I updated my travel register today. The travel register is a folder where I keep my travel-related documents from my first overseas trip in 1993 until now. In the travel register, I keep current and expired passports, haj passport, plane ticket stubs (I don’t collect them anymore), medical documents (vaccinations, a doctor letter containing list of medicines I carry, travel insurance policy), photos, miscellaneous documents (Form I-20, etc.). I used to collect keepsakes like pamphlets, souvenirs and postcards, but I threw them away because they took up too much space in the folder. Now I limit myself to one keepsake per trip, and it must be smaller than A4 size. For example, a bus or train ticket, a credit card receipt, a hotel keycard, or a restaurant bill. I keep these not for nostalgic value but as proof of my whereabouts, in case I need to establish an alibi in a murder case.
I visited seven countries in 2009. This brings my total country tally to 35 (two new countries). I only count a country when I go out of the airport, however briefly. Transits inside the airport do not count.
- In November and December last year, I was in Saudi Arabia with my parents. I arrived in KL on 29 December (my birthday!), missing 2009 by three days.
- In February, I went to Guangzhou, China for a four-day business trip with Iznan and Fazdlee from ArdentEdu. I met Ustaz Amin and Shahabudeen Jalil there. All four are good friends of mine, and I have links to all their blogs.
- In July, I went to Bremen, Germany to attend the International Mathematical Olympiad as a jury member. I stayed in Bremen for two weeks, and in London for one night on the way to Germany.
- I was in Brunei on 11 to 13 August, on invitation from the Brunei Ministry of Education.
- On the second day of Raya, I left for UAE and Iran with three friends. We traveled more than 4000 km in Iran over the period of three weeks. We got visas for Uzbekistan as well but the dates given on the visas are impossible to fit in with the flight schedule so we did not go. There is only one flight between Tehran and Tashkent every week.
- And two weeks ago, I went backpacking to Melbourne for one week.
Places I plan to go in 2010:
- Shanghai for the 2010 World Expo (May 1 – October 31) — I might make stops in Hangzhou and Yiwu to shop for cheap Chinese knockoffs.
Back in 2005, I made a promise to a friend to come to Beirut, but I had to delay because of the assassination of Rafik Hariri and the Cedar Revolution in 2005, the Israel-Lebanon War in 2006, the Nahr Al-Bared conflict in 2007, and the war between Hezbollah and Lebanese army in 2008. Seems like the Lebanese couldn’t catch a break. Don’t worry, I shall keep my promise, Nana! Nana is the only Druze person I know.
- Astana, Kazakhstan for the International Mathematical Olympiad 2010
Places I want to go in the future:
Tristan da Cunha is the most remote inhabited island in the world, 2800 km from the nearest land, South Africa. TdC is situated in the south Atlantic Ocean and was named after Portuguese explorer Tristao da Cunha, who sighted the island in 1506. Currently there are 271 inhabitants on the island. There is no commercial airport. To go there, you have to book a place on a research vessel or a fishing vessel which leaves Cape Town every two months. One way trip takes about one week. Needless to say, the waiting list is long and you have to plan your trip a year ahead in order to ensure a place on the ship. You can learn more about this interesting place at the official site.
- The Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Vladivostok
The railway spans a total length of 9289 km, across 8 time zones. The whole trip from Moscow to Vladivostok takes 6 days and 4 hours if you don’t make stops on the way.
- Socotra / Suqutra Island (thanks Akmal who showed me this)
Socotra Island in Yemen is “The Most Alien-looking Place on Earth”.
- North Korea
I am not joking about the last two; I have always been fascinated by hermit kingdoms. I think they are infinitely more interesting to visit than London, Tokyo or Paris *yawn*.
- *ahem* Israel *ahem*
I know it is illegal for Malaysian citizens, but I know people who have done it, e.g., my good friend and travelling companion Ustaz Amin. This entry is about Jerusalem. There are many more entries about his journey in Israel, look in the archive for April/May 2009.
FAQ: ni rajin travel banyak2 ni, ada orang sponsor ke?
Answer: tak, semua saya guna duit sendiri, even trip ke Germany untuk IMO was not paid for by anyone. ArdentEdu paid for the trip to China, but that is my own company. You too can afford to travel if you live frugally and save some money. Airasia — Now Everyone Can Fly!