Wild Way Round – What happened in October?
With the end of October round the corner, and foliage now truly on display, it’s time to summarize what’s been and gone, and outline what’s to come.
Phew – what a month! While September was spent in Georgia, most of October has been spent in Armenia, exploring this wonderful country, making new friends, and establishing a small base.
A month spent in Armenia
Before coming here, I knew nothing about Armenia, and to be honest I was just expecting a smaller version of Georgia. How wrong I was. The country is embedded in a deep, unique history dating from 2,000 years ago. It is the first country to have adopted Christianity as a religion, the ‘last country in Europe’, some may say, and cities that are brimming with Persian-meets-Western-meets-Asian cultures.
Confession time: I think I prefer Armenia to Georgia…
It has everything from national parks, to beautiful hidden monasteries, to friendly people, great food and cheap prices. Move over Chiang Mai – Yerevan is the new digital nomad base. Flat whites for less than a pound, delicious kebabs, coffee culture, and bohemian streets.
Highlights of the month
I’m so excited to write about what we’ve been up to during our time here. Some of the highlights have been:
Hitching from Georgia into Armenia – the easiest overland border crossing
Seriously though. The guy who stamped my passport didn’t even look down as he stamped it, gave me a big smile, complimented my backpack, and said ‘Welcome to Armenia.’
Looking out for wolves and bears in Dilijan National Park
‘You can camp anywhere in the hills’ he said, ‘It will be beautiful’, he said, ‘Just be careful of wolves and bears, it’s the season’ he said.
And that’s how I had a few sleepless nights in the tent. I never once saw a bear or a wolf. But I did wake up to a family of pigs. Like literally outside my tent. There were 5.
Enduring a week of wild camping, including a night in a cleared out minefield
No showers, instant noodles and hard ground for 7 days in a row. Challenge accepted.
Finding the Jewel of Armenia – The road to Tatev monastery
6 hours away from Yerevan, the road was more impressive than the monastery itself. Especially as we hitched in an army truck.
Embracing the bohemian coffee culture of Yerevan
With coffee shops in every corner, with plush couches, a choice of a $0.30 cappuccino and a glass of wine on the side, and constant free, good-quality wifi, I have no excuse not to be writing my blog. The problem is getting someone to drag me away from this mini-paradise.
Unexpected guests in our tent
No bears or wolves. But cats and dogs. Who knew they’d find their way into mountain valleys?
Meeting awesome people
Fast friendships, easy chats, swapping stories and sharing beers. It comes with the price of saying goodbyes too soon.
Lowlights of the month
But let’s be honest here. Travelling long-term is certainly not a bed of roses, no matter how much filter you add to that Instagram pic. With good days come bad ones – it’s all part of the experience.
The rain caught up with us
Yup, after a month of shorts, tans and t-shirts, the rain and the cold swept in and took us with it. This meant spending some of our precious budget on winter gear, and days cooped up in cafés and hostel lounges.
Camping by the road in a not-so-nice town
I was overambitious when hitchhiking from Georgia to Armenia, and when we finally reached Armenia, night had caught up with us. We had no choice but to camp by the side of the road, on a slopped ground, stray dogs and no wood for a fire.
Hatching up a Plan B
After 5 weeks of waiting to hear back from the Iran visa, I still had no answer. It was time for Plan B. Except I didn’t have one. Originally I had planned to travel overland and follow a continuous route. Now I was faced with looking for flights and routes. Instead of taking this calmly, I spent a stressful week poring over options, picking and choosing, and constantly changing my mind.
Which leads me on to plans for November…
Plans for November
WE ARE GOING TO NEPAL! And we leave, erm, in 4 days.
I am SO friken excited. It has been on my bucket list for years, and this passion has been fed by explorers like Levison Wood and Michael Palin who have walked through the country and written wonders about it. I’m half expecting to catch frostbite, have altitude sickness and food poisoning, but surely it will all be put behind me once I have a clear view of the Himalayas.
It will also be my first taste of Asia, so I am ready to be bowled over by the differences in culture and explore all that the jewel of the continent has to offer. I’m hoping Nepal will be a taster to what the rest of Asia has to offer, and with so many country highlights, I will be spending the next few days poring over books and blogs for ideas. We will also be meeting some friends and family while we’re there, so I’m pretty excited for some reunions.
So hold on tight and put your walking boots on – we are going to the Himalayas!