Musings Of A Traveller: What I Have Learnt

Auckland Travel Blog

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Thank you!  Yes this is to you.  Thank you!  I am still in awe of the number of people who have taken the time to read my blogs – at the moment the count is over 14250 visits.  Not too shabby for something that was just meant to be a bit of a diary / let my friends and family know what I was up to and that I was safe. 


I think this blogging approach to travel has been very fortuities – it has given me the opportunity to work on my typing skills, and to put myself into situations where I think people, who don’t necessarily have the ability (whether it be financial, strength or courage) to do many things, get to read about my experiences and feel like they are a part of this trip. 


I’ve had so much fun writing, that my next trip I will be doing the same – having adventures (preferably without Policemen taking me in for questioning, or being hit on by homeless people), and writing about them.  If anyone wants to hire me as a travel writer, I am available.


So here I am back in New Zealand, the last flight has been taken, the bags are sitting on my floor unpacked, washing done in a washing machine, but the photos still need to be printed off and put into a book (I look at that last thing will cold dread as I have over 8452 (!!!) to sort through.)


I left in April and returned in December.  Over my time away I traveled to three continents and visited 42 different countries, met a lot of interesting personalities and ate a lot of noodles. 


I have met a lot of good people along the way, and made some wonderful friends, and seen some pretty amazing things, which make me appreciate what I have even more.


I was unsure what I should write in this last entry of this trip, it all feels so final.  Do I write prophetically and mention that since returning I have noticed that life continued on without me, people went to work (what is this?), friends were getting pregnant or having children, buying houses, growing up and I, I was ‘finding myself’.


Did I succeed?  I think I did.  I certainly feel more confident about life and my role within it.  I’m looking forward to starting teaching at the end of the month (yes I’m still on holiday!) and starting on a new adventure with a new class.  I know what I mean to people, both here and abroad, and I value the opportunity I had of making more amazing friends out there in the big wide world – and not only because I now have a place to crash when I go to Australia or Canada or America, but that certainly helps! 


Some of the special moments didn’t always make the blog – either it didn’t fit in with the entry or because I was always on the go, but now I have had time to reflect.


Everything was a highlight.  I don’t remember feeling too tired or too ‘over it’ and I made the most of my time away with only one or two days rest.  I got to see some of the places in the world I had always dreamed about. 

Egypt:  Seeing the pyramids again and realizing that I am still strong enough to lift them with my own bare hands.

Libya:  Leptis Magna and providing a lot of laughter for those who saw the Saskia in the Hippodrome Incident and having alcohol in a dry country for my birthday and becoming married to a local.  Oh yeah, I have the shoes to prove it!

Tunisia:  Pretending to be a Gladiator at El Jem

China:  Climbing, stumbling, crawling and hiking the Great Wall, the food.  That beautiful old lady who I never got a picture of is still forever etched in my mind while biking in Guilin.  Realising just how good a friend Janet is when she didn’t complain once about not being able to do the high road of Tiger Leaping Gorge as I was quite ill and meeting a young girl who only got one day a month off working and thought she was the lucky one.

Tibet:  All of it – the people, the food, the scenery, the shopping, the blue sky …

India:  The food and failing at watching a Bollywood movie even though Janet and I tried to find the theater that I am now adamant doesn’t exist.

Uzbekistan:  Having dinner with Laziz’s family, Samarkand and the mixture of Russia and Asian and Middle Eastern cultures …. Oh and how can I forget the Baklava in Tashkent.

Turkmenistan:  The ladies with their beautiful headdress, and the strange surrealness of the place with fountains, gold statues and Christmas trees everywhere.

Iran:  The people – one of the friendliest nations I have ever visited and some of the most visually stunning woman.  Persepolis.

Spain:  Guell Park and just having the opportunity to sit down and relax in the sun without a headscarf on and listen to some good music.

Russia:  St Basil’s, the Winter Palace and climbing the horses outside the Kremlin because Jacq told me to.

Finland:  Being asked for sex by someone who thinks that in 2012 the population of the world will join together and we will be able to move objects with our mind.  Still unsure how I had the self-control not to go up to this man’s hotel room but I put it down to my mind wasn’t as developed as his.  It was here I developed a strong loathing of anything U2 related along with Jacq.

Estonia:  Failing in love with this beautiful city and just enjoying its Old Quarter.  It’s on the list for a return visit.

Latvia:  The museums and galleries and the cheap food

Lithuania:  Walking around and climbing on objects because Jacq told we should.

Poland:  Making Elaine walk for hours looking for street signs that vaguely looked like my name and for mermaids that didn’t exist.

Czech Republic:  Getting out of Prague and heading to Cseky Krumlov with the girls and eating a meal that wasn’t noodles!

Slovakia:  Hanging out with Elaine – you are one amazing woman.  I adore and admire you and your strength!

Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina:  Seeing the history of the place and how life is lived and money is made.  Being part of a smuggling ring was definitely an eye opener and I haven’t looked at train carriages the same – now I am forever looking at where is a good place to hide things.  Perhaps I could branch out and supplement my traveling income?

Croatia and Slovenia:  Driving around the countryside with Jacq and really getting off the beaten track.

Scotland and Wales:  Meeting up with Katie after all these years (four years) and catching up with Davina after a lot more (17 years!).  Davina’s amazing kids Christina and Lloyd who kindly let us stay in his room and should really look at working in the hospitality business when he’s older.

France:  Normandy – don’t think I need to say anymore on that and eating traditional French cuisine.

The Ukraine, Moldova and Transniestria:  Amazing place, the buildings, the history, the hardship on the faces of the people and the corrupt Policemen (this refers to Transniestria only).  Catching up with my brother from another mother (Dan).  Anytime you want to travel somewhere – just let me know and I’ll be there.

Special mentions need to go out to a couple of people:

Bec – thank you so much for your kind offer to give money towards my trip so I’d have somewhere nice to go for Christmas and so I could continue writing the blog.  I was amazed at your generosity and although I never took you up on it, thank you.

Mike:  Who wanted me to get in contact with him just so he could give me his credit card details so I could have a nice slap up meal somewhere and not eat noodles.  Once gain, offer gratefully appreciated and not taken up …. but when I visit you in Liverpool you know what we’ll be eating :)

Lisa and Martin:  For letting me crash on your couch whenever I needed to, and for letting me make pancakes and play with Aki.

Roland, Melanie and Verena:  Thank you for letting me use your place as my home.  Making me feel welcome (yet again) in my own room.  I’m still so sorry I wasn’t able to be there for Tante Lucie’s funeral but know I love you all.

Janet:  You are a dream to travel with.  I know of no one else who outlasts me in a museum!

Claire:  You are the best travel consultant in the world and I’m glad we started at Flight Centre at the same time so I would forever be able to bug you with random questions and thoughts while I was overseas.

Andrew:  Thank you for letting me live the dream.

So this is the end for now, but I have plans.  I’ve only itched the surface and I still have so many countries to visit … Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Borneo, Bhutan, Peru, Antartica, West Africa, North Korea …. I still have a lot more adventures in me but until then, there is only one word to say …. Thank you!

vances says:
Thank you, the adventure was, well....EPIC!

Posted on: Jan 13, 2011
plattelaine says:
Aren't you an 'international' treasure!! What an epic your trip AND blog has been and you will enjoy it even more when you're re reading it at age 80! My trip would not have been the same without you and I will forever remember Warsaw - almost crawling down one street after another with blistered feet forever in search of street or buildings with any reference to Saskia! BUT we DID find the mermaids! You will always have the offer of a bed in OZ my lovely. I too will have withdrawals with no blogs to read and inspire me. Keep in touch! xxx
Posted on: Jan 05, 2011
Saskia007 says:
I forgot to mention The Spreadsheet. Everything I spent or found was logged including money found on the street and toilet stops. EVERYTHING was logged for the entire eight months. EVERYTHING.
Posted on: Jan 04, 2011
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