I’m sitting in my aunt’s kitchen, snacking on Quavers and celebrating mundane achievements like acquiring a new debit card (after leaving my old one somewhere in Cambodia) and having the following conversation with T-Mobile:
“Hi, I’d like to cancel my T-Mobile account as I’ve left the country.”
“Sure, I can help with that. If you’re planning to come back I can just pause your bill.”
“No, it’s OK, I’ve left for the foreseeable future. [awkward pause] I mean, I’m not barred from the country or anything…”
“OK, OK, got it. So I can go ahead and cancel, but just to warn you that your SIM card will stop working immediately.”
“That’s fine. My SIM card is currently in the possession of a Peruvian teenager who stole it from me on a crowded bus in Lima so… it’ll be his problem.”
But before my brain is completely swamped by a reintroduction to London, I wanted to close out our four-and-a-bit months of travelling with some general bits and bobs from our big journey across South America and Southeast Asia.
An obvious question to ask is “what was the best part?” and for overall sense of achievement it’s difficult to argue with the W Trek in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. It’s obviously easier to hop on a tour but nothing compares to the satisfaction of carrying your tent, clothes and food along on your back for five days, even if it wasn’t always enjoyable at the time…
Interactive Destination Map
20 Different Transport Modes
Aeroplane, car, bus, coach, train, bicycle, minivan, tuk-tuk, motor boat, catamaran, ferry, kayak, basket boat, dragon boat, slow boat, subway, metro, cable car, pick-up truck, feet.
Four Extreme Photos
If GPS is to be believed, here is the furthest north, east, south and west that we went and snapped a photo. (Fair warning: furthest north is particularly unimpressive.)
Concept stolen from DG. Disclaimer: some photos may lack proper GPS co-ordinates blah blah blah. I did my best.
Public Transport Smartcard Nerd-a-thon
I ended up with six different cards in total. Bangkok’s Rabbit card is the clear winner in terms of cute design, but the downside is that it only covers one of the city’s three rail systems and none of the buses. Singapore was the only place organised enough to sell three-day tourist passes at our port of entry, while Kuala Lumpur loses many, many points for charging a ‘reloading fee’ every time you want to add more value onto your card. Not cool.
By default we stayed in AirBnbs, with a mix of the “staying in someone’s back room” type which Catherine and AJ find so awkward to whole apartments and repurposed hotel rooms. On top of that we also slept in a couple of hostels, four sleeper trains and one tent. Our most ritzy accommodation was definitely Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and for extreme relaxation it has to be the Ten Moons Resort in Koh Lipe.
Special shout-outs to Mary in George Town who kept insisting that everything was better in the Philippines and to Sophie in Laos who nonchalantly told us her crazy stories about babysitting pumas in the Bolivian jungle and bare-metal 48 hour bus rides. Apologies to the man in Puerto Natales who we tried to evict from a room that was rightfully his. And we will try to forget about the family who played acoustic guitar together outside our bedroom at 3am before – for some reason – poking their heads in our room.
The “watch a Disney film on the plane” tradition
My flight home Disney entertainment was Ralph Breaks the Internet, a gleefully self-referential sequel to Wreck-It Ralph which still manages to tell a decent story but is basically wasted on children who are not going to appreciate any of the best jokes. Highly recommended for your next flight, and be sure to stay through the end credits.
One moody black-and-white photo from Angkor Wat
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