Trip Summary and the best and worst of everything!
Trip Start Jul 31, 2005
118Trip End Feb 18, 2007
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Number of days travelling: 540
Number of countries visited: 50
Geographical Extremes Visited
Highest, 5020 metres, Bolivia
Most Northerly, on the train between Helsinki and St Petersburg about 61 degrees north
Most Southerly, Punta Arenas Chile, about 53 degrees south
Most Easterly, Suva in Fiji, about 179 degrees East
Most Westerly, Aitutaki Cook Islands about 160 degrees West
Wettest: In the middle of a cyclone in Hanoi
Driest: San Pedro de Atacama Chile
Hottest: 44 Degrees daytime Australian Outback
Coldest: -8 degrees, night time at Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
This is a difficult one as not one country has it all and most countries have something special about them. However, if we had to make a short list, the countries and justifications would be:-
Thailand (great food, great scenery, great beaches, a rich culture, not totally third world anymore, and friendly people).
Columbia (few tourists, friendly people, great beaches/scenery, great fruit juices.
Favourite Overall Cities
St Petersburg (beautiful city, strict visa rules keep it fairly untouristy, plus we had Dmitry and his wife to show us around the best night spots)
Hong Kong (amazing skyline, East meets West feeling, High density population creates a great buzz at street level.
Bangkok (much cleaner than our last visit, Bangkok has a great buzz about the place).
Berlin (Fascinating history, reasonably priced, good vibe).
Tallin (just beautiful!)
Favourite Colonial Cities
Most Pleasant Cities
These cities may lack the "Je ne sais quoi" that makes people want to live somewhere like London or New York but in terms of clean, safe, pleasant places to live and go about your daily life, we thought these places came out tops.
San Diego, California, USA
Best overall cities for nightlife
Bellavista, Santiago de Chile, for sheer scale and vibe.
Cali, Columbia's salsa capital where the bars and clubs poor in to the street.
Zona Rosa, Bogota, Columbia, South America's most diverse nightlife.
Hong Kong, best nightlife in south east asia.
Perth, not Australia's biggest city but from what we saw it has its best quality and density of bars.
Gaslamp Quarter San Diego.
Courtenay Place in Wellington, New Zealand's own densely packed party capital.
Our Favourite Bars
The Beach bars complete with light shows in Koh Pan Ngan,
Jade Sea Horse bar in the Bay Islands, Honduras,
Xmas party bar in St Petersburg,
Victoria Hotel Bar, Darwin, Australia
Opera Bay, Buenos Aires
Most Memorable Parties
St Petersburg's theme bars with Dmitry and his wife.
Tran Siberian cabin vodka parties,
Callejoneadas in Zacatecas, Mexico
Chiva Bus in Cartagena, Columbia
New Year's Eve in Opera Bay nightclub in Buenos Aires.
The beaches around the lagoon in Aitutaki, Cook Islands,
Whitehaven Beach, Queensland, Australia,
Wineglass Bay, Tasmania, Australia,
Railay Beach, Krabi, Thailand,
Zapatilla Island, Panama,
Abel Tasman, New Zealand.
Best Mountain Scenery
1. Lake District, Chile
2. Torres del Paine, Chile
3. Huaraz, Peru
4. Southern Alps, New Zealand
5. El Charten, Argentina
Best Unusual Scenery
1. Galapagos, Ecuador
2. Tongariro National Park, New Zealand
3. Salar de Uyumi, Bolivia
4. Outback, Australia
5. Gobi Desert, Mongolia
6. Baja California, Mexico
Most Scenic Land Journeys
North of Vietnam
Chile to Argentina over the Andes
Most Monotonous Scenery
Nullarbor Plain, South Australia
Best View Points
View from the top of Ben Lomond over the South Alps, New Zealand
View from the second lookout in the Valle Frances, Torres del Paine
View from the top of Katherine Gorge, Australia, over the seemingly endless outback.
View from the great wall of China.
Favourite Natural Wonders
Ayer's Rock, Australia
Iguazul Falls, Brazil,
Perrito Morreno Glaciar, Argentina,
Red Crater and Emerald Lakes, Tongaririo national park
Milford Sound, New Zealand
Best Man Made Wonders
Great Wall of China
Hong Kong Skyline
Best Night Sky
Camping in Junos Horse Farm, Northern Territory, Australia. No light pollution and a completely cloudless sky gave us the most amazing view of our universe that we've ever experienced.
Most Amazing Lightening Storm
From our campsite near Katherine, Northern Territory, Australia, We could see at least 5 lightning storms in the distance plus one which was on top of us. Lightening bouncing everywhere off the trees in the desolate outback, and the strobe lightening effect of the multiple storms. Never seen anything quite like it before.
Again, another difficult one to answer as there are bad and good people everywhere. However, the following countries deserve a special mention.
Least Favourite People
An even more difficult one to answer as there were always exceptions.
Bolivia (fairly serious people)
Mexico (most of the country is half asleep)
Honduras (Mexican's cousins!)
Most Stressful Border Crossings
1. Honduras - Nicaragua
2. Ecuador - Peru
Most Seamless Border Crossing
Spain to France, in fact we were asleep on the train.
What a difference a border makes, Most dramatic changes after crossing over a land border
Russia to Mongolia,
USA to Mexico,
Bolivia to Chile
Cambodia to Thailand
Most Expensive Countries
1. French Polynesia,
2. New Caledonian,
Difficult one to calculate as some things are dirt cheap in one country but other things may be more expensive. It depends what you do. However, we found these countries in general to be very very cheap:-
Countries with Best Price/Quality Ratio
Least Touristy Countries
El Salvador, Brunei, Myanmar
Most Touristy Country
Best Youth Hostel for Facilities
Best Youth Hostel for Fun
Backpackers Hostel, Sydney.
Most uncomfortable road trip,
7 hour bumpy ride along a potholed dirt track from Angkor Wat to the Thai border.
Most comfortable road trip,
1st class bus from Santiago to Villarrica, Chile
Most Useful things taken
1. Ear Plugs (We can count on one hand the days we managed to sleep without ear plugs:-))
2. Zip off Trousers (Great way to save space by not having to take both trousers and shorts).
3. Swiss Army Knife
4. Mobile Phone (as well as keeping in Touch via text messages, being able to buy local sim cards when you are in the country for a while, it serves as an Alarm Clock, a calendar and a calculator.
5. Lonely planet, despite cursing it many a time, we'd have been lost without a guide book.
6. Plug in mosquito killer.
Most Useless things taken
Mosquito Net (used once)
First Aid Kit, but this is a good thing.
Best experience / Worst experience: Voluntary work in Guatemala / Food poisoning in Bolivia
Most emotional moments: Visiting the killing fields in Cambodia, saying goodbye to the kids where Patty volunteered in Guatemala, seeing the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires...
Getting lost in the jungle whilst trekking in Rarotonga
Biggest Communication Problems
Longest Train travel in one go, Yekaterinburg to Irkutsk 60 hours.
Longest road travel in one go, 27 hours from San Pedro de Atacama to Valparaiso
Longest flight was the one home at 9 hours.
Most time spent in a single country, 1. Australia 92 days.
Most time spent in one place, 1. Antigua in Guatemala 25 days.
Things that Marc has Missed the Most
Family and Friends, a pint of beer in a proper pub and a proper curry.
Things that Patty has Missed the Most
Family and friends the main one, then occasionally cravings for Tapas, Minstrels, Jaffa Cakes and Quicos.