All Good Things Must Come to an end

Trip Start Mar 13, 2010
Trip End Feb 13, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Nevada
Thursday, February 3, 2011

There is a quote that says "Las Vegas tries to camouflage the hours and retard the dawn, everybody knows that if you're feeling lucky you're really feeling time in its rawest form, and if
you're not feeling lucky, they've got a clock at the bus station." - so very true.

We had got to the point where we'd been inside for so long that we were becoming super-charged (literally, not emotionally) to the point where touching anything, including each other, resulted in a sharp static shock. We figured that this was a sign that we should get out a bit, so we braved the freezing (but beautifully clear) weather and set off up the strip. We were greeted by a myriad of characters along the way, all busking for money in exchange for a photo's taken by their sides, a bit like a Hollywood version of Las Ramblas in Barcelona. During our little excursion we visited a massive shopping mall that had indoor weather - the 'sky' would cloud over intermittently and it would rain. Yes, actually RAIN inside, complete with thunder and lightning. We also visited the MGM casino which still houses ancestors of the famous MGM lion in a large glass cage next to the machines. Without being too much of a kill-joy, I did find it difficult seeing the lions chilling out in a room that is filled with music and flashing neon lights 24 hours a day. I thought back to the Ngororo Crater and Etosha where those lions could roam freely in open land without seeing a building or a human for days and felt a bit sad for the creatures in front of me. Still, if we're making comparisons, it was infinitely better off there than some of the poor animals in Chatuchak Market in Bangkok. I guess these stark contrasts are just something you have to be able to handle once you've seen so many different practices from around the world.

We walked our feet off that afternoon, getting around loads of super themed casinos, yet still not even scratching the surface of what there was to see. From Ceasers to the Eiffel tower of the Paris restaurant, many of them were familiar from films and TV, but arguably none more so than the Bellagio. Every half hour the famous fountains dance to music, we saw The Pink Panther, Time to Say Goodbye and amazingly, Star Spangled Banner. They were all brilliant, especially when it was dark and they lit up.

Eventually we got a taxi back to The Luxor even though we were just up the strip. We were exhausted, and despite our gargantuan food intake we'd had very few nutrients in the last 2 weeks. It was also absolutely freezing! Unfortunately we didn't go and see the Grand Canyon whilst we were in the area as Mark, our designated driver, had a pretty bad cold and wasn't feeling up to the 7.5 hour round trip. It was a shame, but a great excuse to have to go back one day!

While we'd been in America with all of our friends, the time had flown by doing something every single day. It was a world away from our sleepy weeks in Chang Mai where we'd just pad around temples, relax, read and eat Thai food every day. In fact we'd been kept so busy that there was no real 'countdown' for the end of our trip. One morning we'd packed up our room (stealing all shampoos and soaps, naturally) and were back in the minivan heading towards LA before it sunk in...

We were about to head home after 11 months away.

It was all over! All of the stuff we'd seen whilst flicking longingly through various guide books for months - we'd done it. All of the places had been seen, all of the food had been eaten. Luckily, the excitement of seeing home was greater at that point than the mourning of the end of our journey. Simply getting on the same flight as our friends made us feel like we were already home, after countless hours (perhaps even days) in airports around the world with just the two of us playing cards, we now had other people to chat to, have coffee and shop the duty free with. We were still having fun, and so when the plane descended 10 hours later through the low lying grey clouds to give us our first glimpse of England, it was a happy moment, not a sad one. To see English patchwork fields whizzing below us, to hear English accents on the tannoys in the airport, to actually know where we were going in the airport(!) - it all felt familiar and homely and we were glad to be back. Even when we arrived back home, despite the addition of some welcome back balloons on the door, it looked just as we'd left it and the whole trip was starting to feel like a dream already.

**Six Months Later**

We are still getting back onto our feet after the life changing decision to pack everything in and travel the world. I finally got the chance to meet my new niece, Jessica, who was born when we were in Singapore. Mark has been happily reunited with his PlayStation 3 and Football Manager.  Yes, we are further behind in terms of careers and property than we might have been if we'd stayed where we were in 2009, but neither of us would change it for the world. The trip definitely tested us, from being robbed to Mark's Malaria, to the hours and days with only each other for company. But we've come out of it stronger and better. We've made friends that will be friends for life, gained an understanding of how diverse cultures and values on this planet can really be, and widened our culinary horizons beyond anything I knew was possible!

So that's it, the end of 'Annie and Mark's Great Adventure'. If you've been reading this blog to keep track of us on our travels from home, I hope it's made you sufficiently jealous! If you've just come across the Blog on the internet, or are thinking of visiting any of the places we've been to, all I can say is...DO IT!!
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