It has occurred to us during this trip that a great deal of the distance we have covered in all our travel has been overland. Truth be told, for both of us, at times it has been because it was the most economical way to travel when one has more time than money on hand, but it has become a much more educational and joyful way to experience the world.
Ten years ago, Laura travelled from North to South of Vietnam via train and bus. Then heading into Cambodia from Vietnam, all travel was completed by local buses. Again returning from Siem Reap back to Bangkok. Two years ago Laura, Sharon and Cousin Jen spent a week in Costa Rica and saw a great deal of the country by rented vehicle.
Together we now mostly travel by motorcycle, in itself a different form of over-landing and Tony has seen most of the United States and Canada. We toured Northern Thailand and the European Alps on motorcycle – a highly recommended way to see these two regions. We have also managed to get overland through Europe, Mexico and Cambodia by train, plane and automobile – motorcycle is always our preferred method.
Our experience immersing ourselves in countries and cultures by land is completely different than by air travel which we now find almost sterile. Border crossings are much more exciting, sometimes dicey depending on the country. We find you get a better sense of the socio-economic situation of a country, state or town when you are travelling on it’s roads and going through rural regions and small town main streets. Filling up with gasoline, espresso and gelato always teaches us a few new words and makes new friends.
It is surprising when traveling through the United States – a country that in past has prided itself on being a leader at almost everything including roadkill. Lifeless animals lay decomposing and litter lines ditches in many states. South East Asia roads are rife with litter roadside, plastic bags and take away containers. Roads in Europe are very clean, which leads us to our fascinating experience in Botswana. Far less litter on roadside than anywhere visited except Europe, along with free-range cattle, donkey and goats grazing – one of Botswana’s biggest exports besides minerals is free-range beef. Of course anywhere near the parks, you stop being surprised to see elephants or giraffe in the trees off the roads.
Later this year it will be Spain and Portugal, for next year we are discussing Ireland on Triumph Bonnevilles- which will be Laura’s first international trip on her own two wheels. We no longer have more time than funds available as we are both gainfully employed in positions that we love but we still prefer the experience that the days when this was not the case taught us.