My major life decisions have always been a little impulsive. I moved to Hong Kong with two weeks notice and then stayed ‘just one more year’ three times. I’ve been getting itchy feet for a while and, call it a gut feeling, I’ve started to feel the need to move on. I want to take some time at home to recuperate and reflect, to figure out what on earth is next. Since last summer I’ve had an idea at the back of my head but it took a bad day at work and a glass of wine to suddenly go out on a whim and book it. So, dear readers, in two months time I shall be heading back to dear old Blighty by train.
Yep. You read that right. I’m travelling from Hong Kong to London solely by trains. I may have gone a little insane, or if I’m not now I will be by the end of this trip, but it’s an adventure that has always caught my eye.
I scoured books and blogs to try and find the best routes and stopovers before finally settling on an itinerary. I need to complete the journey in three weeks to get home for work so I had choose wisely. I tried to choose my stops according to tourist attractions, breaking up time on the train and the ease of obtaining visas.
My route currently looks a little like this:
Hong Kong > Beijing. Travel time: 1 day
Beijing > Ulan – Ude. Travel time: 2.5 days (Stopover 1 night)
Ulan – Ude > Irkutsk. Travel time: 1 night (Stopover 2 nights)
Irkutsk > Krasnoyarsk. Travel time: 1 night (Stopover 1 night)
Krasnoyarsk > Nizhny Novgorod. Travel time: 2 days (Stopover 2 nights)
Nizhny Novgorod > Moscow. Travel time: 3 hours (Stopover 3 nights)
Moscow > Strasbourg. Travel time: 1.5 days (Stopover 2 nights)
Strasbourg > Worcester. Travel time: >1 day
When I arrive in Strasbourg I will be meeting my dad and spending a couple of days in France with him before we jump back on the train to Paris, London and then (what I imagine to be the most pain-staking part of the journey) get the First Great Western to Worcester.
In theory, the longest I should be on the train in one sitting is 2.5 days. I’m not too concerned having done six days on the Amtrak in the States. I was travelling with someone for that journey but I can imagine doing it alone is actually a lot less likely to drive me crazy. I’m looking forward to having the time to reflect on my experiences in Hong Kong and get some much needed reading and writing done.
Of course there’s still time for it all to go Pete Tong – it’s a bit of a nightmare to organise. But so far, everything is on the right track (ba dum tss). I’d love to hear from anyone who has done this journey before (particularly the less popular East-West route) if you have any advice or tips and tricks?
My journey home, inspired by Tom Waits: