Tuesday, 25 November 2008

30 before I'm 30

I have spent a great number of hours in the Indian High Commission recently. Getting a tourist visa for India is a lengthy and complicated process, and has involved waiting in lines, bank statements that are over a year old, waiting in lines, complicated forms, waiting in lines and then some more waiting in lines. While at the High Commission last week I had a long wait filled with sifting through my handbag, examining my passport, and make lists. One list I made was the how many countries have I visited now list, and realised that India would be country number 30.
Turkey - half way to thirty
This was exciting - a couple of years ago back in NZ I told my family that my goal was to see 30 countries before my 30th birthday. Back then, it felt like something that I would have to really work at and employ great strategy and cunning, so it was a pleasant surprise to realise that I have now almost achieved it without making conscious effort. And, I have decided to list what countries I have seen here for no other reason other than that I am in a self indulgent mood. So here they are, in order:

1. New Zealand; 2. USA. A trip to Hawaii aged 15, my first time overseas and it was so awesome I got back to NZ and signed up for AFS student exchange. I also went back to the USA to work in a country club in Wisconsin when I was 21; 3. Italy. I went to live there for a year between 97 - 98 to attend school, live with a family and learn how to cope with only being allowed one shower a week; 4. The Vatican City. Yeah, I know that sounds a bit cheatsky, but the UN recognise it; 5. Switzerland. So pretty, I expected Heidi to come bounding down a mountain. 6. San Marino; 7. Australia; 8. Tonga. I stayed with my Aunt and Uncle here and it was a fabulous experience, although I did narrowly miss being hit by a falling coconut;9. Vietnam; 10. Laos; 11. Thailand; 12. United Arab Emirates; 13. Austria. ; 14. UK, I am taking the UN's lead and counting the UK as one, that includes Scotland, Wales and Nothern Ireland; 15. Turkey; 16. Bulgaria; 17. Greece; 18. Ireland. We liked it so much the first time we went back for more earlier this year; 19. Belgium. We've been to Belgium three times now. I'm not quite sure how that happened; 20. Portugal; 21. Germany; 22. Luxembourg; 23. Hungary; 24. The Netherlands; 25. Czech Republic; 26. France; 27. Poland; 28. Egypt; and 29. Morocco.

It feels a little odd putting all the countries I have visited in a list, as they all seem to have the same value when listed when they shouldn't. I only spent a half day in the Vatican City and San Marino, yet have had postcodes in NZ, the USA, the UK and Italy. Bulgaria was a traumatic week, whereas Turkey was a glorious four. In any case I am no way done with travel yet and still do not consider myself well travelled. Maybe if I see 4o countries before I'm 40 I will be then ;)

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