As the days until my departure inexorably grow fewer, the spectre of actually planning a 7-month trip looms ever larger. Somehow, the intention of seeing as much as I can of all the beautiful countries I will be visiting (Nepal, India, Australia, New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Japan and China) will have to be reconciled with the desire to drift rather than rush around, to try living and breathing a place rather than stumble from tourist trap to tourist trap, from sight to sight, without really seeing.
Another difficulty, as the above paragraph highlights, is to attempt to talk or even think about this trip while avoiding all the terribly cliché "gap yah" terminology ("self-discovery", "cultural experience" and the like). This seems like an often a futile wish in a world in which tailor-made trips and tourists overrunning a place like locusts can strip pretty much any location of any heart and soul it may once have had - or even still have.
Nevertheless, I harbour a little hope that I will be able to avoid the pitfalls of mass tourism, as well as of "booze cruise"-type holidays - both can be fun, but for now that is not what I am looking for.
With hindsight, the benefits of undertaking a trip like this at the ripe old age of 23, rather than at 18 straight after leaving school, become apparent. The extent to which University and the last 5 years in general have changed me is pretty overwhelming, as anyone who has known me since first year or before would surely agree. Call it growing up, maturing, learning about yourself and others and human interaction - whatever it is, it has left me significantly better prepared to make the most of a trip "around the world".
And if a few phrases or words have rather stereotypical connotations - well, frankly, so be it. I will do my utmost to avoid living these stereotypes, not for the sake of avoiding doing so but because I would like to get more out of this journey.
Over the next few weeks I will be musing over the various places and regions I would like to explore, and also the numerous bits and bobs that need sorting out, from the mundane to the slightly more random. Any comments, advice, opinions and criticism are more than welcome and will quite possibly contribute to making my journey...so pleas don't be shy!