If money and time weren’t a factor, my COS dream travels would entail conquering the entire world, forever. However, I like to think that I’m somewhat of a realist and I will instead disclose my actual plans that are in the early stages of two years in the making, so be forewarned this is merely a very rough itinerary. Also I would like to preface this feature by stating I intend to cover most of this distance via land travel. Ever since I read “The Great Railway Bazaar”, it’s been a dream of mine to recreate even a fraction of a journey as
legendary as that one. A fellow traveler I once met put it best, “I’ve never had a bad day on a train.”
The first destination on my trip would be none other than magical India. I hope to spend about a month in this chaotic and eccentric wonder world. My sister-in-law has been really fond of the word ‘sabbatical’ lately and would fancy doing a yoga retreat for 7-10 days with me (this is the first tentative part of my trip, since she can barely handle navigating her way through a crowded concert venue to get a beer. Don’t tell her I said that).
From Varanasi, I would take a bus into Kathmandu, Nepal. Naturally, I intend to do some hiking in this dramatic land. In order to save money you can hire your own sherpa once you get in town as opposed to going through a travel agency and/or organized tour. Some die-hard adventure enthusiasts opt out of having a guide at all but I’m not that savvy.
After spending two weeks or so in Nepal, I would have to take a flight from Kathmandu into Lhasa. Since the earthquake of 2015 ravaged Nepal and many of its roads, there are no buses that go straight into Tibet anymore. Unfortunately, but understandably so, you are not allowed to independently travel in Tibet and therefore would need to hire a guide
(it has been recommended to book through a Tibet-owned agency instead of a “local” agency since those proceeds would benefit the Chinese government whereas the former would directly benefit the Tibetans). This will easily be the most expensive part of my trip, but so utterly worth it.
From Lhasa I would hop on a train (finally) and take it all the way to Beijing. Here I’m hoping my friend from Taiwan will be able to meet up with me (personal translator, delightful company) and we can frolic the Great Wall of China together for a few days.
Next, I would be officially on the Trans Siberian Railway route and take that into Ulan Batar. From the little research I’ve done thus far, most of the magic in Mongolia happens outside of the city, but in this particular scenario, time and money are a restriction so in my ideal mind, I would meet up with some fellow travelers and we could book a camping trip together.
I could hopefully spend about 10 days or so in Mongolia and hop back on the train taking it all the way through Russia into Moscow. Surprisingly, this would only take about 4 days, although I wish it would take like two weeks for some reason. I envision drinking a lot of vodka with polite Russian men (if they do exist I will report back). Once I get into Moscow… well I haven’t planned that far yet. I suppose I’ll want to spend a few days in the city? I haven’t done my research yet but I have an inkling that’ll be a bit pricey for my budget. Yet, if I have traveled the distance of the country, I might as well step foot in it, too.
After those few hypothetical days in the mother land, I would get back onto that trusty train and take it into Berlin where my brother will (hopefully) be waiting for me. We will live it up (on his dime, he doesn’t know this yet… such a good brother) and drink copious amounts of beer to make up for all the times I’ve only been exposed to Chang and Leo. Since I’ll be in the neighborhood, my last stop will obviously have to be Amsterdam. I will let your imaginations run wild there, for anything is bound to happen in the Dam.