April 27th 2017: Take the early afternoon flight from Dabolim Airport in Goa to Mumbai
April 28th 2017: Take the 04:30
Emirates flight from Mumbai to Cape Town in South Africa via Abu Dhabi where
I have a stop
Arrive in Cape Town in the evening where I have an airport pickup arranged to take me directly to my hotel. De Waterkant Lodge named after the area it's located in which is very central, and after checking in I head straight for Cafe Manhattan, the bar/restaurant on the next block which becomes my local until I leave Cape Town. Initially thinking how friendly everybody was I soon found out it was a gay bar.
April 29th 2017: Spend the day in Cape Town sightseeing.
Despite the previous days travelling, I should have been, but wasn't tired so I got up early and took the hop on/hop off open topped bus that started at Victoria and Alfred Pier and took me to all the usual tourist places including Long Street, Table Mountain, Imizamo Yethu Township (where a guide took me inside to sample life there) and Camps Bay. I spent the rest of the daylight hours in the city.
May 1st 2017: Great White Killer Shark Diving
A very unfortunate non event if ever. Apparently, on the 21st April orca whales (the only natural predator that can give the killer white a run for it's money) entered the bay and scared all the sharks away and there had only been a few shark sightings since despite it being the most densely Great White populated stretch of water on the planet. On a basis of "no sighting and you get a free trip" I immediately got back on the boat for a second trip but, on the day there were no shark sightings by any of the tour boat companies.
May 2nd 2017: Get escorted to the Constantia wine region of Cape Town for wine tasting and lunch by the eloquently named and equally eloquent in person Margot Dietrich.
May 3rd 2017: Meet a former work colleague from Jersey, Philip Noel.
May 4th 2017 in Cape Town South Africa:
Meet at 07:00 to start a twenty day
South African safari adventure that will take in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and will
end on the Zimbabwe side of Victoria
is twice as high and two and a half times wider than Niagara
Falls). Our transport is a twenty four seater heavy duty custom built truck cum bus and our group
consists of a driver/guide called Tenk (pronounced Tank from his youth
playing rugby), a cook, a female German tourist who
doubled up as an interpretor, eight other females and four guys. And with
the exception of Klaus a German retired Geologist and myself, the eldest is
27 ..... Caramba! Oh and of all of our group there were no smokers, no strange
haircuts, no facial piercings, no tattoos and with only one exception nobody
gave a damn about having no internet on the trip. What was to follow was like a
back in time with eating a meal or having a conversation with not a single
mobile phone in sight.
Actually, there were a few overnight stops where we had access to wi-fi but for the better part there was none.
We start our Cape Town to Victoria Falls trip as we make our first stop at Table View for a photo shoot of Table Mountain from across Table Bay. We head north towards our stop for the first night at Piekenierskioof Pass, passing through the Cederberg Region and stopping at Citrusdal (coincidentally at the same place I was at with Philip yesterday). Upon arrival we eat a traditional South African meal and sample wines from the region.
Accommodation: Marcuskraal Campsite
May 5th 2017: We travel from Piekenierskioof to Gariep (Orange) River in Namibia via Namaqualand. After an early start travelling through the desert of Namaqualand which is famous for it's so called Namaqualand Daisies, we continue north via Springbok where we stopped for supplies. Springbok is best known for its diamonds, copper and spring flowers. We proceed to our camp located right beside the Namibian border. The camp is situated on the riverbank that forms the border between South Africa and Namibia.
Accommodation: Fiddlers Creek Campsite.
May 6th 2017: Travel from Gariep (Orange) River to
Fish River Canyon.
In the morning we go kayaking down Orange River.
In the afternoon we cross
the border and travel to the Fish River Canyon area. After a short drive
from our camp site we watch the sunset at the actual Fish River Canyon
(which is second in size only to The Grand Canyon).
Accommodation: Hobas Campsite.
Accommodation: Sesriem campsite.
May 8th 2017: Sossusvlei Dunes and Namib-Naukluft National Park. Early hike up Dune 45 to watch the sunrise. After our hike, we visit Sossusvlei. Later we join a local expert on a guided hike and learn more about the desert ecosystem and how the Bushmen survived in the harsh desert conditions.
Accommodation: Desert Shelter Cha-re.
May 9th 2017:
Travel from Namib-Naukluft National Park to
After a brief photo
stop while crossing the Tropic of Capricorn and two breakdowns we travel on to Namibia’s
Atlantic coast and the adventure capital, Swakopmund. Just before we arrive
in Swakopmund (first time we got to see the the ocean since leaving Cape Town)
we stopped at Walvis Bay lagoon where there
supposed to be flamingos, but like the killer sharks in South Africa none
were to be seen. Dinner out at one of the
local restaurants to celebrate Analeese's 20th birthday. This is the first
night in a real bed where we luxuriate at The Amanpuri Hotel. Three of our group, the Swiss Matthias and Daniela
along with Thomas left for
Accommodation: Amanpuri Hotel.
May 10th 2017: Swakupmund leisure day. Optional activities on offer: Dolphin Cruise, Sky Diving, Sand boarding, Quad Biking and visiting a township.
At this point I realise that this trip really is going to be another experience of a lifetime. Brilliant guide and travel companions, excellent food and something different every day.
In the morning I cross skydiving off my bucket list
after jumping out of a plane at 10,000 feet and free falling for 35 seconds
before parachuting back to earth 7 minutes later. In the afternoon I visit a
township and eat a traditional meal comprising porridge, beef and
caterpillars. I'm not into unusual food so bypass the porridge.
Accommodation: Amanpuri Hotel.
May 11th 2017: Travel
from Swakupmund to Spitzkoppe.
Leaving the coast,
we drove through arid landscapes to
where we took a
guided walk to explore the unique rock formations. The enormous granite
monoliths dominate the otherwise flat landscape and we set up camp in the
wild plain at the base of the mountain. We abandon the tents this night and sleep under
the stars on the rocks.
Accommodation: Spitzkoppe Community Campsite.
We visit a Himba community close to Kamanjab where we meet the people who live there. This is a working village and is only a representation of a larger group of nomadic pastoralists. The semi-nomadic Himba people are extremely susceptible to Western influence and have lost a large portion of their land to farmers, engineers, miners and many were displaced during the wars that raged in Angola. The dwindling number of pastoralists that still exist in their natural environment are protected as far as possible by creating a buffer zone, or an educational tribe where tourists who would like to get a better understanding of the way of the Himba, their lifestyle and their traditions, can do so without interfering with those still living in their natural environment. The income that this specific tribe generates from the visits goes towards the education of orphaned Himba children and assists the tribe in giving them a chance to learn about their own culture and heritage. There is a market at the end of the visit which is a way for the women to establish a small income, used for their own private expenses. We were to learn however that the Himba tribes people are compensated quite generously by the tour companies for the invasion of their privacy.
It was at this point that we
met up with the alternative Cape Town to Victoria Falls (accommodated) tour and am
so glad I didn't take that option. Every person on the trip was an Eric,
forty and upwards, and way too serious for my liking, asking irrelevant questions whereas the
eldest of the five Erics on our travelling vehicle was 23 and all were full of fun
and enthusiasm. I would have really hated being on the other truck.
Accommodation Etotongwe Lodge
May 13th 2017:
Leave Outjo for
Etosha National Park (safari....at
In the first few hours we see lions, giraffes, impalas, white and black rhino's, elephants, springboks, onyx's, a leopard, a cheetah, and hundreds if not thousands of zebras in the wild. We also briefly met Matthias and Daniela (the Swiss couple) at our camp as their new tour arrived around the same time as ours.
May 14th 2017: Etosha Park.
A day of game
drives in an overland truck and we spend the evening at a waterhole near the
camp where we see two elephants and five rhinos.
May 15th 2017: Travel from Etosha to Windhoek.
After an early
morning game drive we set off towards Windhoek, the capital city of Namibia
but as we leave Etosha
the icing on the cake. A pride of ten lions
walking along the road in front of us. and then a few hundred metres
away a pride of twelve, and some other stragglers in the distance on the
other side. About thirty in all.
On the way we stop at a popular craft market but none of us bought anything as our driver/guide Tenk advised us that everything on sale was made in Victoria where we could buy the same things at half the price. Windhoek, as well as being the capital of Namibia is the cultural, social and economic centre of Namibia. Upon arrival in Windhoek three of our group leave the trip. Our group is beginning to splinter. Time for another nice hotel.
Accommodation: Heja Game Lodge.
May 16th 2017: Travel from Windhoek Namibia to Ghanzi in Botswana.
After an introduction to our six new travelling companions who joined the
tour in Windhoek we say goodbye to Namibia and cross the Botswana border.
Later we arrive at
our lodge in Ghanzi and in the evening watch some traditional
tribal dancing from the local
Bushman San Community
in our camp.
Accommodation: Ghanzi Trail Blazers.
May 17th 2017: Travel
from Ghanzi to the gateway to the
Bushman walk in the morning with the locals, before we continue our journey North towards Etsha and venture into the bush. We spend the night at our overnight camp on the banks of a lagoon. I am the only person in our group to go on a moonlight boat cruise to see Popa Falls. I should have saved my money.
Accommodation Camp: Sedia Riverfront Hotel.
May 18th 2017: Okavango Delta.
breakfast we depart on a boat cruise to
Seronga via the winding channels of
the Delta. After a vehicle transfer we are taken to
Nguma Island Lodge (a
permanent camp site with proper beds) which is to be our base for the next two
nights. The evening is
spent in the bar. It was a little strange not having Tenk our driver/guide with us as he was a wonderful guy full of personality who
referred to us all collectively as family members.
Accommodation Camp: Nguma Island Lodge.
May 19th 2017: Okavango Delta.
An early start
sees us head off on the waters of the Okavango. Water lily
beds and palm islands make for the most scenic of experiences. After
an island stop we return to camp to relax before heading out onto the water
for a sunset cruise.
Accommodation Camp: Nguma Island Lodge.
May 20th 2017: Okavango Delta - Caprivi Region
We bid farewell to the Delta and head north. After being re-united with our truck (which was called Tommy), Tenk and his sidekick chef Memzeli, we re-enter Namibia. Our overnight camp is located on the banks of the Okavango River in the Caprivi Strip of North-Eastern Namibia.
Accommodation: Rainbow River Lodge.
May 21st 2017: We travel back to Chobe National Park (more safari) in Botswana.
morning we travel through the Caprivi Strip and on to
Kasane. This afternoon
we take a sunset boat cruise on the Chobe River. Established in 1968, the Chobe National Park covers approximately 11,700
sq kms, encompassing floodplains, swamps and woodland. We rise early for a a
game drive (safari) through the park, in search of vast herd of elephants
and a multitude of antelope including the rare sable. After our game drive,
we will pack our bags and head to Victoria Falls.
Accommodation: Thebe River Safaris.
May 22nd 2017: travel the last leg to Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe side).
As part of the package we visit Victoria Falls National Park which is
nothing short of breathtaking. The falls are so big that they make Niagara Falls look
like a children's water slide. We go out in style by staying at the
Victoria Falls Rainbow Hotel in the centre of town. In the
evening we all go to a restaurant for our last meal together.
Accommodation: Victoria Falls Rainbow Hotel.
23rd 2017:Victoria Falls. Day of leisure.
After a good English breakfast I check out and say goodbye to the people I met along the way.
Victoria Falls offers many optional activities that include Zambezi Sunset Cruise, 111 metre bungee Jump from the Victoria Falls Bridge towards the river and rocks below, helicopter flights, microlight or ultralight flights and white water rafting. I decide on the bungee jump and white water rafting. However because the waters are currently high the whitewater rafting is not as scary as it could be so cross that off the list. After taking a recky trip to the bridge with Seigi to check out the bungee jump and fill in the forms etc.etc. but when offering my credit card for payment I was advised that their credit card machine wasn't working which I took as a sign so decided on doing no activities and saving myself $280.00 in the bargain. No big deal as bungee jumping was never on my bucket list anyway.
Having already checked into new accommodation I return to the Victoria Falls Rainbow Hotel to collect my luggage. A few of the remaining people from my trip who were staying an extra night before leaving the next day were relaxing around the pool so I said my final farewells.
May 24th 2017. I cross the border with Seigi (we are the last two remaining after the rest of our group have moved on) and spend a few hours in Livingstone in Zambia to check it out as I'm due to move there the next day. Livingstone is a lot bigger, vibrant and cheaper than Victoria Falls town and my hotel is in the middle of everything with a nice pool and perfect setup. I mean, Victoria Falls town has only one main road but Livingstone has two so it had to be better.
Return to Victoria Falls late afternoon after Seigi takes a microlight flight over the falls.
May 25th 2017: Move to my new home in Zambia. And almost a last goodbye. I had a message from the Swiss couple who were in our group but had left for another tour back in Swapukmund on the 9th. The message in brief was "We're in Livingstone. Leave tomorrow. Let's meet" Unfortunately I didn't get the message until it was too late.
I stay at Livingstone Backpackers and took a four bed dormitory to myself. As the name suggests, it is basically a backpackers place but as it happened it was just about the best place in town.
May 26th 2017: Surprise surprise. After a walk around town and breakfast I get back to my Livingstone Backpackers to find Matthias and Daniela (the Swiss couple) at the side of the pool. It turned out they'd just checked into the same place as me (Livingstone really is that small) and will be leaving the same day as I am so it's not quite over yet.
May 28th 2017: Fly from Livingstone to Johannesburg where I arrive late afternoon.
After being advised not to walk the streets at night I spent the evening in one of the bars at the Protea Balalaika Hotel where I was staying in the up market area of Sandford.
May 29th 2017: 2017: Waste the day window shopping in the mall adjacent to Nelson Mandela Square before my 22:30 flight from Johannesburg to London and my South African adventure is all over.
Would I do it all again? Of course I would but I'm very aware that I was
blessed with the company I was in and it's never a good idea to go back so
would think long and hard before the next time.
May 30th 2017: 2017: Arrive early afternoon and get a coach to see family in Wales.
June 2nd 2017: Fly from Cardiff to Jersey for old times sake.
June 12th 2017: Fly from Jersey to Exeter.
June 13th 2017: Take a short trip to Wellington in Somerset to visit a friend from my early days in Goa.
June 17th 2017: Fly from London's Heathrow to Havana in Cuba via Cologne/Bonn where I have a stopover.
The trip was over eighteen hours..... Too long. Did however arrive early in the morning which was good timing for beating the jet-lag.
June 18th 2017: Upon waking I realise that I picked up the wrong luggage at the airport earlier that morning and had to traipse back to retrieve mine and give back the wrong one.
In the afternoon take an open
top hop-hop-off bus ride around the city but the rain lashed down so the only
hopping done was downstairs to get into the dry. Good opportunity to find the drinking area in town.
With the exception of that I do little else than take in the sights and sounds of Havana during my stay.
June 22nd 2017: Fly from Havana to Cancun.
the Hacienda Hotel in the middle of Cancun City and two doors from my original
hotel by my standards was pretty dire. Clean, and safe, with a pool and
all the basic facilities, but with the exception of myself, the whole customer
base were Mexican as were obviously the staff who I found to be unaccommodating.
Upon arrival in Mexico I am taken ill with a stomach bug (Delhi belly) and the inability to eat anything due to a really bad throat infection. With the exception of half a burrito meal that I nearly threw up all over the restaurant table that first day I didn’t eat a thing for the next ten days.
With the exception of a few trips to Playa Caracol I am pretty much hotel bound for this time.
July 2nd 2017: Move around the corner to a (slightly) better Hotel which whilst having no pool is perfectly located for the coach station which is only a block away.
This gives me instant access to the tourist beach areas that buses run to every few minutes.Finally I get to eat my first meal in Mexico.
July 3rd 2017: Still sick so spend most of the day around the hotel.
July 4th 2017: Force myself to visit Isla Majures (a neighbouring island) on the basis of “I have to get out and do something”
July 5th 2017: Still not right health-wise so make the
decision to leave Mexico a few days later. All else aside, I didn’t really like
There is nothing wrong with Cancun but it's basically resorts and exclusive hotels and if that's what you want you don't have to fly half way around the world.
July 6th 2017: Take a coach down the Mexican coast to Playa Del Carmen.
Despite it being 90 minutes drive away, I sub-consciously decide to make Playa Del Carmen my new day place. Until common sense prevails that is and I relocate to Belize the next day.
Caye Caulker is allegedly what Ambergris Caye was like when the song was written. I found Caye Caulker a lot more relaxing with none of the hustle bustle of Ambergris Caye, not that you call it hustle bustle on any of the smaller Caribbean islands.
July 9th 2017: Take a half day snorkeling trip to Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark and Ray Alley which forms a part of the second longest barrier reef in the world. Still can’t breath properly due to continued throat infection and coughing but it doesn’t spoil my snorkeling! In fact this seemed to be the point of it all beginning to clear up.
What started as one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life turned into one of the most disappointing when I realised that my GoPro Camera was on “time lapse video” setting so I ended up with no video footage. The actual snorkeling experience involved swimming in the middle of a shoal of manta rays and about fifteen six feet long sharks (literally touching them). At one point I heard our tour guide shout to me “hey amigo, not so close” but it was too late.
July 10th 2017: Return to to Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark and Ray Alley to get some film footage. By this time I had renewed enthusiasm and swam with one shark holding onto it like kids do with dolphins getting pulled through the water.
July 11th 2017: Chill out at Margarita Mike’s beach bar, my new local in Caye Caulker.
At this point I decide I’m going to do nothing until I return to Mexico where I’m destined to either be a tourist or go crazy. Some may say I’m already a little crazy so…….
July 12th 2017: Spend the day at Margarita Mike’s beach bar again.
Not believing my previous findings that no visa was required for a British Passport holder to enter the USA I checked again.
Just as well I did as I required an ESTA visa waiver form. The process to obtain the necessary paperwork required $14.00 and only 30 minutes of my time.
July 13th 2017: Spend the day at Margarita Mike’s beach bar again.
July 14th 2017: Spend the day at Margarita Mike’s beach bar again.
July 15th 2017: Spend the day at Margarita Mike’s beach bar again.
16th July 2017: Take the mid-day boat to Belize City to ensure I could get a seat on the night coach to Playa Del Carmen (which can’t be pre-booked).
Needn’t have bothered. There were only five people on it.
July 17th 2017: Take the early morning boat from Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel Island where I spend the day before returning to Cancun in the evening.
July 22nd 2017: Fly from Cancun to Bali via New York where I have a one night stopover which is timed perfectly to take in a night and a day being a tourist in Greenwich Village where my hotel (The Marlton Hotel) is. I was also to discover that the beat generation writer Jack Kerouac penned two of his novels whilst staying at The Marlton Hotel.
July 25th 2017: Arrive in Bali and head straight for the Suka Beach Inn in the Legian area of Kuta where I stayed for a few nights on my previous trip in 2016. When I see it I immediately remember why I was returning. Central location, swimming pool, clean, TV, all region DVD player, fridge, wi-fi, spacious, balcony overlooking the whole complex, maid service with clean bedding daily, wall safe, air conditioning and secure. Oh, and the whole complex is very picturesque with well maintained gardens.
In brief, it has all the amenities of a decent hotel whilst catering for everybody from backpackers in rooms with only a fan and the minimum of furnishings to ex-pats who have adopted the fully equipped rooms as their homes from home.
As a matter of useless information, the picture on their web site is ancient. It looks totally different now. And even more useless information; being in the heart of everything it is only I'd guess about 250 metres from the Bali bombing memorial.
August 14th 2017: Hire a bike for a week and apply for visa extension.
Getting the visa extension was a comedy of errors. Thinking I could get away with not submitting a ticket for leaving the country on the basis of travelling was a mistake. I then went to the internet cafe next door to the immigration office to book a ticket. However the email with confirmation of the details didn't arrive. I went back to immigration to explain but they simply said you'll have to go to the airport to get a print out of the ticket from the airline involved. Only problem was, without the email I didn't know the airline. I was over an hour at the airport getting kicked around from pillar to post before I eventually got the print out. Realising I had forgot my passport photo's I went back to my hotel to get them and then returned to immigration where I was informed that photo's were not required. I eventually left the immigration office five hours after originally leaving my hotel. And that was only the first visit of three!
August 16th 2017: Visit Tirta Gangga Water Palace.
On the way I made my annual contribution of 250,000 Indonesian Rupiahs (£15.00) to The Indonesian police force by means of a traffic violation.
August 17th 2017: Visit a rice plantation which is also a tourist attraction with a viewing point to watch the sunset from. Bad day for it. The tourist pictures of it on the internet were better than the real thing the day I went.
Somehow I totally missed the fact that it was Independance Day
August 18th 2017: Return to Immigration.
Much less hassle than the first visit despite being sent to a bank to make the payment instead of at the cashiers desk in the Immigration Office. I'm told to return on the 23rd to collect my passport.
August 23rd 2017: Return to immigration and receive passport and visa extension. This was the easiest and fastest of the three trips.
Later in the day I return to Yogyakarta where my hotel is.
September 8th 2017: Take a local bus to to see the largest Hindu temple site in Indonesia at neighbouring Prambanan before my evening flight from Yogyakarta back to Bali.
September 21st 2017: Fly from Bali to Kuala Lumpur to Phuket.
Kuala Lumpur Airport is a lot nicer than the city and a very comfortable place to spend the night if in transit (as I was) and can't leave.
September 22nd 2017: Arrive early afternoon in Phuket.
I am initially given the wrong apartment after specifically requesting the same one as I stayed in last year.
September 26th 2017: Transfer to my original apartment.
October 2nd 2017: Book flight back to Goa, despite not even applying for a Thai visa extension yet.
October 5th 2017: No booze due to it being some sort of Buddha celebration day.
Bad start to the day as my usual breakfast place was shut as were many other places. I was to discover that this was due to it being some Buddha celebration for the day. I took advantage of the situation by going to a Japanese restaurant in the newly built Jungceyon complex for breakfast where I had grilled pangasius dory with side portions of salad, vegetables, rice and teriyaki sauce. Best meal of the trip yet.
October 17th 2017: It's around about this date that the rains monsoon stopped almost overnight.
October 19th 2017: Get a 30 day Thai Tourist Visa extension.
October 21st 2017: Take in the Siam Niramit stage show.
October 22nd 2017: After being advised that my rent would almost double in November I sought, and found a new home on the internet. I was planning on moving to Phuket Gracelands again but with the timing moving into high season they were fully booked. My dwelling from the 1st of November until I leave was to be a superior double room in the much more modest Paksaa Boutique Hotel but due to the duration of my stay I was immediately upgraded to deluxe for no extra cost.
October 26th 2017: Quiet and dry day to respect the cremation of former King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Not sure why it took so long to get around to the cremation. He died 13th October last year. Actually it wasn't a totally dry day as it rained for the first time in a week.
November 10th 2017: Return to Phuket on the afternoon boat.
November 12th 2017: Go to FantaSea show.
November 16th 2017: Fly from Phuket to Kuala Lumpur to Mumbai to Goa.
December 1st 2017: Booked my first definite holiday for 2018 which is:
March 18th fly to Beirut and move on to Jounieh where I have a hotel preliminarily booked for five nights (I'll work something out for the other five nights when I'm there). 29th March fly to Dubai for a few days sightseeing and taking in the Meydan World Cup (the richest horse race in the world), and staying in a hotel in the middle of the city for a change. I return to Goa on the night of the 1st/2nd of April.
This seems to be altering on a daily basis dependant on the feasibility or otherwise of the journey, so instead of changing this blog every time my mind changes, I'll fill you in on the changes in my mind as and when they happen with the reasons.
Early October 2017: Original plan - Take a train journey (mainly the Trans Siberian Express) from London to Berlin, Warsaw, St Petersburg, Moscow, Mongolia (Gobi Desert) and Beijing with stop offs along the way. As this would be basically a short trip I had an open mind about the possibility of then flying from Beijing to Canada to take the Rocky Mountaineer train through the Rockies.
October 13th 2017: I secured a ticket to see Roger Waters at Hyde Park on the 6th of July so am at this stage toying with the idea of flying from Goa to Hong Kong around the 10th of May. Stay there for a few days and then take a train journey (mainly the Trans Siberian Express) as per above but in reverse order from Hong Kong to Beijing, Mongolia (Gobi Desert), Moscow, St Petersburg, Warsaw and finally Berlin. From there just kick around Europe until the time for the concert. Maybe see some of the places I've never made it to like Rome, Vienna and Venice. All else aside, having something special to look forward to at the end of the journey is more appealing than the original plan.
October 14th 2017: It seems that the only way of obtaining visas for Russia, China and Mongolia is to actually visit an embassy for each country beforehand with possible stays for several nights while the visa is processed. In the UK this would be easy but with my being based in India it not a realistic option. The Russian Embassy is in Mumbai whilst the Chinese and Mongolian Embassies are in New Delhi. This would mean long and expensive flights with uncertain times of stay while the process is completed. Lastly, it's not possible to get a hotel without submitting your passport on check-in. Totally out of the question. The only other option is to get all three visas in Hong Kong but with uncertainty as to the process time of each I would possibly have to stay there for up to a month. Again, out of the question.
I am committed to being in London for the concert and because my Indian visa restrictions will require me to leave the country by mid May, I'll have six or seven weeks to kill no matter what so.......
p.s. As I have since booked a holiday in March I will no longer have to leave india in May so anything could happen.
October 15th 2017: Due to the potential uncertainty of obtaining visas I'm thinking it's probably best to forget the Trans Siberian Express and fly to Europe, get a rail pass and fill in the blanks on the places I want to see there that I haven't been to yet. Seeing Europe in detail was always a future plan but I wanted to leave it until I was too old and incapable for other destinations. Maybe this is a sign!
The only thing for certain at this point is that I will return to Bali for another two month stopover and probably return to Phuket for the following two months.