November 1991 - September 1992
The diary I kept during my round-the-world trip has been essential for me to put this story together, there's no doubt that most of these stories would have been forgotten without it.
But the diary was a lot more than just a written log, in it I kept tickets, beer labels, horoscopes, postage stamps and other souvenirs as a way of remembering the places I visited.
I could easily spend a couple of hours a day writing, so nothing was forgotten.
Five months into the trip, while I was traveling through Nigeria, I began drawing pictures too. The first sketch (Tarzan) was inspired by a couple of men that I sat next to in a bar who were watching a corny Tarzan movie on TV
and arguing about Tarzan's chances of saving a girl from a hoard of jungle warriors. The film was crap, but the two men were having a lot of fun watching it, so the sketch was drawn as a way to remember the day without having to read the whole story.
It was a very small beginning...a stick figure Tarzan swinging on a stumpy looking tree, but that simple picture still brings back a lot of memories about the day. So as I travelled more, I started spending more time drawing
and the sketches gradually got better. This is the complete collection of all the sketches taken from my diary, all 124 of them, good and bad...
20-Nov-91: Tarzan, apparently swinging from a floating tree. And he's not been eating too well.
21-Nov-91: Walking in the hills around Obudu Cattle Ranch, in eastern Nigeria.
27-Nov-91: A self portrait, and a very accurate one too!
28-Nov-91: It rained a lot while we stayed in Yaounde, Cameroon.
01-Dec-91: Kribi beach, Cameroon, where we spent a couple of days while waiting for visas to be processed in Yaoundé.
02-Dec-91: Driving back into Yaounde, we hit a car while driving around a roundabout. After a short argument, we continued, then hit another car! Neither accident was our fault, because both were caused by the other cars driving in the opposite direction to everyone else!
04-Dec-91: Destroyed forests and hundreds of logging trucks were the only things to see in the Central African Republic.
05-Dec-91: As we camped close to a village, the locals came out to play music and sing for us.
06-Dec-91: When I looked out from the truck as we drove through a village, my sunglasses flew off my head and became the best present for a kid that ran up to grab them.
07-Dec-91: Toutoubou Falls in the Central African Republic. I drew them, but never thought to take a photo.
08-Dec-91: As Berto walked around the truck to make sure no-one stole anything, a kid ran up and stole his wallet from his back pocket. Berto chased him, but didn't get it back. So much for security.
09-Dec-91: While on a campsite in Bangui, CAR, a huge Cobra slithered across the campsite, as we bombarded it with bricks and bottles to scare it away. It disappeared into the mens bathrooms, and no-one dared to go in there for 2 days. When someone eventually did, it had disappeared.
10-Dec-91: I called home to England for the first time in many weeks, only to be told that I had already spent all my money.
11-Dec-91: Calculating my beer budget. Or to put it another way, how long could I go without eating?
13-Dec-91: Leaving the Central African Republic behind...
13-Dec-91: ...and heading into Zaire.
14-Dec-91: A typical lunch. Corned beef and baked beans, yummy!
15-Dec-91: A fallen tree blocking the road delayed us for a few hours, until a path was cleared around it. It looks like a 3 year old drew this sketch, you can even see I wrote 'V. POOR' in the corner when I drew it. Then I added myself to the picture too, that just made it worse! . Don't worry, they get better..
16-Dec-91: Because the economy in Zaire was rapidly collapsing, the exchange rate was $1=65,000 zaires. I exchanged $20 and received 1,300,000 zaires, damn I was loaded! When we left 3 weeks later, $1 was worth 135,000 zaires and the black-market was thriving.
18-Dec-91: A Bailey Bridge in northern Zaire.
19-Dec-91: Zaire was a dangerous place to be in 1991, so 2 Encounter Overland trucks drove through the country together. I left this sign in the road to show the second truck the way...even though there was only one road.
20-Dec-91: We had to kill our own chickens for dinner, it was the only way to know that the food was fresh!
21-Dec-91: We bought over 100 bananas at a market in Isiro. This is probably lead to a sudden short supply of the next picture....
21-Dec-91: ...I really don't want to talk about this.
22-Dec-91: We stopped at a pygmy village in central Zaire. Pygmy. Get it?
23-Dec-91: Self explanatory
23-Dec-91: Self explanatory
24-Dec-91: On Christmas Eve, everyone in the village of Epulu marched through the streets playing drums and singing, before heading to church.
26-Dec-91: Boxing Day.
27-Dec-91: Driving through the Ruwenzori Mountains in eastern Zaire.
28-Dec-91: Crossing the Equtor for the first time.
29-Dec-91: Normally, if you needed to take a toilet break, you could just walk into the bushes. But when there are Lions around, that has a few risks associated with it.
30-Dec-91: There's a Gorilla in that sketch somewhere. The following day we would be climbing in the Virunga chain of volcanos on the border of Zaire and Rwanda to find them.
01-Jan-92: On New Year's day, I swore that I would never drink again. But the 'Primus' beer in Zaire is really good...so maybe just one more.
02-Jan-92: Boxes of strawberries for sale right beside the road. I think we bought most of them.
03-Jan-92: We climbed Mt. Nyiragongo in eastern Zaire. In 2002, this volcano erupted suddenly and killed hundreds of people in and around Goma
04-Jan-92: Close to the summit are huts for hikers to sleep in. Luxurious they are not.
05-Jan-92: My 24th Birthday was spent in Goma, on the shore of Lake Kivu, eastern Zaire.
06-Jan-92: Kids tempted us with card games and asked us to place large bets. To tempt us further, one placed his own bets and kept winning, with the worst acting in the history of stooges. I played a little and deliberately lost so they could make some money (that's my story and I'm sticking to it).
07-Jan-92: Crossing the border from Zaire into Burundi.
09-Jan-92: The breakfast of champions.
10-Jan-92: Another early start so we could travel to Kigali, Rwanda, just to get Tanzanian visas.
11-Jan-92: In Rwanda, we obtained our Tanzanian visas and then left, almost immediately. It wasn't safe enough to stick around for long.
13-Jan-92: Crossing the southern tip of Lake Victoria, to Mwanza.
16-Jan-92: On Safari, in the Serengetti
17-Jan-92: No need for a zoom lens, when you can get this close to the animals
18-Jan-92: Safari Junction is a restaurant near the Serengetti where you can eat as much as you like. But I took that too literally, I ate so much that I didn't need to eat anything else for 2 days
19-Jan-92: Lake Duluti, in Kenya.
21-Jan-92: After driving through 16 countries in 5 months across Africa, the time came time to leave the truck behind and go my own way
23-Jan-92: I made plans to meet Lisa in Sydney, once I arrived there.
25-Jan-92: I bought an extra 20 passport photos in Nairobi to help with the visa applications from here on. More than enough.
25-Jan-92: The hotel where I stayed for 3 weeks was right in the middle of the red-light district. After 3 weeks of asking, the girls on the street knew I wasn't interested, so teased me even more.
26-Jan-92: I spent the day repairing a pair of patchwork trousers that now had more holes than patches.
27-Jan-92: Before heading to India, a few precautions were needed.
28-Jan-92: The patchwork trousers I'd bought in Mali were repaired and ready to wear! There were so many patches to sew up, it had taken me 2 days
29-Jan-92: Yep, I was broke. I had enough cash left to last about 10 days, so I called home and asked if they could wire me some more
30-Jan-92: There are some days when all you want to do is sleep.
31-Jan-92: The first visit to the bank to see if any money had been wired to me. No such luck.
02-Feb-92: It was Sunday, so the banks were closed.
03-Feb-92: I keep asking, but I'm still waiting.
04-Feb-92: Time and money were running out fast.
05-Feb-92: Finally, the cash had been wired. I had been getting really worried that I would run out of money and have to sleep on the street.
06-Feb-92: The first thing I did was buy a flight out of Nairobi to Bombay. But I booked it to fly a couple of weeks later, as there was one last thing I wanted to do...climb Kilimanjaro.
09-Feb-92: After almost 3 weeks in the hostel, I had to pack up and move out, but the place was a mess. The contents of my rucksack were spread out on the floor as I reorganised it and packed some things to send back to England.
10-Feb-92: After a long bus trip from Nairobi (Kenya) to Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania), I was dropped off on the edge of town at 3am. I was alone and without a map, so I decided to sit under a street light until dawn.
12-Feb-92: This view of Kilimanjaro really was the view from my window. It really didn't look that big, but I didn't realize that it was 40 miles away.
13-Feb-92: Marangu Gate, the entry point to the Kilimanjaro climb.
14-Feb-92: The second night of the climb is spent at Horombo Hut.
15-Feb-92: After 3 days of hiking I reached Kibo Hut, at 5685m. From here, it's a 5 hour climb to the summit.
16-Feb-92: The last section of the climb to Uhuru Peak started at midnight, so the summit would be reached at sunrise.
17-Feb-92: From the summit of Kilimanjaro, it took 2 days to decend. I was tired and my feet ached, since I hadn't been in the best of shape before the climb.
20-Feb-92: A 3 month Indian visa was stamped into my passport and I was ready to go.
21-Feb-92: One of the last nights in Africa and the mosquitos took their final toll. I managed to kill a few, but they won the battle.
23-Feb-92: Leaving Africa and flying to India.
24-Feb-92: Arriving in Bombay after an overnight flight from Nairobi. What a difference!
25-Feb-92: The Gateway to India, Bombay.
27-Feb-92: The beaches of Goa. I came for a day and stayed for a week.
28-Feb-92: We rented a couple of scooters and drove up and down the beaches. For almost 70 miles, they were empty.
29-Feb-92: Goa beaches.
29-Feb-92: Goa beaches.
01-Mar-92: Normally, drawing sketches would be fun. But I had to suffer for many hours in warm sunshine, risking thirst and sunburn to create these last 2 drawings. I wouldn't have cared if I could find shelter in the beach bar, but they insisted that I drink ice cold beer if I stayed. Absolute torture :-(
02-Mar-92: I think this was a cop-out. I'd spent hours drawing the previous pictures on the beach and today I just didn't have time for another.
03-Mar-92: Taking the train from Bombay and travelling south to Bangalore.
04-Mar-92: The Maharaja's Palace, Mysore.
06-Mar-92: The first day spent in Mysore was spent looking at the ceiling since I wasn't feeling too well. Thankfully, I didn't have to stare at it for too long.
08-Mar-92: About 120km south-east of Bombay are the Buddhist Bhaja caves, carved about 200 BC.
11-Mar-92: City Palace, Udaipur
13-Mar-92: A bathing Ghat, in Pushkar. Early one morning, I climbed to the castle on the top of the hill to watch the sunrise, but misjudged the time. I arrived 2 hours early and almost froze to death in the wind.
19-Mar-92: The Taj Mahal. Unmistakable.
21-Mar-92: The temple carvings at Khajuraho show some of the most amazing carvings
08-Apr-92: From 140 miles away, Everest stands so far above the rest of the horizon that it's impossible to miss. The view from this point shows the 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th highest mountains in the World (in order: Everest, Kanchenjunga, Makalu, Lhotse). The second highest mountain (K2) is a thousand miles away in Pakistan.
10-Apr-92: Hiking back to Rimbik was a steep climb. I'm not sure it was meant to be that way, since we had difficilty finding a path.
11-Apr-92: Taking the bus back to Rimbik. The driver liked driving close to the edge, and with no barriers to save us it was a scary ride.
15-Apr-92: I don't think Kathmandu ever made any sense.
17-Apr-92: Buddah's eyes are painted all over Kathmandu.
18-Apr-92: I spent an entire day sat in a cafe, writing postcards to everyone, and still found time to draw another sketch.
20-Apr-92: A hair cut and a shave. Long overdue.
26-Apr-92: The hot springs in the mountains on the hike to Annapurna Base Camp.
20-Apr-92: Machupuchare, also know as 'fish tail'.
01-May-92: Rabbit, Rabbit.
02-May-92: Pokhara lake, in western Nepal. This is one of my least-favourite sketches, since the lake was beautiful and this sketch isn't.
04-May-92: The dirt road between Pokhara and Kathmandu was so bad that busses and trucks sank into the mud and blocked the road for everyone else. It was a very long trip.
04-Jun-92: I went for a hair cut in Phetchaburi, Thailand and got a lot more than I bargained for (sketches 1 & 2).
04-Jun-92: I went for a hair cut in Phetchaburi, Thailand and got a lot more than I bargained for (sketches 1 & 2).
05-Jun-92: When Dave shouted 'You're a crook, you are!' at a train guard, all I could do was laugh. But when we were thrown off the train because he was swearing so much, that wasn't as funny.
09-Jun-92: Cycling all the way to Bali was our target, so I booked my flight from Bali to Australia well in advance.
10-Jun-92: Taking the ferry from Penang (Malaysia) to Medan (Indonesia) was torture. I'm pretty sure that every person on the ferry was sea-sick.
11-Jun-92: Instead of taking the direct route south from Medan, we headed north so we could take a road directly through the center of Sumatra. We took a bus to reach the north of the island, but took so long to find the right bus we could have ridden there faster.
12-Jun-92: The weather never knew what it was doing, changing every few minutes. We had to find shelter every few miles.
13-Jun-92: Cycling through Sumatra was hard work, but more often than not, we were walking
14-Jun-92: Punctures were a big problem on the bad roads, and we had more than our fair share. I'll never know where all the nails came from.
15-Jun-92: When we got stuck in the mountains, the only thing we could do to stay dry was build a shelter from banana leaves and sticks.
17-Jun-92: When I went to take a wash in a hotel bathroom, I had to be careful not to disturb the fish swimming in the watertank!
20-Jun-92: Four car inner-tubes and a few branches tied together with string, that was the raft that would carry us down the river for the next 4 days.
21-Jun-92: A plastic plate used as a frisbee was the only entertainment on the river for a while. White-water rapids replaced that soon after.
22-Jun-92: If the raft was basic, then the paddles carved from planks of wood matched it very well.
24-Jun-92: Toadstools on the riverbank.
25-Jun-92: For some reason, the kids in Sumatra were so facinated by 2 guys cycling through their town that they would run along side us for miles, shouting 'Tourists, tourists..'
30-Jun-92: Yvonne kept making me drink Gin. Why Gin? Because it contained quinine, good for stopping malaria. Ahhh, that's why, good enough reason for me!
02-Jul-92: I spent weeks wondering if I was suffering from Malaria as I cycled through Sumatra. During the day I had no fever, but at night I was burning up
03-Jul-92: The constant switching between a high fever and feeling fine was quick, but it was wearing me down. Although the fevers passed, my energy level was falling quickly.
04-Jul-92: Every day I felt weaker and it became harder and harder to continue. Eventually, I decided to abandon the plan to cycle to Bali and sold the bike. The rest of the journey was completed by bus. It was 3 months later, in Australia, when I finally went into hospital to be treated and malaria was confirmed.
23-Sep-92: While working on a prawn trawler in Darwin, Australia, the boat grounded on a sand bank and came to a sudden stop. All we could do was wait 12 hours for the tide to rise again.
Even though I spent another year travelling in Australia, I spent less time drawing until it eventually came to an end. I had to find work, so I was spending months in the same place rather than a few days,
so the stories were all the same. I just wasn't inspired to write and draw anymore.
The final sketch of the trawler has no writing with it, the picture was the only thing I added to my diary that day, but the events of the day are not forgotten. The final sketch tells a story that I can remember in different ways.
Just 10 months after the first sketch, it came full circle; the sketch serves it's original purpose to bring back the memories of a day without having to read the whole story. And it succeded better than I could have imagined.