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ABOUT THIS BLOG

In the summer of 2009, Nicolas Rapp decided to take a break from his Art Director job at The Associated Press to attempt a one-year overland travel around the world in a 1996 Toyota Land Cruiser. He was back in New York in February 2011 after traveling 15 months and 37,000 miles.

Visited countries

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MONTHLY ARCHIVES

THE ROUTE

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  • From somewhere in the Pacific: Questions and Answers

    Posted on October 26th, 2010 Nicolas 42 comments
    The beach in the evening. This place is so quiet compared to Bangladesh and India, it is unreal.

    The beach in the evening. This place is so quiet compared to Bangladesh and India, it is unreal.

    As I write this post, I am awaiting my truck to arrive in Port Klang, close to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I chose to do a little side trip in the meantime, and I am now in a beautiful place as you can see on the pictures in this post.
    Let’s see if you guys can find out where I am. Please leave a comment with your guess.
    Meanwhile, I thought it will be a good time to do a little Q&A with recent questions I received.

    From Daniel:
    I’ve been silently following your travels since you were in Central America. At first I thought you were crazy, in a good way, even sent you five bucks. Here are my questions.
    - Have you found what you have been looking for?

    I was not sure what I was looking for when I left, but I was looking to become a better and smarter individual. Not sure if I became better, but I am definitely wiser about the state of the world and a stronger person. I feel that I will be different when I will be back in New York, and maybe a more interesting character.
    - Once you complete your journey will you stay in the US?
    Yes, I will stay in the U.S. My world journey also reinforced my conviction that New York City is the best city of the world – for me – and the place I want to live in. I hope my kids will grow up there as well.
    - If you leave the U.S., with your journey in mind, where would you move to?
    If I had to leave NYC, I could live in other places, but I would hope I could travel a lot from where I would be at. I saw a lot of places that I liked, but I would not necessary like to spend my life there. Most likely candidate could be Mexico City or Montreal. For some reason I often think about La Paz, Bolivia as well…
    - If you haven’t found what you are looking for, do you think it’s possible?
    Many people, including me, will never find what they are looking for. And because of that we keep going and undertaking new challenges.
    - What happens when you get back to the US?
    I will try to find a job and start everything from scratch in NY. I made it there in the past, so I should be able to make it again. I hope I will find a job I love and have a great relationship and kids at some point. So as you can see, there’s a lot of work ahead of me.

    Lucille:
    I see you made it to my country–Philippines. Would love to hear what you think of it.

    Hi Lucille, it is nice to hear from you. Thanks again to let me crash at your place in Oman. I just had a layover ion the Philippine so I couldn’t see the country. Too bad, it will be for next time. Be well.

    Dave:
    When are you gonna be home? I want to start planning a trip! I wish it could be for NYE or around some holiday. I really want to be there for it!

    Hey Dave, my old friend. I will not be in NY for few months. I imagine I will be driving in Asia for something like two months, and shipping back the truck to Los Angeles will take three additional weeks. So I will probably not be in California before February, and in NY sometimes in March. And this is without speaking about any unexpected events…
    But I often think that it will be great to see you when I will be back in the U.S. Even in few decades I can picture visiting you and smoking the hookah together. As usual, I will bring the Ethiopian beer, but this time I will not have to smuggle it through the Djibouti border.

    They even have Kmart stores!

    They even have Kmart stores!

    Sharat Reddy (Jay):
    The Mercedes that I bought from you is running well. You can have it for a few days after you return to New York.

    Hey Jay, please don’t speak to me about this car, I still miss it! Glad you were able to get it running right. I hope to see you back in NY. You should come meet me at the Georges Washington Bridge when I do my re-entry in Manhattan.

    Joe from Bama:
    World boy, its joe form bama, only got a sec, i will let you what’s up with me in the past yr, damn here they come… later…

    Joe, I suspect you put yourself in some kind of trouble again. Almost one year we didn’t hear from you. Not sure who is after you, but if they are who I think they are, don’t let them lock you up.

    Jojo:
    Big follower here. You in Manila yet? Hit me up. Drinks on me!

    Jojo, I should be in the Philippine for a layover of 15 hours or so very soon. I will send you the details and maybe we can meet. Thanks!

    Jaime:
    I would love to hear the radio interview! Any idea where I might be able to find that?

    Jaime, unfortunately I have no idea where you can find the interview, didn’t hear it myself.

    Perfect beach, transparent water and pale sand. Lot of Japanese in vacations.

    Perfect beach, transparent water and pale sand. Lot of Japanese in vacations.

    Judy:
    Have you encountered any other travelers from US or Europe recently? Since there are no women in the pictures I was wondering what it would be like for a female traveler to visit Bangladesh? What would the experience have been if Nadia was still traveling with you?

    Judy, I saw one guy from France in Bangladesh, and a Swiss couple in Goa, India.
    Although women seem to have more freedom in the way they can dress in Bangladesh than in Iran or the Emirates, this is still not the West. In general, women are expected to be accompanied by a male relative in public. I would think that visiting the country as a woman alone would be very difficult. If Nadia would have been with me, it would have been difficult to sleep in the same room because we are not married.

    Crystal:
    I am curious about you nightly routine when using your tent. Is it an easy set-up?

    The tent is easy to set up. What is more complicated is that you need to put a lot of things out for cooking. When you have twenty people around, things get easily out of control.

    Charles A.:
    Hey Nick, I am curious what a custom made tail light lens looks like. Can you post a picture?

    Hi Charles, I will post a picture when I get the truck back.

    Sylvain:
    Did you look into crossing Australia and New-Zealand?

    Sylvain, would love to go there, but it would be too expensive. Next time!

    Fran:
    I’m wondering what you plan to do with all of this when you return home? Is there a book in the works perhaps?

    No book in the work yet, but I will certainly consider it, if there is some interest. Of course it would not be my main project when I get back home. The first thing I would have to do is to find a job. Hopefully something I like. And hopefully I can get back to a normal sedentary life and enjoy it.

    From several other people:
    What will be the route you will follow when coming back in the U.S.?
    It seems that I will reenter the country through Los Angeles, California. My father has express the wish to come along, so I hope it can happen. The route is not definitive, but there’s a preview here.

  • Halfway through, questions and answers

    Posted on July 21st, 2010 Nicolas 56 comments
    Arriving in Muscat.

    Arriving in Muscat.

    - daysAre you still on schedule?
    I think I am. I am planning to be back in the U.S. sometimes in March or April 2011. It means that the trip would have taken a year-and-an-half. If I would have cross Europe as I originally planned, I would be way behind.

    - Just wondering if you are well protected – what kind of gun do you carry?
    I keep pepper spray in my door, and plan to run if something bad happen. Seriously, once I pass Pakistan, I should be OK.

    - You do tell us interesting things about the trip, but truly, are you having fun, or has it become tiring and tedious? The other night when you slept in the desert, were you frightened at all? Do you just go through the day enjoying it, or do you worry and get aggravated with the delays… fill us in a little on “Nick”
    I am still having fun. But it is true that the trip took its toll on me. I feel more tired that I was at the beginning, thanks to sleeping conditions not optimal everywhere. Some days I have low energy. The food requires adaptation, I pass on meals pretty often when I need to be somewhere at night, and finding vegetables can be difficult if you want to stay healthy. Because my fridge is down, I can’t really stock up, and have to eat more street food.
    It has been tedious sometimes, especially the bureaucracy involved in the visas quest. But it makes me feel great as well when I finally succeed getting into a new country. I also now have a lot of equipment letting me down. The heat and vibration damaged many items, the latest being my laptop. I plan on buying a new one, along with a new battery for my fridge, in Dubai. So basically, everyday there’s something breaking.
    I don’t worry much anymore about anything, finding that everything eventually turns out to be OK. I also learned to not take “no” for an answer. The most recent annoying news is the refusal from the Pakistani embassy in Muscat to give me a visa. I hope to be able to get it in Dubai, or Iran. Because I am on schedule, I have some freedom of movement and ready to adapt.
    Being alone can be difficult on a trip of this scale. You really have to take care of everything. Driving, cooking, washing clothes by hand, trying to get information on the next leg of the trip, finding ways of communicating. There is really not one minute of down time. When finally I can crash somewhere for few days, I sleep a lot and usually have annoying paperwork to take care of.
    But again, it is very satisfying to be able to overcome the obstacle, and keep pushing through. So yes, I am happy, and proud to be still on the road.

    - I don’t know if you have calculated your half-way point since you changed your Africa route, but it looks to me like you must have passed it by now!  Keep on going!

    Cumulative miles for trans world expedition

    I am not sure exactly of the route I will take, but I agree, I think it’s pretty safe to say I am half-way home. But something can happen anytime.

    What will I do if I can’t get the Pakistan visa? Cross Afghanistan? Ship my truck to India? Since the beginning of the trip, I drove 23,000 miles (36,800 km).

    - I take it you have to go to Tehran for touristy stuff or just strictly getting more visas (because it’s quite a detour from Pakistan)?
    I was actually planning to go north through Iran to visit some sites of historical interest and turn east toward the border without going through Tehran, but I may have to go there to get the Pakistan visa. It would be interesting to visit the city, but the traffic is supposed to be very bad.

    - Just curious why your route has you traveling north in Iran before swinging east?
    There are interesting places to see going north, especially up until Esfahan.

    - You’re so matter-of-fact and objective in your reports. Are you having fun? You’re really into your trip now, is it everything you imagined it would be? What have you learned about humankind? Do you read the responses to your journal entries? Are you lonely?
    Yes, I am still having fun. I met some great people while travelling, and learned a lot about how people live in the countries I crossed. It was also interesting to spend a bit of time with expats from many countries and see how they adapted in their new life.
    Before the trip, I imagined I will have more time to enjoy my visit in all these different places. I reckon staying on the road takes a lot of work. I always think about Asia as the place where I will be able to relax and have more of quality time, as travel there should be easier. Africa has not been easy, and yes, I am lonely sometimes.
    People everywhere I wet have been amazing, and I mean it. I think this year has, hand will be, a great lesson for me, and will teach me to be a better person. That was one of the goal of the trip.
    And of course, even if I don’t reply immediately, due to limited internet connection time, I read every comment on the blog.

    - Are you still on budget?

    budget for trans world expedition
    I didn’t compile all the numbers, but I believe that I still am on budget. Yet, I just tallied numbers on fuel, food and accommodations costs. It shows that I am right on target. But surprises can be found later when I will compile all the numbers.

    - Even with the issues you’ve encountered (and endured) yourself personally, the Toyota seems to have worn well too. With all the vehicle options available to a world ‘asphalt’ traveler, I’m guessing you approve of your choice. All these months on, are you still happy with the Toyota…?
    Yes, I am very happy with the truck. It has done well with very little maintenance. I am just dreading the day where something very bad will happen. Hopefully I will be in a place where I can get parts. But maybe nothing bad will happen?

    - I’ve been wondering, has your stomach rebelled at all against the local foods and drinks you have been experiencing?
    I pay attention to the food I eat, and even if my stomach is never the same than back home, I never have been sick to the point where I had to stay in bed for one day. I avoid meat outside of supermarkets, and wash vegetables with water and bleach. But I always keep toilet paper handy! I sometimes experience low energy because of this strange diet and the heat.

    - What about gas prices in the upcoming countries?

    map_fuel_cost
    Gas will be pretty cheap until India, which is good. Unfortunately, I will probably have to pay for places to camp or sleep while in Iran and Pakistan. Asia should be pretty cheap for food and accommodation.

    - I haven’t seen Nadia post anything on here. How’s she doing any Hoot?
    She is good. She is now working in Paris, trying to make some money. She is still not married.

    - Did you get your new passport with empty pages to get more visa stampings?
    I got one back in Tanzania. It is an emergency passport with only ten pages, and next week, I will only have three pages left, thanks to those countries taking full pages for each visa. I will have to make a new one, maybe in India.

    - I guess you have asked some help getting Indian visa. Did you get that? Where do you plan to get that? I live in US and I am not sure if I can be of any help regarding that.
    My passport is at the Indian embassy right now, and I should have my visa next week. The Iranian visa, which I thought would be impossible to obtain, turned out to be easy to get. But now the Pakistan visa is an issue since the country decided to restrict foreigner travels.

    - I heard that it was illegal to drink alcohol in the middle-east, is this true?
    Indeed it has been pretty dry lately. In Djibouti you can drink, but beer is pretty expensive. In Yemen you can’t buy any alcohol anywhere. In Oman, you need an authorization to buy alcohol. Dubai should be more relaxed, but then it will be dry through Iran and Pakistan. I guess it’s good for me, right?

    - Is your route in the United States written in stone?
    No, it is not. My point of arrival will depend of boats schedule and shipping prices. Maybe San Francisco, L.A., or I would also consider a port on the west coast of Mexico. But I definitely want to cross the U.S. from west to east. Often while I am driving, I am thinking of the kind of party I will do when I am back.