A strange, unexpected combination of Christmas tunes, Lily Allen and – the strangely frequently present in my travels – Corinne Bailey-Rae fill the airwaves as I pass the time in one of Moscow’s three airports. I decided to play it safe and not fill my 14 hours waiting time by venturing into the capital this time. Organised, aware and ready in good time; I intend to start Take Two of my Travel adventures as I mean to go on.
Looking out to this snowy Sheremetyevo runway, the days of reflecting over ordeals at O.R. Tambo’s viewing platform are now a distant memory, separated by the happy last couple of weeks in Lesotho and some R&R in the UK. OK so it wasn’t quite the Taj Mahal Christmas or Nepalese New Year I had planned for (though one upside being I managed to avoid being stranded in Kuala Lumper where my original Malaysian Airlines connection to Hong Kong turned out to be cancelled at the last minute just days ago…). But to be home with family and friends allowed me to re-organise my travels, become a proud owner of a shiny new passport, relax in home comforts and check-in on how things are compared to where I left them back in August.
Grandad’s annual wait for everyone at Christmas breakfast
Nan enjoying the hippo Christmas present all the way from Pioneer Mall, Maseru.
In front of the familiar iconic and my former employer Spinnaker Tower
Mum loved the candlestick holder specially chosen by Busi
As requested by/promised to friends in Lesotho.
Another Basotho request
Hats off to the Passport Office this time – took three days to arrive
What happens when the sons come home for Christmas
PBA Bear and new friend The Sacred Mosotho Cow chill out before Travels Take Two
Commercial Road fountain in front of another former employer
Somehow still manages a smile despite the trials and turmoil of living with the Bullock Boys.
One major upside of coming home for Christmas…
The final breakfast before taking off again
A quiet lounge waiting for Heathrow’s last flight of the evening; the Aeroflot 22:30 to Moscow
Burger King – obviously
The plan now? Only still vaguely in touch with the original ’30 Stops’, I fly to Hong Kong tonight and stay until Tuesday to collect my Chinese Visa and board the 23 hour 58 minute sleeper-train journey to Beijing. Deciding to bypass Shanghai altogether, in favour of spending more time in one place, I’ve booked in for 5 nights (4 in a mixed dorm and the final night in a private double; special treat) and a free complimentary Peking Opera with the award-winning snappy-named ‘Sitting on the City Walls Courtyard House‘.
I then plan to pick up my original itinerary once again, flying via Abu Dhabi to Washington. Three days of monuments, museums and basketball matches will be followed by a coach trip to New York where I hope to enjoy the recommended Walkway, people-watching, a run or two in Central Park and the visits to other token tourist attractions.
A couple of days in Boston will follow before heading off for the final leg; Iceland and its Northern Lights and Golden Triangle.
Touching down on February 2nd once again at Heathrow Airport I will pick up on life once again in the UK. Admittedly the dull and dreary weather, messy politics and pricey public transport has not quite endeared me back to the homeland yet. Indeed my short time back in Britain has suggested they’ll be challenges awaiting me. I think I’m going to linger for Lesotho’s levels of love, adventure and colour.
But for now I’ll put that all on ice and focus on the colder half of my travel adventure.
As I, probably slightly unwisely, said to my parents with when boarding the National Express to Heathrow yesterday – let’s see what happens!