Crossing Paths, Crossing Borders tells the story of a journey through 25 countries, as Simon Duffin and his wife Anita decide to emigrate to Australia from the UK, but do it the long, slow way, using buses, trains, ferries, motorbikes, shared taxis and the occasional short hop flight.
It tells of the people they met on the road, from the Red Army veteran in North Ossetia whose brother may have met Anita’s grandfather, to the PR manager of the Indonesia Tea Guild; from survivors of Pol Pot’s regime in Cambodia to two likely lads in Azerbaijan.
It shows how tricky land border crossings can be, with a cage to herd people into Iran, secret police interviews as they left Chechnya and official ‘overtime’ payments to Malaysian border guards.
But the journey also reveals that the best insights into exotic communities can often come with the most banal experiences: a visit to the hospital, the post office, the cinema, or even having a cup of coffee or tea.
Simon and Anita are not grey nomads, nor are they gap year backpackers. They wanted above all to show that an adventure like this is possible also for people in the middle of their life journey, looking to stay out of trouble and keep costs to a reasonable level. Some may be inspired to try something similar. Others may enjoy the tale vicariously from the safety and comfort of their sofa.