Travelling along the Trans-Mongolian railway was never a dream of mine. But then I stopped and thought about the enormity of it all for a minute.
On 25 April 2015, Tony Hill was mid-way through an Intrepid Nepal trip – some 2000ft above Namche Bazaar – when the earthquake struck. All of a sudden Tony, who by his own admission is “not particularly well-travelled” and his companions found themselves deep inside a disaster zone.
In the western world, we grow up with a few pearls of apron-string wisdom that get passed down through the generations. A friend in need is a friend in deed. One swallow doesn’t make a summer. Don’t run with scissors you’ll have someone’s eye out, seriously put them down now. That sort of thing.
When you’re a kid, everything is an adventure. A pavement is a runway; your arms the wings of a Boeing-747; your mouth and lips the noisey, spluttering engine. You can make magnificent medieval castles out of sheets and you can fight off any danger with your fabled Blade of Mercy (so long as mum’s not using it to mash potatoes).
A couple of years ago, my girlfriend and I were hostelling our way through central Europe. We’d made it to Berlin, which is a little like those crossroads in movies, the ones with a dozen signs pointing in every possible direction.
With eight of the world’s 10 tallest mountains in its borders, it’s not a big surprise most travellers visit Nepal for the trekking. Flying into Kathmandu you’ll find dozens of adventurous looking groups about to set off into the snow-capped wilds of the Himalayas, usually carbo-loading on their second plate of momos.
It’s the choice facing every Nepalese adventurer: Annapurna vs Everest. Whose scene reigns supreme? We’ve got the definitive guide.
The subway. The metro. The underground. Das U-Bahn; subterranean transport systems can strike fear into some travellers’ hearts. But experiences of wrong trains, indecipherable maps or armpit-proximity are just minor details – adventure starting and story making one-offs. The subway is a wonderful thing. And New York is one of those destinations that has an underground network with a reputation all its own.
When life gives you lessons, make lessonade.