30 September 2012

New Zealand vs. somewhere else?

New Zealand. Everyone says it is an amazing place and that I need to visit it and I'd love it. So far so good. 

The trick comes that for my time there is have less time and money for other things. Whilst this is true for everything else, a lot of the other stuff isn't something I want to trade (SE Asia and Central Asia (assuming I can sort the visa issues and I think I have)) or is "fixed" (travelling with a damn good friend in South America). New Zealand is probably the only thing I've got left I can trade, having decided I'll return to Africa on another trip.

Southend question becomes... Do I do NZ or somewhere else and if somewhere else, where?

23 September 2012


I picked-up a copy if the Rough Guide to New Zealand as the Footprint guide hadn't been updated in a couple of years and the Rough Guide was released this month.  The difference in guide styles is amazing.

Whilst the Rough Guide isn't bad the Footprint guide is, for me, a far better guide - little things like listing sleeping options in an area on price (as the Footprint books do) and not alphabetically. It'll do for research and planning, but if Footprint release as updated guide I'll probably grab that.

17 September 2012

Cameras (Part 2)

The decision was made harder today by our friends at Canon with their latest release of goodness, specifically the new G15. It looks very interesting.

I'm not in a hurry to make a decision, so I've got plenty of time for DP Review to do their thing and get a feel for the real-world comparison of that vs. whatever Nikon releases next - here's hoping that Nikon take some of their low-noise magic and put it into something "pocket" sized.

Considering the unthinkable

Within my professional life I've been paid to think about the unthinkable, or more accurately: think about the stuff that others really should have thought about and didn't; that is (at least part of the reason) why I was there.

My current unthinkable thought, one that most, if not all, of my friends would be astonished to find me having even had let alone be seriously considering...

Don't go to Africa.

Yes. I am seriously contemplating not going to Africa, a place which calls to me, during my trip.

I suspect many will be surprised by this, but it is actually very simple: I have a finite budget and I need to make compromises about where I go and what I do. One of my options, and all I've got at the moment are options, is that by skipping Africa it gives me more time and money for other things, specifically a trip through Central Asia.

This trip has been something I've looked at many many times and it just grabs me.  In reality I'd probably do this one (or something a lot like it) as I'm not sure Iran is going to be a good place to go in 2013, but that is (mostly) America's fault - from what I've heard Iran, and Iranian people as a whole, is a wonderful place and well worth visiting; unless, of course, America and Israel decided to turn it into the next war zone.
Back to Asia... The trip is something I've wanted to do for years - it is so far removed from anything I've seen and done and such an amazingly remote place that it just screams "DO ME!"  Alas it is way over my budget - skipping Africa means I can do the Central Asia tour, doing Africa (bit-by-bit?) at another time.

Time to think the unthinkable.

16 September 2012

Your fellow travellers

Sat down on a train and pulled out my guide to Tanzania, whereupon the woman sat opposite me said[1] "going anywhere nice?" (you couldn't see the title as the book was face down).  Cue a frantic 40 minute discussion on the joys of travel and how good it is. I suspect we'd have chatted all the way to London if it weren't for her having to find to assigned seat, not the one she happened to sit in for a bit.

Nicely done Universe, nicely done.

[1] don't worry, this wasn't in London and as such strangers talking to each other is not only ok, it is considered normal.

15 September 2012

Cameras (part 1)

Today's discussion on travel has been around pictures and what to use (read: take) in order to make them.
In simple terms the choice comes down to either a DSLR or some form of fairly advanced "pocket" camera (e.g. a Canon G11).

On one hand I am a keen, if lapsed, photographer and on the other I have to accept that the travel is the purpose of the journey, not taking images - I want to take good images, but they are "only" there as a record for me and as something to share with friends.

If this were a safari trip the choice would be simple: a couple of DSLR bodies and all the lenses. It's not; this is a year-long walkabout where I have to carry everything and where weight & space are at a premium.  Packing even a basic DSLR kit (1 body, 1 lens, a few filters, a few batteries, lots of CF cards and a charger) takes up a lot more weight & space than a "pocket" camera, where the likes of a Canon G11 takes really very good images (still and video).

There is also the issue of carrying what is a (very) expensive bag of kit which is highly desirable to those who'd like to make my journey more "interesting" by removing my property from me.
Insurance will deal with any monetary risk, just is mostly the "need to carry this every day" factor. Do I want the hassle of a DSLR over a good "pocket" camera? 

One to ponder.

14 September 2012

Africa vs. South America

There appear to be two types of people in the world; those who find themselves pulled towards South America and those who find themselves pulled toward Africa[1]. I've always firmly been in the second camp, classing South America as somewhere I'd go if I'd got time and nothing better to do. (I'm not saying it is bad, just it didn't have any pull for me.)

Having spent the last week or so skim-reading my guide to South America whilst commuting and reading in detail for the entire[2] of this 4.5 hour train journey to The Motherland, I can see the appeal. This is both surprising (it really has had no appeal at all, until now) and useful - my first stop is going to be South America. More of that later.

Lots more reading and research needs to be done, but Peru strikes me as the type of place in could spend a very happy month.

[1] I am blatenly ignoring the existence of Asia[3], Australia, New Zealand and many other places at this point.

[2] Well, almost; I wrote this on the train too. Isn't technology great. ;-)

[3] The place that calls me to most, despite how hard Africa calls.

Something wicked this way comes

And so it begins