The big trip 2005

Around the world

We 're in the middle of 2004 in London, and the crazy idea of dropping everything and going traveling for a while is going its way in both Nico's and my head. A few weeks later, the decision is made, we just need to make it happen... Though initially for 3 months somewhere in Asia, the travel agent did mention the round-the-world ticket for a bargain price. So we thought of an itinerary and made it 4 and 1/2 months and confirmed the booking. Time flies and we already need to give notice for the flat and the job. Christmas in family in a background of Tsunami and we decide to change all tickets to make it 6 months, what the hell!

16th January: After a week of heavy celebrations in London, we board the plane. The dream of many years. I was loosing faith I was ever going to make it one day, but we're doing it, off for half a year. First destination is New Delhi and its chaos. We arrange a trip to Rajasthan in the West with its great palaces and finish with the Taj Mahal in Agra. An extremely long journey in the train (over 2 nights) takes us to Goa where we enjoy life near the sea. We need to kick ourselves to leave the place and head down to Kerala and Tamil Nadu forming the south tip of the Deccan peninsula of India.

6th March: We fly from Madras to Bangkok to meet Manu who's joining us for 2/3 weeks. Couple of heavy nights there is a must after India and we board the bus to Siam Reap in Cambodia for a 15 hours journey with no sleep. But it is to discover the magnificent Angkor Wat and the genuine Cambodian people which left us in love with the country. Phnom Pehn and Sianoukville did reinforce the amazing feeling we shared for the place. We crossed the border with Vietnam in the Mekong delta without Manu who left 2 days before us and arrived in Saigon where life is as sweet as Bangkok. Then we made our way up north the country across Mui Ne, Dalat, Nha Trang (which we loved), Hoi An, Hue and then Hanoi. Nico went to Halong Bay alone as I went there 5 years before.

Back to Bangkok for the Songkran festival of the Thai new year. The whole place goes crazy with water in a perfectly genuine atmosphere, a truly amazing experience to be renewed one day! Then we went to Kho Tao, one of the paradise islands of Thailand to start our scuba diving PADI certification. This was as close as paradise I have ever been. A sweet life in the tropics - hurts me to think about it!

Sometime in May, we eventually crossed the border with Malaysia and enjoyed more diving in the beautiful Perenthians islands. We visited Kuala Lampur and the old capital city of Melaka before entering the cosmopolitan Singapore.

Off to Indonesia now. Quickly through Bali, we head to the Gili islands off Lombok where I faced death pretending to surf in huge waves off the coral reef. Following the advice of a dive master from Gili we boarded a boat to Flores to dive there. The 4 days trip took us along many inhabited islands and we saw the famous Komodo dragons. And we did some of the best diving one can do surrounded by manta rays, sharks, turtles, Napoleons fish and many other creatures from the sea. Happy to be back in the lively Bali which we visited by motorbike, our favorite means of transport. Our last stage in Asia was Hong Kong where we stayed at friends of Nico which took good care of us. It has been extremely hard to leave Asia, so rich and full in every aspect.

Back to western life in New Zealand where again we received a wonderful welcome in Auckland from Lisa (an old flatmate from London) and her family. We rented a car for 2 weeks and went around some of the 2 islands. A highlight has been free falling from 12000 feet above lake Taupo.

Last country before looping it in London was the US. We arrived in Los Angeles and rented a (convertible) car to cover Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon, Zion Park, Sequoia National Park, Highway 1 up to San Francisco. La belle Helene joined us there for the week-end to celebrate in style Bastille Day and the end of our trip, sadly...

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