Re: Boat to East Timor
I'm assuming you want to travel from Australia to Europe without flying?
Well, it is possible.
Get to Darwin in Australia and Perkins Shipping Group Pty operate a barge that runs Darwin-Dili-Singapore (and reverse) 3 times a month. check their website at www.perkins.com.au for schedules and contact details, you would have to ring up and arrange in advance for passage. This is not a luxury boat - it is a freight barge, sorry, I have no idea how much passage would cost.
You could take this barge straight to Singapore (takes 13 days) or if you want to stay in East Timor for a while then get off at Dili and you can continue overland by taking a 12 hour bus from Dili to Kupang in Indonesian West Timor (check conditions to see if the border is open) and get on a number of boats leaving Kupang and heading to other Indonesian islands (check www.pelni.in) for routes, timetables and prices).
Continue using Pelni ships island hopping your way through Indonesia (and buses on larger islands such as Java and Sumatra) until you reach either Batam or Bintan in the Riau Archipelago where you can get on ferries to Singapore or Johore Baharu in Malaysia, or Dumai on Sumatra where you can get a ferry to Melaka in Malaysia or Medan on Sumatra from where you can catch a ferry to Penang.
From Penang you can get another ferry to Langkawi and then another to Satun in Thailand or you could get a ferry to the Malaysian mainland (Peninsula).
Once you are on the Malaysian peninsula continue north by either bus or train to Thailand.
If you want to go overland to Europe from Thailand you will have to go through China (crossing borders either via Laos or Cambodia and Vietnam as all land borders with Myanmar are closed to foreigners).
From China there are many options:
(mainly ending up either in Moscow or Iran)
To end in Moscow:
- The Trans-Mongolian Railway leaving Beijing, going through Mongolia and ending in Moscow. Or the Trans-Manchurian (same route but going around rather than through Mongolia), or cross the border into Russia from north east China and catch the Trans-Siberian Railway from Vladivostock to Moscow.
From Moscow you can travel either by bus or train to pretty much anywhere in Europe you desire (with connecting stops).
To end in Iran:
- Head west to Urumqui in Xinjiang province and continue overland through Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan into Iran (note: It may be difficult to arrange a visa for Turkmenistan in particular). Or;
- From Xinjiang take the Karakorum Highway into Northern Pakistan and continue south crossing the border into Iran where you get on that same train. Or;
- Apparently the border between Tibet and Nepal recently re-opened while I was there (Nepal) in 2007, so you could get yourself to Lhasa in Tibet (The railway from Beijing is now complete), then cross into Nepal and continue into India where you can gross the only open border into Pakistan at Wagah (Between Amritsar and Lahore in Punjab), then continue through to Iran. (Note: the border between Pakistan and Iran has been described as dangerous but it is open).
Getting from Iran to Europe there are a few options too:
- The easiest by far is to get on the Tehran-Istanbul train which operates weekly and takes 2 days. Or;
- Go to Georgia either via Azerbaijan or Armenia and cross into eastern Turkey and get a bus from Trabzon to Istanbul. (Note: the border between Georgia and Russia is closed). Or;
- You could even get on a boat to the gulf states (Qatar, Bahrain, UAE) and continue through Oman into Yemen from where you could get on a boar to Djibouti in Africa and continue through Ethiopia into Sudan, Egypt, Libya and then Tunisia from where you could get on a boat to Sicily in southern Italy but this is a very long way around.
From Istanbul there are trains heading pretty much everywhere in Europe going via Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, and others.
These routes could obviously also be done vice-versa.
And there are also many other possibilities for overland travel from/to Australia and Europe, these are just the easiest ones I could think of.
I have found www.seat61.com a very useful tool for overland travel.
Good luck and have a great journey.
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