Explore. Dream. Discover. - The End Of A Journey


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December 18th 2009
Published: December 18th 2009
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1: Pictures of Darren & Michelle 417 secs
Firstly I'd like to thank all those who have read my blog's over the past nine months. I hope that you enjoyed them and hopefully I will get to do more in the future. The words of Frank Sinatra's My Way sum up our last nine months more than I can ever imagine writing it. We can relate to every word and sentence, to describe the journey we have being through. If you read nothing else but the word’s of the song, I’ll be happy you know how we feel about our time. It’s better if you listen to it and read the words at the same time. You Tube should help!

And now, the end is here,
And so I face the final curtain,
My friend, I'll say it clear, I'll state my case, of, which I'm certain
I've lived a life that's full, I travelled each and every highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way

Regrets, I've had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way

Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way

I've loved, I've laughed and cried
I've had my fill, my share of losing
And now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing
To think I did all that
And may I say, not in a shy way,
"Oh, no, oh, no, not me, I did it my way"

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!

Yes, it was my way - Frank Sinatra & Feelings of DH & MC



How do you write a blog that sums up nine and a half months of travel in less than 2000 words. Easy for some, but I have a tendency to want to include everything in my blogs and compressing over 9 months of travel into that amount of space will be hard. 53 words used up already. Now 61! I’ll stop there.64! The pictures are probably the best way of describing all our memories but they cannot tell everyone about all the amazing people we met, things we never new we liked, moments that stick out and difficulties encountered. That’s where I come in and don’t worry, if you tell me you have read my final blog, I wont torture you with my collection of over 16,000 photo’s when we get home.

Firstly though, we’re as excited and sad to be coming home, as the day we left to fly to Rio. I never thought I’d say it, but it’s time to come home. We can already hear the Christmas songs in our heads and are really excited about seeing family and friends again. We haven’t changed a bit, we think. Life and the way we see things has certainly changed but our personalities are the same. Don’t expect any hippies, green peace activists or vegetarians to arrive home, not that we don’t respect their beliefs! The only thing different is our skin colour after a few weeks on the Thai beaches. Girls, you better top up the fake tan as Michelle is looking darker than ever before.

People
We were only a week or two gone from home when we realised that travelling is half about the sights we see and the other half about the people we meet. It was seldom we were alone and anyone afraid of solo travel should think more about how they will get some time to themselves. Little conversations like ‘do you guys know any good hostels’ turn into a few weeks of travelling together. Katy’s first word’s to us was ‘you guys come prepared’ in response to our flask, tea bags, sandwiches and crisps we had on a bus in Patagonia. The amount of people we have shared amazing memories with is too long to mention. Our guides for certain tours were excellent as well, and some of the most amazing characters we have met. We have made friends with people from all over the world and hopefully some will visit us over time. We rarely had a bad word to say about any locals in their own country and always found them helpful and friendly. Every(nearly) country the people were really friendly and then other countries were super friendly.

Favourite Country
We always get asked the question….. “what is our favourite country?”. Once when I was asked, I hesitated and the guy told me to get off the fence. Now I’m getting off the fence. It has to be Thailand, although, I think it only beats New Zealand because of the food. Each and every time the food is top quality and tasty. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. There is no such thing as a bad meal in Thailand unless you are eating western food. If Thailand was a shop it would win hands down for customer service every time. Nothing is a problem and everything comes with a smile (most of the time!). It is why it has excelled so much in tourism ahead of all the other countries in SE Asia. The smile is infectious and apparently smiling release’s happy hormones (or so it said in one of the 100 episodes of Bones we have recently watched!). New Zealand is a very close second. This country has undoubtedly the most friendly people on the planet. Every where we went people wanted to talk to us and give us advise. Thai’s are friendly but sometimes there might be an agenda. With Kiwi’s there is no agenda. Also, if meat pies’ weren’t so bad for you, it would also beat Thailand for food!! I better not forget New Zealand lamb either. The country though is just one incredible scenic picture after another. Every corner turned deserves a photo. If we were to list our top 5 each mine would be:
1; Thailand 2;NewZealand 3;Peru, Argentina & Laos (all joint third) Michelle would be:
1; Thailand, Australia, Peru, Argentina & New Zealand. All joint first as she has decided to not come off the fence!!

South America was undoubtedly our favourite part of the trip. Everything was an adventure and most of our best memories are from there. We would love to go back and finish off the other countries we were unable to visit some day and hopefully sooner rather than later! The mere mention of the continent can be a mistake around the two of us. The reason, we will spend hours talking about it and telling you how great it is. We couldn't say enough good things about the place and will forever hold a place in our hearts.


“Remember That Time?”
We will definitely have lots of ‘remember that time’ moments and here are a ‘few’ that stick out the most……. Being afraid to bring our camera out on our first few days of travel after landing in Rio. Looking on in awe at the raw power of the Iguassu waterfalls and getting burnt alive the following day on the Argentinean side. Celebrating St. Patrick’s day in Buenos Aires just like we would at home. Getting into our thermal wear for the first time in Ushuaia and walking to the supermarket to test it out. Standing for three straight hours staring at Perito Moreno Glacier in southern Argentina. Trekking to the top of Laguna Las Torres in El Chalten and having a cup of Lyons tea on the snowy slopes. Celebrating Easter in Bariloche, the home of Argentina’s best chocolate. Our bikes breaking down, one after the other, while on a wine tour in Mendoza. Trapiche Collecion Roble, best wine award from me! Katy disappearing on her horse who refused to go down a steep hill… apparently he was heading home! Star gazing with an eccentric French astronomer in the cold Chilean desert. Our van breaking down at over 5,000m’s altitude and enjoying the vast empty space of the Bolivian altiplano. Sunrise over the Bolivian salt flats. Getting caught up in the middle of a demonstration in La Paz, where riot police lined the street. Two young kids conning me out of 50c by pretending to pose for a photo and then charging me, in Isla Taquile, Peru. Finding the gem that is the city of Arequipa. Staring at death while sand boarding in Huacchina. Reaching the top of the Colca Canyon after 3hrs up hill and no water for 1hr 30mins in the mid-day sun. Making it to the Sun Gate above Machu Picchu after 4 days of trekking. Picking up Ted our Campervan in New Zealand. Thinking we might need a GPS for New Zealand!. Walking into a glass door in Waipu and wondering what the loud bang was before realizing it was me. Seeing Killer Whales by accident on our first day in New Zealand. Bungy jumping from 134m(450ft) in the sky and then swinging 300m across a canyon. Trekking Franz Josef Glacier. Making Fr. Jack the snowman after getting snowed into our camper van for three days. Eating shell fish a lone fisherman had plucked from the sea in front of me on 90 mile beach, New Zealand. Seeing dolphins show off in Doubtful Sound. Landing in Sydney and having a great time with Michelle‘s friends Danny and Michelle from home. Shown amazing hospitality and kindness by Michelle’s relations Sally & Tony in Sydney. We arrived on a Sunday for a BBQ and left on the Thursday having being fed the best in over 4 months. Michelle running off screaming through fields after seeing an owl on our car door. Swimming with dolphins, as amazing as it gets. Going for one drink in Suffers Paradise, Australia, and blowing all our food, petrol, and accommodation budget for 4 days in one night. Meeting more friends from home in Rainbow beach. Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef and seeing Humpback whales somersault out of the water. Having Vietnamese in Chinatown, in Singapore for my 30th. Staying with ex head-hunters for a night and looking into the eyes of a Orang-utan in Borneo. Rolling down a stairs at Niah, the worlds biggest cave, only to be saved by a jagged rock from going over the edge. Swimming with Giant green Turtles and reef tip Sharks in Malaysia. Crossing the bridge over the River Kwai and visiting the dark and depressing Hell Fire Pass. Pedalling for nearly 30 mins with a flat tyre before conceding defeat while visiting Temples in Ayutthaya, Thailand. Getting my haircut in Chiang Mai by a lady boy. Travelling down the Mekong river for two days in Laos and making some great friends. Singing The Fields of Athenry, while floating in a tube in the dark of night down a river in Laos. Tubing I think they call it! Living it up for a week with Cathal and Meave in Thailand for the full moon party. Being told to go back to Bangkok if we wanted to pay dollars at the Cambodian border and then going on the craziest drive of our lives to Siem Reap. Remembering that feeling of adventure you got as a boy when running around Ta Prohm at the temples of Angkor. A tuk-tuk driver trying to fix a puncture I got for half an hour, breaking his own pump and refusing to except a penny off me in Cambodia. The shock and horror of what Cambodians did to each other at the killing fields through out the country. Our 30sec taxi drive turning into a 15min journey and costing €10. Welcome to Vietnam. The sadness after visiting the ‘American’ war Museum in Saigon and realising the crimes that were committed. Michelle’s birthday going absolutely pear shaped when our 12hr bus journey turned into 24hrs. Kayaking in Halong bay. One of those memories we need to block out! The realisation that our last 3 weeks before going home on the Islands of Thailand would go faster than anything we’ve done before. Also, realising that we are as Happy/Excited/Sad to be going home as we were the day we left Ireland.

Us
Another question that we have been asked and will probably be asked 100’s of times when we get home is, how have we survived the nine months together? Some tough days, 100’s of great days. Imagine spending 24/7 with your husband/wife, girlfriend/boyfriend, friends or siblings. It’s not always easy. Most people only spend a few hours every evening together in the their normal lives, so 24/7 is completely different. We have spent only a few hours apart, no more than five times. Lots of couples go travelling together and don’t make it back home as a couple. Luckily we have lasted right to the end! It was most difficult when we had to move from one place to another. Basically the travelling bit! Journeys were long, we were
generally hot and sticky, with little or no sleep and only crisps and water to feed ourselves with. That’s when tempers became frayed.

Having someone there though, to share each experience with, is better than any photo you can take. When we both get home we will be living separately with our parents. That’s going to be strange and probably lonely. Basically going from one extreme to another. Imagine the strange sensation we will feel when getting into separate cars at Dublin airport to make the final journey home to Galway. It’s not like we will be hundreds of miles from each other, in fact about a 20min drive, but it’s still going to be really weird.


What Next?
God knows! We’ll have to try an adjust back to our normal lives for starters. Alarm clocks, dark mornings and evenings, rain, Guinness, Bacon & Cabbage, proper milk, Tayto, cheddar cheese, butter, potatoes, …….. Maybe it wont be that hard! Hopefully work will find it’s way to us sooner rather than later as well. When I say ‘What next?’, I really mean, where are we going next?! Well here’s our list that should keep us busy for a few years. Scotland, Turkey, Beijing to Moscow train, India, China, Columbia, anywhere in Africa, Antarctica and something tells me I should go to Trinidad and Tobago (my mother bought me the lonely planet for there when I last went to Thailand!). Travel really isn’t a bug, as you can cure bug’s. It’s more like an incurable disease and the only way to stay alive is by visiting new countries. If one day I became super rich or even win the lotto I’d love to travel long term again.


Well, that’s it. There is loads more I could try and fit in here but then it would be too long. After 289 days, 41 weeks or 9 ½ months, its time to pack our bags for one last time. We’ve circumnavigated the globe. Ten’s of thousands of kilometres travelled. 14 countries. God knows how many race’s, religions and delicacies. Learned Hello and Thank You in numerous languages and most of all, we’ve had a blast. The time of our lives.

A quote from Mark Twain has gone through my head every day since we left. It was the opening to my first blog and probably fitting to end my final blog. The final three words are my favourite -

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the things that you did do. So throw of the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. - Mark Twain



In a bit. DH

Song of the blog: My Way - Frank Sinatra







Additional photos below
Photos: 141, Displayed: 33


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18th December 2009

The end! What a pity! Maybe you will still visit us here on TravelBlog, now and again after you get home. :)
18th December 2009

welcome home!
WELCOME HOME!
19th December 2009

I'm an addict so I probably will! Hopefully now I can answer more of people's questions in the travel forums, It's hard when your on the road but it should be a bit easier now!
19th December 2009

Thanks Siobhan!
19th December 2009

Merry Christmas!
Some dream their life, I live my dreams! Welcome to the club! And when it comes to travel, no more dreams, only projects, plans and choices! Sad we never met, but I m sure this will happen one day.
19th December 2009

awh its so sad but so good all at once! cant wait to see ye!!!
19th December 2009

ps thanks for the tip bout Shellys fake tan, our layers are being piled on as we speak!
19th December 2009

Thailand is a favourite of mine, so I'll definitely be back!
20th December 2009

Haha I love how "getting back to normal" solely revolves around food! Hope the first glass of milk is amazing. By the way, I also want to do the Trans Siberian train and Colombia - see you there?xx
20th December 2009

im cuming too....
Im sooo excited ye'r on ye'r journey home.....but goina miss the bloggs! gud work daz :) P.s. Next rd trip.......is there room for 1 more ha! see ye soon yeh!
20th December 2009

fab round up
Wow fab end to your blog.. It's made us feel quite sad reading this as we're also going home soon and it brings back memories of all the amazing times we've had... sad times for having to go home but happy times for having experienced some of the most amazing things there are to experience in the world :o)
21st December 2009

Thanks a million. Make sure you enjoy each and every last minute as come home is only fun for so long!
3rd January 2010

Well done!
Sorry to see your blogs come to an end, but well done on keeping them going for the 9.5 months you were on the road (as we know, it's not easy!) Hopefully, it won't be too long til the next one.... Best of luck for the future, Dee & Lorna
14th March 2010

Well done
Hey guys, I have been meaning to comment on this entry a while now - well done! I hope that my final blog (I am afraid it will have to come one day) will be just as thoughtful as this one!
14th March 2010

Cheers. Good to know people liked it!

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