I have been plotting and planning this blog post ever since I got to South East Asia as to me that signals the end of the trip, despite still being 3 months away at the time it feels like nothing. This was not to say I wasn't keen to carry on travelling, I was. In fact when Welshman decided to head home I seriously considered the same thing but it was never a viable option. I know I would have regretted it, there were still adventures to be had, people to meet and experiences to well, experience. Cambodia proved it was the right choice, the warmth of the people and everything coming together at New Year. (I'm actually writing this still in Cambodia with a solid 45 days to go before I even finish my travels but what I can recall about the year starts now). Being the cynical grumpy bastard I pretend to be, this is actually quite hard, recollecting on everything that has happened, from the amazing scenery to the wonderful people I have met. It has been such an amazing year that I can't understand what I ever did to deserve it. In travelling around the World you learn that despite everything it isn't that big (anymore) and we are all the same. Despite this it is big enough that I have come nowhere near seeing everything and there is still so much more to see. I have seen the worlds highest mountain and sailed under the stars, slept in a temple, a farmers house and many other locations (including an airport). I crossed the international date line twice as well as making it to the Southern Hemisphere for the first time. At every step and turn, sometimes just when you began to lose faith you would meet or find something that made it all worthwhile. So, A year in the ring of fire, Sauntering 'Vaguely' Downwards the year that was.
|The Very Beginning, Night One - Hong Kong.|
|Stupa in Zhongdian|
Japan came next, a complete culture shock from China. I drank too much sake and ate raw horse. I slept in traditional Ryokans with Tatami mats with sliding doors. I saw the illustrious snowcapped Mt.Fuji, got lost on the Tokyo metro and spent a majority of my time in the 'Onsen'. Arriving 2 months after the Fukushima disaster I saw a country in mourning and repair, yet still very upbeat. It is this pragmatism and cheer that teaches you obstacles can be overcome even with the threat of nuclear oblivion hovering over you.
Canada was once again completely different(obviously) to Asia. I watched Ice hockey, predicted a riot and was impressed with the clean up effort afterwards; the best and worst of humanity in 24 hours. It was apparent it wasn't the Vancouvans who had really rioted as they spoke out against it. I saw a humpback whale with Mercedes and saw the most beautiful lake in the world, before walking on a glacier and witnessing bears in the wild(an everyday occurrence for Canadians). Canada was a land of natural wonder and odd food (Poutine)
|Rai Leh, Ao Son Tai beach|
|Fishing at Sunset in Cambodia|
|At Halong Bay|
|Elephants by the river|
People will probably ask me if I've changed or if I learnt anything on my travels. I am not sure if I have changed, I feel my perspective has slightly changed and I hope I am a bit more welcoming and can repay some of the hospitality I have experienced on my travels. Before I finally round up this year long review I thought I'd include some statistics/figures ranging from countries visited, books read to items lost/stolen;
Total countries visited: 15
Books read: over 30
I have taken over 20,0000 pictures.
I have gone through; 3 pairs of shoes, 2 side bags, 3 pairs of flip flops, 1 pair of shorts and 3 pairs of swim shorts.
I have lost; 2 phones, 1 towel and wash bag, a padlock and chain, 1 speaker, 2 t-shirts and most of my socks (Seriously I started with about 7 pairs, bought more along the way and I have about 3 left) :/
I have broken; 2 pairs of headphones, a pair of chopsticks.
On top of this I have mailed two boxes home and sent more stuff home with Welshie.
So to finish, I wrote the majority of this in Cambodia while I waited for a bus, it was an emotional recollection from the lows to the highs, but mostly due to the highs I got emotional. Setting out alone I could never have envisioned what was to come, before I set out I was apprehensive and wondered if I could actually make it a year. Some people think I'm brave for heading out on my own for a year, often I will hear "alone, wow I couldn't..." etc. Truth is, I am little fish in a big ocean with no direction and it was often other peoples faith in me that when stranded in a little village in Panama or in Peru in a tiny town at 3am for instance, that I didn't panic or throw it to the wall and carried on. I've met people who've been through much more hardship than I have ever had to endure and these people are inspiration, at home and abroad. They know who they are and if I tried to name them I'd feel bad if I forgot someone. At New Year in Cambodia we were asked, if there was one thing in 2011 we would have changed about the year, my answer "absolutely nothing" So as I wrote this in a bar in Cambodia back in January getting teary and not really caring who knew, thinking about it all, I'd do it all again in an instant (after a couple of months rest :P).
"You live and learn. At any rate, you live" - Douglas Adams
|My longest travel companion, Kevin & me in Vietnam at Hai Van Pass|