It was incredible to finally see our own car driving in South East Asian roads. It was not as easy process, though. In Singapore the laws are known to be strict, especially when it comes to the hygiene and cleanliness of the city. For example chewing gum was banned in Singapore in 1992 because of the hassle and high maintenance costs it entailed. Well, it was not different with our 15 year-old car, and we were not allowed to drive inside their country. In the end, we were forced to toll the vehicle all the way to the Malaysian border, where the rules are not that strict.
Malaysia proved to be one the most multicultural countries we had passed so far, and Kuala Lumpur was a prime example of this multi-ethnicity. In this city, minarets and skyscrapers merge into one complex modern urban system, where Indians, Malaysians, Chinese and other nationalities seem to live along peacefully and harmoniously.
Being the last big city we were going to visit before entering China, it was the last opportunity we had for obtaining the Pakistani visa, which judging by the reports online, was literally impossible to attain out of your home country. In our first visit to the embassy, they plainly refused to take a look at our applications when they realized that we were not residents. After a lot of waiting and insisting they said they were going to give our passports and application a look. Then after after a series of interviews and 5 days of waiting they told us they were finally going to issue it for us! A special thanks to the friendly staff of the Backhome Hostal of Kuala Lumpur (www.backhome.com) we stayed at, that helped us in everything we needed. Driving from Kuala Lumpur to the Chinese border took us less than 5 days, and we had the opportunity to explore both Thailand and Laos on the way.
After crossing a big part of China, I returned to Europe. Deadlines were approaching and I had to visit some universities before taking the final decision. These last 11 months and a half have been amazing. I have crossed more than 25 countries and really have gotten in touch with their culture and history. When I turn on CNN or open the international section of any newspaper, and read about the flood happening in East Vietnam, or how those “emerging economies” are predicted to catch up with the West in x amount of years, I no longer remain unmoved. Now, having seen these countries and actually established a connection with them, there are no longer stories of faraway lands, but real memories and relationships. I could say, in other words, that I have become more globally conscious, and I think this is something to be proud of at the age of 20.
Traveling with your family for such a long period of time, has been a lot of fun, but we have had our ups and downs. They say that you don’t know someone until you have traveled with them. Well, I can relate to that. During these last 11 months we all have had to experience all kinds of situations, some more dramatic than others. It has been a process of really getting to know my family properly, a luxury that many never will experience.
Before ending I would just want to say thanks to my parents for making this trip a reality. Traveling through all these countries have taught me a lot of things, but I think that the greatest lesson this trip has given me is the fact that, dreams come true. I know it is a cliché, but common, I have just experienced this in first person. My father has been talking about this for as long as I can remember. When he did, we all thought he was talking nonsense, just kidding around. What we didn’t know was that 15 years ago, when he bought our red Toyota Land Cruiser (that happens to be the ideal car for this kind of trip), he was discreetly taking tiny little steps toward making this trip a reality. All those long car trips from Barcelona to Norway, sleeping in the car and preparing our food, now make perfect sense: we were just practicing and training for that BIG trip. So I guess, its all about progressing slowly but surely towards your goal, waiting for THE great opportunity.