Published: July 26th 2011July 27th 2011
When I started planning my round the world trip, 6 months seem'd like an eternity, 3 months later, its seems like it was a blink of an eye. I don't know what I expected when i booked my trip. Honestly I don't know why I picked the countries I did. I don't know how I made it round in one piece, I don't know...
And thats the conclusion I've come to. That there is no conclusion. That this trip raised as many questions as it answered. I don't think I expected to find any answers if I'm honest, but I certainly didn't expect any more questions, and yet I find myself back in the UK as I begun, much poorer, but all the richer for the experiences I had... will always have! And thats the answer, that the questions I found were my answers.
I deliberately planned my trip without much advice. I planned it as a solo trip because for the first time in my life I wanted to do something for me. In the most selfish way. I wanted to go where I wanted to go, be where I wanted to be and do as I wanted
to do, and that was the first question I came across. Do I really like being on my own? I always thought I did. Sure I'm a sociable creature at home, but I often crave that alone time. Those precious moments when you can be your own island and block the world out. Yet I found my first few weeks in China intensely lonely. I walked for miles on my own and pleased myself with my itinerary, but I quickly realised that for me, experiences are great, but they're all the richer if you have someone to share them with. Form then on in, I changed my style and mixed with others where I could. Walking the great wall, seeing the forgotten army. All amazing sights, but all the more amazing for sharing those experiences with other people. People I have kept in touch with since, sometimes only spending a few days with them, yet feeling like I had known them for a lifetime.
Before I left I was warned of all the scams I would encounter. I'm so glad I was, otherwise my trip might have been a different story. But should I trust people more? I've always
been a cynical sort. Not in a bitter way, but life taught me early on that not everyone can be trusted. That alone kept me safe from the student scammers in China and yet as I left, my most rewarding experience came from trusting someone I shouldn't have. Someone who gave me their seat on a bus and then led me safely through the bustling crowds to my train and then walked away without asking for a penny, just pleased that I had come to their country. How was that? Had I been wrong to be so cynical until then?
And then there was the month of Muay Thai. Having realised so early that my travels were all the richer for sharing them with other people, why did I elect to complete a month of training where I would by default be excluded from those very experiences? Because I knew I had more questions to ask myself. Would I be able to stick training 8hrs a day for a month in intense heat? Could I go to bed at 9pm when everyone else around me was heading out to party? Was I a sheep who would blindly follow others,
or strike it out alone when everyone was heading the other way? I guess I had something to prove to myself, that no matter how hard something may seem, will alone could overcome it. And it did. I look back at that month now and it was the single biggest experience of my trip, maybe my life. I learnt that no matter how many blisters I got on my feet, no matter how many bruises I got on my arms or kicks and punches I took, I was capable of anything when I set my mind to it. It was probably the only question I answered.
I can't write this piece on my trip without mentioning photography. A hobby i took up a few months before travelling quickly became a passion. It became my life. I found something which I'm extremely passionate about and more importantly it became a joy. Now its an integral way of living for me. I rarely venture out now without my baby. In fact I feel lost without it. I learnt so much in my six month travelling. I didn't know my aperture from my ISO when I started. Now I know so much,
but I know I have even more to learn. I look back on my early photo's and realise how many mistakes I was making. I'm still making, but I love learning from those mistakes. This entry includes my favourite 100 pictures from my trip.
Finally there was Melissa. I'd spent my whole trip avoiding female contact, ignoring their charms, and looking the other way when opportunity presented itself. Yet from the moment I met her, I forgot those rules. Actually I didn't forget. I just didn't care. I realised that by not trusting people, I might stop things happening which I didn't like, but i was all the poorer for those I wasn't letting into my life. In the end we split after 9 months, but you have to put yourself out there to know.
So what would I have done differently? Honestly...nothing. I don't think I could have. I deliberately left my itinerary open and with that came risk. I could end up travelling for six months with little to show for it, or the tide of my travels would sweep me to magical moments I would never forget. Is it luck which drives us into the
arms of another or makes us change our plans not knowing what the rewards will be? I'm not sure it is. Luck is like a beautiful butterfly who is trapped in your house. If you try and catch it it will only elude you. All you can do is cajole it to an open window where it will reward you with its magnificent flight into the open world. And thats what I did. I couldn't force great moments, but I could allow them to reward me by opening myself up to their existence and helping them on their way. And reward me they did. Changing my plans at the last minute in Thailand to complete my Muai Thai training, opening myself up to Melissa and travelling with her, trusting the man on the bus to catch my train on time. Trusting two men in Kuala Lumpar who stopped me being ripped off, waiting for Mike rather than heading to Hoi Ann. My journey was littered with choices I made, which opened my world up and rewarded me richly.
In the end. This trip was a defining moment for me. Anyone who has come to the end of their travels
know's that its not really the end. It was simply the starter, which once you've tasted, opens your mind up to the possibilities of the delights to come. The world has been made smaller by technology and modern transport, but its still a beautiful mix of experiences. One which holds many treasures. Its so easy to become self absorbed with your own little world, that you forget there is another one passing you by. For me I now know I will travel again, because as someone reminded me, at the end of the day, when death is upon us its the experiences we have and the people we share those with that stay with us in this life. The only time that counts is now. Don't make the mistake of letting those moments go.
If anyone is reading this and unsure wether to go on their own journey, then I hope this entry guides you as my hands guided that butterfly. Let your wings experience the wider world and not the confines of your house. You'll be all the better for doing so and the world will have one more beautiful person to experience.
There are more photos below