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So what to do about ıt? There were 2 possible strategies. The first was to buy (at great expense) a round the world air ticket. An RTW basically involves globehopping from one point of interest to another, using flights to miss out the boring, difficult or impossible bits. In that way you can simply make a shopping list of desired destinations and "join the dots" as it were. You could even do Open Jaws. That is for example, fly into Delhi and out of say Katmandhu, then maybe fly on to Bangkok, hoof it down the Malay peninsula to Singapore, and fly on again to say Bali. The possibilities were endless, but they all had one thing in common. They were a cop out. I didn't see the point in missing out places simply because one had the prior impression that they wouldn't be immediately stimulating or it took a bit of effort or hardship to go there. That was what tourists did, and the intention was to be much more than that, to see the world for what it was, warts and all. Those determined to travel the world in comfort whilst maintaining something close to western standards are in danger of missing the point entirely, the journey becomes meaningless to an extent, serving to isolate you from that which you should be seeking. And to the locals it was almost insulting, who was anyone to say that their way of life was not equally worthy? As a rich, educated, single man I had no excuse. I had a duty if nothing else to those less fortunate than myself to see the difference between us, and perhaps contemplate what could be done about it.

And so for the alternative. Overlanding. Just like it says, you choose a starting point and fly to it, presuming it aint Cowdenbeath, and just hit the road (or rail) to wherever your intended path of enlightenment should finish. Subject to the constraints of the map, there were only a handful of finite possibilities. Through motives of conquest, pillage or trade, men had set out to blaze trails along obvious routes for millennia, and notwithstanding quirks of fate such as the establishment and break up of the Soviet Union, these had changed little since the days of adventurers such as Sir Richard Burton, Marco Polo or Alexander the Great. Cecil Rhodes for example had torn swathes through bush country for the crown, his endeavour from Cape Town to Cairo bringing the British Empire's influence to the length of Africa. It still remains the most feasible and perhaps the only realistic route across the dark continent to this day.You could cross North America without even getting out of your car, but that was for lightweights and geriatrics. Although having it's place, not much to learn there that one couldn't guess at already. South America, or even the length of the Americas would be more of a challenge, not least because one would be presumed to be from the States, thus rich and eager to spend it. But it was the New World and thus limited to an extent due to the vagaries of its own common history, it was all Hispanic. Interesting but a tad one dimensional. And then there was Asia. The greatest contiguous expanse of land the planet had to offer, it circled half the globe like a girdle and encompassed all the diversity that that might indicate. There was certainly a natural procession. Marco Polo had shown the way and centuries later it had even become popularised, nae immortalised by the hippies during the 1970s. The 1st generation who didn't have to go to war, in liberation they sought cheap drugs and free love instead and Asia was the place to find it. A million and one scraggly haired dropouts forged the classic Hippy Trail from Istanbul to Katmandhu and had a real groovy spiritual experience man. Given that it was also the cradle of some of the worlds most revered and ancient civilisations and seat of all the worlds major religions, retaining many fascinating cultures unchanged in centuries and its incredible geographic diversity, it was simultaneously the most challenging, important and potentially rewarding prospect the world had to offer. And coincidentally, it had the added incentive of acting as a land bridge to Australasia where I had some unfinished business to attend to. So Asia it was.

Posted by andyhay 00:00

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