It has been exactly one year today since I left to travel. One year in which I have lived the world, learned more about other people and their cultures and was confronted with myself, and my partner, on a daily basis. One year in which I lived, loved, laughed, cried, felt lost, was found and went through what can only be described as a lifetime of emotions.
I visited 12 countries and 67 cities, made countless new friends and grew closer than I ever imagined with the man I love so dearly. I rode a motorbike through Northern Thailand, befriended Thai monks, learned more about Buddhism and was invited to spend Iftar at a mosque in Malaysia where I was taught more about Islam. I trekked through the jungle to find the world’s biggest flower in Malaysia and went to the Grand Prix in Singapore. I hiked deep into a crater in Indonesia to see the blue flames, followed by a mesmerising sunrise over the mouth of the volcano. I sat on a beach, eating the freshest seafood Bali has to offer, whilst the sun set in deep red and orange coloured skies. I rode atop a forty-year-old Jeepney in the Philipino highlands, weathered storms and typhoons, and played with local children in the deep blue and crystal clear waters of a lagoon in Sorsogon. I stood atop, and looked over, the ten thousand, thousand-year-old temples of Bagan and sailed the waters of Inle lake.
I played good as the Chinese say, with the elderly Chinese that come to the parks to sing, dance and socialise in the early hours of the morning. I shared drinks with strangers on trains and became quick friends with the many lovely locals I met. I ate peculiar looking stews, broths and snacks in every country I visited, tasted some of the finest cooking Asia has to offer and had my palate mesmerised. I skied on the frosty pistes in of Vancouver only to melt in the 40c Indian heat the next day. I survived the outrageous traffic, left the country having escaped the dreaded Delhi-belly and experienced the attack on all the senses that this vibrant country is so notorious for. I became a dive master, swam with turtles and encountered a massive barracuda. I danced on rooftops, embraced my new friends and sang until I lost my voice. I saw the auctioning of the tunas in Tokyo in the early hours of the morning, fell head over heels in love with this beautiful country and its beyond friendly people and I ate my weight in melt-on-the-tongue sashimi and sushi. I witnessed the kindness of strangers, felt deeply grateful for this incredible experience and immersed myself in every amazing, exhausting and wonderful second of every day.
I rode in rickshaws, cars, bikes and motors, travelled trains, boats and planes and took myself along what has been an 82,000km journey. I lived the world, and I loved every exciting, exhilarating and invigorating moment of it. The good, the bad and the ugly. Travel is not just a holiday; it is a journey. It is a moment in time where you will both lose and find yourself. Travel is easy. Sure, it can be difficult at times. You’re tired, exhausted and sometimes even frustrated. But this is always contrasted by the beauty that you will find each and every day, the freedom you will experience and the happiness it will bring.
The real challenge starts when your journey is over and you have to somehow fit the life you just lived, in the tiny suitcase you will bring home. It is astonishing how quickly we fall back into our old patterns and how swiftly all returns to “normal”. It is exactly this that terrifies me beyond belief. You will come home to realise that although life changed for you, even if only for a moment, that it is exactly as you left it when you departed. When trying to fit yourself back into the life you left, you really realise what is behind you and how much it changed. Yet somehow, nothing did.
I look back with a heart full of love, wonder and light, feeling like I left a piece of myself, everywhere I went. I both lost and found myself this year, and I look forward not knowing exactly who I am anymore.
This year I lived the world and it was everything.