So long and thanks for all the kazoos!

The two of us at the sand dunes in Huacachina, Peru

Wow, that was quick! Exactly a year ago today, we set out to explore the world, and now it’s all over, we’ve been back a month, and we’re both off to find adventures new.

It’s been a bit hard adjusting to life after travel – places where we can eat the salad safely, brush our teeth with tap water, and even sometimes understand everything going on around us! It’s also strange not going everywhere as the travelling duo – and leaving our Kazoos behind for once.

I find statistics a comforting way of dealing with change, and so I set out to enumerate our trip:

    • 18 countries.
    • 54,800 miles – that’s 2 1/4 times around the world.
    • 0 missed flights, trains or buses. We don’t have to say ‘yet’ any more!
    • … but 1 flight bought for the wrong month. No refund. Expensive mistake!
    • 4 pairs of sandals.
    • 88 bus journeys, 15 boats and 5 motorbikes.
    • 94 towns, villages & campsites.
    • 1 theft.
    • 99,608 words across 139 blog posts including this one. Sorry about that!
    • 23,500 miles of overland travel by bus, train and the occasional car. That’s just shy of once around the world.
    • 1 night spent on an airport floor.
    • 2 kazoos, and two friends to pose with them
    • … but no actual kazoo songs performed.

All in all, quite a trip!

So now to the future. I’m taking tentative steps towards the world of work, aiming to work in IT for a cause I can believe in a bit more than an investment bank. On the side, I might just start up another blog too – but this time probably with fewer gratuitous kazoo photos. Keep an eye out for that.

Laura is about to jet off again, this time to a new job as a postdoc following her previous research in DNA damage and cancer. She’s firmly got the travelling bug – so this is in Philadelphia, USA – and she leaves in less than a week!

So it just leaves us both to say a big thank you to everyone who made the trip so worthwhile and memorable – and to you out there for reading the blog and keeping us going. It has quite genuinely been an adventure of a lifetime, and we’re pretty sad to see it’s over.

I guess there is one final obvious question : Would we do it again? Absolutely! Although I think we might need to refine our Kazoo skills before we embark on the second lap…


What we learned

After 11 months away, there are a few things that we feel we’ve learnt…

  • The Laos option – just because it’s on the menu doesn’t mean they ever sell it.
  • You can wear pyjamas in the street
  • Never expect you can buy it later, it won’t be there.
  • Taking photos on an iPad looks very very stupid.
  • Fountains are normally off. Unless you’re in Lima.
  • 6000m really is quite high.
  • Carnival is utterly crazy.
  • Ché was a geek before he was a revolutionary.
  • You can take a toboggan down from the great wall.
  • Geocaching in Tibet is hard, and a bit risky!
  • The west has a lot to learn from the bed, food & wifi buses of South America.
  • Rum the night before a long journey is a bad idea.
  • Get the waterproof sun lotion. No skimping.
  • Wear your shoulder bag with the strap across your body. Ask Laura – the security is definitely worth it.
  • When crossing the road, keep moving at all times. The traffic will go round you.
  • EU customs won’t let you bring rum back from Cuba in Duty Free. Hope they enjoyed it!
  • Belly-out is best in a hot climate, if you’re not white.
  • To ride a motorbike (well, Laura did).
  • Four hours is long enough on a pedalo.
  • Even if the road ahead looks impossible… the bus would have done it!

…but still plenty of things that still leave us confused

  • Where do all the marigolds in India come from?
  • Why do they have a police festival in Bogota, with only police attending?
  • What’s the difference between por and para in Spanish? (Sorry Javier!)
  • Can a good spicy curry ever be bettered?
  • Why is the bread in Bolivia always stale?
  • Why isn’t it all a lot more messy when babies are bare-bottomed?
  • How does Cuba actually work?
  • How do people manage to vomit silently on the buses?
  • Why doesn’t the asian sound of someone hocking and spitting disgust everyone?
  • Why do you only say ‘buenos dias’ in the morning?
  • Are mountaineers actually insane?
  • Will we ever want to stop travelling? It certainly doesn’t feel like that right now.

It’s all about the chilli tights


One of the best bits about travelling is uncovering the ins and outs of various ethnic groups, the things that set them apart, bring them together – and all the little oddities inbetween. The things that most immediately identify people from different countries or cultures are probably their food and fashion. On our trip across Asia we’ve gone from crispy duck and Western clothing in Beijing, to deep fried buffalo momos and Indigenous costume in the highlands of Tibet and Nepal, through vibrant spices and saris in India, indigo dyed hemp and pyjamas in Vietnam, to increasing quantities of coconut and chilli along with a slightly more liberal approach to dress as we’ve travelled through South East Asia.

However the real fun is definitely in the little peculiarities that we’ve discovered along the way, such as the propensity for male friends to walk down the street hand in hand (certainly not a problem, just something you wouldn’t see back home), dogs wearing waistcoats and shirt collars, people hawking and spitting loudly in the street, bare bottomed babies, men with their bellies out, jeans worn in the stifling heat, megaphones on loop in markets shouting out special offers, “cheese” and bread where the “cheese” has never even sniffed the real thing, vacuum packed chickens’ feet, face whitening cream (I’m white enough in England, I came here for the sun!) and my personal all time favourite: chilli tights.

It’s these little insights into daily life that have really made my time in Asia, but chilli tights? Really?! The mind boggles, and surely the legs burn…?


We’re back!

As of 6:30 this morning, we’re back in the UK for a week, and are already savouring the cold weather!

We’re around for a week before flying to South America early next Thursday. If you’re in London, join us for drinks at the Southwark Tavern on Tuesday 31st from 8pm.

Simon & Laura

Happy New Year

From our position here in the future, we’d like to let you you know that 2012 is fantastic, and wish everyone back home a very Happy New Year.

We’ve just returned from celebrating the festivities at the riverfront here in Kampot. Tomorrow we head on to Phnom Penh and onwards on our journey through Cambodia, Thailand and then finally Malaysia.

We were going to give you a kazoo rendition of Auld Lang Syne, but, well, it’s a bit late here now and we don’t want to wake the neighbours.

Happy New Year to all!
Simon & Laura xx