With a few hours to kill at Singapore airport on the way home, we devised 10 questions about the round the world trip and answered them separately. We’ve purposely omitted photos because we’ve included lots of links to posts that we’ve written, that give much more detail.
What surprised you the most?
J: The way that somehow, we managed to cram a lot into our 57 day schedule with little recovery time, sometimes in searing heat or 100% humidity–without keeling over!
N: I know we put a huge amount of time and effort into planning our trip in great detail, but ultimately, I’m amazed that over the course of 2 months, with so many moving parts, nothing went wrong. Every flight, train and transfer was more or less on time and every hotel and excursion was expecting us.
Did anything fall short of your expectations?
J: Sorry about this–but toilets. I know public facilities vary widely across the world, but some loos in busy city train stations in Vietnam, for example, were unuseable. (Yes, tricky..!)
N: Hotel wifi. In New Zealand in particular we were often stuck with data usage limits and in most hotels we stayed in, the quality and speed of connections was poor.
Where would you most like to go back to?
N: I have completely fallen in love with Japan … and we only scratched the surface. I really want to get back there to explore more soon.
Favourite way of getting from A to B
J: The steel, ‘luge’ style toboggan helter-skelter ride all the way down from the Great Wall of China. I knew the couple behind me were yelling at me to speed up–but I had no idea till I saw Nigel’s pictures that there was a trail of angry ‘drivers’ behind me, also shouting abuse at my gentile pace.
N: Tuk tuks in Cambodia. Cheap, with an excellent driver, they even come with built in air conditioning!
What was your favourite meal of the trip?
J: Nearly every meal on the Rocky Mountaineer train journey in Canada. It was the start of the trip. The setting was stunning. We were treated like VIPs.
N: At one end of the spectrum, the 7 course meal we had in the ryokan in Miyajima was the most exquisite, but exploring fast food haunts in Dotonburi, Osaka with our new Twitter buddy, Chris King (aka the Train Hacker), was probably my favourite.
What was the best night out?
J: The details are a little hazy (…) but it was in Tokyo. We had some Japanese food, then tracked down a cocktail bar we’d researched (Bar Candy), had ‘several’ drinks and then staggered to a karaoke bar. Gloria Gaynor, Ed Sheeran, Adele, Donna Summer…no artist escaped our expert and melodious covers. And we laughed all night.
N: We had a wonderful night in Vancouver, with great food at a place called Forage, plus cocktails at The Royal Dinette and Joe Fortes (I’m not choosing karaoke in Tokyo only because my singing attempts are still fresh wounds)
Which one person you met for the first time had the greatest impact on you?
J: Pham; our villager guide in the hills of Sapa in Vietnam. You can read more about her on here soon, but her dedication to work to support her family, her helpfulness and kindness, and her wisdom, left me re-evaluating what life’s really about.
N: We met so many great people – locals and travellers. But an elderly Japanese gentlemen who spotted us struggling at a Tokyo subway station and helped us in very deliberate, precise English would be my choice. He summed up what I came to love about the Japanese people … courteous, dignified and willing to go out of their way to help a stranger.
What would be your top travelling tip?
J: Plan meticulously, but don’t be afraid to tweak the schedule if you need a break, or a diversion to an attraction, perhaps, that wasn’t on your list.
N: Make a conscious effort to observe the little things as well as the big. It’s been great to say I’ve ‘done’ the Golden Gate Bridge, the Great Wall of China, Angkor Wat … but what has really affected me deep down was the small stuff – how people interact with me and others, customs, ways of doing things.
What was the most invaluable item you took with you?
J: Nigel. (No, sorry…’we’ might be an item, but you’re not..!) But seriously, I can’t think of anyone better at planning and scheduling, working out the budget, looking at a map once and remembering a route…and being lovely. All that stuff. Amazing. (Sorry..is this a bit cheesy??)
N: My camera. I have absolutely loved doing our daily instagram posts and the photos for our blog posts. And I’ve had some really lovely comments about the results.
What was your overall highlight?
J: Taking off from Heathrow on Day One. We spent so long planning our first big trip, and the excitement and anticipation as we flew off was just incredible. And was then followed by 57 days of WOWs. Roll on the next one!
N: I’m going to have to take two bites at this one. Swimming with humpback whales was INCREDIBLE, but I’d also like to have our first night in Tonga, when we had THE most romantic dinner by the Pacific.