On this day exactly one year ago, we set off from home in Finland for our trip. Since then, we have seen and done a lot of things, so we thought it would be a nice reflection to post our answers to a questionnaire we came up with. The questions are mainly modeled after the ones we have received most frequently from the people we have met, but there are a few that we came up with on our own as well. So here goes:
What was your favorite place and why?
Oona: This is a hard question to answer, because all the places were so different, so it depends on how I’m judging it. But, I’m going to go with Rangiroa, because the diving there was amazing. The underwater wildlife like hammerhead sharks, dolphins, manta rays, etc is stunning.
Ian: This is probably the hardest question to answer, because again, every place is so different. I guess I’d go with Tajikistan, though, if I had to pick only one. The mountains there are absolutely stunning, the people were amazing, and the food was good. This answer may be because we didn’t spend enough time there to get sick of it, and because our trip to Saratak was so nice, but I have very rosy memories from that area. The Maldives is a close second though, for very different reasons.
Who was the one person who stood out to you most, for whatever reason, from the trip so far?
Oona: The Canadian woman we met on horseback near Lake Khövsgöl, in Mongolia. Her lifestyle was so off-the-grid, nowadays you don’t meet that sort of person often. She didn’t work, because she built her own house, she had no dependence on the rest of the world. When we met her, she had only the bare necessities, her horse and a sleeping bag, and she slept under rocks for cover.
Ian: Lots of options here too, but I guess I’ll go with Mamuka, our taxi driver from Zugdidi to the Abkhaz border. He was so insistent on our not getting ripped off, especially in the presence of so many crooks, that was endearing. To this day, Oona and I often joke with each other about calling him up for a ride here or there. Adin lari!
What was your favorite meal so far?
Oona: Our ramen for lunch in Otaru. It was probably the single best thing. But all the meals we had in India were amazing too, so it’s hard to pick one from there.
Ian: The meal we shared with Oona’s parents at Transit, in Beijing was definitely a standout for me. Not only was the food amazing, but the cocktails and company were great as well. I agree with Oona in that everything we had in India was amazing though, picking one best meal there would be impossible.
What is the craziest thing that has happened during the trip so far?
Oona: The lightning storm in Terelj National Park, Mongolia. One moment it was sunny, and we were wearing shorts and tank tops, and suddenly it started hailing so hard that it was painful. The lightning started striking right near us, so close that the ground was shaking with every strike. After it was over, we were completely soaked, and we had to sleep in a tent!
Ian: Probably our over land trip from Mörön to Ölgii in Mongolia. It was the absolute embodiment of adventure; making spontaneous decisions, and flying across the steppe in whatever form of transport we could figure out. The settlements and people we ran into along the way were a look into a totally different lifestyle, it’s certainly not something I’m going to forget any time soon.
Which place are you looking forward to most for the rest of the trip?
Oona: Honduras. I’ve decided to do my scuba dive instructor course there, so we’ll be staying there for four months. Staying for a bit longer in one place and being able to dive every day sounds pretty amazing.
Ian: Burma. I’ve heard pretty great things about it and the pictures look amazing.
What is your single best memory from the trip so far?
Oona: The first night camping in the Gobi desert. The weather was so perfect, and we were sleeping without the rainfly with millions of stars overhead. There was nobody else anywhere close to us, and we were out in the middle of the desert.
Ian: The first night of our trip in the Gobi desert for sure. It was amazing in so many ways, there was a warm breeze blowing gently the whole night, but the sky was completely clear. The milky way was in perfect view overhead, and there was no trace of anybody for miles in all directions. It was simply amazing.
What is your single worst memory from the trip so far?
Oona: The toilets at the bus stop between Beijing and Erlian. It was just one big room full of human waste, I almost vomited as soon as I walked in, and I immediately turned around and went behind the building instead.
Ian: Probably waiting in the rain at the Abkhaz border. We were wet and miserable, waiting around for two hours for who knows what sort of bureaucratic nonsense to be sorted out. By the end of it I was about ready to just give up.
What is the most unexpected aspect of the trip so far?
Oona: People are selfish. Everybody is always trying to rip you off, and even among travelers, in dorms and things like that, some people are so inconsiderate. There have been great people, of course, but it’s shocking how many people are only looking out for themselves.
Ian: It gets really tiring. Traveling for a year with no place to call home and no place to really relax becomes taxing after awhile. It’s really not a holiday at all; it’s amazing, and we’ve been able to see some really incredible stuff, but all the planning and moving is almost like a full time job.