Hi, my name’s Simon and I’m a snowboarding addict with a penchant for long-haul overland travel. I’ve spent the last decade-plus seeking out the snow across four continents, working variously in bars, ski resorts, and English language schools, stringing ski seasons together with periods of long-distance overland travel in between.
I’ve done seasons in half a dozen countries, and been riding in another half-dozen; click here to read more, including reviews of every hill I’ve ridden. Also check out my dedicated Korea skiing website here. When there isn’t any snow to slide down the mountains on, you’ll find me hiking up them instead; my hiking pages should be of particular use if you’re planning to go hiking in & around Kyoto, Tokyo, Taipei, or Seoul.
Between seasons, I’m either back home working, somewhere else working, or off travelling somewhere. These travel spells usually involve going overland as much as possible, forgoing the ease of a 2-hour flight to instead spend 2 days actually seeing the scenery through a bus window and checking out what the border towns & border crossings are like, or forgoing the torture of a 12-hour flight to instead make the overland journey from Europe to Asia a goal in its own right. When not actually engaged in such an overland Odyssey, I always have ideas knocking around for the next one and am constantly researching transportation options and keeping tabs on possible new routes opening up – for example, the easing of travel restrictions in Myanmar, and the year-on-year expansion of the Chinese high speed railway’s tentacles into the Chinese interior, are two things that have occupied much of my reading time recently.
All this research and all this hands-on overland travel experience has given me plenty of useful information to share with fellow travellers – not to mention more than a few yarns from the more intense & sketchy experiences and epic journeys & misadventures. So I eventually started this travel blog to tell these stories from my past and ongoing travels, while providing as much useful information as I can (for the places I’ve been) on overland travel options, ski resorts, and hiking – especially for the Far East, where I’ve been based for most of this decade and where I’ve slowed down my pace of travel and therefore been able to dig deeper and get below the surface of the fascinating cultures of China, Korea, Taiwan, and in particular Japan where I spent a few years teaching English.
This isn’t a blog about me selling my house and quitting my safe office job to travel the world; I’ve never bought a house, and I’ve never had a safe career desk job to quit… while I did have a 9-5 office job once, I lasted for all of three months before getting back behind the bar…
This isn’t a blog about me living a jet-set Instagram lifestyle, posting beach selfies and posing in front of all the world’s most famous landmarks; it’s a blog about me climbing up & sliding down mountains on a tight budget, about me getting my ass kicked on gruelling 2-day bus journeys in Laos and Indonesia, or getting my ass generally kicked for three weeks straight by Vietnam.
It’s not a blog about me staying in swanky Bangkok hotels for free in exchange for telling you how awesome they are; it’s a blog about me going to Bangkok and getting bitten by dogs, almost run over by a drunk prick writing off his sports car right in front of me, getting pickpocketed, and witnessing (and only narrowly avoiding) some nasty beatings – but still loving Bangkok.
It isn’t a blog where I go on press trips for free in exchange for telling you how awesome whichever destination is – you’ll never read “This post was brought to you by…”, “Sponsored by…”, or “Thanks to xyz for looking after me on this trip, bla bla bla” on these pages*; instead, it’s a blog about me satisfying my curiosity about the world and how it all fits together, travelling at my own pace, and learning as much as I can about its history and culture, and then sharing with you whatever useful or interesting info and stories that gives me.
(*I may be willing to sacrifice my integrity on this point if anyone out there wants to send me into space, to the top of Mt Everest, or to the North or South Pole… or maybe I’d settle for being flown around Alaska or Kashmir with my snowboard in a helicopter. If you’re not offering any of those, please don’t bother contacting me about press trips!)
In short, this isn’t an ‘influencer’ blog. There are absolutely no freebies here in exchange for reviews. I’m not out to influence my readers; I’m out to help and (hopefully!) entertain you, perhaps even inspire you.
On this blog you’ll find:
– practical information for long-distance overland travel across four continents, with country-by-country overland travel guides and travelogues of my overland trips
– hiking reports and ski resort reviews for the mountains of those four continents
– tales of sketchy situations and crazy journeys
– observations and musings on both traditional & popular culture, architecture, language, movies, and music, especially for Japan and Northeast Asia
Every last thing you read in these pages has been paid for out of pocket… a fact which got me deeply mired in some very heavy debt at one point (I’m not fully out of it yet, to be honest) – and man, have I been through some stress as a result. But the hounding by packs of debt collectors was what saw me winding up teaching English in Japan, and ultimately, via a circuitous route, to eventually writing this blog. So, everything for a reason and all that.
Where I’ve Been
Ok, so here’s one of those ‘where I’ve been’ maps, with each country I’ve visited shaded blue:
But what a pile of bullshit that is! It makes it look like I’ve been to Alaska and Kamchatka, and the remote border in the Altai Mountains between Russia and China, and the high Himalayan border of Tibet and Sikkim, and all sorts of other remote places. But my attempt to visit Tibet ended in red-taped failure, the closest I’ve been to Sikkim is Darjeeling, I’d probably get shot (or at least arrested) trying to cross from Russia to China in the Altai, and I haven’t been anywhere near Alaska or Kamchatka; hell, I haven’t even been to Northern Ireland! (which is all of 100 miles from my birthplace in Scotland)
So here’s where I’ve actually been on my overland journeys so far (not including the many places in Europe I’ve been to on the odd short visit e.g. on family vacations, school trips, snowboarding trips, etc). The colours on the first 3 maps are consistent, showing the ground I covered by year: turquoise 2000, magenta 2003, yellow 2004-5, orange 2006, red 2007-8, green 2012-14, blue 2013-2017. The final map (North America) has its own colour scheme, with the years marked. Click on each map to read more about where I’ve been on that continent:
You can read more about my travel style & philosophy here: why go overland?
Affiliate links: 4corners7seas contains affiliate links throughout the site; if you choose to purchase products or services from these links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. If the information here has been of use or entertainment value to you, and you’re intending to purchase any of those products or services, I hope you’ll consider supporting 4corners7seas by visiting their sites via my links; thank you in advance should you choose to do so! (I also endeavour to place further disclosure statements on the individual pages & posts which contain affiliate links within the copy, though I may have missed a couple here or there)
Amazon disclosure: Simon Norton is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk. (i.e. if you follow a link from this site to Amazon and make a purchase, 4corners7seas will receive a commission from Amazon. This commission comes out of Amazon’s profit margin and does not affect the price for you as the customer. I only recommend stuff I think is awesome and personally own or use. Thank you in advance for any purchase you choose to make using one of my links!)
Copyright and Media
Press trips: no thank you (unless you’re SpaceX or Virgin Galactic)
Photography: Unless specifically marked otherwise, every photo on this site was taken by myself (or in a few cases by friends & family and used here with their permission) and is under copyright to 4corners7seas. If you want to use any photo from this site, you do not have permission until you have contacted me and asked for it and been given it. The exceptions are those photos marked as being used under Creative Commons License (with the appropriate credit given to their copyright owners), which you are also free to use under the same terms.
Written content: 100% of the content here is written by me, Simon Norton, and under copyright. You do not have permission to use any of my content unless clearly marked with quotation marks, clearly credited to Simon Norton or 4corners7seas, and with a clear link to the original content (and preferably with a courtesy email via my contact form)