Tag Archives: numbers

Around the world in numbers

Doesn’t time fly? I’ve been back over four months already and I still haven’t got round to doing the final round-up posts I planned, let alone told you all what I’ve been up to since. Bad blogger. Anyway, here’s the first of those posts, a quick round-up of my year away in the form of some nice geeky numbers.

I was away for 364 nights, and in that time I visited 19 countries on 4 continents. I spent 310 nights in the tropics and 54 nights outside them. I was north of the equator for 206 nights, and south for 158, I was east of the Greenwich meridian for 199 nights and west for 165. I crossed the tropic of cancer 4 times, the tropic of capricorn twice, the equator once and the international date line once.

I visited 15 capital cities (including both of Bolivia’s) – incidentally the 5 I missed were Guatemala City, Washington DC, Buenos Aires Canberra and Wellington.

I slept in 116 beds, and spent 134 nights in dorms, 77 in single rooms, 76 in double rooms, 17 in triple rooms and 13 in apartment. I slept 6 nights in hammocks, 17 on buses, 2 on planes, 4 on a boat, 16 in tents, and 1 in a buddhist monastery.

Where I slept over the year

I took 176 buses (including collectivos, minivans, chicken buses, jeepneys and so on), 136 taxis, 25 flights, 51 boats, 21 cars, 21 tuk-tuks (and similar), 2 cable cars, 5 jeeps, 6 funiculars, 10 trams, 2 trains, 30 metros and 2 horse & carts.

I visited 34 world heritage sites, 17 pyramids and other pre-hispanic ruins, 44 temples, 34 churches & cathedrals, 5 wineries and 29 museums. I also watched 5 wrestling matches.

I climbed 13 volcanoes and visited 21 national parks, 3 deserts, 4 canyons, 9 hot springs, 41 islands, 44 beaches, saw 1 geyser and 5 salt flats and went caving once. I spent 45 days over 3,000 metres altitude, of which 24 were over 4,000 metres, and 3 over 5,000m (and the biggest regret of my trip is that I didn’t take the opportunity to hike to 6,000m in Bolivia while I was well acclimatised and had the chance).

Volcan Nevado del Ruiz, Colombia

The highest point of my trip: Volcan Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia

I did 25 dives, went kayaking twice, tubing once, went running twice (and both in the first month, after which I got lazy) and hired bikes 6 times.

I did laundry 42 time, sent 24 postcards, made 37 phone calls and took cash out 106 times.

I walked through one window, visited 3 hospitals, had 38 stitches, and have 5 impressive scars.

I learnt at least a few words in 17 languages (Spanish, Quiche Maya, Quechua, Aymara, Rapanui, Maori, Bahasa Indonesia, Balinese, Bahasa Sasak, Bahasa Ende, Tetum, Portuguese, Filipino, Malaysian, Thai, Burmese, and Khmer). I have now forgotten virtually all of the above except for the Spanish.

I met and had conversations with people from 60 countries, including 192 people from the UK, 109 American (who says they don’t travel?), 79 Australians, 53 Germans, 41 Canadians, 34 French, 33 Swedes (almost all in Indonesia), 30 Filipinos, 27 Israelis (all in Latin America), 27 Dutch, 26 Dutch, 26 Swiss, 25 Irish, 23 Mexicans, 15 Guatemaltecos, 14 Chileans, 14 Danes, 13 Spanish, 13 Indonesians, 12 Argentinians, 11 Kiwis, 11 Burmese, 9 Belgians, 6 Brazilians, 6 Peruvians, 5 Austrians, 5 Finns, 5 East Timorese, 4 Italians, 4 Czechs, 3 Bolivian, 3 Malaysians, 3 Hong Kongers, 3 Chinese, 3 Singaporean, 3 Cambodian, 2 South African, 2 Norwegian, 2 Ecuadorian, 2 Thai, 2 Venezuelan, 2 Colombian, 2 Uruguayan, 2 Poles, 2 Portuguese, 2 South Korean, and 1 each from the Isle of Man, Guernsey, French Guiana, Romania, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, Hungary, Russia, Slovenia, Congo-Brazzaville, Cameroon, Japan & Estonia.
Here’s a map showing all the countries that I met people from:

And finally….this blog has had over 115,000 hits, and 1,265 comments and my photos have been viewed just over 120,000 times. Thanks for reading!

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Colombia round up & budget

Colombia was a last-minute addition to my itinerary based on the rave reports I’d read from other travel bloggers, and as I travelled through Central America, I heard more and more people gushing about how it was their favourite country in South America. So how did it turn out?

After a very disappointing start in Bogota, I ended up loving the country. For a country with such a dangerous reputation, I actually felt safer in Colombia than any other country so far. You’d never know either that mass tourism is relatively new here either – it’s a very easy country to get around andI stayed in some of the nicest hostels to date.

Freshly picked coffee beans

Freshly picked coffee beans

There were plenty of highlights – Villa de Leyva is one of the finest little colonial towns I’ve seen so far; Tayrona gave me the best beaches I’ve ever seen; climbing Nevado del Ruiz took me above 5,000m for the first time; Medellin is one of the most fun cities I’ve ever visited; visiting Hacienda Guayabal to see how coffee is grown and made was both beautiful and fascinating; San Gil gave me the opportunity to try paragliding, and the Lost City trek is the best hike I’ve ever done.

Colourful Guatepe

Colourful Guatepe

I even grew to love Bogota in the end. It’s funny how much of a difference the weather can make to my enjoyment of a place – after a cold, wet and grey first experience, on my second visit I arrived to glorious sunshine, blue skies, and warm weather. And suddenly the city looked beautiful (and not like Croydon so much). I ended up in a much nicer hostel (the fantastic DN) in a slightly safer-feeling area, discovered some beautiful little side streets and some of the nicest and friendliest little bars and restaurants I’ve seen on my trip so far.

Every country has its downsides, and for me the only real letdown was the food. The Colombians seem to have a penchant for deep-frying everything, which was not great, and pretty much everything that wasn’t deep-fried seemed to be stuffed with cheese (even when you least expect it). It was generally quite expensive too, compared to other countries I’ve been to, and even the supermarkets were poor – I found a better selection of many things even in Guatemala, a much poorer country. There were some highlights, such as the hot chocolate with cheese, and some excellent street-food chorizos, but on the whole it was all a bit disappointing.

But my happiest memory of Colombia is nothing intrinsic to the country – it was instead the other travellers I spent time with. In the Macondo hostel in San Gil I met a fantastic selection of Brits, Irish & Americans. I did the Lost City trek with six of them, and I couldn’t have hoped for a better group of people. After that, every place I visited ended up being with a selection of the group from San Gil. Thanks for helping make Colombia such a special experience.

The unusual Bolivar statue in Manizales

The unusual Bolivar statue in Manizales


I’m now getting used to the fact that each country never turns out to be as cheap as I was hoping, and Colombia was no exception. I found food to be especially on the costly side, although as usual I did myself no favours by spending far too much partying. Still, on the brightside I spent the least since Guatemala, and only a touch more than I spent in Mexico. Here are the daily averages:
Transport: $6.69
Accommodation: $7.80
Museums, activities & excursions: $9.58
Food & drink: $24.52
Miscellaneous: $1.27

And now onto the serious business – here’s how Colombia shapes up in numerical terms (and what’s really noticeable now is how much church fatigue has set in – the number has plummeted since Mexico)
Buses 20
Taxis 21
Flights 1
Jeeps 2
Churches 3
Beaches 4
Beds 13
Hammocks slept in 5
Night buses attempted to sleep on in the face of over-enthusiastic aircon and suicidal drivers 3
National Parks 3
Hot springs 1
Laundry 6
Postcards 2
Phone calls 3
Cash withdrawals 12
Museums 2
Lost cities 1
Volcanoes 2 (1 mud, 1 normal)
Coffee farms 2
Cable Cars 2
Days spent hiking 8
Paraglides 1 (disappointing)
Water Parks 1
Ants eaten – several (which was probably several too many)

On the people I met front, the biggest disappointment is that I didn’t get to spend more time with Colombians – all the ones I met on the street and so on were incredibly friendly, but because I met such a fantastic group of travellers early on in San Gil, I ended up spending most of my time with them and didn’t make enough of an effort to go out and meet more locals. Must try harder. On a positive (geeky) note, Colombia did give me the opportunity to add a few more unusual countries to my list (French Guiana, Isle of Man, Guernsey, Egypt)
UK 21
US 15
Israel 12
Australia 9
Colombia 7
Ireland 5
Argentina 3
Canada 2
Isle of Man 1
Norway 1
Egypt 1
French Guiana 1
Poland 1
Guernsey 1
Romania 1
Uruguay 1
Germany 1
Spain 1
Belgium 1
France 1

You can catch up on any of my Colombian posts that you’ve missed here and see all my photos here.