I've finally done it! A 3 week solo "whistle stop" tour of Asia is booked and in the diary for August / September!
I've always enjoyed travelling and over the years have been to most of Europe, USA and a little bit of Africa (Lagos) & Australia. But these were either on business or vacation and always with people I knew. The kids are grown and it's time for some exploring and hopefully making some new friends along the way. I'm both excited and nervous!
Three weeks may not seem like long enough, but I wanted to get a "taster" with a view to going back to some countries for longer periods in the future.
Where am I going?:
Dubai - Originally planned to stay for 2 days, but this was changed to a 3 hour stopover due to time constraints. Both arrival and departure will be during the day time, so I hope at least to be able to get a birds eye view of Dubai and experience the airport for a few hours!
Mumbai (Bombay) - My first step into India! - 2.5 days staying at Marine Drive in the southern part of town, not far from the "Gateway of India". In addition to visiting the gateway itself, Chowpatty Beach will also be a must, to enjoy a traditional Indian head massage and experience the various food stalls. I'm also very tempted to see a few temples.
Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) - Inspired by my younger brother who visited years ago, I'll be staying at two locations. 5 days in Paravur, Kollam followed by a day in Trivandrum. After studying the monsoon patterns, I'm hopeful that the rains will have just passed, leaving freshly washed and spectacular scenery! Houseboats, temples, and wildlife are on the cards here!
Bangalore - Just a one hour stopover here, but like Dubai my face will be firmly pressed against the passenger window on arrival and departure!
Chennai (Madras) - Having been to the western part of India, I couldn't leave without experiencing the east, albeit a brief stop at one of it's major cities. I'll be staying in the same hotel that Michael Palin stayed in during his "Around the world in 80 days" adventure! 3 days here, to take in the culture, food and temples.
Colombo (Sri Lanka) - Another stopover. 3 hrs at Colombo airport in the dead of night. Not expecting to see anything and doubt I'd have the energy to even explore the airport!
Bangkok - Initially a flight transfer, I'll be returning to Bangkok, after first spending 3 days in Chiang Mai. Touted as "Thailand's Second City", Chiang Mai offers amazing temples, nightlife and great food. But these aren't the main reasons for visiting. Hopefully I'll get the opportunity to play with some tiger cubs and even give an adult tiger a tummy rub at "Tiger Kingdom" in Mae-rim. Then I'll be off to the "Elephant Nature Park" in Phra Sing, where I hope to meet the herd and "Pamper a Pachyderm". I've never given an elephant a bath before! Then it's back to Bangkok to spend 3 days sightseeing. Aside from temples / nightlife, I've yet to research other things to do / visit.
Hong Kong - Finally 4 days in Hong Kong, staying in Hong Kong Island. The final leg of my journey inspired by my Father, I have Kowloon, Stanley Market and Sams Tailor down for now, but open to suggestions!
How will I be getting there?:
Although I've always been a big fan of Michael Palin's "Around the world in 80 days", it will be flying and airport transfers only on this trip. I've been told that travelling by train across India is highly recommended, but alas there was not enough time on this occasion.
As a bit of an aviation geek, I'll be flying airlines I've never flown on before:
As mentioned earlier, this will be my first trip, so if you have any recommendations for any of the destinations listed, please let me know!