Thursday 27 December 2012 – Kensington, London
I am pretty sure that when I started my travels twelve months ago today I was not expecting to be still on the road, at the time I remember thinking that I would be home well inside a year, even though I was planning on a two year trip. Though, I guess in some ways I am not really on the road anymore, and some could argue that I am home – considering I was born here in England. However, as the old adage goes, “home is where the heart is” and as far as countries go that will always be New Zealand. It is also where most of my family are and they are always in my heart, I miss my boys and my mum and my sisters and their families. But, I have elected to stay in London for a while, try to find a six month contract job and then a year later than planned tour Europe next summer, so yeah I guess still on the road is a slight exaggeration!
I can definitely say I have had the most awesome year, not too many lows and I won’t go into them here, but so many highs. I have seen and experienced so many things, some on my must do list and some that just happened because, well because they happened, the beauty of not having a plan.
But firstly, in case no-one makes it the end of the post, I want to say thanks to a few people….
Alex who, firstly – made me do my dive certificate before I left NZ – very good advice!, secondly – introduced me to Borneo, Malay food and really to Asia and thirdly – told me about the Thaipusam festival.
To all the people I travelled with or shared a meal and drinks with, Jay (Jerome) in Borneo and Cheeba in Cambodia. Giovanni ( who I first met at Thaipusam), Bob, Paulo, Richard and Blathnaid in Myanmar and the bug eating in Bangkok. Daniella, Laura and Mike in Pakse, Laos, David and Debbie in other parts of Laos and Catherine and Daniel on Perhentian Kecil. A massive thanks to Mike who I spent most of a month travelling with in Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar, we had so many good times ! In many ways you all saved/made the trip for me, occasionally I really struggled travelling on my own and hanging out with you guys was such good fun and saved me from going crazy…
To Dan and Van for inviting me to the wedding in Vietnam, that was one fun week! Leonie for good times in HMC and Africa.
To my family in England who put me up for a few nights, fed me and listened to my stories between trips.
Emily for the week in Paris, the massive walks and all that eating.
To Ian who let me stay for so long in Spain and for the house painting work, a much needed respite from travel and much appreciated.
To Mal and Sal, the Bland family and Garry and Chris. Mal, for asking me to be the support person for his epic epic 1014km Coastal Path Run – I was chuffed to be asked. And to the others who I met and spent some considerable time with on the way. Double thanks to Tom and Garry for giving their time and resources to support me on my 50th birthday run, which was really appreciated.
To my daughter Mel and her awesome friends and flatmates who made me so welcome, and not made me feel like a fusty old man, when I went to Bristol, especially my birthday dinner- that was choice !
To Will, Brett, Ebron and all my tour mates on the good truck Malakai over my nine weeks in Africa.
To Kevin and Phil for helping me out with accommodation now I have arrived back in London.
To all the people in NZ who I think about all the time, who send me emails and messages and remind me about what I miss about home the most.
Sorry if I have forgotten anyone else, it has been a big year.
So finally to some of the highlights, in no particular order.
Diving and snorkelling – everywhere, but especially Semporna in Borneo, El Nido and Malapascua in the Philippines and Perhentian Kecil in Malaysia.
Seeing my two favourite animals, orang-utans in Borneo right at the start and gorillas in Rwanda, right at the end.
Plus all the other animals I have seen.
The people, Thaipusam in Kuala Lumpur, the most intense place I have ever been, especially the night session.
The kids all over Africa.
Coast Path run with Mal and Tom. Two incredible men doing an incredible feat – running 1014kms in 17 days.
Achieving my own incredible feat of running 55kms for my 50th birthday, and the training in the hills above Alcaucin in southern Spain.
Bowling with David and Debbie in Vientiane, Laos – an unexpected thing to do and a good night out.
Some of the most fabulous places,
U Beins bridge in Mandalay, Myanmar
Bagan in Myanmar and riding bikes around all the temples.
Never being templed out in Siem Reap, even after six days, so many highlights, Beng Mealea.
Taking a day trip up to Preah Vehear in Cambodia, a disputed temple on the Thai border and being shown around by soldiers.
I have even thought about the amazing working temples I have seen everywhere in SE Asia, nor the stunning mosques in Brunei and Malaysia and the castles and churches in England and Europe, crikey!
Diving in the Perhentians and the beach bum lifestyle.
A week in Paris and seeing the Mona Lisa – from a distance..
Wandering the alleys of Barcelona.
Wandering the deserts of Namibia.
Running the hills above Alcaucin in Spain.
Eating everywhere !
So many things, I am sure I have missed a hundred great experiences in this quick wrap up.
It has been a fabulous year, I have seen so much, experienced so much, met so many challenges, conquered a couple of fears and met some awesome people. My one regret was doing so much of it on my own, next time I travel I want to do it with a companion, I just need to meet one!