Day M319: The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel

Sat 11.08.12: They say that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. I don’t necessarily believe that. I think home is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Today this ginger scoundrel is coming home. Coming home to my family and friends, to my girlfriend Mandy, my city of Liverpool and to the nation that I know and love. You’d think spending three and a half years travelling would make me more cynical about my home. I meet ex-pats who spit vitriol on my sceptred isle, they’ll go off on one about the lack of discipline, the joke that is public transport, the fact that the country is far too left-wing/right-wing, moan about immigrants, moan about taxes, moan about windfarms/mobile phone masts/X-Factor/dogshit/speed cameras you name it. Hey, but some people like to moan, that’s their prerogative. But I don’t see it that way. Where they just…

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Day M209: The View From The Bridge

Mon 23.04.12: One of the more interesting things about travelling to every country in the world is it allows you to make comparisons. Sweeping sweeping generalisations aside for one moment, there are certain trends and nuances that are hard to pick up on unless you’ve been to the country in question. Of course what I think of a place is tremendously subjective, but through personal discourse with locals and a healthy obsession with world events, I feel I’m at least a little bit more informed than most – well, I know where the country in question is, what borders it, what colonial powers once stole it and whether it’s a free and fair democracy or not. In any case, it’s handy having some first-hand experience to be able to fit the jigsaw of life on Planet Earth into a some kind of geopolitical context. Today the…

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Days 640-641: Sino-Sino Relations

02.10.10-03.10.10: In answer to the question I posed at the end of the last blog: VERY EASILY.  Yup, just like the globe (thanks to oil companies and climate changer deniers), relations between China and Taiwan are warming.  In fact, they’re becoming positively cosy.  Just last year it would have been impossible for me, as a Johnny Foreigner, to travel directly from China to Taiwan and back.  I may have been able to do it on a cargo ship to Hong Kong, but to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t holding my breath. Hurrah then for THE MAN IN SEAT 61 (http://www.seat61.com) one of the best websites in the world for overlanders such as myself, and one I do not hesitate to recommend.  When I was in India, I set Odyssey fan Alex Zelenjak in Sydney the task of finding me a route to Taiwan.  It didn’t take…

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Day 622: The Great Wall

14.09.10: Sometimes I had good days, sometimes I have bad days, sometimes I have days that are madder than Mad Jack McMad of the clan McMad.  Today was one of the mad days.  It all started at 2am when my bus pulled over at the side of the road and the driver’s mate gesticulated for me to get off.  Are we in Beijing already?  We’re four hours early… Sleepy-eyed and completely not with it, I got off (hoping I had grabbed all my stuff) and was herded onto another bus.  You see, my bus wasn’t full enough to justify going all the way to Beijing, so I was to get on another bus that was a little more full.  Well, make that TOTALLY FULL.  Which meant that for the next hour while all around me slept the sleep of angels in their little Chinese bunk beds,…

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