So here we are. One whole year later, and still travelling – if only for another week or so. I genuinely can’t believe we did it! From that initial terrifying decision to go for it, to deciding to extend our trip from 8 months to 12, to surviving all that time living in each other’s pockets, it’s been a real rollercoaster. I can hand on heart say that it’s the best thing we’ve ever done, for ourselves, for our relationship, for every reason we can think of.
At the same time as we wish we could carry on forever we accept that for us it’s time to make our way back home. Even though we’re not sure what home will be. In the short term it’ll be the spare room at my Mum’s house, in the longer term who knows. We need to find new jobs, which is about as scary as it was to leave the old ones behind, work out where we’ll be living, and all sorts of other difficult questions. But we also get to reunite with family, friends, our amazing dog (if he remembers us) and to embark on yet another new stage of life.
This time we’ve spent travelling has changed us a lot – I wouldn’t say we’ve found ourselves or anything as dramatic as that, but we’re more comfortable with ourselves. Finally, we can accept more than ever that life happens and if you’re positive, kind and open to change then you’ll manage to get by in one way or another. People and situations are more or less the same whether you’re on the other side of the world or in the village where you grew up – everyone wants to be happy, to have fulfilling jobs, relationships and lifestyles. It’s just a case of rolling with the punches and making the best choices you can along the way.
So even though going home might be a shock to the system, even though finding new jobs might be hard, even though living back at home at 30 might be challenging, we’ll manage. It’ll all be worth it if it meant we could have the year we’ve just had.
We’ve met incredible people from all over the world, seen stunningly beautiful places, been pushed out of our comfort zones more times than we can count. We’ve eaten amazing food, explored new cities and stayed up too late drinking and talking all night all over the world. We’ve been robbed in Peru, crashed our motorbike in Bali and been sick and tired in too many countries to mention.
It really has been the most amazing journey and already I can’t wait to travel again. It might be for a week or it might be for another year, but there’s a whole world of countries we haven’t been and so many that we want to return to.
The two months since our last round up have been strange. When you know you’re on the home stretch travel can take on a different feeling, and you’re torn a little between enjoying the moment but knowing it’s nearly over. Our plans worked out nowhere near as we’d originally planned during our month in Thailand, and since May we’ve made our way through Borneo, Brunei, the Philippines, Indonesia, India and finally Europe – Germany, Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic and Poland. It’s probably been one of our busiest periods as we try to cram in too much in too little time, but as with every round up, it’s been amazing.
Here are our highs and lows from our last two months of fulltime travel…
Some incredible animal adventures definitely stand out from the last two months – so much so that we wrote a full post about our experiences! We explored more of the rainforests of Borneo and their indigenous species; snorkelled with manta rays, hung out with tiny tarsiers, went hiking with Komodo dragons and did a tiger safari – all incredible highlights from the trip as a whole, let alone just the last two months!
Our 5th World Wonder
We didn’t love India… more on that below and in an upcoming blog post which I fear may be controversial. But it was pretty cool to see the Taj Mahal in person, recreate all those selfies we’ve seen online and to tick off our 5th world wonder. Would have been our 6th but for Chinese visa issues!
Falling in Love with Ubud
I know that I say we fall in love with new places all the time but we really did love Bali and Ubud in particular. It was just the prettiest rural setting for us to bike around and explore beautiful old temples and generally chill for a bit for Rob’s 30th.
Deciding To Hit Up Europe On Our Way Home
Best Decision Ever. Seriously though, Europe doesn’t sound as exotic as some of places we’ve been lucky enough to see and I guess it isn’t, but wow, you sometimes don’t know how much you missed somewhere til you get back a year later!
Clean pavements, cute cafes at every turn, road traffic following a logical order, drinkable tap water, the list is pretty endless and we experienced the best kind of reverse culture shock. We’ve also been lucky enough to have wall to wall sunshine and have explored beautiful cities like Frankfurt, Munich, Bratislava, Brno, Budapest, Prague and now Krakow.
As always there have been a few lows, some of the worst actually in this past two months which may be part of the reason we loved getting back to Europe so much – but don’t worry, nothing disastrous.
Not Liking India
This was really disappointing and as I’ve said already, I have an absolute essay of a post where we discuss our feelings on India. I wrote on Instagram a week or so into our trip that I’d never tried so hard to like somewhere and found myself knocked back at every turn. I wish we’d loved it, but we really didn’t. The poverty, the dirt, the hassle and the chaos were just too much for us and we left much earlier than we had planned.
Rob Getting Sick
A really shit week was Rob getting ill after our trip to the Komodo Islands. Three days of constant snorkelling, hiking and not much sleep and we both felt pretty tired, but for Rob this developed into a double ear infection and some sort of horrible cold / flu that lasted about two weeks. He still reckons his hearing isn’t quite the same and it was a miserable time with him not being able to enjoy our travels.
Crashing Our Bike In Bali
This was also pretty awful. It was the day before we were due to leave Bali and we’d been happily biking round for a couple of weeks by the time it happened. Rob’s ridden bikes back in the UK and we’d spent a month with a motorbike as our only transport in Thailand and done a couple of trips in the chaos that is Vietnam, so we were pretty comfortable (as far as you can be) with the crazy driving standards and were always pretty cautious.
Returning to our homestay late one night we indicated to turn left into a carpark to pop into the local shop for supplies, and another guy on a bike whizzed by as we began to turn – crashing straight into us and knocking us flying. Thank goodness no one was hurt too badly – the other guy had some grazes on his foot, Rob had a nasty cut to his leg and I had a pretty impressive bruise on my behind, but we were all in one piece which was the main thing.
More unsettling was the crowd of Balinese who immediately appeared and the anger of the guy who’d hit us – we ended up paying a bribe and scarpering.
Being On Edge In The Philippines
The Philippines is so beautiful. I know it’s a sweeping statement but it really is a stunner. Tropical beaches, lush jungles, amazing wildlife, gorgeous colonial churches and architecture in the cities… it’s got a bit of everything. But the siege in Mindanao where extremists affiliated with ISIS attacked locals kicked off two days before we arrived and I read so many horror stories about how dangerous Manila was that we both arrived feeling seriously unsettled.
Like other places we’ve been where my anxiety has kicked up issues, including Rio and Lima for a couple of examples, I ended up feeling on edge the whole time we were there and really struggled to relax. Our trip was fine. Nothing happened, nothing went wrong but I just didn’t enjoy it anywhere near as much as I should have done.
Ok, funny story – one night I posted the photo below on our instagram story… we saw a fire on the mainland, didn’t know what it was but didn’t think too much about it.
Until we woke up at 6am in the morning to find all of our social media / whatsapp / message inbox – everything – filled with messages from my Mum saying the fire was ISIS on the mainland and we needed to get the hell out of dodge (or words to that effect).
Turns out it was nothing of the sort, probably just a farmer burning crops but I have never been so scared as when we read those messages, half asleep and with no clue what was going on!
So there you have it….
That’s how the last two months of highs and lows have been. As always, it’s been a blast, we’ve had plenty of great times and a few not so great and I can hardly believe this will be our last round up post before we head home. Obviously we still plan to fit in plenty of travel in the future, so perhaps there’ll be the odd round up post but they probably won’t be quite as exciting as these ones have been!