Its getting bloody close, isn’t it?! I leave on Sunday afternoon. And there’s still loads to do.
Today is my last day at work! After four very happy years as an employee of Liverpool City Council, as of 5pm today I will be unemployed.
Shits gettin real.
Naturally, people keep asking me about the route I’ve got planned for my trip. So I thought I’d jot it all down here for you now, so when the next person asks me I can say ‘Well, if you’d just go and read my blog…’
I’ve also uploaded a map which I stole from someone somewhere on the internet, probably in contravention of dozens of copyright laws, and have bastardised it to include a little red dotted line which (roughly) shows my route.
But in short, here it is. On Sunday at 4.18pm, my train will depart from Liverpool Lime Street Station, heading for London Euston. Once there, I will find my way to London Victoria, and at 9.30pm I will get on a bus to Vilnius in Lithuania, via Dusseldorf.
That coach journey takes 36 hours. I could fly it in a mere fraction of the time. But the whole point of this is to do this trip without flying, remember?! So you can stick your lifejackets back in the pouch under your seat – I’ve got books to read on my Kindle and music to listen too on my phone, which will get me the whole way there, with a bit of luck.
After a few nights in Vilnius, I’m moving onto Riga in Latvia, and then Tallinn in Estonia, completing a brief tour of the Baltic states, again travelling the whole way by bus.
I then head from Tallinn to St Petersburg, and finally, in just over two weeks, I will catch a train from St Petersburg to Moscow.
Then, the real adventure begins: On 17 August, I join a tour organised by VodkaTrain, taking me along the trans-Siberian and then the trans-Mongolian railway, towards Beijing. Along the way I’ll mooch around small Siberian towns, hike around Lake Baikal, and stay for a few nights in a traditional Mongolian ger camp.
I can think of worse ways to spend a fortnight.
I arrive in Beijing on 9 September. I’ve then got three weeks to work my way south towards Hong Kong, which I’m going to try and do by getting out of the big, cluttered Chinese cities and into the sparse, scenic countryside. This part of the trip is completely unplanned. I’ll make it up as I go along. Send a search party.
I’m hoping to arrive in Hong Kong for around about 28 September. I’m staying there with my friend Franki and her boyfriend – they’re both teachers, and have very kindly offered me a spare room for a few nights.
…There is also the small matter of my 30th birthday, which lands on 30 September. Hopefully I’ll be inebriated enough in some Hong Kong bar that I’ll be able to forget, albeit fleetingly, the impending termination of my youth, and my ascent into the middle ages. Its a hard life kids. Don’t do it.
I’ll leave Hong Kong in early October, and after a brief tour back into China through the scenic Yunnan province, I’ll make the border crossing into Vietnam, arriving in Hanoi on 10 October.
I still won’t have set foot on an aeroplane for any part of this trip. Assuming it all goes to plan.
I’m meeting some chums of mine in Hanoi, namely Jess and Lindsey, with whom I will spend a fortnight mooching around northern Vietnam – Ha Long bay, cycling in the mountains, exploring undiscovered villages. That sort of thing.
And then on roughly 25 October we will arrive back in Hanoi and book into a nice cheap hotel for a month, ahead of the start of our CELTA teaching course, which begins on 28 October.
Once qualified, the plan is to try and find a 12 month teaching job in Hanoi, and then settle down a for a little while – rent a flat, find my favourite coffee shop, immerse myself in Vietnamese life. Learn to speak a little language. Play golf, if I can find a course that doesn’t cost the world to play.
And after then… Who knows? I’d like to carry on travelling south, and complete this little task of getting to New Zealand without flying. But that’s some way down the line. I just want to get to Hanoi in one piece first, and then see how I feel and take it from there.
And it all starts on Sunday, in a little over 72 hours! EXCITING BLOODY TIMES, THESE!