sleeping:
“Hello, land of the wild!”