England - Round The World Tour 3 2004 T-7

Train to London

Tuesday 7th September

We started our anti-malaria tablets last night. Another ‘point of no return’ milestone reached. For Africa, we only needed to take one Mefloquin (Lariam) tablet once a week on Sundays. We have a barrage of tablets that we need to take this time around. Different parts of the world are afflicted by different strains of Malaria and we need to be protected against those strains that are prevalent in India. We are taking two tablets a week of the one kind and two tablets a day of the second. I think they are Chloroquine and Proquanil. Taking tablets is not a favourite past time of mine but at least these medications don’t have any of the serious side effects of Lariam that so many people complain about. We were fortunate not to be afflicted by the Lariam side effects in Africa, although Sandy did complain of some sleep deprivation for the first couple of days after taking each Lariam tablet. We are supposed to start with the tablets one week prior to entering the Malaria zone and for four weeks after leaving. This means we will be taking these tablets all through India and China and into Thailand – at which point we’ve been told we need to contact a travel health clinic there to determine which, if any, anti-Malarial we need to be taking for that country. I suspect we will need to carry on with these two medications for Thailand as well. Because of the one week before and four weeks after requirement, I suspect we will be on tablets for most of the trip since there are parts of the South Pacific that are also Malaria hot spots. Australia and New Zealand should provide us with a rest bite.

We still have to sort out our backpack contents. The idea is to lay everything out on the floor and to go through everything to see exactly what we need and what we can leave behind. I’ve already seen what Sandy is thinking of taking and I suspect she will end up sending some stuff home at one point. Can’t tell her, of course – more than my life’s worth.

My backpack will contain very few clothes for this trip. Most of the stuff I will be taking will be gear such as the underwater camera housing and strobe, the kit bags, medical kit and so on. The two kit bags are nothing more than a collection of all those ‘things’ that we will need from time to time. It includes things like our dive computers and log books, a torch, electrical socket connectors, universal sink plug, clothes line, duct tape, playing cards, cables and chargers, etc. We’ve trimmed down the contents of our kit bags for this trip compared to last, having learned what was really necessary and what wasn’t.

Just four more days left at work, including today. I’m supposed to start work at 09:00am but it’s now 09:36am and I’ve not long started my two-hour commute into the capital. Clearly, my mind is no longer on my work then. Luckily, they tolerate this at the office. With two replacements already fairly up to speed, my tardiness is not a major problem for them – if not a constant source of jocularity.

In many respects, I still don’t think I’ve fully taken in what it is that we are about to do. Today still feels like just another trip to work. Should I be worried about this? Am I being too complacent? Is everything ready? Are we prepared? Have I forgotten anything? These last minute nerves are very typical of travellers about to embark on a long trip. I spend a lot of time on the Internet in traveller’s forums exchanging anecdotes with other travellers. The Lonely Planet Thorn Tree is a particular favourite. Several times a week, someone will post a message about how they are about to lose their mind trying to think what could they have possibly neglected in the run up to their departure, scared of what’s out there. Like others, I would typically tell them to relax, and that everything will be fine, and that everything will work out once they are under way. Now, it seems, the tables are reversed and I’m the one whose anxious about what ‘might’ happen or what I’ve ‘forgotten’ to take care of. The truth is, of course, that I’ve spent many months organising this trip and I’ve probably crossed every ‘T’ and dotted every ‘I’ twice over already. It’s easy to wonder what you might have forgotten to take care of when you see the number of things that need addressing for a trip like this. In the run up to this departure, I’ve had to research and/or deal with all of the following issues:

International drivers’ license; visas; inoculations; purchase of equipment and gear; travel footwear; travel clothing; backpacks and day-packs; tickets and routing; weather conditions around the planet; places of interest; surface transportation options in each country; finances; arrangements with the banks (in England, Holland and America); juggling work commitments, training new staff and my resignation; arranging to meet people in other countries; selling the cars; travel insurance; etc., etc., etc. The list goes on quite considerably.

For each and every one of these issues, I’ve spent days and sometimes weeks trying to sort things out. Larger problems such as Mum & Dad’s moving into a new home, Sandy’s Brother having a heart attack, Paul David’s divorce, the sale of the camper-van and the subsequent dealing with the lawyers, etc., have all taken up considerable chunks of my resources in recent months also. I think I need a holiday. Yes, perhaps I’ll go on a long trip somewhere soon.