For the past three years or so I have been planning a journey that will not take place until late 2011. I have had such a lovely time consulting maps, timetables (how I love timetables) Internet sites and books. Now I think I know the route I will take. So where am I going? Well, I love Australia. But the cost to the earth’s resources of flying there is great, and my love of trains is pretty powerful too. So I am going to combine the two and go to Australia without catching a plane.
You cannot get all the way there on a train, I know that. But you can get a very long way toward it by taking the legendary Trans-Siberian Express. And nowadays we Brits can get to Europe by train, since the opening of the Channel Tunnel. I can get on a train in Milton Keynes and travel to Euston Station, from where it is a short walk (or free bus ride since I have my free bus pass now) to St. Pancras Station. The Eurostar trains run from there to Paris or Brussels. I am not absolutely decided whether it will be Paris or Brussels yet, though Paris seems the more likely. From there I will take the train to Berlin and thence to Moscow. The Trans-Siberian doesn’t start at Moscow, but it would be silly to go west to travel east so I shall start my long journey in Moscow.
This train is a legend. Anyone who loves travelling by train wants to do it, but it takes a very long time and people do not have that kind of time anymore. I was lucky last year to have travelled from Ulan Bator in Mongolia to Beijing on the last leg of the Trans-Siberia that goes that way. I shall almost certainly not follow that route, but go to the Vladivostok terminus, from where I can get a ferry to Japan. This is not entirely on the route, but I have friends on Japan whom I want to visit, and this is one way to do it.
Having stayed with my friends awhile, and travelled all over the country on the Bullet Train called Shin-kan-sen) I intend to get on the move again by going to Singapore, again by ferry. I don’t quite know why, but I have never been to Singapore, and would like to see what all the talk is about. These ferry trips are not short journeys and could be really awful in some ways but it’ll also be a new experience. From Singapore I intend to get a cabin in a commercial ship for the journey to Darwin. I have been in contact with several companies that do this and know it will be fairly easy.
In Darwin I shall buy a camper van and join all the other retirees who are moving around Australia. Camp sites are well kept, with great facilities, and people in Oz are wonderfully friendly. It has been discussed, but not yet agreed, that members of my family may travel over and share this part of the experience. That’ll be better than good! When I have finished with the camper van I shall resell it and make my way back. That could be by container ship in a cabin, all the way back to Europe via the Us, through the Panama Canal, or it could be via South Africa. That bit is still in the planning. Or, of course, I might get a plane home. Who knows?
Throughout my journey I shall be keeping in touch with everyone via the Internet, and documenting the experience in word and photograph. I love my laptop, which has opened up so many possibilities for communication. It takes up little room and allows me to keep records of everywhere I go. I have even photographed receipts on my travels – a complete record will be kept and I’ll do something with it when I return.
I am already overwhelmingly excited at the prospect. I have bought my book on the Trans-Siberia, have contacted shipping firms, know about the wonderful website run by the Man in Seat 61 which has all the information you could possibly want about rail travel. And it’s two and a half years yet until I have to be sure. I never was one for planning before, but this is immense fun, and, when it’s raining and the winter has been going on too long, it is a wonderful diversion to get out the books and look at it again. I’m really looking forward to being 70. But don’t think I’m not going to enjoy every moment of my life until then. It’s all a journey, and I’m loving being on it.
I am Dianna Moylan, in my mid-sixties, an ex-teacher who has been involved for many years in local amateur dramatics, I have directed, designed and made costumes, taught the songs and performed in many musicals and plays. I live in a small house which is rapidly becoming swamped with doll house stuff which I build, renovate, sell and hoard. My site, [http://www.diannadollhouses.co.uk] is newly launched. I also sell on eBay. In addition to loving making dolls’ houses I enjoy writing a lot and welcome this opportunity to have a say.