Coming Home!

Trip Start May 01, 2010
Trip End Apr 30, 2011

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Where I stayed
Hanting Inn

Flag of China  , Yunnan,
Friday, April 29, 2011

It’s been 365 days, 109 buses, 174 taxis, 30 trains, 57 boats and 17 planes since we left the UK. We have now reached the end of our trip and we’re coming home! We have so many mixed feelings about this. We are incredibly excited about seeing family and friends and our beloved Blighty but we are also very sad that the adventure has come to an end.

We took this year out to escape from the mundane realities of everyday life and explore the big wide world. It may be a cliché but it is true that travel broadens the mind. We have seen so many different ways of living and being that turn western society’s norms and conventions on its head. You realise that there is not one blueprint of how to live your life but an endless variety of possibilities, each one as valid as the next. It is also of course true that travel makes you grateful for what we have in the west. In all of the countries we have visited, we have seen people with little in the way of material possessions. Sometimes this poverty can seem depressing, especially in the colder places we have been to where life must be hard, but more often than not people seem to be simply getting on with their lives with the little that they have and appear happy to be doing so. One thing that was often apparent, however, was how many people we met who had never been abroad and who had little chance of ever doing so. We were always a bit cagey in telling people that we were travelling for a year, knowing that this is an impossible dream for most. Another thing we have been made grateful for is living in a country where we have access to free, good quality healthcare, education and freedom of speech. We moan about the NHS and state of our schools but sometimes we forget just how lucky we are.

One of the main reasons for us travelling was to explore the natural world and visit some of the world’s centres of biodiversity. We are both passionate about nature and are acutely aware that the wild places of the world are disappearing fast amid an exploding population with an insatiable appetite for consumption. Travelling has made us even more aware of just how patchy the distribution of natural habitats has become especially with regards to rainforest. Apart from just a handful of places like the Amazon basin, rainforest is now found in little pockets surrounded by a sea of agriculture or urbanisation. We both find this deeply depressing and our only consolation is that we have been able to see many of these wonderful, beautiful places while they still exist. It is true that travelling by plane is probably the worst thing an individual can do to when it comes to increasing their carbon footprint. However, we are both supporters of eco-tourism and have seen first-hand the contribution that genuine community based eco-tourism has had on local habitats and wildlife. From the cloud forests of Santa Lucia in Ecuador to the tropical forests of the Cardamom Mountains in Cambodia, these places are being protected because a project has been set up that protects wildlife while providing local communities with an income. In the coastal forest of north-west Ecuador we visited a remote village which is trying to use eco-tourism as an alternative to cutting down their forests and turning to gold mining which all the neighbouring villages have done. Without support from visitors like us, these forests would be fast diminishing. We strongly believe, therefore, that genuine eco-tourism has an important role to play in protecting the world’s natural habitats and would urge anyone planning their next trip abroad to consider visiting and supporting one of the many eco-tourism projects that currently exist around the world.

When we were getting ready to leave this time last year, we were both a little nervous about travelling for a whole year and how we would cope with the various challenges that would inevitably be thrown at us. We also wondered how we would develop as people and whether travel would have a positive effect on us. I like to think that we have hopefully become more adaptable, resourceful and confident in our abilities to deal with situations. Whether we actually have or not is, however, rather difficult to tell without perhaps coming home to our previous lives and seeing how we face everyday life. The trouble with this is that we are not actually returning to our previous lives. Instead we will be home for a few months before heading off to the other side of the world to see what the land down under has to offer. I have some doubts about leaving family, friends and my homeland again so soon but it has been Tom’s dream for many years and the Australian economy is booming, unlike the UK, so financially, it is probably a good move. Also the travel bug is still very much alive and well in us both and being based in Australia will allow us to travel and explore that part of the world, in particular New Zealand, Tasmania, Indonesia and the islands of the South Pacific. I have agreed to give it a go despite my doubts and Tom had likewise agreed to start a family despite his many doubts about that!

Before I sign off for the last time, I want to say many thanks to everyone who has been following our blog. I hope you have enjoyed it and that it has encouraged you to dream of faraway places and to escape from the mundane!

See you very soon, lots of love Mog and Frog

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Maria woods on

Thank you for allowing me to enjoy your wonderful adventure and a Happy Birthday to Thomas on Friday.
Fantastic news about Australia- life is so short you should try everything including producing another little Mog or frog!

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