A Travellerspoint blog

The Last Stretch

Bulgaria to London and Home


View EurAsia on Chris Adam's travel map.

When I left Turkey I had 12 days to get to London (by land) to catch my plane back home to Canada on May 27. I stayed 2 nights in Sofia, Bulgaria where I had been 3 years ago. It was cool to see it again but it is already alot more expensive now than before. After that I went four hectic days without a bed or a shower. One day on the train, one day in Slovenia, an overnight train to Italy, a day in Venice then another day of trains to Zurich, Switzerland where I had a great couchsurfing host and finally rested. I had never been interested in going to Italy but Venice was really incredible. Zurich was really impressive too, so civilized and clean. In the middle of the city the water was crystal clear. By this point I was pretty much in shock by how expensive everthing was. It was hard to believe that a month ago I was eating massive feasts for $3 and crossing countries for $30.

Venice

Ljubljana

Zurich, there are cool drinking fountains like this everywhere

From Zurich I took just a one hour train to Konstanz, Germany ($35 of course!). Konstanz is a nice university town on a big lake. I spent 3 days there which was really nice. Somehow my couchsurfing host found out it was my birthday and had a party for me with cake and everything!

Konstanz, Imperia Statue

After that it was a quick day in Paris where I finally saw the Eiffel tower then my last night in London before finally catching my plane back to CANADA.

And so six and a half months is over! This was definitely my favourite trip. A big reason was of course couchsurfing. The hosts were really nice and they helped me so much. The only problem was I had to be on internet just about every day. Another reason I really liked this trip was by travelling West to East the difference between countries was really extreme. Every month was like a different world. In my other 2 trips to South America and Eastern Europe the countries were different but still very similar. I felt really safe this trip. Most of the countries were safer than Canada. Yes there were lots of pickpockets but I almost never had to worry about being robbed by force.

One thing that worked out well was bringing two cameras. My big camcorder was better quality, but the little camera was faster/easier to use, attracted less attention and I could just put it in my pocket if I didn't want to bring my bag. And If one broke, got stolen or ran out of batteries or memory I had the other one as a backup.

Switzerland Trainride

Of course there is lots I that could have been better. There was alot of stuff I didn't get done before I left so I wasted alot of time in the first two months trying to catch up. Also, I wish I had more time or didn't go to so many countries. I was really rushed which was tiring and didn't allow me to go to more remote places.

My skills in bartering and dealing with con artists have definitely improved this trip. There are alot of people in the world that see a foreigner as a walking wallet.

The White Cliffs of Dover on my way back to London

I have spent a week and a half in Canada now. My grandma has taken me in for a while while I get sorted and find a new place. For the first week I barely left the house I just ate, slept and watched TV. I will work for the same office as before my trip but beyond that I'm not sure what's going to happen. I would like to do another trip. I think Africa in 2010 including World Cup in South Africa.

Posted by Chris Adam 05/10/2009 07:04 Comments (0)

Pakistan to Turkey

Pakistan, Iran and Turkey


View EurAsia on Chris Adam's travel map.

My introdution to Pakistan was really amazing. I sat on the Pakistan side during the famous India-Pakistan border closing ceremony. It's like a big sporting event complete with bleachers for the huge crowds that come.

I stayed just one week in Lahore and Islamabad, which are the safest places in Pakistan. I was hosted by families in both cities and got absolute VIP treatment from both. I met so many people and ate so much good food. It was really a great experience.

i00107.jpg
My host family in Lahore

i00186.jpg
My host Azam from Islamabad and his son Omar

After Pakistan I had to cross the border to Iran. This was the most dangerous part of my trip as the area around the borders can be a bit shady. I took a marathon 3 day train/bus journey from Islamabad, Pakıstan to Ahwaz, Iran. My first train was 6 hours late and I barely avoided having to stay the night in Quetta, Pakistan, the place I was told to avoid at all costs. I crossed the Iran border with no problems but pretty tired. I was told I had to have a policeman escort to the next town. This was ok but the "obligatory" $20 taxi was not. I told them it was my money and I wanted to take the $0.50 minibus. After about 2 hours finally some guy said I (and my police "friend") could hitch a ride with him for free. After another 24 hours of buses I finally arrived in Ahwaz exhausted and I phoned my friend Mohammad. We had a mix up and he was near Shiraz 5 hours away where I had just been! He phoned a friend though and in no time I had a place to stay.

Mohammad rushed to Ahwaz the next morning and we spent a very fun (and busy) week. We saw the war monument near the Iraq border, stopped at the persian gulf, saw lots and lots of ruins, visited Shiraz for a night, met lots of very nice people, swam in hotsprings and all kinds of stuff. I ate so many mouth watering kebabs including at the BBQ/picnic on my last day. I am addicted to them. We were often on the road and the scenery was always amazing.

i00515.jpg
Mohammad and me at the Iraq-Iran War Monument

After I left Mohammad's I spent a few days on my own visiting Esfahan which was awesome, the main square is really great and lots to see. Then I had a day in the huge capital Tehran.

I had a scare in Esfahan my full 8GB memory card "failed" and it seemed all my videos/pics were gone. Luckily, I almost certain they can be recovered using software.

The "Islamic Republic of Iran" is really a unique place and people are really nice. They love to have guests in their country. It was one of the best parts of my trip.

My first impression of Turkey was not good. I had to pay $60US for my visa at the border (all other countries are $20 max) and the guy even tried to trick me to pay $70. At the bus station some guy asked me to pay 2 Euros for using the toilet even though he wasn't around when I went in. And then my first bus was like $40 for what would have cost $7 in Iran.

I was a bit bitter but after one day it was obvious it was worth it. It is a special place and the people are really friendly (especially my couchsurfing hosts). One day me and another guy hitchhiked qnd we never had to wait more than 5 minutes for a ride.

Hitchhiking

My first stop was Cappadocia which was really cool. Everywhere there are strange rock formations. Many of them carved into homes, hotels and churches.

Arriving in Cappadocia

Istanbul was not what I expected but I like it. It is very European feeling and finally I could wear shorts again! (In Pakistan, Iran and east Turkey you aren't allowed). Also, there were cats everywhere which I love. I spent my last day in Edirne, Turkey on the border with Bulgaria. It is a nice, friendly small town.

Now I'm back in Europe on my way home trying not to faint every time I buy a train ticket (about 25X more expensive than India or more). I'm a bit travel weary but I'm still enjoying the the trip.

The transport trucks in Pakistan all look like this

Posted by Chris Adam 05/03/2009 02:43 Comments (0)

India

India


View EurAsia on Chris Adam's travel map.

India is definitely an interactive country, I was never bored. I walked alot, I talked (and bartered) with alot of people, I ate alot, I dodged alot of traffic and I spent alot of time just watching. It's been a busy and intense three and a half weeks in India for sure.

I saw mostly bigger cities during my stay as I didn't have time to go too far off the main trail. Mumbai, Dehli and Kolkata are all big cities but each were really unique from each other. I got to be an extra in a Bollywood movie for a day in Mumbai. The city Varanasi is spiritual overload, really cool but a bit too many hippies for me. I also stopped in at Khajaharo (Kamasutra temples), Jaipur (tons of temples, forts and bazaars) and Agra (The Taj Mahal).

The Holy Ganges River in Varanasi where locals bathe in the morning and night

The food is nice and tasty. Because its vegetarian its often lighter and healthy. I really like all the lentils. I have gotten sick alot though so I am a bit scared of it now.

I thought India would be overrun with tourists but I can go two blocks off the main tourist areas and suddenly I am a celebrity, everyone wants to say hello.

On the train...

Most countries I have visited people are eager to try to get my money but India is in a league of its own. It's no secret there is alot of poverty in India but everywhere, everyday and from every direction I was constantly bombarded with touts, salesmen and beggars. Some are cunning smooth talkers some are arrogant and some are just desperate but all are relentless. I refuse to ignore them because then I feel like they've made me be rude, so I always respond to anyone until they let me leave. Unfortunately this meant talking alot to alot of people. It was actually really fun. I had some great conversations and I always feel incredibly safe in India despite so many people wanting my money.

This guy was one of the nicer ones

India is really cheap. Maybe the cheapest place I have ever been. I feel rich. I can easily get a room for $3 CDN, a quality meal is a dollar and a 24 hour train was like $5.

I was really glad to be a male while I was in India. The stares some of the guys give foreign girls here takes perviness to a new level. That's not the worst thing though. It's very common for guys to just flat up touch or grab foreign girls.

There is nothing better than a cow where a cow should not be.

Also, It seems no discomfort or hesitation is allowed in India. If I am ever not at ease or certain of something people seem to instantly sense it and I would be approached or called to immediately. This was annoying because I am rarely at ease or certain.

The downside of India is that privacy is nonexistant and I always have to be on guard as touts can smell my money from miles away. But it is really safe and cheap country with so much to see and experience. Despite the ones who want your money, there are tons of nice people who would love to meet and talk to you and will do anything to help you enjoy your stay.

Tomorrow I will go to Pakistan and then after Iran (I finally got my visa).

The Taj Majal

Posted by Chris Adam 04/10/2009 14:36 Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 3 of 6) Page [1] 2 »