Sunday, November 1, 2015

Gap Year Q1 Summary

Although I’m a few weeks behind in my blogging – I still need to blog about Dubai, India, and Nepal - I thought I’d give a recap of the first quarter of my gap year.  I sort of got bored on my flight from Nepal to Malaysia so I sort of calculated a lot of facts and figures.  If you like statistics and lists, then this blog post is for you.  If not, then maybe you should stop reading and do something else.  Like build a rocket.  Or watch porn.

Total time spent:  91 days and 90 nights
Start:  Morning of Sunday, July 12 at Sydney Airport
End:  Evening of Saturday, October 10 at Kuala Lumpur Airport

Continents visited:  2
1.  Africa:  75%
2.  Asia:  24%
In transit between continents:  1%

Regions visited:  5
1.  Southern Africa:  49%
2.  Mascarene Islands:  26%
3.  South Asia:  15%
4.  Middle East:  4%
5.  Southeast Asia:  4%
In transit between regions:  2%

Countries visited:  12
1.  Mauritius:  23.5 days / 23 nights  (26%)
2.  South Africa:  22 days / 22 nights  (24%)
3.  Namibia:  10.5 days / 11 nights  (12%)
4.  India:  8 days / 8 nights  (9%)
5.  Nepal:  6 days / 6 nights  (7%)
6.  Botswana:  5 days / 5 nights  (6%)
7.  UAE:  4 days / 4 nights  (4%)
8.  Singapore:  3.5 days / 3 nights  (4%)
9.  Zambia:  2 days / 2 nights  (2%)
10.  Lesotho:  2 days / 2 nights  (2%)
11.  Zimbabwe:  1 day / 1 night  (1%)
12.  Swaziland:  1 day / 1 night  (1%)
In transit between countries:  2.5 days / 2 nights  (3%)

And just for fun – time spent in countries that drive on the:
1.  Left side of the road:  96%  (all countries except the UAE)
2.  Right side of the road:  4%  (only the UAE)

This quarter was a milestone because it ended with me visiting my 50th country overall:  Nepal!

Border crossings:  16
-  9 land border crossings including 7 by vehicle, 2 on foot, and 1 by river ferry
-  7 border crossings by air

Airports visited:  10*
Sydney, Singapore, Johannesburg, Victoria Falls, Mauritius, Rodrigues, Dubai, Delhi, Kathmandu, Kuala Lumpur

*One of my flights also landed to re-fuel in Kolkata, but it was unscheduled and I didn’t get off the plane so it doesn’t really count.

Airlines flown:  5
Singapore Airlines, British Airways (operated by Comair), Air Mauritius, Emirates, AirAsia X

1.  Camping:  27 nights  (30% - all in Southern Africa)
2.  Hotels:  15 nights  (17% - mostly in South Asia)
3.  Guesthouses:  11 nights  (12% - all in Mauritius)

Other types of accommodation:  Airbnb (Cape Town and Dubai), studio apartments (Mauritius), hostels (Southern Africa), lodges (Southern Africa and Nepal), airplanes (2 overnight flights), a cargo ship (2 nights), with friends (Singapore), and one overnight train (India).

Bathroom situation:
1.  Shared bathroom:  47 nights  (52%)
2.  Private bathroom:  41 nights  (46%)
3.  No bathroom:  2 nights  (2%)

And now, for some less statistical lists…

Top 5 Experiences (in chronological order):
Ok, so I had a hard time narrowing it down to five, so I decided to do six.  It’s an extra three seconds of reading time.  Deal with it.

1.  Game drives – I had some amazing wildlife sightings, particularly in Chobe National Park in Botswana and Kruger National Park in South Africa.
2.  Cape Town – After three weeks of camping, I was in need of some city time, and Cape Town delivered on everything that I needed.
3.  Mauritius factory tours – From sugar, sea salt, and rum, to vanilla, tea, and even gluten-free biscuits, the factory tours of Mauritius offered a unique and nerdy tourism experience.
4.  Rodrigues – I enjoyed everything about this little island:  the beaches, the hiking, the no-stress environment, and my accommodation in particular.
5.  Dubai Mall – If you think it’s dumb to have a mall on this list, then go to Dubai and see for yourself:  this place is jaw-dropping.  I’ll blog more about it soon.
6.  Being in Nepal – I’m not sure I would have liked it as much had I not gone to India first, but Nepal was a breath of fresh air (literally and figuratively) after a bit of time in India.

Bottom 5 Experiences (in chronological order):
1.  Flight over the Okavango Delta – I splurged on a scenic flight over the Okavango Delta in Botswana, but the plane was small, hot, and uncomfortable, and the views were good but not that good.  I was bummed that I had spent so much money on it.
2.  Freezing tent poles – Disassembling metal tent poles in freezing temperatures was not fun.  We had a few mornings of frigidness in Botswana and Namibia, and my hands ended up cracking and getting all nasty.
3.  Quad biking in Namibia – So it turns out I’m just not one for adventure sports.  I already knew this, but this confirmed it. It was fun for a while, but some of the sand dunes were big and some of the angles were just too steep for me to be comfortable with.  I’ll stick to brunch next time.
4.  Getting sick – I got sick for 24 hours in Kruger.  I had a fever and some other symptoms that screamed “food poisoning!” but I’m pretty sure the culprit was actually the somewhat dodgy pool at our campsite in Swaziland the previous day.
5.  Being in India – India is very interesting, but let’s be honest:  it’s a disgusting place.  I’ll be blogging about it soon.

Overall, I had no major mishaps on my travels, so I’m quite pleased with this bottom five list!

Top 3 Places I Could Live (in preferential order):
1.  Cape Town – It reminds me a lot of Australian cities (just cheaper and with more crime…)
2.  Singapore – This could have been first but it’s so expensive and sooooo hot!
3.  Mauritius – I think I would miss Mexican food too much to live here full-time, but it would be a great place for a vacation home (if I could ever afford one…)

Top 3 Places to Visit Again (in preferential order):
1.  Nepal – Six days was not nearly enough.  I’m going to need to go back here on my next gap year.
2.  Cape Town – I would have liked more time in Cape Town, particularly to try more cafes and hit up the wine regions.
3.  Rodrigues – I would like to go back and do more hiking (and eating) around the island.

Top 3 Accommodations (in preferential order):
1.  Villa Mon Tresor (Rodrigues) – I’ve already blogged about my amazing guesthouse in Rodrigues.
2.  Vinod’s apartment (Dubai) – I had a great Airbnb experience in Dubai and I’ll be blogging about it soon.
3.  Drakensville ATKV (South Africa) – This campsite in the Drakensburg region of South Africa had an epic massive indoor heated pool, and it shit all over all of the other campsites that I stayed at.

Are there any other statistics that you’d like to see?  Let me know.  Maybe I’ll calculate them on my next long flight.  But first, let me take a selfie.

Me with Shivraj (my amazing tour guide from India) and Kathleen (a tour-mate from the US) at the Kathmandu Airport as we leave Nepal marking the end of my first quarter of travels.

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