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Chapter 3 – Where to go?

“How much extra is it to buy a flight from Bangkok to Nepal?” I asked.

“That would be another $600,” replied the sales consultant at the Chadstone travel agent.

Mmm - I’m going to be better off flying with Star Alliance as they fly into Kathmandu and it will cost me nothing extra.

“OK. I’ll get an around-the-world ticket with Star Alliance, please.”

“And which countries did you wish to travel to, sir?”

That’s a bloody good question.

I knew I wanted to travel around the world, to see it and to see how others live their lives. I also wanted to participate in some local festivals. But where do you start? How can you work out what will be good, or decide where to go if you haven’t been there? It’s like a lucky dip when deciding where to go. You’re running blind. It’s hard to choose without having first tried a sample, and the number of countries in the world could be seen as too much choice. My perception of various countries was filtered by what I had seen on television and my own imagination and fascination.

The must do’s on my list were Sweden, London and I had an instinctive wish to run with the bulls in Spain. Everything else

was extra and undecided. I had previously had a Swedish sports coach who happened to be a three-time Olympic gold medalist. She had brought out other athletes from Sweden to train and I was amazed at how friendly, happy and full of life they were. I suspect it wasn’t simply the fact that they were in Australia. There must have been something in their water and I wanted to try it for myself. London is a common spot for Aussies to hang out. I had some friends there and I could try my hand at some temporary work. The bulls on the other hand…well, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. It had to be some kind of truly exciting festival.

I had roughly worked out my date of departure based on researching some of the world’s festivals, when the temperature dropped in Melbourne. I knew it was time to resign from my job. A good friend of mine, Pete Wilson, a paddling friend from the surf club, was scheduled to leave Melbourne at same time, in early April. He was heading out on a small kayaking expedition in the mountains of Nepal with some of his friends. They were going to have a crack at some extreme rapids and he invited me along. This sounded like a good idea for my first stop.

I didn’t know where the hell Nepal was, let alone knew what went on there. What I did know was that starting out travelling with another person would be of great value. Especially someone with whom I really got on well, one whom I could trust and a mate who was in search of an equally good time.