People make statements, and grand statements at that. When we make them, they make sense to us, but rarely do we foresee the impact they will have. Of course we can’t see into the future, but that doesn’t stop us.
I once said the following
‘…..back from the Enchanted Isles aka ‘The Galapagos Islands’…it has been an immense, powerful experience and has forever left an indelible footprint on what makes me who I am…’
A few years ago, I made the executive decision that I wanted to be out of the country on my 30th birthday. I didn’t want to be in pub or bar somewhere watching people get pissed and inebriated. I wanted to be somewhere other than London. Having travelled the globe, I knew there were still a few places on the planet left for me to go. The prerequisite for this trip was that;
With those guidelines in place there were only two places I had in mind, either Antarctica or somewhere along the Trans-Siberian Railway.
When looking into Antarctica, I found a few trips that were of interest and researched them further, emailing travel companies to get more information. Eventually due to escalating costs and logistics, this expedition concept was shelved. The idea of doing the Trans-Siberian stemmed from the adventure of ‘the journey’. Travelling nearly 6000 miles on a train and having the ability to step off at any stop and stay in remote towns and villages sounded very appealing to the adventurer in me. Many people take to the skies to cover huge distances. When I’m in a plane travelling over land, I always wonder what its like ‘down there’, the people, the smell, the food, the culture. You don’t get to sense that from the air.
Having decided on the Trans-Siberian, the research into the trip began, costs, time, etc the general checklist I do when planning big trips. Early on, the trip got me buzzing with excitement. Being a photographer, I was thinking of all the photos I’d come back with from the towns I would visit, the idea alone was powerful. Not only photographs but the HD footage I would capture. This was only possible because I had already decided that I would upgrade my camera especially. That meant the cost of this trip was going to be big … there was no denying that !
I managed to book a place on a free talk about the trans siberian journey at Pushkin House, the Russian cultural centre in London. Actually talking to the travel company I’d be going with and seeing photos and video of the trip, asking questions made me feel more at ease and now fired up. As I wanted to go in January, the average temperature for the journey would be roughly -15 to -20 from Moscow to Beijing. My initial thought was ‘damn, that’s cold!’, but then the creative side of my brain kicked in and I started thinking about the photos, the white and at times desolate landscapes that would be captured.
…..I’d read much about the Trans-Siberian and had bought a few books on the subject. Just the sheer adventure of travelling roughly 6,000 miles by train sounded pretty awesome. To my friends, travelling on a train was not a trip they deemed worthy of the word ‘holiday’, but that was them … not me.
The other issue with this trip was the notion of the climate.The temperature was going to be -15 to -20 all the way to Beijing, and that’s cold even by British standards. A few window shopping trips to the likes of Snow+Rock, Cotswold, Blacks etc and online browsing scoping out winter gear proved that I’d be spending a lot just to keep me warm, and that’s before I’d even booked the trip!
Even though I’d already chosen the travel company, it didn’t stop me comparing the package to what other companies were offering. I wanted to make sure they were value for money, and overall no one company was trying to sell the holiday at an extortionate premium. My advice if you’re looking to plan this trip or indeed any other is always research the travel companies offering the trip. Phone them; ask them questions until you’re completely satisfied that they will be the right company for you.
I wasn’t going alone on this trip, I was going with my friend, but as he lived in another country, I paid him a visit to discuss the trip in more detail