About

I will try to answer the most obvious questions here.

How did you end up doing this trip?
The idea of a long overland trip had been in the back of my mind for some time. Then, early in 2009, I was offered the opportunity to join a trans-Sahara expedition. Although the expedition ultimately didn't happen, it got the ball rolling.

Amazingly, after ten years of climbing the greasy pole of fund management, I still loved the job. I am one of those people who doesn't mind spending 10 hours a day peering intently at a bank of screens. On the other hand, I had a nagging feeling that I wasn't taking enough risks. I was happy in my life of secure privilege, with all my bills on direct debit and dreaming of early retirement. The problem is that safety has a tranquilizing effect. After ten years as The Man's bitch, it was time for a change.

There were still a few bits and pieces to sort out – get my license, buy my first car, prepare it, plan the route, organise the visas, resign from my job, break the lease on my flat and put my possessions in storage. One of the benefits of still living like a first-year undergraduate is that I own remarkably little stuff - a TV, a computer, some clothes and a load of books.

Two months later I'm on the road to Dover.


Why bother?
1) Because I love to travel and I felt that a long solo expedition would be a good exercise in self-sufficiency.

2) Because I can. I am grateful to be healthy enough, solvent enough and to live in a country that allows me to travel.

3) Re-evaluation of priorities. The fact that I bought an iPhone is clear proof that I was on the fast track to becoming the kind of lifestyle-wanker I've always hated. Solitude in an unfamiliar environment is a great incubator for new ideas.

4) I wanted to go back to a period of my life when I was short on money but long on time. Although I will mostly be off the backpacking circuit, I intend to visit the places where I got drunk in my gap year and irritate the young by constantly complaining that it's not as good as it used to be.

5) This kind of trip may not be possible a few years down the line. After a decade of the worst economic and political mismanagement in modern history, I fear the worst. Major economic downturns tend to be catalysts for periods of geopolitical upheaval.


Why go overland?
Overlanding is very different to hopping on a plane. The gradual changes of landscape and culture allow you to see how it all hangs together.

I have done plenty of trips over the last few years. They were worthwhile, but the value of a long overland trip like this is greater than the sum of its parts, for the simple reason that you don't go home to 'reset' before leaving again.


Why have a website?
1) Everybody who goes for long trips has a website. I clearly need one.

2) It's a good alternative to tacky mass-emails. All my pictures and news are stored in one place and can be easily accessed by technology-shy relatives.

3) It will force me to reflect on my experiences. Articulating your impressions helps you process what you see and makes you more observant of your surroundings.

4) When I return to civilisation and attempt to restart my career, I need some evidence that I haven't just been smoking crack in a Camden bedsit for 3 years.


Greedy bankers like you are responsible for the financial crisis. You should be killed and your body used to feed livestock in the third world.

Most people seem to be under the impression that the culture of greed and big bonuses is to blame for the crisis. Not so. Are many bankers unscrupulous, obnoxious and greedy? Unquestionably. Is it fair that a nurse is paid 1/50 as much as an insufferable yob who shouts into a phone for a living? Absolutely not. Nevertheless, bankers don’t have a monopoly on greed and bonuses are a by-product of the liquidity bubble, not the cause of it. That honour goes to the holy trinity of:

1) Greenspan and other US policy makers who ignored the multi-asset bubble that was forming and kept monetary policy too loose for nearly a decade.
2) Regulators who bent over backwards to allow excessive leverage at investment banks.
3) The ratings agencies who failed to reflect the vastly increased risk in their credit ratings and thus allowed the problem to escalate.

So there.


A Note
Travel blogs are mostly bloody awful. The worst offenders are those traveling in aid of someone with a terminal illness or to 'honour the memory' of a deceased loved one. One problem is that they give their memories a nice glossy coat of paint and gush about the 'amazing' culture, people etc. Conspicuously absent is any mention of the numerous negatives of traveling in the third world - corrupt officials, rubbish-strewn cities, thieving locals, vermin-infested hotels, relentless hassle from souvenir sellers, bad driving and endless red tape. They're getting both barrels from me. You have been warned.

This is not a travelogue. It is a selection of random impressions about places I end up in. I was going to post a diary but let's face it, reading itineraries is extremely boring. “I arrived at the bus station. Then I went to the museum. After that I had lunch at a Lebanese place. Then I went to an internet cafe”. If you want to read this kind of drivel, I'll be delighted to send you my journal.