Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Round The World 2015


I have often told the story of how my great friend and regular travelling companion Bruce sometimes sends me an email with four key words appearing either as the title or as the opening words of the message itself. Those words are 'Slow day at work', and it's as though I've been previously hypnotised to respond to that trigger phrase. I stop in my tracks and my mouth goes dry as I ask: OMG, what has he come up with this time?   Strangely enough, though, that is NOT how this trip began to take shape.

No, this one started with a phone call in December 2014. I was startled - we hardly ever speak on the phone, and I had only returned the previous day from Singapore & Malaysia. Bruce excitedly explained that he'd just seen something that normally never happens: for Thanksgiving Day 2015 (months ahead, obviously), Cathay Pacific had released for award purposes 2 out of the 6 first-class seats on its flagship, non-stop route from New York JFK to Hong Kong. After a few shared expressions of amazement there was a brief pause and Bruce said: "Erm, I think we need to grab them ... right now." I thought for a whole second and replied: "I agree."

A few minutes later, after stepping through the booking process in a coordinated manner, each of us preparing to make payment from his respective stash of air miles, we reached the final button, paused, and one of us said: "Right, let's do this!" There followed a heart-stopping few seconds until we were both able to confirm that we each had a confirmation screen bearing a valid booking reference. It was the moment when an intention to visit Cambodia and Laos stopped being seen as a relatively straightforward jaunt to Asia, and emerged as something altogether more special: my fourth round-the-world trip.

Given the nature of what we had just booked, this was clearly going to be my first westbound RTW and the first not to be underpinned by an RTW ticket. Bruce was due to spend a week at his employer's head office in Massachusetts in November 2015. I arranged to fly to the States during that week - via Berlin, as it happens, because it made sense to do so on this occasion. We would meet up on the Friday evening, enjoy a weekend in the Big Apple and then relocate to Washington DC, where Bruce would continue working for nearly two weeks (this time based in hotel rooms) and I would see the sights of the city itself and the surrounding area. There would be a joint visit to Philadelphia and Baltimore at the weekend. After enjoying airborne first-class luxury on Thanksgiving Day, we would visit Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Luang Prabang before returning home on a cheap business-class fare out of Bangkok on Sri Lankan Airlines.

So there we have it: how a trip is born!