Flying between Asia and Europe? Or really anywhere for that matter? 34,000 ft up; ever wonder what’s down there? Who are the faces behind that twinkle of house lights seemingly in a land so close to purgatory, and nowhere? What is the topography of that snow-capped mountain in deepest darkest…. ? I love unravelling this type of mystery.
Reading my last report series of my time in Saudi Arabia, you would be forgiven for thinking I was somewhat of a masochist. Allay such fears, as this three-part series of reports is going to explain why I did my time in the Kingdom. It was merely the modus for me to earn sufficient dosh to back my next ‘adventure’.
On about the same day as I filed my resignation with my company in Saudi, I came back home and did some big thinking… strategic thinking. Long-term, big-boy thinking, thinking in my mum’s so often heard tone of consternation. Gulp.
We all, like it or not, resist it or don’t, tend to be funnelled down one big highway in life. I have thought of this as a highway of conformity. It is the sensible route, it is the stable, direct route, and it is the one we are warmly familiar with. Some take detours, some take back-roads and, mid-way down this highway is a bit of a black spot where a lot of (mostly men) crash off entirely. I knew I was keen to avoid getting on this mainstream route into a career, 2.4 children and a subscription to Ships Monthly. I suppose I fear it, the inevitability. By 2011, most of my friends were cheerfully on cruise-control into a world of careers and sensibilities. How many slip-roads onto this metaphorical highway was I going to choose to ignore?
The answer is - at least another one, after all, I was enjoying these unexpected side-roads. With that unnecessarily metaphorical thought firmly gone over, I booked myself a single flight for 6 days after my brother’s betrothal (to be set in the Lake District no less). I would fly out on a single ticket to Bali on the 16th October 2012. And thereafter?
I’d been plotting my comeback into Asia, which had grown up into somewhat of an ambitious teenager since our last flirtation, for some time. Those familiar with my travelling will know that my ethos tends to lie in long, arduous ‘journeys’. Not that I would sniff at a city break to Budapest by any means! Once at the start point, oddly enough, I also tend to exclude aviation in my ‘journeys’ to provide some sort of continuity and transition between the various places I travel through. And here I am… on an aviation forum.
So, here was my aim. Beach myself on ‘New Britain’ (an island part of the Papua New Guinea archipelago in Oceania ), and wind, trip and slog my way back overland to ‘Old Britain’ (Blighty – the UK). It had a ring to it. New Britain to Old Britain by begging, borrowing and stealing.
What did create a discord in all this fanciful planning was the value of the Papua New Guinea kina (currency), and then the realisation that I would probably have to hack through the rainforests and swim some channels if I was to complete this route.
A little rethinking later, and I decided it would be enough just to start from Papua New Guinea, specifically the Sandaun Province… where the sun goes down on Asia. I entered the trip largely blind, and would hopefully emerge with eyes wide open…
I shan’t dawdle any longer; it is my very great pleasure to welcome you to my 15th Trip Report on Airliners.net;
The report will be divided into three parts as detailed in the cover photo above. The aviation and the non-aviation parts do not run chronologically.
Those of you familiar with my reports know the drill. The reports focus on the non-aviation world (yeah, it’s out there) as much as, if not more than, the actual flights. You, the reader, pick and choose what you elect to take in. I tend to write a lot of text, but the majority of readers find it useful in setting the tone, environment and mood of my trips. I am extremely grateful to Anet for providing me a platform (but not a decent search-engine) through which I can ‘publish’ some of my trips, as I am cold to the idea of blogs, books and bragging.
The model of this trip had been set by my last adventure, which was the African Safari series as covered in 2010/11 where I hitch-hiked from Cape Town to Scotland (link at end of report). In short, I was attracted by the idea of getting myself to somewhere mildly outlandish and setting my aim to get home. Each kilometre would be a kilometre closer to my homeland, to my steady parents and my other life as I knew it. It is a splendid sort of motivation. I do all my long trips by hitch-hiking too, which undoubtedly enhances and adds an element of the unpredictable to the trips, as well as plenty of glorious anecdotes.