If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear..

Trip Start Sep 01, 2010
Trip End Jun 18, 2011

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Flag of United Kingdom  , Wales,
Monday, September 12, 2011

….. If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.

So we have been back just over two months now and although the time since our arrival in the UK has passed in the blink of an eye, it seems an age since we were travelling.

It was the 1st of September the other day, marking one year since we embarked upon our adventures and we were both feeling very emotional thinking that this time last year we were on a flight to Hong Kong and we were reflecting on all the incredible events and sights we have experienced.  One aspect of our travels which meant a great deal to us was the way in which we had the opportunity to absorb so much about different religions and how for a large number of the people we met it is engrained in their daily lives.  We took a special interest in Buddhism, especially as its teachings focus more on a mantra of how to live your life in a positive and reflective way, rather than focusing your prayers on an individual.  Moments such as the meditation course in Chiang Mai, the overwhelming number of temples and sights of sacred significant we visited and our time spent in Zhongdian (Shangri-La) surround by smoking stupas and prayer flags have had a profound effect on us.  The other night we were watching a programme on TV called 'The Seven Wonders of the Buddhist World' and unsurprisingly we had been to the majority of the sights featured.   What did surprises us was one of the sights featured was ‘Wat Pho’ in Bangkok, home of the world largest reclining Buddha.  Me and Hayley looked at each other in disbelief as when we visited the site six months ago there had been a film crew there and we through that we had recognised the presenter.  It was the same presenter and they had been filming the documentary while we were there, so we spent the next 15 minutes studying the crowds to see if we could spot ourselves in the background.  It seems strange to watch documentaries like this and remind ourselves that we have been there, to that far off foreign place, where everything looks different and people stare at you, not to be rude, but because you look different and they are intrigued by you.

I am finding it very hard to readjust to being back, our daily lives and western approach to life is at times completely alien to how we spent our time in Asia.  I am finding it hard to accept how wasteful, unappreciative and uncaring people can be with one another in their daily lives, with no objective but to look out for themselves.  The main purpose of this blog has always been to be able to capture our experiences and feelings throughout our entire journey, so that we can look back and see how we honestly felt at times, through the highs and lows.  I know that in time I will look back at this entry and feel differently, but at this moment in time I am often finding I feel quite numb and low at times.  Our initial plan for when we returned was to stay with my parents for a week or two, until we could find work and resettle in our own house.  Regrettably 7weeks on, neither of us have been able to secure even an interview, with so little job opportunities in the area at the moment.  Many of our friends that we made along our travels have gone back out to Australia or New Zealand to get work, having returned to the UK and come to the conclusion;

‘If you’re gonna get stuck in a dead end job, you might as well go and do it in a new country, experience and explore somewhere new’

A large part of me agrees with them and the notion of going out to Australia and working for a six month period appeals to me more each day.

When I try to look back at all the amazing experiences we have had, the incredible people we have met and the places that we have visited, I feel overwhelmed and unable to clearly and coherently explain just how much of an impact on my life what I have seen and done has had upon me.  It seems funny to think that initially we only set out with the objective of going on a three week holiday to Australia and then decided that if we were going all the way over there we might as well see some of New Zealand as well.  Before we knew it our plans had mushroomed and we had decided to give up all we owned and visit 7, maybe 8 countries.  Again this all changed as we travelled, with us visiting 11 countries in total, not including the fact that we visited Singapore and Thailand twice.  I can honestly say as I sit here unemployed, living with my parents and running out of savings, I don’t regret a moment of it and I wouldn’t change a single thing that we did.  The feeling of turning up in a new country, not speaking a word of the language, having no accommodation booked and finding that the cash machine doesn’t work is one of the most terrifying initial few minutes you will experience, but in spite of this you know that if you stay calm and take a deep breath somehow everything will resolve itself.  You have no idea at that exact moment how, but you just have to trust that it will and do you know what, it worked every time.  Somehow every situation we would find ourselves in would resolve itself and the feeling of total freedom, independence and achievement that would later follow makes the whole ordeal worthwhile.  The more we found ourselves in situations like this, it reminded me of a sign I saw outside a shop in Dunedin N.Z, ‘Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.’ And it’s true.  Each time we were faced with a new dilemma, such as been kicked off a coach on the middle of a highway or turning up in China with no yen and finding the cash machine declining our cards, we would find past situations would make the current problem somehow easier to overcome.  In some ways as much as I struggled at times with the fact that in Asia it is very hard to book anything ahead of time or whatever plans you may have chances are something will happen to alter their outcome, for example having to turn up at a bus station to try and catch an overnight bus, which may or may not be running or may already be full in which case you can wait around for a few hours and see it another one decides it will be going, I can’t help but feel that everything is a bit too easy back home.  People seem to panic if they don’t know a week in advanced every tiny detail of their journey, like which platform their pre-booked train will be leaving from at the station, never mind the fact that they can rest assured knowing that there will be a train, someone isn’t going to try and charge you double when you arrive at the station and that there is some form of timetable in place.  I worry that people think that I am ungrateful or only seem to moan about everything since we returned or that I seem too preachy about all the waste I see, but I often find it hard not to draw parallels between western and eastern society and culture, everything seems in contrast so heavily at times with one another.  The truth is that I couldn’t be happier to be back and I think that if we had kept on travelling we would have both burnt out.  I admittedly find it very hard at times to keep myself occupied and I struggle to concentrate since returning as I’m not use to being so static, we would normally never stay in one place for more than 4-5 days and we would be running around trying to make sure that we took in as much as we could see, smell, taste and absorb.  There is no doubt in my mind that we will continue to travel, but in what form I do not know, possibly travelling only for a few weeks at a time or maybe we will try working and living in one location for a while.  All I do know is that at the moment we are set on getting settled back in North Wales, spending time with our families, who have supported us all the way around the world and appreciating all that we have around us.  Being away really helped us to realise just how beautiful it is around Snowdonia and how unwittingly we had taken it for granted when we were here last.  We cannot wait to get out more, be more active and enjoy exploring our surrounding area more and the rest of the UK.  Can you believe that I’ve been all around the world and I’ve never been to Scotland.  Time to explore a little closer to home for the time being I think.

Diego signing off ……. for now …..

……….Tibet and Nepal look interesting.
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rach on

omg it seems like youve never been away !!! well you have both got jobs and your back living in deganwy (much nicer house this time i may add !!! ) this time last year you were in aussie and suning yourselfs on the beaches there , and now your back home frezzing your bits off lol .what a diffirence a year makes xxxx

rachel beech on

well hello there !!!! where has the time gone ?? so hard to believe that you have been home a whole year , bet you wish u were back there traveling , well your going back to hong kong in september,so you must have got over your flying phobia hayley lol ,tom youve just started a new job and your house is upside down what a few months youve had , but youve got through it together !! well i never thought id be writing on here again , but i always come back on here every few weeks just to relive your adventures because i loved every one off them (well nearly all ,hated your "poorly time ") lots a love to you both ,your big sis rachel xxxxxx
ps love you to deganwy and back lol xx

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