How many tickets are needed to go from Frankfurt to Bangkok? The obvious answer would probably be to just buy one ticket, board a plane and fly there directly, which will get you there within a couple of hours.
But what if you have a more or less unlimited amount of time for the journey, and you know that instead of flying between the cities directly you can take the long route overland and see loads of exciting things on the way?
For quite a long time, I dreamt of taking the transsiberian railway, a one week journey by train that takes you from Moscow all the way through Siberia to Vladivostok on the Pacific Ocean. At the same time, having seen countless TV documentaries about Mongolia, I always wanted to see this country as well. Coincidentally, the transsiberian railway branches off the main route close to the mongolian border and continues as the transmongolian railway through Mongolia and northern China until it reaches Beijing.
Going from Moscow to Beijing or vice versa is actually some kind of iconic trip that quite a few people take, normally during a vacation of 2 or 3 weeks. However, since the whole trip is thousands of kilometers long, that leaves you little time to actually spend on the stops during the journey. For instance, typically people are just staying in Mongolia for a couple of days – and I knew that, once there, I would like to have enough time to see as much as possible of the country and its nature, so it was clear to me that I would need more time for that trip than just a few weeks.
Another part of Asia I have never been to but always wanted to see are the South East Asian countries. Although I have travelled a lot, I have never been to typical backpacker locations like Thailand or Vietnam. And while I developed my plan of doing the train ride from Europe through Russia, Mongolia and China, I realized that it is actually possible to go all the way from Frankurt to Thailand just by train. Actually, you can go from Frankfurt to Hanoi in Vietnam with just 2 stops in between – One train takes you from Frankfurt to Moscow, another one from Moscow to Beijing and a third one from Beijing to Hanoi! Without any stops, that trip would take you just under two weeks.
So in Summer 2016, I quit my job, left Frankfurt and started the 20.000 km journey with the goal of reaching Thailand just by train, or at least completely overland, without flying. I don’t know yet if I really need to buy 100 tickets, but I will know in early 2017, when I hope to finally reach Bangkok.
My plan is to spend roughly one month in each country: August in Russia, September in Mongolia, October in China, November in Vietnam and the remaining months until February in Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. This schedule also has the advantage that I kind of chase the warm weather and start going south when it gets colder in the northern hemisphere, arriving in South East Asia just when the nice weather is supposed to begin there.
So you are invited to follow me on this blog, where I will try to post updates about my trip more or less regularly. There is also an interactive map, where you can see my route, pictures, my current location and some more stuff. You can click everything on the map – most items either show you more information then or link directly to a blog post. Or, just dump the map thing and read it like any other blog.
And if you have any questions, suggestions, or if you happen to be in the same place as I am anywhere during the trip, feel free to write me a comment or a mail!