Departure Date: October 1, 2007, flying to Kathmandu, Nepal via Delhi.
We're hoping to spend a couple of weeks trekking in the Himalayas. Don't freak out! We aren't climbing Mt. Everest. After a messy trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, we've realized that we (or one of us, anyway, the one that's not me) aren't cut out for high-altitude mountain summits. Instead, we'll hike a beautiful and rolling trek around the Annapurna circuit. We'll also spend a week or two hanging out in and around the city of Kathmandu.
From Nepal, we would like to try to get to Tibet. Border crossings into Tibet can be really complicated and difficult, though, so that's on the "Maybe" list. Even if we don't make it into Tibet, we'll have another opportunity to be like Brad Pitt later (just wait for it!)
After Nepal comes crazy India! We'll see Delhi, Agra, the Taj Mahal, Mumbai, and Goa. We're hoping to hook up with some family-of-friends along the way for a more local taste of what India is like. I also expect that somewhere here along the way we will be very, very sick.
From India we will fly to the bustling metropolis of Hong Kong. We'll spend most of December in Hong Kong and southern China, visiting our friend Phil and enjoying his generous hospitality.
By Christmas we'll be in Vietnam; maybe we'll celebrate by having new wardrobes custom-made for us here! We'll overland from Vietnam into Laos and then to Cambodia, which will take us to the end of January. At this point we'll enter Thailand.
Our plan is to be in Thailand for nearly three months. This is still in the planning phase, but we really would like to do some volunteering on our trip, and we've decided for many reasons that Thailand is the place we're going to do it. We are working on our volunteer applications for the Pattaya Orphanage where we'll spend eight weeks helping take care of orphaned Thai infants, teaching English to the older children, and playing with the rest. This is my romanticized view of what we'll be doing, anyway -- we'll see what happens when we actually arrive (this is where the Brad Pitt thing comes up.) In either case, I am completely giddy about this opportunity. Once we're done our two-month stint at the orphanage, we'll tour around the country for another four weeks. I have a feeling we will have earned the rest!
After Thailand comes Malaysia. We'll check out Kuala Lumpur, but will spend a couple of weeks in Singapore with our wonderful Swedish friend Henrik, who makes fun of the way I pronounce the names of stuff in the IKEA catalogue, and his girlfriend Kate. And then -- BALI.
Need I say more about Bali?
After a relaxing week in Bali the pace will pick up again and we'll move down to New Zealand. We'll make our way from the southern island to the northern, like hobbits, and then hop into Australia, land of giant insects and all things poisonous and deadly. We'll be here until August 2008.
In August we'll land in Mauritius. I have a special love for Mauritius, as it's the birthplace of my parents and the vacation place of my childhood. Most relatives, including my grandfather, are here. The beaches are white sand, the food is exotic and delicious, and the Indian Ocean is divine. We'll spend a couple of weeks here; my cousin is getting married, and we'll get to celebrate it in style! This may be an opportunity for me to wear makeup for the first time in months. More importantly, it will be the first time I've seen my mom in nearly a year. There may be tears. Don't say I didn't warn you!
After a couple of luxurious weeks in Mauritius, we'll move onto another volunteer stint, this one in South Africa. This time we'll be spending time at SANCCOB, a penguin rescue facility near Cape Town. We'll spend another two months here, where we'll assist in feeding penguins, cleaning out their pens, and hopefully, seeing healthy and rehabilitated birds being released into their natural environment. Once this is done, we'll hike the Drakensberg mountains, do a little bit of wine tasting (yay!), maybe do another safari, and then move into Namibia (See? Brad Pitt!), Botswana, and Zambia. This will all be overland.
Once we've toured southern Africa we'll head to Egypt. Every round-the-world tour has to include Egypt! How can you travel around the globe and not see the Great Pyramids, the Nile, the Sphinx? By this time it will be November 2008 and we'll have been gone over a year. I'm sure it will fly by.
Our tour will come to an end in beautiful Switzerland, where BG has family. We'll meet his three uncles and their families -- his cousins have babies, though by then they'll practically be grown up and married. We'll ski, we'll eat chocolate, and we'll... eat more chocolate. It seems a most fitting end to our tour, because we'll return home in the middle of December just in time for Christmas celebrations, and I'm already looking forward to baking twenty kinds of Christmas cookies!
That's it! I'm exhausted just typing this out. How we'll actually do it is another story!