A question I am asked from time to time is whether I am thinking about or planning another big trip. While it seems far too soon to contemplate such a decision, the thought has crossed my mind. After all, I have learned a lot of lessons in the last 17 months and it would be fun to put them to use in the future.
If I were to take another long term trip abroad, it would be an overland route, such as one of those written about by Paul Theroux. Maybe Anchorage, Alaska through Latin America to the southern tip of Argentina (or better yet, Antarctica!). Lisbon, Portugal eastward via Russia and the Siberian Railway to Tokyo. And I was previously tempted to spend a month or two traveling up eastern Africa from Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe to Nairobi, Kenya.
One takeaway from my trip around the world which combined a lot of flights with periods of overland travel in certain countries (New Zealand, Australia, South Africa) and regions (Asia) is that the experience of moving slowly when transitioning from one country to the next can be quite special. It feels more like the unfolding of a great adventure, as opposed to springing up in the middle of a metropolis or region populated enough to warrant an (inter)national airport. Crossing land borders can be frustrating and uncomfortable, and you are more likely to be scammed, however they can make for great stories too.
I have a fond memory of the Indian agent helping me and a few others with our entry into his great country after having emerged from a house next door in his white undershirt. Taking his time, by hand, he slowly filled out the large registry book with our information. Lining the tops of bookcases in the home/office were similar registries marked with years past….2006…2005….2004. It was endearing in a quirky, “this is India” kind of way.
And then there was the time I crossed the northern Cambodian border into southern Laos. Goats were moving along the road, it was so devoid of traffic. The agents barely got out of their hammocks at the sight of us tourists being dropped off, and for once I felt comfortable taking a few photos of the scene. The laid back attitude at the border was perfectly indicative of the feeling I had from people throughout the country.
It turns out you can learn a lot about a country and its pace of life from their approach to border crossings!