The Long Way Home

Aug 2, 2009 by glennji

I missed it when it was shown on television, but this week my boss (a motorcyclist) lent me “The Long Way Round”: Charlie Boorman and Ewan McGregor’s motorbike trip from London to New York via Siberia and Alaska. Arguably a mistake on his behalf, as Dee and I sat down this Saturday morning and watched the first three episodes with growing feelings of awe and shared excitement.

And so, in 2010, we’re packing all our belongings into a shipping container, hoisting our back-packs and catching trains (and maybe some buses) from London to Singapore via Hungary, Siberia, Mongolia, China and Vietnam.

Okay, it’s not motorcycling, but nor is it the normal (20 hour?) flight out of Heathrow. I’ve got an Australia motorcycle license, but Dee doesn’t — and from the look of some of the places that Charlie and Ewan go, you don’t want to attempt it unless you’re an international film star, with associated support crew, sponsorship and local recognition and admiration. After just the first three episodes, it’s quite amazing how many times they’ve been offered beds and food from the locals.

We’ve had some experience of the trains in Europe when we did a mini-tour a few years ago, so hopefully our expectations aren’t too idealistic — especially after “first class” on Trenitalia had us sitting on milk crates, barefoot and dirty, in the shared bar carriage, knocking back Peroni and wine in a desperate attempt to get drowsy enough to sleep in the 35-degree night heat. Okay, so they didn’t have any say over the weather that summer…

Dee has found a site describing, “How to travel from London to Sydney without flying,” and that’s what we’re adapting for our own needs. So we’ll use Eurail passes to get to Vienna, then hopefully take the original Orient Express (the cheap one, not the tourist “experiential” one) to the twin-cities of Buda and Pest. Somehow we’ll get from there to Moscow, then take the Trans-Siberian through Siberia, then Mongolia and into Beijing, China.

Trains in China, we’re told, are very good, so we shouldn’t have trouble getting around — travelling south, possibly with a short trip across to Lhasa, to Guilin and eventually Shanghai. From China, it’s Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, then a flight “home” to Melbourne. (Details are sketchy, but hey, that’s how we roll ;-).)

We’ve also been discussing what to do when we get to Australia, and the plan is an extended 4WD camping holiday around the coast. 6 months on the road? 6 months out of the office?? Sounds good to me.

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