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Singapore to Istabul 3: routes

If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re going to end up someplace else.
— Yogi Berra

My ambition is to travel over land from Singapore to Istanbul. I don’t really mind ending up somewhere else, but I’ve selected that as a reasonable goal — far beyond anything I’ve done before, but doable. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not going to plan things out in any detail ahead of time. I expect to buy a one-way ticket to Singapore, pack a bag, and hit the ground running. Assuming that’s allowed in Singapore — it may well be a caning offence, from what I hear. But you take my point.

Technically, I could just leave it at that: figuring out a route and learning about the region as I do it. There’s certainly a pretty strong appeal to doing it that way — the romantic idea of the vagabond world traveller. But part of the reason for thinking about this trip now is to keep myself motivated for the next two years, so I need to allow myself the luxury of fantasizing about it. And this requires the input and distillation of information. Plus, just in general, I like to read and do research and know about things. Why deny my natural kittenish curiosity?


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This is the main route I’m investigating. I’ve used BookMooch to trade some of my old books for a few slightly-outdated (but still informative) Lonely Planets and Rough Guides, so hopefully I’ll be filling the map up with interesting destinations over the next few months. Right now, the route goes through:

  1. Singapore
  2. Malaysia
  3. Thailand
  4. Cambodia
  5. Laos
  6. China (Yunnan)
  7. China (Tibet)
  8. Nepal
  9. India
  10. Sri Lanka (maybe)
  11. Pakistan
  12. Iran
  13. Turkey

I figure I can easily spend an average of a month in each of these places and hit Istanbul a year after I set out. However, I don’t know a huge amount about anything after China (and even China, I’ve only just started reading about). So I have a fair bit of work ahead of me. And then there are alternate routes and side-trips, depending on the political situation in Myanmar and the Middle East. I doubt Afghanistan will be very tourist-friendly when I set out, but Syria might be. Not to mention, China is a very large and diverse country, and there’re trains from there to to Mongolia and Russia…