Usually what impresses me when I travel apart from the natural wonders is the people and their stories, and how it affects me as a traveller.
One story is especially close to my heart. In 2012 I was invited by another travel-obsessed friend to the Comoros Islands where I had the privilege of meeting Ingo - Ingjaldur Hannibalsson - the late first Icelandic UN master, a university professor from Iceland. He was also on a mission to visit every country in the world and I was going through a phase of my life of almost giving up my travels due to constant travel fatigue and also the lack of support from some friends and close family members who found my quest to visit every country complete and utter nonsense... This encounter was definitely a turning point for me, he inspired me through his magical travel tales to travel more or rather endlessly. I always think what if I hadn't bumped into Ingo on that trip.... (He accomplished his goal of visiting every country in August 2014, only to leave this world unexpectedly a few months later, but I will always keep him in my thoughts as I walk in his footsteps sharing the same journey.)
During my visit to Sudan I booked a trip to the Meroe Pyramids. The Sudanese travel agent, Midhat was passionately showing me his travel photos which included summer holidays to Italy, Switzerland, Germany and to my big surprise - Hungary. One of the pictures looked familiar so I looked closer. At first I thought no, it cannot be.... then all of a sudden a photo appeared on the main square of my small non-touristy city, Nyiregyhaza covered with snow! I cannot express how random it was and how blessed I felt. Particularly if I take into consideration that Midhat was from Wadi Halfa, from the Magyarab tribe. A tribe between the Sudanese and Egyptian border dating back to the 16th century with Hungarian ancestors. And he was in my city in a search of an other Magyarab who apparently lived there!
In Kinshasa when visiting the former Congolese president, Laurent Kabila’s, Mausoleum which has several layers of security leading to the gigantic monument of Kabila and his tomb, I encountered one of the security personnel’s eyes landing on my colourful, expensive-looking watch. The highest ‘entrance fee’ to the compound I was asked for my watch, although I really surprised the security guards when I displayed my bargaining skills and confidently asked for his AK-47 in return. Needless to say, I get into the mausoleum without any unnecessary donation of my travel watch.
My second to last country was Yemen, more precisely the astonishingly beautiful island of Socotra. It is arguably one of the most stunning places on Earth, such a unique, otherworldly hidden gem, almost unreal! As there was no scheduled flight to the country at the time of my visit - neither to the mainland or the island of Socotra - I decided to take the only option available to reach this otherworldly, unique, unspoilt island - a cement delivery cargo boat. What might seem a bit scary at first but it was a kind of once-in-a-lifetime trip, now or never. I ended up waiting 8 days for the first available boat to depart from Salalah. The epic trip took a gruelling 48 hours there and back across the Arabian sea with a lack of basic facilities onboard, sleeping on the deck under the stars. Definitely well worth all the hassle though! Especially because onboard, there was an overly friendly goat which followed me everywhere I went, we gladly adopted each other to the point that he became my ultimate travel buddy for the entire journey, I named him Abdulaziz.