When I boarded the Korean Air flight in Seoul, the first thing I did was set my watch to LA time so I could try to get adjusted. It was 3:00pm in Seoul on Feb 4th, and I had to set my watch back 17 hours to Feb 3rd at 11:00pm. Very, very odd. It’s like I get the whole day over again thanks to crossing the International Date Line. This is a first for me as the farthest I’ve ever gone over the Pacific is Hawaii. I guess it’s better to gain a day back than to have lost one.
I was again supremely impressed with Korean Airlines. Since this was a 10-hour flight, the plane I was on offered their “true” first class cabin which had the sleeper seats. The champagne they served was Dom Perignon, and the 7-course dinner included a “caviar course”. Wow. It was a really nice way to end the trip.
This round the world trip has taught me a lot, about the world and about myself. For example…
Top 10 things I have learned on this round the world trip:
1. My passport number – I have written in on entry forms so many times I may never forget it.
2. A mastery of foreign currency. I could start my own foreign exchange bank with the amount of various currencies I still have in my possession. You name it, I’ve got it. Can I interest anyone in some Chinese Yuan? That’s been tough to unload.
3. Sometimes 2 days is not long enough to really see a city.
4. Sometimes 1 day is more than enough.
5. Chinese New Year is the holiday that never ends.
6. Camels are very tall (and not especially friendly).
7. KFC and 7-11 have taken over the world while no one was looking. They are quite literally everywhere
8. I do not miss my cell phone.
9. I do miss my cat. (And my friends and family, etc., etc. but none of you are confined to the guest room at Michelle’s house so you’re faring better than the cat.)
10. The world, and my clients (most of them, anyway), can get along without me for a month. Humbling, but true.
I made it through the entire trip without ever having a flight canceled or delayed by more than 45 minutes. And I did not have one single problem with any of my many, many tickets or hotel reservations. Whether part of my Skyteam RTW e-ticket or one of the many that I booked through Expedia. That has got to be some sort of record. Logistically speaking, the trip was perfect. The weather was also as close to perfect as it could have been.
I am happy to report that I never lost my passport, a credit card or travelers checks. Despite lack of sleep and changing climates, I never got sick (though it was touch and go week two) and I never once required the services of my local American Embassy.
I have gained a new appreciation for my U.S. Passport and what it means to have one. Waiting in all of those passport control lines and watching others get questioned, fingerprinted, photographed, etc. and then I cruise right on through with my American passport. It’s a free pass to see the world and one that I will not ever take for granted again. I can’t tell you how many people I talked to that wanted to come to the U.S. to visit (or to live) but can’t because they can’t get an entry visa.
This is naïve I know, but it never occurred to me that people from most countries can’t just come here to visit, even if they have the time and the money.
It’s hard to believe that this round the world trip that has been such a part of my life for the past year has finally come to a close. I never thought I’d say this but I’m not ready to go home yet. I’m tired, yes, but I feel like I could keep going for another month or two if I had the time and the money. But alas, real life must eventually step in and I’ve got to get back to being a grown-up and earning a living. (Not always as much fun but certainly more profitable.) It has been an incredible 30 days and I am so grateful to have seen as much of the world as I did in such a short time.
I do have one final confession to make…on the flight home I found myself flipping through the Korean Air in-flight magazine to the world route map and roughly plotting out Round the World Trip #2 for next January (okay technically, I started looking on the Northwest flight to Tokyo but who’s counting?).
As luck would have it, I already have enough miles for another ticket (though I’d probably go business class this time – first was fun to do once but business will do just fine). The next trip would be a scaled-down version of this one, fewer stops but more time in each place. Off the top of my head I’m thinking Peru…South Africa for at least a week…possibly back to Thailand for further exploration…and definitely stops in Australia and New Zealand (which I couldn’t work out this time).
In case you missed any of the posts, here they are again in one neat and tidy place:
Stop #2 Freezing in Berlin
Stop #3 Cape Town, Fabulous, Cape Town
Stop #4 Cairo on Camel Back
Stop #5 Sharm el Shikh – Sinai Peninsula
Stop #6 Decadence in Dubai
Stop #7 Nothing Prepares You for India
Stop #8 Bedtime in Bangkok
Stop #10 Kuala Lumpur: City on the Rise
Stop #11 Singapore Sling
Stop #12 Chinese New Year in Hong Kong
Stop #13 Beijing & the Great Wall of China
Stop #14 Touring Tokyo
Stop #15 Final Stop…Seoul!
The final tally for the entire trip:
Countries visited: 14
Miles traveled: 50,027
Hours spent in-flight: 109.75
Airlines flown: Delta, Air France, South African, Egypt Air, Gulf Air, Thai Air, Malaysian Air, United, Cathay Pacific, Northwest, Korean Air
Best Airline: Korean Air (hands down)
Best Hotel: The Burj Al Arab (was there any doubt?)
Best Hotel (that I can afford to stay at again): Westin Cape Town
Place I can’t wait to go back to: Cape Town
Place I’m not sure I’ll ever go back to: India
Thanks to all of you who took the time to follow along with my travels through this site and especially thanks for all the messages you sent. Many of you said that reading the site made you feel like you were right there with me on this trip and all the feedback on my pictures and posts made me feel like that too…now there’s just the small matter of your portion of the bill 🙂
And finally, I came across a quote the other day that sums up my thoughts on this trip better than I can put into words so I’ll leave you with it and hope to return to writing again here, same time next year.