2011 was by far my biggest travel year in terms of distance traveled and the once in the lifetime experiences bunched into one year.
My monumental adventure of the year was the Everest Base Camp trek. There’s no argument that being able to see the world’s tallest peak and to walk on the same path as many famous adventurers did, made this a memorable trip. I’m just thrilled I had the opportunity to go and that my fellow trekkers in the guided group were amiable despite meeting for the first time days earlier.
I’ve transited through Nartia Airport(IATA:NRT) on many occasions to catch a connecting to South East Asia, but I’ve never quite managed to visit Tokyo until this year. With some time in Japan, I also made stops in a few other cities, namely Kyoto and Osaka. The Japanese baseball fan experience was quite interesting for someone that frequents major league baseball games in the States. I’m already planning to attend baseball games in other Asian countries.
Later in the year, I was extremely fortunate to travel out of the way to Easter Island, which is about a 5-hour flight from Santiago, Chile. Most people have asked me what type of plane flies that route because their rationale was a small island equates to a small plane. But instead, the plane is same equipment used for trans-continental and trans-Atlantic flights, a wide body Boeing 767 that’s literally carrying tourists to the island by the plane load.
One of the first for me this year was arriving in country amidst political turmoil. Bahrain was an overnight connection before heading to Kathmandu, Nepal. I intentionally planned the overnight connection to allow for some sightseeing as first time visitor the Middle East. But in March, the King of Bahrain decided to allow military forces into the country and to enforce a curfew to suppress protesters.
With the turmoil, especially since I landed on the day the government destroyed the Pearl Monument, I was strongly debating leaving the airport. I reconsidered my decision after gaining confidence from the flight attendants that frequently traveled to the country in the prior days and had a better perception of the hazards and who were being targeted.
Nevertheless, I still encountered military checkpoints on the short journey to my hotel. As adventurous as I am, I had no desire to test how strictly the curfew was enforced, leaving me to plan another visit to sightsee.
Another notable first occurred earlier in the year when I took advantage of a glitch that priced a round trip flight from New York to Stockholm, Sweden for well under $200. With a flight that cheap, I didn’t hesitate and jumped on the opportunity given the fact that airline has a 24-hour cancellation policy. The pricing glitch wasn’t the first time I took advantage of such a mistake, but when I arrived at passport control in Stockholm, the agent didn’t believe me that I would fly all this way just for just one night and how I could pay so little for a flight.
After a brief initial interrogation, I was asked to “take a seat over there.” Now, I’ve only heard stories about secondary screening so I knew what to expect even though it was uncharted territory for me. While seated just a few steps from kiosks of passport control watching other passengers on the same flight enter Sweden, I reluctantly turned on the data on my phone and searched for the e-mail confirmation of my itinerary. As frugal as I am, the overseas data charges was well worth it to avoid any further interrogations and examinations. With that itinerary I was final able to enter Sweden, though I had to repeat my story two more times: one to the security screening officer prior to the checking in for my return flight and one more time at passport control in New York.
That sums up anything noteworthy I had to say about my 2011 travels.
I have some big plans for 2012 and so the adventure will live on.
Do you have any big travel plans for 2012?