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Nine Years On…

Nine years to the day since we set off around the world for ten months – here’s how we looked then

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and now.

prices-9-years-on-from-world-tour-1.jpgPrices 9 years on from world tour (2)

[Smaller rucksacks this time – we’re only off for a day out in London to renew Kirsten’s passport at the Belgian Embassy…]

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Welcome!

Welcome to Global Prices’ day-by-day blog of our family round-the-world trip from August 2009 to June 2010. Please use the links on the right to browse our posts and read about our travels.

The RTW Families tab links to our searchable database of globe-trotting families; please let us know of any additions to this list so that we can keep it up to date.

If you are contemplating a similar adventure with your family and you’d like our opinion or advice on anything, then do get in touch – we’d love to hear from you.

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Yet another slow day today. We all slept pretty solidly after our long and tiring day on the coach yesterday and we weren’t too disturbed by the mystery ‘ding-dongs’ that regularly emanate from the lift in the small hours of the night.

For breakfast we had cereal and some leftover bananas and apples and then most of us settled down in front of diaries or computer. Tim spent several hours trying to catch up with yesterday’s blog entry and Hannah wrote wonderful descriptions about our walk around the botanical garden at Mt Kinabalu.

Meanwhile I handwashed another load of clothes and hung them in the bathroom to dry. Tim and I then chose photos for our respective entries and added them onto the blog.

By now it was lunch time so I popped down to the local “Orange” mini-supermarket and bought some crackers, a tuna spread, jam, instant noodles and water. Tim only managed a couple of crackers as he is slightly suffering from an upset stomach – either a bug, or some food that didn’t agree with him.

The girls practised a new magic show and played a card game and the Lonpos game. Ellen managed to do several 2D puzzles off by heart.

Yet another afternoon thunderstorm, after which we all walked down to the supermarket at the nearby shopping centre. The sky was still overcast and the air felt so much cooler, which made our walk quite pleasant.

At the “Giant” supermarket we bought some more fruit, yoghurts, cereal and “reward” sweets for the girls.

We popped into our local cafe/restaurant for a plate of fried rice with pineapple and seafood and three spring rolls. It wasn’t much but it was enough for all four of us, especially with Tim only managing a small amount.

Not sure what our plans are for tomorrow. We had hoped to catch a ferry back to Sapi island to do some more snorkelling, but it depends on Tim’s tummy as a choppy speedboat crossing won’t do him any good…

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Photos!

Please have a look at our latest batches of photos – they go back to the end of our time in Australia (and it’s just taken me five hours in the middle of the night to put them on…)

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My Soggy Valentine

More rain today. So what? Can’t we just go out and explore anyway? We have raincoats, after all. Yes, but they have a special type of extra-wet precipitation here; a three-minute walk to the bakery (closed) and newsagents this morning left us soaked and in need of a change of trousers/skirts. It is so frustrating being in a beautiful part of the country and missing out on the chance to see it at its best; we’ve already been through that in the Blue Mountains.

So we cowards cowered indoors for the rest of the day, Kirsten and the girls engrossed in their new magazines while I wasted yet more online hours getting nowhere with booking accommodation near Melbourne and in Tasmania. Eventually we had to go $25/night over budget to secure anywhere salubrious in the Melbourne area; at least it looks a darn sight nicer than our Sydney place.

As for Tassie, we are tempting meteorological fate in a huge way by daring to consider renting a tent (plus sleeping bags, mats and cooking equipment) for our two weeks there, with the proviso that we can always book into a cabin if things get too damp for our liking. This was prompted by the high price of cabins and self-catering apartments around Launceston, even at this off-peak time of year. Doing the maths, just one night under canvas would recoup a fortnight’s tent hire.

It would be a chance to see more of the Great Outdoors and get closer to Nature (i.e. meet some creepy-crawlies); a sort of mini-holiday within our trip. Anyway, we’ll keep a close eye on the forecast before making any final decision.

Eagle-eyed readers may have spotted our subtle re-branding; we are now Global Prices’ Family RTW Trip in order to show up in the relevant Google searches. It’s all very well being top of the list for ‘Global Prices’ but we’re misleading a lot of financial researchers. So now we are honoured to be ranked in the company of pioneer RTW families such as the Flemings, the Edmeads and Sixintheworld. The exact mechanism of Google’s page ranking mystifies me – we seem to bob up and down the list from day to day – but it involves the number of links to one’s own site as well as the popularity of those linking sites.

We had our Sunday Roast tonight, but the bird wasn’t the most succulent one we’ve tasted; perhaps the chook was crook.

Even heavier downpours due tomorrow (several inches of rain) so the morning of our departure on Tuesday may be our only opportunity to admire the nearby lakes and beaches (and to take some photos).

A final digression. While Australia is pretty cutting-edge in most respects, it is stuck in a children’s TV timewarp; I am transported back to the early 1970s of my youth when I see Jemima, Humpty, Big Ted and Little Ted still going strong in the Australian Play School of today. The only disturbing anomaly is that they have seen fit to add a diamond window to the traditional round, square and arched ones…

The male children’s TV presenters here don’t quite throw themselves wholeheartedly into the role as they do in the UK; it’s as if they are constantly aware that their mates might be watching, so they make idiots of themselves with a kind of detached irony. And as for the Wiggles (one of Australia’s most lucrative exports), they’re just plain scary…

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Pretty cool

(in a nerdy sort of way…)

If you Google ‘global prices’ we are now the top search result!!!

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Photos!

Please scroll down for photos covering 21-28 Jan…

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New photos

Just to let you know – I’ve uploaded a few pictures for our ‘Small World’ and ‘Puzzling World’ entries…

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Once again, just to say that we are (temporarily) up to date with photos for the whole Inca Trail + recent days.

Another gap coming up – no internet in the jungle… (but we’ll be blogging off-line)

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And they’re off

All four of us up before 5.30am without any need for an alarm. Showers and a hasty tasty breakfast, then farewells and the obligatory photo call with our rucksacks on before setting off for Heathrow (kindly chauffeured by Tim’s father).
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A clear run up the M4 to be dropped off in ample time for our 11.35am flight (we only realised last night that they recommend checking in three hours before long-haul flights are due for departure).

But as for Heathrow… Why is their passenger information so lamentable? It’s quite remarkable how they fail to take obvious steps to make life easier for their ‘customers’. We joined a lengthy and slow-moving line for check-in area B (for all American Airlines flights) and were a bit miffed to see some other passengers apparently jump the queue. Only when we reached the front after 20 minutes did it became apparent that we were queueing for Self-Service Check-in (stick your passport in a scanner and choose your seats). How about a simple sign?

But then we were advised that this would probably not give us a block of seats as a family, so we were sent to the standard check-in area. Another 20-minute wait and we were guaranteed one seat with the promise that the other seats would be sorted out at the boarding gate.

Through security and awaiting our gate – the Boston flight flashed up ‘please wait’ for a quarter of an hour rather than anything more useful such as a gate number or news of a delay. At last we proceeded to the furthest gate possible (number 30), followed by uncertainty as to which queue we were supposed to join (did the word ‘priority’ on our tickets entitle us to join the priority queue?)

Then Kirsten got picked out for a search.  (Kirsten) Why me?  Fortunately I wasn’t the only one, another mum was waiting in the queue in front of me and we just had a casual chat about it.  When it was my turn, I had to put my bag on the table for a search and felt a little nervous though, but the chap was quite relaxed about it all.  When that was over the lady bodysearched me; spread arms and legs and I even had to take my shoes off so she  check whether I had anything hidden in my socks!  I did not want to be in her shoes!!

(Tim) I waited with the girls meanwhile. At last onto the plane, and because we had missed our slot (don’t know why, of course) we were a full hour late for take-off.

The flight took a little over seven hours, bringing us to Boston just after 2.30pm local time. No complaints whatsoever about the service, refreshments or meals, and Ellen was delighted to be called ‘Honey’ and then ‘Sweetie’ before we had even set foot in the States.

Ellen and I were sitting a row in front of Kirsten and Hannah – good for sharing sweets but harder to be heard between rows. Ellen read an entire Rainbow Fairies book and we chatted for quite a while, then she worked through her CBeebies magazine before slumping in front of Charlie and Lola on her Zen.

(Kirsten) Hannah & I had a lovely flight.  She was a little worried about take off, and we ended up having all our sweets before the plane took off – that wasn’t meant to happen!  Anyway, take off was pretty smooth and once up and above the clouds Hannah looked at her magazine and enjoyed listening to some Abba music and watching “Some mothers do have ’em” with Frank Spencer.  We both enjoyed the food and the fact we were offered drinks several times during the flight.

The female New England accent on one of the flight announcements, with the optimistic up-curl of intonation at the end of every phrase, like the ascendant twirl of Cape Cod.

However, just as we were coming in for landing, Ellen became listless and nauseous from her long and tiring day and clutched a sick bag as a precaution. We struggled on and gave our fingerprints to the nice man at Border Control (not as scary and humourless as we had been led to believe). In the event, Ellen was okay until we were waiting to reclaim our baggage, when she ‘returned’ her lunch all over the floor.  (Kirsten) Fortunately I had packed some spare clothes in my flight bag and quickly got her changed.

We then went to find the Hertz desk to collect our car. Except no desk, and the Hertz phoneline gave only an inaudible pre-recorded message. We overheard another passenger being told to find the shuttle bus, so we did likewise and at length got our car, a newish Suzuki with a roomy boot.

Tentatively taking the wheel, getting used to the over-sensitive brakes (which shoot everything off your lap) and automatic gears. We set up our TomTom sat-nav and pootled off through Boston. Except that I couldn’t follow the directions well enough and so we ended up looping randomly through obscure parts of the city… Pretty high on the stressometer, with two poorly/tired girls in the back. But with Kirsten’s help we eventually got on the right road south and found our Manomet house around 6pm.

Both girls perked up a bit once they were ‘home’, and stayed up to the equivalent of 1.00am UK time (not bad after a 5.15am start). We have not heard them since we put them to bed, and we are ready to crash out an hour and a half later. But the blog must be blogged. Like oranges that dry up the longer you leave them, any delayed entry loses its freshness, the juice and the ‘zing’ evaporate.

I did have time to nip out to a local ‘Stop and Shop’ to stock up on provisions and I was most impressed; fresh bakery products, an extensive deli counter, staff to pack your bags for you. I was expecting over-processed, over-sugared junk food and I ended up with a shopping trolley surprisingly similar to our typical UK one – grapes, bananas, Bonne Maman jam, tea bags, milk, wholemeal bread, cheddar, selection of cold meats, meatballs and spaghetti. Not that adventurous yet, but I thought I’d ease the family in gently after a long and tiring day.

Now it’s time to collapse – hope we sleep through the night.

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