Across Continents

Ken's Blog

Spot of confusion?

June 19th, 2011

Seems I might have being causing a bit of confusion. Especially if you’re followers of Facebook. Or regular viewers of the Gallery. Where exactly is Ken? I sometimes wonder myself. So, a quick clarification.

Having reached Sydney a few weeks ago, made an all too brief foray to New Zealand. Visiting friends. Back to Australia a couple of days ago. Eventually. Bit of a story in itself. Return to the road on Tuesday. Bound for Melbourne. The last leg of my third continent.

I generally run a few weeks ahead of the blog. So, journey into Sydney yet to unfold. Whilst I busy myself writing up my notes from a fantastic time in New Zealand. In the meantime, the photos are already in the Gallery.

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Makings of a cunning plan..

May 24th, 2011

At first I thought Roger might have thought me a bit odd. He’d wandered into the campsite kitchen as I was in talking aloud to my small computer. Gesturing a little as I did so. Animated. Quickly explaining I was recording a piece for local radio.

Roger

He was from Birmingham. Goldsmith by profession. Not just jewellry but higher end object d’art. Well-travelled. Europe certainly. Had taught himself German. Could get by in Norwegian. But felt his Danish had faded a bit now. Just a few words. More than I’d ever manage.

Roger had been visiting his daughters. One in Australia, the other in New Zealand. Now spending some time exploring. Hired a car and bought a tent. We exchanged a few suggestions on places to stop along the coast. My favourites like the St Lawrence wetlands. Did he have the map of Queensland’s free sites? Yes. He did. I shouldn’t have been surprised. The attention to detail I suppose you’d expect of a skilled craftsman.

Rogertent

But it was his experiences of New Zealand that had me most intrigued. I’d begun to toy with not visiting. Partly focus. It hadn’t ever actually been part of the original plan to go there. And cost. Flying there with a bicycle exorbitant. And I was still smarting from the similarly priced cost of living in Australia. But Roger had me reinvigorated. Much cheaper there, he said. And an excellent network of hostels and public transport. Far better organised than here. Affordable. Makings of a cunning plan….

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New Zealand Nomads

August 1st, 2010

Thorns together - web

Their plates were empty, mine still largely untouched. I apologised for talking so much, the opportunity for conversation in a shared native tongue irresistible. But I think they understood, they’d encountered solo travellers before, had said so much when they’d been given the chance.

Mike and Jo were fellow long-haul cyclists, New Zealanders who’d ridden from Beijing with an eye towards France. We’d met by chance at a small cafe at the top of the Kokpek Canyon in eastern Kazakhstan. They were trying to fathom the menu as I arrived, their cycles, from the same bike builder as my own, immediately catching my eye.

Some striking similarities, not just the choice of equipment. Philosophy, how they approached life on the road, resolved the inevitable problems, issues that cropped up from time to time. But still lots to share. And then off on our separate ways, they to find a secluded spot to camp, myself on towards the Chinese border.

[Title inspired by Mike and Jo’s choice of bicycle – the Thorn Nomad]

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First world visas

July 28th, 2010

It’d seemed prudent to look a little ahead, check the entry requirements for the Antipodean nations, and North America. First World. Didn’t think they’d be any issues. And, ordinarily, there wouldn’t be. And, with a bit of planning, there shouldn’t be. But it does reaffirm the need not to assume. And make sure you understand the often subtle distinction between having a visa, or a waiver in most cases, and actually satisfying the Immigration Officer on arrival that you’re not an economic migrant with aspirations to over-stay.

New Zealand’s fine, no visa required, just need to make sure I arrive with tickets for onward travel, and have evidence to show I am able to support myself whilst there. Similar story for Australia, but my online application for a six month visa faltered a bit when required to list countries I’d visited, and there’s a limit of ten. So – if you’re counting – got stuck at the Azerbaijan border.

I thought Canada a bit like New Zealand, with the addition of needing to show ties with the UK. Better find my driving licence. And have to show I’ll leave at the end of my visit. Hopeful a passport full of used visas will be convincing.

I’ve been to the US quite a few times on their Visa Waiver Programme, but that limits me to three months for all of North America, which isn’t enough, and I’d need to show a ticket for onward travel. Which I won’t have. Not until deepest South America. So proper visa required. And whilst all the rules and regulations, the application forms, are rather more extensive than those for Central Asia, shades of the UK’s own onerous requirements, they are at least very explicit about it. Which I like.

Might be making a few Consular calls in Hong Kong. Making sure I get a decent haircut first.

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