EOY Reviews, NY objectives.

If you’re employed in a company you’ll be familiar with this period of the year: ’tis is the season when CEOs are wheeled out of their offices to recite a speech outlining everything that you minions have delivered and to declare the bar open, beating everyone to the champers. The inevitable will then follow: the year’s results will be out, stock price will plunge as the City analysts expected more revenue, less costs or both, to which management will react with a collective squeezing of gonads of unprecedented intensity.
The same, broadly speaking, is going on here at the lofty heights of Are We There Yet? Incorporated (NYSE: AWTY), where the mood is euphoric as I toast in the conference room that doubles as our kitchen with a glass of crisp water kindly sourced by Thames Water from some west London reservoir (flat, with a hint of limescale). It’s been a heck of a year, with experiences and memories – the only metrics to measure success over here – firmly on the up and no gonadic squashing scheduled for anyone.
2019 brought epic drives: from snowy Icelandic passes on a great little Suzuki SUV with spiked wheels to runs on Chilean dirt roads on a 4WD pick-up that could’ve featured in the Toyota War had it not been a Nissan. As a passenger I hitched rides with Chinese border patrolmen and Kyrgyz lorry drivers with a thing for Rubik cubes.
Tap on any photo to start the slideshow.
It’s also been a year of marking big ticks on that long scroll titled “Things to do before you kick the bucket”: namely seeing orcas – and being two of the few not to vomit our guts out in the process – and admiring the majestic Milky Way stretch from horizon to horizon in possibly the most poignant place I’d ever had the privilege to see, Rapa Nui. The island inspired phrases such as “the square root of diddly squat”, for which I’m still receiving death threats from poets and writers worldwide.
Tap on any photo to start the slideshow.
This has also been the year of Xinjiang, of seeing with my own eyes hints of something truly, deeply, disturbingly awful going on: the dismantling of a culture.

So, this has been 2019 in a nutshell: exhilarating, interesting, unique, frustrating and also worrying. A year where I’d have changed nothing – but maybe a restaurant in Oxford Circus but that’s another story. What about next year, then?
In keeping with the corporate theme with which we started this post, here is a forward look to next year. Plans are, as it’s always the case with me, subject to uncertainty: much like the particles described by Heisenberg, I can either know my plan’s location or momentum, not both. However, this is what has been firmed up, until it suddenly isn’t:
A return to the Holy Land. Possibly the only place where using a locution straight out of Catechism can be the safest option. Ecumenically, this will be a visit to both side of the literal barricade: first a bunk bed at Banksy’s Walled Off hotel, then a slightly swankier accommodation in the only city in the area where people aren’t firmly convinced of being on first-name terms with the Almighty: Tel Aviv.
The Jurassic Park and Lost islands. Plans here are on the flimsy side, but it seems that there’s a chain of islands where, allegedly, dinosaurs roamed, planes broke up mid-air thanks to a guy named Jacob who had a brother with a bad temper and a habit of turning into black smoke. The chain of islands is called Hawaii and there’s a general intention of going there, possibly to trek, watch whales and maybe a spot of stargazing or two.
The land of High Passes. As close as it gets to Tibet without seeing Xi doing yet more malfeasance, Ladakh is a new discovery to me. Prompted by an otherwise wholly forgettable book by James Hilton on Shangri-La, this will be a dip in the high-altitude pool that is this corner of Himalayan desert where the ascetic Buddhism coming from the Tibetan plateau comes to mingle with the religions coming from the lower, steamier flatlands of the subcontinent.
This is as far as the planning has gone right now. Some plans will go through, some won’t, but the intention is there. In the meantime, thanks to all of you who have decided to invest some of your time in reading my ramblings. Pour yourself a large one of whatever you fancy and have a toast. To a 2020 where experiences and memories are on the up for everyone.
This was the view from our balcony on New Year’s Eve, 2017. We still live in the same place, with the same balcony, with the same view. But alas no photos this year: the tree outside the house has caught up with us!
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22 Responses to EOY Reviews, NY objectives.

  1. Anna says:

    Your travel year ahead sounds great! Hope it comes into fruition. All the best for the new year!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your 2019 was certainly filled with some amazing adventures. May 2020 be as good or better! It’s a joy following along.
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We spent quite a while in Ladakh last year, so if you have any questions, just ask. Have a great 2020.

    Liked by 1 person

    • awtytravels says:

      Hey Maggie & Richard, that’s great to know! Will check out your blog, in the meantime here’s a couple of questions: how’s hitch-hiking (especially from Leh going south towards Hemis) and is it true that Thikse monastery has a guest-house?

      Like

  4. Love vicariously sharing your adventures – and beautiful photos. I look forward to 2020 travels!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. J.D. Riso says:

    What an amazing year you had, son. It’s always such a delight to journey along with you through your photos and words. I wish you so many more zany, mind-blowing adventures in 2020!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. lexklein says:

    Ladakh is on my list for 2020 also! Not sure I’ll be able to squeeze it in when I would like to (August), but I’m going to give it my best effort or at least look at changing the timing. What do you plan to do there. My trip would be a trek.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh oh. I remember that book from forced reading at school. If you do go trekking in Ladakh, that will be the single redeeming feature of that pile of trees killed for a bad cause.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ah, what a good year of travel it has been for you, Fabrizio! Your Rapa Nui posts were some of my favourites. Wishing you a wonderful and joyful year of travel.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Bama says:

    It’s been fun and eye-opening following your journeys, Fabrizio. 2020 sounds like another exciting year for you. I usually have a trip planned for April, but not this year. I’m thinking of Uzbekistan for the second half of 2020, but we’ll see. If you do ever think of going to Indonesia, feel free to drop me a message!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Fascinating, places you go and will go. (Banksy hotel? In Israel? My Bosnian brothers would say Svašta, which is a combination of you don’t say, who has ever heard of such a thing and wow.) Keep it rolling, just like that cube in his hands.

    Liked by 1 person

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