347 days,16 countries,95 places,24 flights later..

Trip Start Aug 28, 2012
Trip End Aug 09, 2013

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Friday, August 9, 2013

9th Aug and beyond – Home

Arriving back in England was weird; we we're no longer arriving in another country or another city to add to our ever expanding list. We were back in England, somewhere that we had missed due to its people, food and places, but what seems so plain now compared to what we have seen and done.  I was on the verge of crying when I got off the plane, for a number of reasons; the end of the year, seeing family, being home amongst many other mixes of emotions, and even thought I’ve been back for 2 days I am still in some sort of daydream world, wondering if the past year actually happened or was a long dream and that I never left the reality I am now in. 

Rather than dwelling on the niceness, weirdness, differentness and unusual feelings that home has made me feel, as well as emphasising the excitement of seeing my family or soon seeing my friend, I will instead present the facts of the past year:

-         I travelled for almost a year, for 347 days to 16 countries, visiting 95 different places by taking 24 flights.

         I have travelled 93,444km (trying to ignore my carbon footprint)

         I worked my way through 6 pairs of flip flops, 5 pairs of sunglasses, 4 watches, 3 packets of hair dye, 2 hand luggage bags and managed to keep my 1 rucksack the whole time!

         I left the UK with 12kg of luggage and returned with 20kg having sent 3 lots home along the way.

I have learnt that I appreciate food a lot more than I thought (as this seems to take up the majority of my blog), still don’t like wine, still have an unbelievably sweet tooth, can be more chilled if something doesn’t go to plan and love being in places different from home.  India, China then Laos were by far my favourite countries because of this reason; due to their culture, colours and people these countries are so different from the reality of England and life living in a developed country.  They open your eyes to so much, such different lives and families and traditions that you could never understand, make up or dream of without visiting the countries, amercing yourself in with the locals and getting lost in the back streets of third world countries.  Even the poorest of people have shown us such generosity and I would not hesitate to go back to these countries given the opportunity.

The best thing I did on my trip that I would recommend for everyone to give a go is scuba diving.  This is the thing I am most happy I did during the trip (and hope to continue in the future) and has opened eyes to another world, as Sebastian put it from the Little Mermaid "Life under the sea"!

It is impossible to pick a high-light or best bit of the trip as so many are great but for such different reasons.  But thinking about the trip these are the bits that I remember so clearly and stick out; maybe not always for good reasons, but just because they are memorable and ultimately funny, amazing or downright awful – but you have to look back and laugh now!

The animals: Seeing humpaback whales breaching the water metres away, seeing a manta ray, stroking tigers and cheetahs, working with elephants and seeing pandas

The people: Making some amazing friends along the way, all of whom should know who they are,  including the Palolem crew, Brazilian boys, Heptagon, Vietnam Christmas crew, Elephant Nature Park lot, Magnetic Island crew, Fraser Island people, our little sisters along the way, friends from the past in South Africa, the friends and family who had us to stay along the way and of course, Lara!

The sights: Seeing the Taj Mahal, the ice buildings and sculptures in the Harbin, China, the scenery in Laos, Chiang Mai, Pai and New Zealand, the beaches in Indonesia, Thailand and Australia, the beautiful diving in Australia, South Africa, Thailand and Mozambique, and the architecture in Hong Kong, KL and China.

The experiences: Getting a local bus in India that had about double the amount of allowed people on it and someone still managed to sell a watermelon in the crush, tobogganing down the Great Wall of China, Chinese New Year with fireworks going off everywhere, being stopped by the police in Vietnam in the middle of the night for smuggling snakes

The parties: Partying with 9 hot Brazilians in Indonesia, the party boats and booze cruises in Vietnam and Cambodia, spending Christmas day with ~80 people, partying on Magnetic Island, the Thai islands, Queenstown and Bangkok, being treated to the extreme in Singapore.

And maybe the most impressive fact; I travelled with my best friend, more or less 24/7 for 321 days!

And that’s it, I’m home, no more blogging, and the only question left...

Where next? :)
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