by Alex Koolhof
After an exciting, tumultuous and rock’n’roll start to the Wombats first year of cricket in Japan, I decided to take some time off and go and spend all my hard earned cash. Backpacking around Asia had long been something I really wanted to do and here was my chance. I could write pages and pages of 8 exciting months of travel memoirs for you as I experienced and saw so much in 7 different countries, but instead I’ll give you the “in a nutshell” version.
My route went basically like this: Overland all the way from Tokyo to Mumbai, India. From Shimonoseki, a ferry to Pusan, South Korea. Seoul to Qingdao, China by ferry. Took the Trans-Mongolian train to Ulaan Baator and spent 3 weeks in the land of Mongolia … including four wheel driving in the Gobi.
Across China to the far west … to Kashgar, near the borders of Pakistan, Kyrgystan, Afghanistan etc. Hitched in a petrol tanker and other assorted vehicles for 10 days across disputed borders of India and China (passing K2) down into Tibet, to Lhasa. Four Wheel Drive via Mt Everest Base Camp to the Nepali border. Bus to Kathmandu. Bus to Varanassi, India. Across to Delhi, through Rajhastan, down to Mumbai. Flew to Colombo, Sri Lanka, and after 3 weeks flew back to Chennai in India. Down, around the south of India, to Goa, then up to Calcutta. Plane to Bangkok, Tokyo, and then back to Tassie for 3 months for some time with the family and friends over xmas.
If I had to make a sentence/remark or two about each country I visited then this it. (If I don’t give it to you like this, then I’d never be able to stop typing!)
South Korea: Bushwalking in the mountains was great the Koreans love it the food was yummy too.
China: A land of many extremes and many ethnic groups lots of things to see and interesting people to meet (great fun haggling) and great food to eat.
Mongolia: Beautiful but extreme country with very friendly people ready to let you stay in their nomad tents. Gobi desert was amazing.
Tibet: The place I miss the most … the friendliest people on earth brings tears to my eyes just thinking about them and the way they go about their poor but happy lives under political oppression. (China). Mt Kailash and Mt Everest Base Camp were great. I will go back.
Nepal: Great for the adventurous (I was stuck in the monsoon!).
India: Love it or Hate it, its an amazing country full of extremes from the guy on the train insisting that he sell you a toothbrush to the cricket crazy kids in Calcutta. I liked the South better. In the end I had to get out of India or I’d have gone mad, but now I’m yearning to go back!
Sri Lanka: Beautiful island paradise with yummy curries and great beaches.
You can see all my travel photos online at http://picasaweb.google.com/japal4649