28th Jul 2010
Just One More Thing...
Here we are then, back in England…
We’ve hung up (and wrung-out) our bandannas, unpacked the rucksacks and thrown away most of those awful clothes. We’ve been back home now for just over a month - a month spent, ironically enough, travelling. Rather than simply sit still and relax, we’ve been driving around the UK visiting family & friends. Since our return we’ve clocked-up over 3,000 miles reacquainting ourselves with the joys of this sceptred-isle: real fish & chips, way too many people, traffic jams, speed-bumps & speed-cameras, rain (that fine rain that soaks you through), the BBC iPlayer, duvets and the PlayStation 3.
So we’ve decided that the time is now right to put fingers to keys; to write one final blog. A look back at where we’ve been, the people we met and the things we’ve seen. Where exactly to begin? Just how do you condense all that travelling down into one final piece of bloggage? It's not easy, we can tell you...
Of course, posting another blog-entry does give us both an excuse to upload another selection of photos from our travels! Even this wasn’t so easy; in the end we took 28,712 pictures between us - just over 110GB of data - so it’s fair to say that we’ve a few to choose from…
Rather than just pick our favourites from the 1,800 or so we’ve already uploaded we thought we’d go back through the archives and select some previously unseen images. The 150 pictures presented below are in no particular order - just a random selection of images. They’re simply a small snapshot of what was (amazingly!) just 9 months of our lives.
Nine months that, for both of us, was an incredible adventure. There's no doubt about that! We both feel so very lucky to have had the opportunity to go & experience so many different places; to have seen - with our own eyes - things normally reserved for nature programmes or that tattered copy of National Geographic you see in the dentist's waiting room.
In the end, we spent 262 days away from home. Through 12 countries - by plane, campervan, boat, motorbike, scooter, bicycle, tuk-tuk and, of course, on foot - we met some lovely people, saw extraordinary sights, ate some fantastic food, drank some great beer, clocked up over 30,000 miles & went through more than a few sweaty bandannas.
It's strange how quickly perspective is altered when you're travelling: Our rucksacks became the most important things in our lives, wearing underwear for 3 days in a row was acceptable (well, for Mark at least…), our passports never left our person and you watched every penny you spent. Things that seem so important over here - clean restaurants, a hotel room without cockroaches, wi-fi, brand names (to name but a few) - slowly and surely lost their importance.
That’s not to say that sometimes whilst we were away, all we wanted to be was 'back home'! Be it the heat, the bugs, the incessant & imploring chatter of people desperate to sell you something in the street - there were times when these things only served to remind us of just how much we missed England; missed our family and friends. Everyday items back in the UK would almost become homing-beacons - Marmite, HP Sauce, (proper!) toast, the sound of a familiar voice, a comfortable sofa to sink into - all these, and more, would do their best to call us back.
Then you’d realise just where you were. What you were doing; and suddenly those mosquito bites, the squat toilets and the runny-bums didn’t seem so important anymore.
When we think of all the fantastic things we’ve been able to do… it’s just - well - it’s just that if you’d told us both a year ago that we’d have been able to list all of the following (and more) we would never have believed you! Never have believed that we would get married in the snow on the side of a mountain in New Zealand, or that we’d drive across the Nullarbor in Australia & watch the fireworks explode over Sydney harbour as 2009 became 2010. Never imagined we’d see wild elephants and wild orang-utan in Borneo; eat in restaurants and order by pointing - as that was the only language we’d all understand! We couldn’t have dreamt that we’d catch the bullet-train all around Japan; travel a third of the length of Vietnam on the back of motorbikes or go for a swim amongst the islands of Halong Bay. We could never have thought that we would come to love the little geckos who would criss-cross the hotel-room walls! As for working with elephants? Us? Never in a million years…
However, Mark catching malaria would somehow be just a little bit more believable!
It’s not just ‘the sights’ though… Some of the people we met really helped make our trip a special one; whether it be because they put us up (or up with us!), shared a meal or a laugh with us, helped make our wedding so memorable or just shovelled elephant poo with us - they all deserve a mention: Rob & Debbie (and family), Denis & Christine, Nyree & Minetta, Allen & Letitia, John Lizzio, Chaz & Jody, Nikki & Spencer (and family), Charles & Edward, Kevin & Zoe (and Ziggy!), Bennifer Virgo-Cleaver, Ric & Rachel, Jenni & Steve (and family), Basri, Maldin, Nick & Jo, Benjamin & Patti, Mr. Singh, Amish & Natisha, Martin, Mette & Mikkel (three totally crazy Danes!), Wayne & Emma (and family), Sean & Jena and not forgetting everyone we met (and worked with) at the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand.
Talking of people; towards the end of our trip we were sat in a bar in Chang Mai, Thailand with two friends we’d met at the Elephant Nature Park: Brent & Caroline. We were discussing all of the places we’d still like to go, all the things we still wanted to see and it dawned on us that we would probably need some money. It was Anne-Shirley who brought the group back to reality and came out with the immortal line:
‘You know what we should do? We should all get jobs!’
Anne-Shirley was right, of course. Yet, now we’re home and now we've had a month to re-adjust, the truth of it is - we haven’t really unpacked absolutely everything from those tired and vaguely sweaty-smelling rucksacks. In fact, we’ve left a few things in there. Deliberately. In some small way that means we’re not quite done yet. It would appear that both of us can’t quite bring ourselves to let go of our adventure completely.
Not just yet.