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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Goa

After an extenuating trip that took us from Aurangabad to Panjim in Goa with a one day stop in Pune, it was with joy that we walked away from the bus and adventured in the familiar streets of Panjim. Panjim is the capital of the former Portuguese colony, Goa. The streets are quite similar to the ones found in the city center of most Portuguese cities. The houses, the names of the shops and of course, the square in the center with a church overlooking it. The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is an impressive building where, once upon a time, the Portuguese sailors used to come and thank the virgin for a safe journey, before proceeding to the old capital - Old Goa.

We stayed three days in Panjim. We planned on using it as a starting point to explore the south of Goa and visit some spice farms and other old cities, but for different reasons we couldn't hit the south. Goa was crowded with tourists the weekend we arrived - 26th of January is a national holiday in India and being a Monday, many Indians took some vacation. We stayed right in the city center in a hotel that a Goese, friend of a friend, fixed for us - Hotel Arcadia. The first thing we did when we arrived was... taking a shower and washing some clothes. We were covered in dust and sweat from the "nice" streets of Aurangabad and Pune. And then sleep.

After waking up, we decided it was time to go to the beach. We decided to take a local bus (in fact two, one to Mapusa and from there, another one to Anjuna) to Anjuna, which is quite famous among the hippie movement. Many hippies went there in the 60s and due to the beauty of the place decided to stay. It's in fact a beautiful beach, although not the perfect place to swim - there's a lot of rocks. But the water is amazing. If it hadn't been for the girls permanently trying to sell us something it would have been a perfect afternoon. The bars/shacks around the beach all offer amazing views and most have a great atmosphere. The sea food is fantastic, and for between 100-150 Rs one can enjoy great dishes of all kinds of sea food. Alcohol is also easily accessible and it is extremely cheap. It felt great relaxing in a terrace in front of the Arabic sea drinking a beer and eating some local snacks.

Old Goa
The day after we took a bus to Old Goa, the old capital of the Portuguese Indian territories, which was abandoned in the mid 19th century due to permanent cholera epidemics. Today not much is left from what was once a bigger city than Lisbon or London. But the churches and cathedrals, that make this place a UNESCO world heritage site, show how opponent, big and rich this city once was. We spend the whole morning wandering around the churches imagining how they once were. There have been some conservation efforts, but many show evident signs of degradation.

Candolim
In the afternoon we went to one of those beaches that have been invaded by the western tourism. Despite being surrounded by people with lobster-like skin and ugly wreck of an old boat right in the beach, Candolim is a really nice place. The beach is big and here there are no rocks so it's perfect to swim. Another relaxing afternoon, just like we had planned, before moving on to northern India.

Panjim
I spent the next day exploring Panjim. It's a small, but cosy city. Here it is possible to see the mixture between the Portuguese and Indian cultures. I walked around Fontainhas, along the marginal by the river. Lunch in the restaurant "Viva Panjim" was sublime, as well spending a few hours reading and writing at "Ernestos" in "Clube Vasco da Gama", a place where the Goese Portuguese community gathers, but I was unlucky in the times I chose to get there, since it was always almost empty.

Anjuna and trouble with the police
We decided to rent scooters for the last two days in Goa (it's probably the only place in India where people drive in a almost normal way!). Well apparently the rules change depending on whom we rent the scooters from. After 10min riding them, and when we had finally found a place to fill up the tank, we were stoped by the police. Apparently our driving licence didn't allow us to drive those scooters. But if we had shown them the receipt from the rental agency instead of our driving licence, everything would have been alright. Well after an whole morning of discussion, we finally paid 450 Rs (at first they asked for 950) each, returned the scooters and moved on to Anjuna by bus, which scared us a little because we were carrying the backpacks, but since it was not rush hour, it went quite smooth.

In Anjuna we got (by chance) a room in the Sunshine resort by 750 Rs per day. This was 15m away from the beach, which means that, more relaxing was impossible :)

At night we tried the famous Goa Trance beach parties, which attract people from all over the world. It's an amazing, contagious atmosphere. Quite impressing and fun.

And after another sunny day spent at the beach or in a beach shack having a nice fruit juice it was time to hit the road and move North.

Next stop, Udaipur in Rajasthan.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Aurangabad

Aurangabad is a "small" city with less than 1 million inhabitants located in the State of Maharashtra. We came here to use the city as a starting point to visit the amazing caves of Ellora and Ajanta.

First the train trip. We were only able to get second class sleeper tickets, which means that, any person can enter the wagon hoping that someone has missed the train and that there will be space for them. This means that for a while Tiago does not have a place to sleep, since there's more people claiming his bed. My situation is different...My tier is located in the corridor, and is too small for me...I need to keep my legs bended during the whole trip.

We arrive in Aurangabad at 4 am. The station floor is crowded with people sleeping. We look for our driver, get in the car and move on to our hotel. Georges, a French guy we met on the train is joining us to the caves of Ajanta. We tell our driver to come back at 6.30.

The trip to Ajanta takes a bit over 2 hours. We arrive there around 9, just before they open. The entrance fee is 250 Rp, plus some small charges for taxes, bus to the caves and other things we don't really understand. We meet Merrill during breakfast. He is a retired American who is travelling around, trying to find a nice place to enjoy his retirement. He used to work as a reporter and he will be with us for the next couple of days. When we get to Ajanta, we hire a guide (big mistake, our american friend knows more about the subject than the guide) and start wandering around listening to the guides explanations. The guide only proved helpful in pointing out some details that otherwise would have been unnoticed.

The caves are simply amazing. They were carved in the hills of a horseshoe shaped valley. They were all covered with paintings but unfortunately time and human nature have destroyed many of those paintings. When the guided tour is over, we sit down with Merrill and spend at least an hour listening to the story of Buddhism. It is just amazing being in such a place listening to him. Merrill has converted to Buddhism some years ago. After hearing his explanation we move on and explore what's left. Better then describing the caves is to show them (pictures will come soon).

We have lunch at the local restaurant and say goodbye to Georges. He will proceed North. Merrill decides to join us on the way back and tomorrow.

After a great night sleep we get ready to explore the caves of Ellora. On the way to Ellora we stop to take some pictures of the impressive Daulatabad fort. If we were amazed we Ajanta, the vision of the Kailasa Temple, just by the main entrance is just breathtaking! Imagining that it is possible to carve such a structure in a rock with so much detail and perfection in imaginable! We wander around trying to understand the stories depicted the the hundreds of statues for almost two hours. In Ellora there are caves built by three different religions: Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. Since many we built at the same time, this demonstrates the spirit of religious tolerance that existed at the time and that in our days is being destroyed by some people. All the caves are special (don't believe the Lonely Planet Guide).

After lunch we moved on to the Bibi-Qa-Maqbara, also called "Poor Mans Taj". If it wasn't for the original Taj Mahal this would be a place of tourist pilgrimage. Instead it's kind of a forgotten place, which could be extremely charming if the gardens were gardened.

At the end of the day we say goodbye to Merrill. It was a pleasure to have him with us. We spoke a lot about literature and some about world politics. He is an extremely interesting person. Wish you luck in your quest for paradyse and maybe we'll meet again in the future.

We don't have transportation to Goa, so we decide to take a bus to Pune and then try to fix something from there to Goa. At 8.30pm we start our first bus trip experience in India.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mumbai - second part

We spent two more days in Mumbai. Walking was our favourite means of transportion. The auto rickshaws and taxis are not expensive, but skipping them gives us an extra meal every day. And although we were surrounded by beggers all the time, poor people and walking around in places I wouldn't dare to place a foot on back home, I never felt unsafe at any time!

We went to Bandra a really nice coastal area of the city, walked almost until the Arabic sea in Chowpatty beach, walked up Malabar Hill and visited a Jain temple and the relaxing Hanging Gardens. These are really worth a visit if one wishes to get a quiet moment away from all the traffic, pollution, dust and chaos of Mumbai. The next day we met my friend Prassad who was visiting his family. We went together to the Elephanta Caves , a UNESCU World Heritage site, located in an island about an hour away from Mumbai by boat. It was our first glimpse of caves carved in the rock by humans to build temples. Buddists started the construction of the caves, but later Indus continued it and built temples in the honnor of Shiva. It took us around 1h30 min to walk around. The monkeys are a permanent threat. If they run after you it means whether you did something that disturbed them or you have food that they want. In one of those situations, one monkey ran after Prassad and he just had time to drop the bottle of juice he was holding in his hand. One might think the monkey would start playing with the bottle, but as you can see in the pictures the bastard opened the bottle in front of us and happily poured it on the wall and drank it. Smart little bastards these guys.

We finished the Mumbai sightseing after this. It was then time to plan things to go to Aurangabad. Luckily we had Prassad with us. He not only took us through the complicated reservation center at Victoria terminal (a beautiful building where one of the terrorist attacks occured), but he also had a cousin in Aurangabad, that was able to fix us an hotel at quite a reasanoble price, and a car with driver to visit the caves, at a fantastic price!

The visit to Mumbai was over, we just had to get back to Nidhi's place to pick up the backpacks and get back to the train station. We located our berths in the train and met two Frech guys that were going to visit the Ajanta caves as well the next day. Unfortunatelly one of them forgot his passport in Mumbai and had to leave the train in a rush. We continued the trip with Georges.

Sleeping in the train was another adventure. The berth was too small for me, specially when I was sleeping with the company of my backpack... Tiago had to fight for his berth, because in 2nd class people can enter the train without a reservation and so there are more people than berths avilable. In the end they left and he got his berth and slept.

Overall I liked Mumbai. It was good to start the trip around India here. We got a little bit of everything in the right dose. Not too much, not too little. Our CS experience was great and I am whilling to repeat it again in the future. Now it's time to do some cultural things before moving on to Goa and do some western style tourism, before continuing the Indian pilgrimage.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

India - First days

We arrived in Mumbai at 4.30 am. The temperature was 25 degrees and it was still night... Our first thought was "How will it be when the sun rises?...) After doing all the normal stuff when you arrive in a international airport, we headed on to our taxi. A Sikh welcomed us in our first race - believe me when I write race; the streets of Mumbai are quite competitive! - through the streets of Mumbai. We found out later that this was actually a really relaxing drive...although I thought we were going to crash at least a dozen times!

We woke up our CouchSurfing host at 6 am. Said hello and laid down in the leaving room for a few hours. We had hardly slept the night before and needed a break before starting to explore the city.

After getting up and after getting all the info on how to get to the city from Nidhi (thank you once again for all your help), we headed on to Andheri station to take the sub-urban train to the city center. Travelling by train second class (and even first class during rush hour) is quite an experience in Mumbai. First we had to avoid the people jumping off the train, then we had to fight to get into the train and finally we were crushed between stressed Indians like fishes in a can... When we finally got a sitting place I just thought to myself "this was why Prassad told me never to take a train in Mumbai." But what can you ask for a 8 Rupees trip? 45 min later we arrived to Churchgate and began exploring the city!

First objective: have lunch! We checked the guide and decided to start with one of its recommendations. We chose the cheapest - cafe Olympia. But getting there was an adventure! First step, learning how to cross a street in Mumbai. We tried the careful way, but that just doesn't work. The best way is just to follow the locals. Second adventure, finding streets names. Third adventure, avoid the people, the trash, the shit, the dogs and anything that might cross your way! But we made it, we recharged our batteries and moved on.

Mumbai

Mumbai (former Bombay) is the financial capital of India. With over 16 million people it's where the richest people in India live, but its also home to the biggest slumb in Asia. You can find poverty everywhere, people are constantly begging on the streets, houses are generally old and appear to be falling apart. The traffic is chaotic. There's a permanent movement of taxis and auto rickshaws, honking their horns (no one seems to listen to them), the air is full with particles - dust and pollution - and it is quite warm during daytime. Anyway, people are very nice and are always whiling to help even when they can't understand what you ask them. Communication is actually harder than I thought. English is one of the official languages - together with Indi - but most don't speak it or read it!

In the first day in Mumbai we focused on the southern part - Colaba - and walked around the Gateway of India, we saw the beautiful Taj Mahal Palace and Hotel (the one where the terrorist attacks took place a couple of months ago). We then passed by the Prince of Wales museum and watched people playing cricket (the national sport) at the Oval Maidan. The walk along Marine Drive was quite pleasant and a nice way to end the first day.

After a crazy adventure to buy a Vodafone SIM card (I'll get back to that in another post) our first day in India was over. The first impression was quite good. Much better then I expected, although it may seem, from what I wrote that I was living a nightmare. It's just a cultural shock that fortunately I was prepared to, and so it was not so hard to get over it. I now understand why in the Rough Guide to "First Time Around The World" the author wrote "Never start a trip like this in India". I understand that most people would probably think about quitting the day after they arrive to Mumbai. I just felt like understanding better this culture. And then, if I'm able to survive India I will survive everything else along the trip.

More about Mumbai, Aurangabad and perhaps Pune will soon come.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Day zero

London calling, that's how I felt for the past week. Time passing by, a lot of things to do and time shortening. In the end I think I managed to do everything I wanted.

I said goodbye to most of my friends (or see you soon to some) and family. Tried to spend some quality time with them and l wandered around Coimbra a lot. There's something special about my small city that I can't explain. Staring at the old part of the city from across the river in a full moon evening, is just one of the most beautiful scenaries I know.

The time came, time to say goodbye to my parents and take the flight that will take me to London where the big adventure starts. I'll now have a few days to get in a holiday mood and relax... I kind of need it...

And nothing better than staying with an old friend from the days when we followed the football team accross the country. Squash, swimming, sauna were the waking up activities. Portuguese dinner in the company of my travel mate who is arriving tonight is what follows. And after that, we shell see ;). There's always something to do in this city, you just need to feel like doing something!

It's now time to plan the India trip a bit more in detail, since we plan on doing couchsurfing in some places and need to know the dates we'll get there.

There are two more reasons for organizing the Indian circuit. First, the date of our flight to Hong-Kong was changed. We got the flight we wanted, which means that we now have two weeks in Nepal, or we can take a few more days in India. The second reason for doing some planning is a bit more important. Cabral, another former member of the Portuguese community in Stockholm, will be working in India for a couple of months and decided to join us from the moment of his arrival (28th of January).

The RTW will start in two days :)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The big day is coming

Finally time to stop and think about the trip. It's been a busy Christmas vacation as it always is! Loads of events, meeting friends whom I can only meet at this time of the year, spending time in my favorite places, enjoying our amazing sun and the fantastic coffee. Reading newspapers. Drinking beer. Enjoying some Portuguese wine. Finishing up some work I left behind. Recovering from the flu... Exhausting!

Now it's time to place a towel on the floor, put all the things I've listed to bring with me on it and try to fit them into the backpack. I'm sure they won't fit all, so it's important to do that as soon as possible.

Due to some back problems I'll try to keep my load around 15 Kg (Ryanair doesn't allow more than 15 kg/item dispatched and we can bring 10 with us in the cabin).

I'm always afraid I'll forget something important. So it's really important to do this now. Sometimes during my sleep (I'm not a good sleeper) I remember important things, so with 5 more nights to go, I have more chances not to miss something important :)

Another issue I'm struggling with is bringing the cell phone...I'd rather not bring it with me, but...family will feel better if I bring it along and it will probably be quite helpful, specially as an alarm clock :p

Well, time to be active and also to say "see you soon" to everyone back home. I've done it already a month ago in Sweden and it wasn't easy...

Before departure

Vaccines
- Hepatitis A
- Typhoid fever
- Yellow fever
- Cholera
- Maybe malaria prophylaxis. Refused in Sweden, have a travel medicine appointment in Portugal right before I leave

Medicines
- Paracetamol
- Ibuprofen
- Anti-histamine
- Rehydration mix
- Anti-diarrhea pills
- Anti-septic cream
- Melatonin
- Lidocain cream
- Laxatives

Documents and cards
- Passport
- Driving license
- International driving license (needed in Australia at least)
- ISIC card
- 2 debit cards
- 1 credit card
- Vaccination certificate
- VISA to India

Other
- Tickets
- Internet banking
- Antiseptic wet wipes
- Electronic thermometer
- Sunglasses
- Pen
- Permanent marker
- Pencil
- Flashlight

Monday, January 5, 2009

Books and Music

Books:
- Poesias, Heterónimos - Fernando Pessoa
- Estrela Errante - JMG Le Glésio
- Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
- Into The Wild - Jon Krakauer
- Sean & David's Long Drive - Sean Condon
- India travel guide from Lonely Planet
- Mumbai and Goa travel guide from Time Out
- Nepal travel guide from Lonely Planet (Tiago will bring it)
- Travel journal
- Notebook

Music:
- Adriana Calcanhotto - Cantada
- Amy Winehouse - Rehab
- Animal Collective - Feels
- Animal Collective - Straberry Jam
- Arcade Fire - Funeral
- Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
- Asha Ali - Asha Ali
- Babyshambles - Shotter's Nation
- Beck - Odelay
- Beirut - Lon Gisland
- Belle & Sebastian - The Boy With The Arab Strap
- Ben Harper - Greatest Hits
- Blasted Mechanism - Mix 00
- Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
- Blur - The best of
- Bob Sinclar - Western Dream
- Broken Social Scene - You Forgot It In People
- Cake - Fashion Nugget
- Carla Bruni - Quelqu'un M'a Dit
- Carlos Paredes - Antologia - Uma Guitarra Com Gente Dentro
- Cat Power - Jukebox
- The Charlatans - Forever, the singles
- The Chemical Brothers - Surrender
- Clã - Cintura
- Clã - Lustro
- The Clash - The story of the Clash (vol 1)
- CSS - Cansei de ser sexy
- The Cure - Galore
- Damien Rice - O
- David Bowie - The Platinum Collection
- Death In Vegas - Scorpio Rising
- Depeche Mode - The Best of Depeche Mode
- dEUS - In a Bar, Under The Sea
- The Do - A Mouthful
- The Doors - The best of
- Dulce Pontes - Lágrimas
- Eddie Vedder - Into The Wild
- Editors - An End Has A Start
- Eels - Beautiful Freak
- Eels - Blinking Lights And Other Revelations
- Elliott Smith - Either/Or
- Emiliana Torrini - Fisherman's Friend
- Emiliana Torrini - Love In The Time Of Science
- Explosions In The Sky - All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone
- Faithless - Forever Faithless: The Greatest Hits
- Feist - Let It die
- Feist - The Reminder
- Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better
- Goldfrap - Felt Mountain
- Goldfrap - Seventh Tree
- Gomez - Bring It On
- Gomez - In Our Gun
- Gomez - Liquid Skin
- Hello Saferide - More Modern Short Stories From Hello Saferide
- Humanos - Humanos
- Interpol - Antics
- Interpol - Our Love To Admire
- Interpol - Turn On The Bright Lights
- Iron & Wine - The Shepard's Dog
- Jorge Palma - No Tempo Dos Assassinos
- Joy Division - Closer
- Kaiser Chiefs - Employment
- Kings Of Convenience - Quiet Is The New Loud
- Koop - Koop Island
- LCD Soundsystems - LCD Soundsystems
- LCD Soundsystems - Sounds Of Silver
- The Libertines - Time For Heroes: Best Of Libertines
- Madredeus - Os Dias Da Madredeus
- The Magnetic Fields - Distortion
- Mando Diao - Ode To Ochracy
- Manu Chao - Clandestino
- Massive Attack - Collected
- Mogwai - Come On Die Young
- Moloko - Things To Make and Do
- The Mountain Goats - Heretic Pride
- Muse - Black Holes & Revelations
- The National - Boxer
- New Order - Singles
- Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - The Abattoir Blues Tour
- Nirvana - From The Muddy Banks of The Wishkah
- Of Montreal - The Sunlandic Twins
- Oh Laura - A Song In My Head, A Demon In My Bed
- Okkervil River - Black Cheap Boy
- Okkervil River - The Stage Names
- Pedro Abrunhosa - Momento
- Pedro Abrunhosa - Tempo
- Pedro Abrunhosa - Viagens
- Pixies - Best of The Pixies - Wave Of Mutilation
- Placebo - Sleeping With Ghosts (Bonus CD)
- Portishead - Dummy
- Rádio Macau - O Elevador da Glória
- Radiohead - Amnesiac
- Radiohead - The Bends
- Radiohead - OK Computer
- Radiohead - Pablo Honey
- Rage Against The Machines - Rage Against The Machines
- Resistência - Ao vivo no armazem 22
- Sétima Legião - Mar D'Outubro
- Sétima Legião - A Um Deus Desconhecido
- Sigur Rós - Ágaetis Byrjun
- Sigur Rós - Meo Suo i eyrum vid spilum endalaust (2008)
- Sigur Rós - Takk...
- Sigur Rós - ()
- The Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness
- The Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream
- Sol Seppy - The Bells of 1 2
- Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
- Suede - Coming Up
- Taken By Trees - Open Field
- The Teenagers - Reality Check
- U.N.P.O.C. - Fifth Column
- Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
- The White Stripes - Elephant
- Xutos & Pontapés - Vida Malvada
- Zero 7 - Simple Things

Miscellaneous:
- High Fidelity Soundtrack
- Trainspotting Soundtrack
- Dig For Fire - A tribute to Pixies

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Planning

Well, the first step in such a trip is of course to make a draft of a route.

My first draft included Tibet, New Guinea, East Timor and the Pacific Islands, in addition to the destinations mentioned in the itinerary. Reasons for having skipped those destinations were: the difficulty in getting the visa to Tibet, when traveling there from Nepal; with the route we planed it was hard to get to the other destinations. Of course time was also one of the reasons to skip some of these destinations.

I also read a little bit while preparing and planning the trip. The book by the Portuguese "professional" traveler Gonçalo Cadilhe (Planisfério Pessoal) was a big inspiration. Other books I used to prepare the trip:
- The Rough Guide To First-Time Around the World, from Rough Guides - I really enjoyed the book. It has a lot of nice comments and suggestions for both the rich and the budget travellers.
- Vagabonding by Rolf Pott, another "professional" traveler, was also a good source.
- Different guides about India and Nepal that I rented at the Public Library in Stockholm
- The internet, specially Wikitravel, travel-nation, lonely planet, blog Tempo de Viajar, among others.

But the best source of information was meeting friends that had been in the places I am going to visit. I have met friends who spoke about their experiences in India, Nepal, Thailand and New Zealand.

Budget:

We both have a similar budget. 10000 EUR.
We bought our Oneworld ticket from TravelNation . We paid around 3000 EUR (2305 british pounds) for the ticket and around 250 EUR(186 british pounds) for the insurance. The visa to India cost around 50 EUR (500 Swedish Crowns). The vaccines cost overall 150 euros (1500 SEK). Other basic things, including, clothes, books, travel guides, backpack, among other small things, were whether bought or offered by friends (thanks guys :)). Overall value is around 300 EUR.

My budget after all the expenses is around 40 EUR/day.

Luggage:
- 40l Backpack
- 20l bag
- Sleeping bag
- 4 T-shirts
- 2 Sweat-shirts
- 5 Socks and underwear
- Ski layers (they are light, warm and don't take much space)
- 1 polar coat
- 2 pairs of jeans
- 2 shirts
- 1 rain coat
- 1 pair of swimming shorts
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 pair of trekking snickers
- 1 pair of sandals
- 1 pair of light shoes
- 1 bandana
- 1 towel
- 1 fast drying small towel
- First aid kit
- Toiletry
- Water purification drops
- Compact camera
- 16 Gb USB drive
- Ipod
- Books
- Travel guides
- Ear plugs

Toiletry
- Toothbrush
- Toothpaste
- Dental floss
- Perfume sample
- Lip cream
- Razor
- Razor cream
- Sunscrean
- Mosquito repellent
- Mirror
- Shampoo/Shower gel (2 in 1)
- Deodorant

Friday, January 2, 2009

Itinerary

At first I was planning to travel on my own. My friend Tiago, who I met when I moved to Sweden, finished his PhD at about the same time as me, and also felt that it was time to stop and think before moving on. We met, discussed the places we would like to visit and in the end decided to travel together. This is the final plan we came up with.



Step 0: on the 14th I'll take a Ryanair flight from OPorto to London. I paid 30 EUR for it. This kind of the pre-trip. Since we bought the ticket from travel-nation, which is based in the UK, we had to start the trip from an English airport.

First flight: 17th of January, London-Mumbai (via Helsinki)
Second flight: 17th of February (waiting list for the 25th), Kathmandu-Hong-Kong
Third flight: 1st of March, Hong-Kong-Bangkok
Fourth flight: 20th of March, Bangkok-Sydney
Fifth flight: 15th of April, Sydney-Auckland
Sixth flight: 01st of May, Auckland-Papeete
Seventh flight: 04th of May, Papeete-Easter Island
Eighth flight: 7th of May, Easter Island-Santiago
Ninth flight: 15th of July, Mexico city-London


Countries we plan to visit:
- India
- Nepal
- Hong-Kong*
- Macao*
- Thailand
- Australia
- New Zealand
- Tahiti**
- Chile
- Argentina
- Uruguai
- Peru
- Colombia
- Mexico
* Autonomous Chinese Regions
** Part of the French Polynesia

Our plan is to travel 6 months, around 2 months in each continent: Asia, Oceania and South and Central America. Plane will be used in the longest distances, but we also plan to use bus transportation (mostly in South and Central America and in Southeastern Asia), train (India), renting minivans (Australia and New Zealand), renting scooters or small motor cycles whenever we feel that we can drive them safely and we want to hike in some of the places we will visit. Boat is also under consideration for some parts of the trip: South to Central America, the Pacific crossing and Hong-Kong to Macao. We bought a round the world ticket from OneWorld. This allows us to take 15 flights and travel 34000 miles. All the flights that we know we will take were booked in November. We can add new flights during our trip, change timetables. All the other tickets to buses, trains etc will be bought when we need them.

The begining

Traveling has long been one of the things in life that pleases me the most. My oldest memory of a trip was a summer vacation to the Algarve. This was back in the days when there were hardly any highways in the country, the cars were slow and the whole family was packed in the same vehicle. A journey that took me 4.30 hours just a few days ago, took at least 10h back then.

After that I was lucky to having the chance to travel all over Europe. Two interrails, road trips, visits to friends living in different parts of Europe and living in The Netherlands and in Sweden allowed me not only to know places but to interact with different people and cultures, which is one of the things that pleases me the most when I'm traveling.

But in the last years work didn't allow many adventures. Instead, a plan for a long trip around the world began to take shape. The first time I met someone who had done a round the world trip was in The Netherlands. I became friends with a guy from work who had traveled for a year around the world. After that I've met many people who had done long and "crazy" trips, and so I began to plan my own trip.

And now that the PhD is over, it's the right time to take some time off. And this will be the place where I'll leave some of my experiences for those who are curious about it. I hope this blog will inspire others to travel. Enjoy and come on traveling with me ;)
RC

Thursday, January 1, 2009

About Me

Name: Ricardo Carvalho

Born in: 1981

Academic: Degree in Biochemistry
PhD in Medical Sciences

Nationality: Portuguese

Current address: Stockholm, Sweden

Previous addresses: Figueira da Foz, Coimbra and Braga in Portugal, and Utrecht in the Netherlands

Hobbies: Sports (football, tennis, squash, badminton, jogging), Reading, Music, Hanging Out With Friends, Traveling, Photography