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4 Months to go and where do we go from here?

It is now four months to go before we finally leave Qatar for good, Keith is approaching 68 and is very ready to retire. We’ve sort of agreed to retire in 2015 and we have even discussed the exact date of our final day of working with KEO in Qatar. The big question is where should we go after Qatar?

“And the danger is that in this move towards new horizons and far directions, that I may lose what I have now, and not find anything except loneliness.” Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

For many people life may be simple, once you are finished as an expat, then you just go home…. as Keith says, “ride off into the sunset….” But for us, this is “the question”, where is home…? Going ‘back’ to Indonesia could be an option for me, as my Mom, my sister and my brother are still back therevin Indonesia, and I am sure they would be delighted to see me back home. But my real home is where Keith is, like Tina Turner once said in her interview on her home with her German partner:”…. wherever he goes, I go,”… I guess that’s my answer to ‘home‘, wherever Keith goes, I go.

Well, not that simple; this is where the real problem come up, Keith’s home is not in Indonesia, and he thinks his home is in England, but he has nobody in England, all his kids who he loves other than me, are all in Australia, at the other end of the globe. Indonesia maybe close to Australia, but, he is an alien in Indonesia and Australia, and his kids are grown ups and they have their own life and family to attend to. They don’t need him anymore!!!

Believe it or not, language is the key, which means where ever we go, both of us should be able to operate in the new place which is very difficult when you don’t speak the common language the local speaks. Thus, for Keith living in Indonesia, is too hard, as he won’t understand the common language people speak.

So, What is the plan?

As we already narrow the option or rather the destination to going to is only the UK; the question now is how do we get to UK.  As they said: “… there are many roads to Rome, the same thing in our case – the travel bugs in us told us that there are several options to get us to UK. We have been talking about how to go ‘home’ to UK with several options for more than a year now:

The first option/idea was was to travel back to UK with a car bought in Doha and drive it through Middle East: from Qatar – Saudi – Jordan – Syria – Turkey – Bulgaria – Romania – Serbia – Montenegro – Bosnia-Herzegovina – Croatia – Slovenia – Austria – Germany – Switzerland – France and finally UK.

But there’s a problem, the car that we should have bought in Doha will be a left hand steering wheel which is OK for Doha as well as driving through Europe, however, to drive it in UK would be odd, as the UK drive on the left hand side of the road and thus you drive with a right hand side steering wheel.  Thus buying a car in Doha and using it later in the UK would not be practical.

Second option would be the same route but using public transportation, just like what I said in my Bucket List – traveling overland to UK from Doha, but instead of driving, we were thinking of taking the public transportation to UK. I know that there are very extensive rail network through out Europe including Turkey, which means it should be easy to get to Bristol (where we are going to build a home) from Istanbul.

Ferrocarril del hiyaz EN.PNG
Ferrocarril del hiyaz EN” by en:User:Attilios, User:Degeefe – This file was derived from: Ferrocarril del hiyaz.png. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons.

However, from Doha to Istanbul, this could be the real adventure of taking the public transportation. Yes there will not be a railway connection, but although it’s uncommon, there’s a public bus that connects Doha – Riyadh (in Saudi), and from Riyadh to Amman (in Jordan) and from there on, at least there’s a railway route from Damascus (Syria) to Istanbul.  I bet connection from Amman to Damascus could be done either by public bus or by train. The main problem with this option is that those areas are hostile, especially now with the ISIS issue. I don’t think we are that crazy or that brave to cross that area ourselves.


Hijaz station in Damascus, where the historic Hijaz Route planned to start and ends in Medina in Saudi Arabia… A dream that we could catch the train from Amman to Damascus

Will this be the train?    o_O

Will this be the train? o_O

Options of railway route from Istanbul to London

Options of railway route from Istanbul to London

Third option come up when suddenly our daughter who live in Sydney (Australia) wanted to travel to South America for her 40th birthday. This gave us idea of forgetting option one and two of traveling to Europe overland, and do a bit of a detour. That is fly direct to Australia, and do baby sitting for her 3 sons who by then will be 5, 3 and 2 years old, for 3 weeks,  then travel around Australia, the Pacific islands and maybe New Zealand, before we then travel around Indonesia for 6 month to a year. After that we would travel back to UK through South East Asia, Far East Asia and taking the Trans Siberia train back to Europe and then finally UK.

Map above provided by G-Adventure, a mad idea but this is the popular G-Adventure package

Map above provided by G-Adventure, a mad idea but this is the popular G-Adventure package

I must admit, the last option sounds very ambitious, and yet I already started to collect all the information required to do this as well as preparing the visas, including buying the guide book for exploring Indonesia as well as South East Asia. I already have the Australian visa, that enables me go in and out Oz several times for a year.

With technical issues of traveling eastwards sort of already prepared, there’s this mental issue and other technicalities that seems difficult to be coordinated:

  • Are we really ready to be on the road all the time for more than a year, living out of our suitcase? we are not young anymore. Some more mature traveler we knew through the net did not do that. Yes, they travel long term (more than 2 months solid) but from time to time they go home, wind down before the go off again on the road.
  • The children that we were supposed to look after and the reason we travel East,  were still too small to be separated from their mother. This was proven when we were there 3 months ago, they are still very clingie to their Mom and difficult to handle. Having said that, Amy (our daughter) could not decide whether she really ready to leave her 3 babies for a long holiday with her husband.
  • By the end of the day, I need another visa to enter UK as his spouse, which I think we need to pay attention to this matter as the requirements are not as easy as getting a visit/tourist visa to UK.

With the last issues coming to surface, the fourth option is to fly to UK direct from Doha, with all our belongings as a normal repatriate person for Keith, as for me, I need to apply ‘spouse visa’ to enter UK.


However there are a slight complications:

  • Our flat in Bristol is rented out and the tenant wants an extension up to 2017. The good news is we can keep on traveling up to then; bad news is we have no place to put our belonging except renting a storage for more than a year???
  • Visa application to enter UK as a spouse requires a lot of things including English language certificate as well as the process to do that will take 3 months before they can come with a decision to grant me the visa or not… the problem is, we plan to enter UK on the 11th of April… we may not be able to reach the visa deadline!

As we are approaching the last 3 months in Doha, we still don’t know what to do… or (this is where the fifth option coming…) just stay in Doha for the next 10 years…???? 😦


  1. My goodness Nin you have some big decisions coming up! I would think you’d qualify for a UK spousal visa but obviously you have to go through the application process and that can take time as you say. I think the overland options from Doha are now too risky due to the instability north of there. Could you fly to Turkey and resume the overland option from there? You wouldn’t consider settling in Australia then it’s a great place?! My husband’s family come from the West Country of England so we know Bristol well and it’s a lovely place too! Whatever you decide to do I wish you all the very best and a Happy New Year too! 🙂


    • Yes, its a big decision and certainly it would be a new life in a new world for me, and yes your idea of traveling overland from Turkey should be a good idea, I had that in mind as well, however, the visa process and its requirement may not allow me to do so… but I just have to wait and see… o_O
      Thanks for dropping by…
      N. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. baca soal ini jadi mules sendiri nin. walau situasinya gak persis sama, suatu hari saya juga akan mengalami hal serupa. apakah semudah yang saya pikirkan sekarang gak ngerti juga.

    ok apapun yang akhirnya dipilih semoga itu yang terbaik ya nin.



    • Loh bukannya kamu sudah melalui masalah itu, suami orang jerman dan sekarang tinggal dan bekerja di Jerman, berarti masuk ke Jerman waktu itu kan sudah dengan spouse visa?


      • Iya memang itu pertanyaan yang mengerikan pada untuk para istri yang ikut suami tinggal di negara orang…. :\
        N. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Ayo tinggal di Australia aja..😉 Dipilih.., dipilih..; mau ngadem ke Tasmania.., mau yg tropis ke Queensland, mau padang pasir ke Uluru..😝
    Kayaknya aku bakal ngalamin juga hal kayak gini.. Apapun yg dipilih, semoga lancar ya..😀


    • Tinggal di Australia kan artinya kami berdua harus apply visa menetap lebih dari 3 bulan, padahal kalo ga salah australia cuma mengeluarkan visa turis paling lama 3 bulan, selebihnya visanya beda lagi… :\


  4. Option number three! Of *course* you can travel for more than a year living out of a suitcase. Challenging, exciting and ultimately rewarding. But of course that’s exactly what I’d recommend since I do it all the time 🙂
    There is no wrong decision.
    Alison ❤


    • I love you option Alison, as that was our latest plan; I agree, its very challenging to live out of a suitcase for more than a year solid, the thought of it only is already very exciting to me as well as very tricky as for me there is an extra headache: the visa issue that I need to prepare each time I visit a country, beside by the end of the day, I will have to enter UK. The question is travel now or travel later… 🙂
      Yes, it is true that there’s no wrong decision, it’s about which one is more convenient…
      Nina ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. hani nandana

    Wow…….didnt realize that choices can bring some confusions My personal experience is….as one grows older one needs to consider one’s health and Indonesia doesnt offer health coverage in the same way as other developed countries . I am saying this out of my personal expeerience with my mother….she broke her upper legs on two different occasions the hassle we had to go through was unbelievable and yet she was hospitalised in a 1st class hospital. To mention 1 problem we encoutnered – we received a call at 7 p.m. from the doctor telling us that they didnt have sufficient supply of blood of her category (A) whilst she was supposed to be operated the next day at 8 a.m. Fortunately amongst the Darusmans there were some who had the same blood type – so we all had to go to the Red Cross to have our blood taken and that took until 2 a.m. (yes in the morning) and yet she was hospitalised in a “first class” hospital…….how dissappointing!
    Australia sounds a good option, the people are more layed-back, near home and weatherwise comfortable and Keith’s family is there…….but of course the choice is yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wah, semua pilihannya menarik dan challenging ya. I personally love the second option, sekalian menuhin bucket listmu Nin hehe. Tapi apapun yg akhirnya dipilih, good luck ya, semoga semua lancar, have fun! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I would definitely choose for the third option Nin. Travel slow and enjoy the retirement by exploring the world. You could rent a storage for your belongings in the UK while your tenants could stay in your apartment till 2017. Trans Siberia would be great to catch.

    At the end of the day if you give it a try, you’d know. What a time to look forward too. I wish you and your husband good luck with the preparations. As an expat you two are used of living abroad your both home countries, but travelling around is another thing to deal with surely. Bon courage!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, we were thinking of option 3 as my favourite, and was aiming for this for a long time, as suddenly there is this travel document issue that made me think twice. At the moment am working for a way around it. So the last 2 options are still a possibility, including option No. 5 as Rosemary’s suggested… 🙂


  8. Waiting for paperwork to go through can be a frustrating experience, so I wish you all the best in the midst of all the uncertainty. Whatever happens, I am sure your adventurous spirit will see you and Keith succeed through it all!


  9. Leo pearson

    Nina- all the options sound great so go off and enjoy yourself. Keith has been bludging most of his life so I’d recommend you keep him working for another 10 years or so. I think you’d love Paris, New York and Milan…. Great shopping! Alternatively Australia welcomes you both and especially his 4 naughty grandsons!! X x


  10. Janice Reed

    Nina You can’t say Keith hasn’t any family in England! He has a sister and brother-in law plus 2nephews and other halves, a niece with husband and 2 great nieces, plus at least 4cousins and all their families. We all want to see you two as Keith especially has not been in the UK for years. We all feel it would be great to spend time with you (it might be better if you made your base in Surrey ,Sussex or Hampshire.) you can also travel lots from the UK. Love Jan x


    • Sorry Sis, I thought nobody from the family would read my blog. Yes, I realize that Keith has you and your family as our closest relative in the UK as well as his cousins, but he considers his 2 kids in Australia as the real close ones. So don’t worry he still loves the UK and you Reeds and will end up in the UK very soon. And as I said above, I will just go wherever Keithey goes…. ❤ ❤


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  12. Nina maulani

    Senangnya Nin….banyak pilihan ya,… Kelihatannya Keith akan senang kalau bisa ketemu & main dengan cucunya ya. (kalau dia senang, Nina juga senang kan 🙂 )…terlepas dari apakah anak & menantunya jadi pergi atau nggak…Kalau mereka nggak pergi juga kan ada apartemen yg bisa disewa. Sementara itu Nina sambil nemenin Keith juga bisa mempersiapkan spouse visa & keperluan izin lainnya, mulai dari mendapatkan sertifikat utk bahasa, beres2 barang2 dll. Mungkin sebagian barang bisa dikirim lebih dulu ke UK supaya kalau dari Australi mau jalan2 dulu lebih ringan bawaannya…..
    Lewat Trans siberia… menarik…kalau capek, ganti aja dengan penerbangan….. Saya pikir sih dibuat flexible aja sesuai kondisi,… yang penting santai & menyenangkan utk Nina & Keith.

    Eh, commentnya udah telat kali ya, udah lewat berapa bulan sejak Nina tulis blog ini…hehehe
    Enjoy the trip (& the life) Nin

    Liked by 1 person

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