Papua New Guinea….
A land of head-hunting tribes, WWII battlefields, weird creatures, stunning islands, steaming jungles and mysterious peaks. This is one of the most remote countries in the world. I have wanted to go since I was a kid.
Papua New Guinea is raw adventure country. This is the kind of place frequented only by National Geographic expeditions and mad botanists. Like Venezuela, Palestine or Iran; it is well off the normal backpacking trail, I would have it all to myself… If I could only get there.
I pulled down a massive map from the wall and set to work with a piece of string and red thumbtacks…
I knew that I wanted to get to Papua New Guinea and I didn’t want to fly. I wanted to head out into the big, bad world like the explorers of old; doing everything by thumb, local transport or my own two feet. I would walk (and sail) my way to Papua New Guinea if I had to.
Pakistan, Iran, Tibet, Bhutan, Tajikistan, Bulgaria, Macedonia – there is a lot of cool sounding countries between the UK to PNG. There are countries I know literally nothing about… huge swathes of the planet which, for me, are a mystery.
I want to see as much as I can.
I want to be able to get around Europe with ease, I perused Compare and Choose and considered hiring a campervan or buying an inter-railing pass to make things easier but I’ve decided that if I am going to pull off this trip on my meagre savings then I would need to save my cash.
I have just short of $10,000. Savings from ‘the brief time when I had a normal job’ and my freelance writing work for news publications like the The BBC.
I reckon I will be able to make a couple of hundred dollars a month by selling articles but for the most part – my savings now need to last me for the next two years.
My daily budget is going to be $30 a day; generous for countries such as Cambodia and India but tight for many of the countries I will be visiting.
I already know that I will run out of money but I am hoping I can travel for a year on my savings before I have to blag a teaching job or get work in a bar. Heck, by then, if my luck holds out, I might be able to get regular, well paying, writing work or get hired by someone to make inspirational travel videos whilst on the trip, that’s my dream.
I looked at my map. From the UK to PNG… it was a long way. The string tumbled and weaved as I plotted my route across Europe. I will leave the UK and head first to Belgium and Germany before heading down through Prague, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia; where I hope to have a crack at sailing.
From Croatia I will head into Bosnia, mysterious Montenegro, Albania and the sun kissed beaches of Greece before doubling back and making a run up to Serbia via Macedonia and misunderstood Kosovo.
I will spend my last few weeks in Europe exploring expansive Bulgaria and heading up through Turkey via the ruins of Cappadocia.
From Southern Turkey, it is simply a case of getting into Iran. Unfortunately there is nothing simple about the Iranian visa process but I am hopeful that I will be granted access.
So why exactly am I going on this trip?
I’m looking for something. I want to challenged, I want to learn, I want to explore.
I have no doubt that this trip will sometimes be extremely difficult – hostile border crossings, perilous peaks, choppy seas and limited funds – it isn’t going to be easy but it will be worth it.
I will stumble across real stories, crash with hippie communes and Tibetan yak herders. I’ll make far-flung friends in far-flung lands, pitch my tent under a hundred perfect skies and thumb my way across India and into Myanmar. I want to get more tribal tattoos, the real deal, and sleep under the stars as I bob across the Indonesian ocean.
I want to get to the heart of destinations I have never heard of; I want to learn something, anything, about countries such as Bulgaria, Albania, Pakistan, Bhutan and Indonesia.
I’m 26. I have no house, no car, no recent job history and no real possessions. Many of my friends are engaged, having kids or getting married.
I am not ready to surrender to a life of normality.
I want to be surprised, inspired and challenged every day.
I want to travel.
Please help support my adventure by sharing this with family and friends. I am planning on hitting the road on November 2nd and the more support I have; hell, the more I feel like I can pull this off.
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How plans change… I write this from the mountains of Pakistan, endless expanses of pristine white snow streaming away from me on all sides. I am the only person here. My bodyguard, Baba, a sixty year old man who still think’s he’s twenty, scans the horizon, his AK at the ready. Not that it’s dangerous. Pakistan is surprisingly… calm. I am now 27, I fell in love in Iran, fell in love with Pakistan and shortly, I will attempt to drive a multicoloured tuk tuk across the width of India… Where I end up next, I do not. Papua New Guinea still awaits me, far, far away yet closer than yesterday. I am in no rush to get there. I am a mountain man… And these are the best mountains in the world.