Travel isn’t a race. I despise those people who brag about the number of countries or continents they visited in one year. Sure, that may be fine and well, but how long did you spend in airports? How many times were you groped by security guards? How much did you actually learn about the countries you visited? It takes time to do that, which is why I embrace slow travel.
My Plan For 2015
Compete in the Rickshaw Run, spend a month in Nepal editing the videos, then continuing on my stanVentures, a slow traveling trip through all seven -stans: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, in that order. I had hoped to be finishing around new years or the beginning of 2016.
New countries planned: 9. In reality? 2
Here’s What Actually Happened
The Rickshaw Run was a smashing success but afterward I left for Nepal a couple days before my teammate Ryan. As a result, I was in Kathmandu when the Nepal quake struck. While everyone else was running to their embassies and scrambling to get out of the country, I cancelled all my plans and spent the next four months doing quake relief work and consulting with the Nepal Tourism Board on their post-quake tourism strategy.
By September I’d had enough of the ups and downs associated with natural disaster relief work in a corrupt country and came back to India. There I started a new project traveling around the country producing destination and event videos, which has kept me busy ever since. Too busy to even write. (You’ve no doubt noticed that 2015 is also the year that I have written the least number of posts since I started blogging professionally.)
I was also in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, the UAE and Thailand this year (where I am writing this) but as I have been to all of those countries before, some many times, this has not been a well-traveled year for me.
Then There Was My Electronic Castration
2015 was also the year of my electronic castration. Not physically (thankfully) but metaphorically. As someone who makes his living relying on an abundance of electronic gadgets, my gear took a hit this year — and as a result, so too did my wallet.
3 phones. 2 tablets. 1 computer. 1 camera.
A 2TB external hard drive (with six years of travel photos)
All were destroyed during the course of the year.
Half of these gadgets met their untimely fate just during the Rickshaw Run when my electronics bag flew off the ‘shaw on bumpy roads and was run over. I can only hope that my new and improved arsenal of tech gear can handle the challenges that my travel style inflicts upon it.
2015 was the year of distractions and chaos and unexpected shitstorms — which ordinarily I thrive on — but somehow this year was different.
So here and I now I resolve to change all of that in 2016. I’m getting back to what I love: traveling to new countries and learning about different cultures. And I invite you to come along for the ride!
In a few short weeks my work in India will be done and then I plan on heading straight for Afghanistan, before the summer violence picks up. Pakistan will follow. However after that I’m a bit less certain about where I will end up:
Option #1 Continue along with my stanVentures as originally planned and end the year in Iran or Azerbaijan. (Because let’s be honest, when you think of wild new years eve parties, those two countries are the first that come to mind.)
Option #2 Head for London to meet up with Ryan and my other friends from the Rickshaw Run as we attempt to drive all the way from the UK to Mongolia. (Maybe even slip in a month in Cuba in between Pakistan and England.)