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Welcome to Alex's travels, world photos and advice for travellers


A continually updated collection of 2000+ photos taken during business and holiday trips since 2004. I wish to thank everyone I met on these journeys for their invaluable inspiration, knowledge and fun. Photos may be used for personal non-commercial use. For all other purpose, please contact me.

 


Japan and China :: Photos are up

Friday, 16 March 2007

New photos from business trips to Tokyo and Shanghai have been posted! Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Dubai to follow shortly.

I've been working hard on a new social networking platform for small and medium sized businesses, travel photography has been a little slow reaching the web.

For the new faces on the site: Welcome! I hope you'll enjoy your stay (and ranking in google).




One year abroad :: The complete cost

Tuesday, 15 November 2005

This year has been an unparalleled discovery of senses and knowledge. An insight into world dynamics, new cultures and beliefs. 'The way things work' in different languages and different countries.

My year of travels has come to an end, this final writing is only un petit 'au revoir' tour du monde 2005en avant voyages 2006! I shall return soon with more photography and advice. In the mean time, here's a brief traveller's guide to costs around the world. From useful knowledge to fun stats, my total and precise expenditure follows.

This document is divided into two sections:

Section 1: Travel cost per country
Section 2: Fun stats (such as 'total number of hours spent sitting on buses'!)

Please bear in mind I was not conservative with money and could probably have got away spending 10-20% less. If you feel I have missed out important information or simply wish to find out more about statistics listed below, feel free to contact me using this form. Questions regarding photography are also welcome.

 

Section 1: Travel cost per country

 

1.1 General breakdown of cost and charges

 

cost round the world


Total cost round the world: 11,000 GBP

 

• All transport costs were about 1/3 of total cost as I was travelling frequently.
• Oneworld ticket included 11 flights, I purchased 7 extra flights and 'other transport' includes car rental in New Zealand, fuel, and all long distance buses, boats, motos, taxis, etc. taken throughout the year.
• Healthcare includes all jabs and vaccinations before and during the trip (you'd never imagine anyone would pay this much to get 12 needles stuck into their arm! -makes me shiver). Vaccinations include: yellow fever, DTC and Polio boosters, Hep A, Typhoid, Hep B, Rabies.
• Insurance, highly recommended. I went with Insure & Go.
• Equipment refers to what went into my bag before leaving (including the bag itself). So things like: a new toothbrush, mini sleeping bag (very useful), Katadyn water filter (came in handy many times although it's not essential), etc. This was more or less the entire value of my bag (without camera).
• Living costs is basically all the rest: accommodation, food, drinking, tours, internet, Visas, shopping, etc.
• Postcards, well yeah, sending 93 postcards comes at a small price...
• Bank charges: not too happy about this one. Natwest Plc. charged me over 3.7 % on all cash withdrawal (330 GBP of charges = 6 extra weeks in Thailand!). So if you visit many countries, I'd recommend Nationwide: they don't charge any commission and have much better exchange rates.

 


1.2 Breakdown of cost per country (all larger expenses listed)


Jump to...
Hong Kong • South East Asia • Australia • New Zealand • Tahiti • Chile • Argentina • Uruguay • Paraguay • Brazil • Peru • Bolivia • Venezuela • United States

Average cost per day marked with * would normally be higher for independent travellers. I saved on cost by staying with friends or family.



 
Total cost
GBP
number of days visited
average cost per day
GBP/USD
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Hong Kong (rating: ••••-)

280
8
35/62*
I stayed with friends and really did everything there was to do around the island. Macau, Shenzhen Economic Zone, Lantau Island and Kowloon. Great 7 day discovery.
   
Larger expenses
   
• Visa for Shenzhen Economic Zone
40
  
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

SE Asia (•••••)

1360
96
14/25

Unfortunately I cannot divide SE Asia by country for cost analysis as leftover dollars were always taken across borders into the next country (unlike South America where withdrawal of local currency is usually done).

I lived in this part of the world like a king! Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore... all these countries were extremely cheap and real value for money, the cheapest being Vietnam where you could easily live on 10 to 15 USD a day. Cambodia was a real highlight with her divine beaches and declined rocket launching offers. Vietnam was a true change of environment with Sapa not to be missed. Laos was a little touristy but nursed a very relaxed atmosphere. The islands off Thailand's East coast were a great place to spend Christmas and New Year despite the unfortunate disaster on the West coast. Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Towers in Malaysia were thrilling, although a day long 27 km walk around Penang was a pleasant killer. Accommodation in Singapore was a little expensive but drinking cocktails in New Asia Bar on the 72nd floor of the Swiss Hotel made up for everything.

   
Larger expenses
   
• 1 month Cambodian Visa
• 1 month Vietnamese Visa
• 1 month Vietnamese Visa extension
• 1 month Laotian Visa (some haggling was necessary)
• Sending 10 kgs of presents home
• Advanced PADI diving course (11 dives, including accommodation on Ko Tao and underwater DVD)
12
12
12
15
30
210
  
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Australia (rating: •••--)

1050
26
40/71
Oz was a real budget cruncher after Asia. Food was often more expensive than in the UK (fruit, vegetables and meat). Water was more expensive than fuel. Tap water was fine to drink but really tasted of chlorine. And Queensland a little too conservative. However, Australia had an amazing vibe. People were kind, relaxed and civilised. Partying was great. Alcohol relatively cheap. Meeting people was easy, and there was always plenty to do.
   
Larger expenses
   
• East Coast Rail Pass Brisbane to Cairns
• Virgin Blue Flight Cairns to Sydney
• Fraser Island 2 day tour with guide
• 2 dives off the Great Barrier Reef
95
65
90
40
  
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

New Zealand (rating: ••••-)

1680
31
54/96
I discovered almost everything both islands had to offer. New Zealand was a little more expensive than Oz due to car rental. But rental and fuel combined only came to 1.5 times the cost of a bus/rail open ticket for both islands, without the hassle of carrying rucksack, food, bags, booking seats, sticking to bus timetables, etc. I had total freedom and could stop anywhere I wanted. I spent half the time sleeping in the car, both to cut cost and photograph great sunrises. I drove over 8000 kms and picked up many hitch-hikers along the way (very safe as NZ is undoubtedly one of the world's most civilised countries).
   
Larger expenses
   

• Kaikoura Whale Watch
• Skydiving including 2 videos
• Car rental 5-seater (30 days)
• Fuel for 8000 kms (5000 miles)
• Interislander ferry

50
120
440
220
60
  
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Tahiti (rating: ••••-)

140
6
23/41

Tahiti was really cheap because I was camping on neighbouring island Moorea. However, I was presented with a list of 'cheap' accommodation upon arrival at the airport and the starting price was 80 USD a night! My bank messed up credit limits big time which meant no money the first night I arrived. Luckily the police where extremely kind and offered me shelter (along with an Irish couple who were also camping). Food on Tahiti wasn't expensive at all: you get to the middle of the Pacific, miles away from any other civilisation, yet you find fresh tasting baguette, pork rilletes, ham and delicious French cheeses for a fraction of the price it costs in Oz or NZ! Les Franηais sont fous!

   
Larger expenses
   
• 'Expensive' snorkel and mask
15
  
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Chile (rating: ••••-)

830
56
15/26*
Chile was very cheap as I was staying and living most of the time with family. In reality I was on the road for 30 days which meant cost-per-day was actually 28 GBP. Transport is luxurious yet costs very little. If you do visit the famous Torres del Paine, avoid the autumn/winter seasons! Easter Island is NOT as expensive as everyone always thinks. Getting there and back is the real expense, but living cost isn't much more than on the mainland. Rapa Nui also boasts the cheapest fuel in the whole country (although you can't expect to go far...)
   
Larger expenses
   
• Torres del Paine: car rental, entrance fee, fuel (per person)
• Sending 4 kgs of presents home
30
25
  
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Argentina (rating: ••••-)

520
26
20/35
Beautiful country, beautiful south. Ushuaia was a great spot to relax during April's cold. Tierra del Fuego off-season meant fewer tourists and more travellers. The walks were equally impressive in the snow. Buenos Aires is just like Paris, France: everyone drives a Peugeot like there is no tomorrow and architecture is similarly romantic. Watching tango on the streets is a great pastime.
   
Larger expenses
   
• Flight: Ushuaia to Buenos Aires
60
  
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Uruguay (rating: •••--)

150
5
30/54
Low season is a little boring: no one is around and everything is closed. Punta del Diablo was really relaxing and quiet. Punta del Este was dead. No travellers or even locals were to be seen! Montevideo is a bit of a hole. Colonia del Sacremento was stunning: a beautiful old colonial city where people drive around in perfectly restored 1930s cars. Food there was delicious.
   
Larger expenses
   
• 2 nights in Punta del Diablo (only 1 hotel was open)
• Boat crossing from Buenos Aires (return)
35
20
  
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Paraguay (rating: •••••)

75
5
15/27
One of the highlights of South America: not much happening there, but the locals are really chatty, honest and kind. In 5 days I didn't meet a single tourist. Asunciσn isn't the best of places, but try getting drunk with a cop and military personnel in Ybycui whilst all are on duty, armed, and well past their tolerance levels. Paraguay truly was crazy and I would easily recommend it to anyone.
   
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Brazil (rating: •••••)

1270
43
30/52
Hosting some of the most beautiful yet overcrowded beaches in the world, sunbathing on Ipanema, Rio, sometimes felt like sunbathing in the middle of Portobello Market in London. Ilha Grande was a great place to party and Ouro Preto a remarkable traditional town. But Brasilia really, well, 'kicked ass'. The architecture was overpowering and a free open air concert organised by the French Government for 'La Fκte de la Musique' featuring Manu Chao and Tiken Jah Fakoly made the whole trip up to this capital worthwhile. Finally, 6 days sleeping in a hammock whilst cruising up the Amazon and showering in its water was a fun experience.
   
Larger expenses
   
• Flight: Salvador to Manaus
• 6 day boat trip Manaus to Tabatinga
• Flight: Tabatinga to Iquitos
250
45
32
  
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Peru (rating: ••••-)

500
24
21/37
Bathing with piranhas, catching piranhas, catching caiman, sleeping with tarantulas, eating caiman, partying in Iquitos, Lima and Cuzco, flying over the Nazca lines, climbing the largest sand dune in the whole of the Americas, then sandboarding back down it, climbing (well, taking the bus up to Machu Picchu) but then heroically climbing Huayna Picchu and its Moon Temple... Peru is always full of adventure. Unfortunately, it was simply too touristy for my liking. Prices were high and service slack in places such as Cuzco, Agua Calientes and Nazca. Other parts of Peru were more appreciable.
   
Larger expenses
   
• Flight: Iquitos to Lima
• Flight over Nazca Lines
• Machu Picchu 2 days (planned the whole trip myself yet came very close to agency prices)
45
30
70
  
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Bolivia (rating: •••••)

200
13
15/27
I spent such a good time in Bolivia. People were a lot more honest, hard working and kind than in Peru. La Paz was a great city for active nightlife. Sucre featured beautiful colonial architecture and delicious food. Potosi mines were quite an experience, and with dynamite sticks at less than a dollar, it's a steal! No id necessary (but always have you passport number ready when boarding buses!)
   
Larger expenses
   
• 3 day Uyuni tour
• Stick of dynamite, mesh and ammonium nitrate (for a bigger boom) see photos
45
0.85
  
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Venezuela (rating: ••---)

530
18
30/52
With fuel at 2 pence/litre (less than 5 cents a gallon), Venezuela really was a crazy place. It didn't go too well for me (you can read about it here) but the beaches were quite spectacular. Diving isn't all that amazing due to a large amount of dead coral, and especially not after Tahiti. I wouldn't recommend going in September as everything is closed. Life is pretty expensive by South American standards and accommodation very gritty (the cheapest places in Caracas are love motels and start at 14 USD per night!)
   
Larger expenses
   
• Flight: Isla Margarita to Los Roques
• Flight: Los Roques to Caracas
35
45
  
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

United States (rating: ••••-)

190
9
21/37*
I had a brilliant time here but only thanks to family friends (see about section for special thanks). I visited the Everglades, sampled (only one) 30 USD vodka and orange in a very posh club, had a taste of traditional country music, and of coursed finished off my world-tour tan on Miami Beach.
   
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    

 

Section 2: Fun stats

 

And now the useless stuff. Remember, this is for 366 days of travel!

 

2.1 Transport

• Planes taken: 18
• Boats taken: 15
• Cars rented: 3
• Motorbikes rented: 3
• Mules rented: 0

• Total time spent on a boat: 186 hours / 7.8 days (mostly the Amazon boat trip of course!)
• Total time spent flying: 82 hours / 3.4 days
• Total time spent on trains: 63 hours / 2.6 days (Australia mainly)
• Total time spent on buses: 509 hours / 21.2 days!

 


Fig 34b. Total number of hours my 'derriere' spent sitting on...

 

All this travelling equates to: 9.6% of my time, or 2.3 hours of travels each day (similar to commuting for work!)

• Best airline: LAN Chile
• Worst airline: American Airlines
• Favourite bus journey: none!
• Worst bus journey: all Brazilian night buses (aircon always on max, everyone always coughing, driver won't switch it off...)
• Craziest flight: going through a storm and seeing sparks all over the wings for 30 whole minutes

 

2.2 Countries

• Countries visited: 21
• Stamps added to passport: 64
• Most attractive passport stamp: Cambodian
• Ugliest passport stamp: Brazilian (no one will ever deny this)
• Favourite country: depends on what
• Least favourite country: Venezuela (but only because everything went wrong)
• Favourite country for photography: New Zealand, New Zealand, New Zealand...
• Favourite country for discovery: Vietnam
• Favourite city: Rio de Janeiro
• Favourite people: Cambodians
• Favourite food: Thai / Argentinean
• Favourite drink: Caipirinha (Brazil)
• Least favourite drink: Bolivian miner's 95 degree alcohol (although it was perfectly drinkable)
• Favourite hostel: World Village, Greymouth, NZ / Aquario, Ilha Grande, Brazil
• Favourite language: Vietnamese / Brazilian Portuguese
• Favourite beach: Ochheuteal Beach, Sihanoukville, Cambodia
• Best sunset: Mui Ne, Vietnam
• Best sunrise: Mount Cook, New Zealand
• Best parties: Ko Tao, Thailand / Viρa del Mar, Chile / Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
• Best weather: Bolivia (winter: dry, sunny, zero clouds, cold at night)
• Worst weather: Southern Chile (it just wasn't the season)
• Most interesting architecture: Punta del Este, Uruguay

 

2.3 Celebrity Death Match

• Diving, Thailand vs. Australia: Thailand
• Snorkelling, Los Roques, Venezuela vs. Tahiti: Tahiti
• Lost city, Machu Picchu vs. Angkor Wat: Angkor Wat
• Country, New Zealand vs. Australia: I won't start this fight!

 

2.4 Miscellaneous

• Email addresses picked up: 152
• And finally... number of shaver charges: 4 in one year. They should use these batteries in ipods!

 

 


More...
General News :: Photo update 2
Venezuela :: The final nightmare
General News :: Site downtime
Brazil :: caipirinhas, churches and, hmm... (part 2)
General News :: Photo update
Brazil :: Caipirinhas, churches and, hmm... (part 1)
Uruguay :: Now I know what cows moo about
New Zealand :: After summer came winter
New Zealand :: Patience
Thailand :: Claire and Zach
Laos and Thailand :: A brief update
Vietnam :: Bikinis and Communism
Vietnam :: First impressions
Cambodia :: Banana Leaf Bar
Cambodia :: The great taxi ride
Cambodia :: Everything has a price
Thailand :: Bangkok Airport
China :: The great escape to Shenzhen
Update :: Declined
Foreword