Wanderly Wagon - Darren & Michelle

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March 5th 2009
Published: March 5th 2009
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Wanderly Wagon

“ 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 harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” - Mark Twain

Mid-February’08, over coffee at Sam Baileys the two of us utter the words “feck it, lets do it”. This was before we had even gone to Thailand in March ‘08. Did either one of us really believe the other? Maybe we were just getting caught up in the excitement of going to Thailand. The idea was dropped to friends and family but most brushed it aside as a fantasy or dream. Lots of people talk of doing many things but most never do much. I know personally I have had many ideas that remained that way, just an idea. This was something different though. I knew it was something that I needed to do. Luckily for me I had somebody special who wanted to do it too. We had both traveled a lot since we started seeing each other . Even a few days after we started “officially” going out, we jumped on a train to Belfast after deciding only a few hours previous that we should go see Oasis play in the northern city. Soon travel would become our thing, visiting many great places like Krakow, Corfu and Rome. We even took a day trip to London for the hell of it. (only cost 4c with Ryanair, who wouldn’t go!). Now though, we were about to embark on the greatest adventure of them all…. To travel the world!
Traveling to Thailand only added fuel to the already burning passion, that was, to travel the world. Routes and ideas were thrown around . South America or not? South Africa for the Lions tour? Drive across U.S.? What about Trinidad and Tobago? (that’s for you mam!!!). Will we work? Follow the sun? How much money? The questions were endless. After much debate we decided on our route. South America, NZ, Australia and SE Asia. A total of fourteen countries on three different continents. It was also decided that we wouldn’t work and for this we knew we would have to save hard. Luckily a house became available with rent that was more than reasonable and Michelle got a job just before the recession talk began to start. Socializing was to be cut to a minimum, but to be honest, for people who were meant to be saving, we did go out on average once a week. As we liked to travel so much, we found it hard that it would be nearly a year before our next journey since our trip to Thailand and….. it was hard. We tried to resist traveling for the sake of our savings but eventually gave in and in Aug’08 we went on a ‘driving’ holiday from Galway to Newgrange and then along the Causeway Coastal route which takes you all the way along the northeast coast from Belfast to Derry. There is plenty to do on this route on we would really advise people to do it. The most beautiful county in Ireland

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness” - Mark Twain

On a dark and cold December evening, Michelle asked me “what inspired me to go traveling?”. I actually couldn’t answer it and I still can’t definitively. Even now as I sit here and type this, I find it hard to answer. Am I running away? Escaping? Looking for something different? Maybe the answer is in the question , that I am looking for travel to inspire me. I just don’t know. What I do know is that travel will broaden my horizons. That I will learn many new things and see even greater. Standing in a waterfall in northern Thailand I stood back and admired where I was and what I was doing. It was amazing and at the time I thought that this is what had inspired me to go to Thailand, even though I had never planned on visiting a waterfall before we left Ireland. Somewhere on our travels I’ll stand back and say to Michelle “do you want the answer to that question now?……. Well this is it”, arms spread out like a someone who’s just received inspiration from above! Maybe what has inspired me, was to feel that awe again and say “now this is the reason why we came traveling”. I enjoy talking to people of other cultures, about their country, their lives, their history. You can learn so much. Everyone has a story. We also enjoy our food and although we wouldn’t be ones for trying cobra blood or rats testicles we do enjoy trying something different every now and again. We hope to take a few cookery courses along our route so that we can pick up new talents to impress our family and friends. Deep fried cockroach on a bed of cactus leaves anyone?!

“If you wait to do everything until you’re sure its right, you will probably never do much of anything” - Unknown

To some people we are taking a very big risk. Some people wouldn’t even dream of doing what we are about to embark on. The problem doesn’t really lie with the traveling but with what we are about to give up. Well paid, secure jobs, in a time of both national and international economic uncertainty. Some would say an Eddie Hobbs nightmare. You could just hear him in his Cork accent telling me “Now Darren, what you need, is to cop-on and knuckle down and refocus your traveling funds to a long term savings account, so that when the housing market reaches rock bottom you can blah blah blah”. We had decided to go traveling when the word recession was associated only with the 80’s and films like The Commitments. Some people told us we were ‘dead right to be doing it’. That ‘now’s the time’. Other’s said we were ‘crazy’ in a time when literally thousands were losing their jobs each week. Some people think that visiting such countries that we are could be dangerous. “They have those dangerous spiders out in Australia”, “sure they speak a foreign language out in Thailand”, “what about the drug barons in South America”, “all that foreign food”. All laughable reasons not to go but some believe them. People must understand that we do realize that it’s a huge risk, but, it is a risk that we are prepared to take and not afraid of taking. When will ever be the right time to do this? No-one can answer that. There are pro’s and cons to everything and for now we will only look at the pro’s. Someone once said

“Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth”.

“The family. We are a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together” - Erma Bombeck

It’s going to be really hard to be away from family for the next nine months. Although both of us have lived away from home this is sure to be a big test. In times of difficulty we turn to family to advise, help or to bail us out. Now though, to a certain extent we are on our own. We will have to rely on each other more than ever before. There’ll be many times I’m sure when we will long for the company of one or even all of our family. One of those Tuesday evening dinners where on the rare occasion everyone just happens to be in the house. An unexpected meeting for lunch in town. The impromptu Irish barbecue where everyone prays the rain will stay away and then all of a sudden someone gets the job of holding the umbrella while a rescue job commences as the heavens open up. Even sometimes I’m sure we would settle for a row over ‘who stole my clothes’ or ‘its your turn to make tea’. These are the things that we will miss the most. Technology though, will make this a lot easier than it would have been, say, even five years ago. Now we have fool proof everything and no longer is it hard to set up a web cam between two people in two different continents. All you need now is some good timing, a quick text and you’re live. Away you go. Waving at the screen. Looking on in amazement at how this can actually happen. We can bring our phones everywhere too. At what point will we be bored of texting “At Machu Picchu, how r u?” , “weather is great, how’s home?” , “just swam with dolphins, what u at for the weekend?”. Me personally….. I don’t think ever! There is e-mail also for keeping in touch and of course I’ll be keeping you all up to date with my blog! We are going to have to adapt to these as our only means of communication and make sure we make regular contact. Everyone will be missed. Eileen, Assumpta, Jimmy, Tomas, Siobhan, Dermot, Derval, Cora, Emmet and of course and definitely not least, little Ally. Don’t forget Dad and Darling (my grandparents) and Marty and Bridie (Michelle’s grandparents).

“Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget”-somebody

It’s fairly common knowledge that I’m not exactly the best person with a mobile phone. It’s not that I don’t know how to use it it’s just that I’m quite lazy with it. In my opinion we were all fine without them before they were invented and if everyone decided that they would all throw them in a river and forget about them I would be at the head of the queue! While we’re gone though it’s going to be our most essential piece of equipment for staying in contact with friends. Some even joked that they would even hear more from me when we’re gone than when I’m here, which is probably true. Both of us are going to leave behind many great friends who we will miss. I’m not going to list them like I did for our family, because surely I’ll miss someone and I don’t want to upset anyone now, do I! Those people know who they are. (I hope!)

We’re also going to miss Ireland and all it’s little/big impurities. Although things aren’t that good at the moment its only a matter of time before they take a turn for the better. We certainly wont miss any of the depressing news on the papers, TV and radio, although it is strangely addictive! What we will miss are things like Tatyo sandwich’s, Guinness, talkin bout the weather, Dairygold, the Craic, Sport, Irish Tea (although we’re packin 350 tea bags), good milk, talkin bout the weather, work (NOT!!), Supermacs, Irish breakfast, talkin bout the weather, lads nights out (Darren), girls nights out(Michelle) and oh ya, talkin bout the…..

I am going to try and keep the blog as informative as possible and try and put prices and recommendations into each entry. I found reading blogs were the best way of researching our travels and hope that this will help others. I will always give my honest opinion of what I think of a place and will not hold back because I might offended some guy and his home town. I got a few defensive responses from people in Bangkok over day 6(i think!) - back in to the jungle and I still believe that it’s a very frustrating city to holiday in. I know that I will have many great places to write about and many great stories to tell. Whether you guys like them is another thing. Michelle will have her own live journal too, so you will not just see my view on our travels. Please leave comments at the end of my blog too. It's great to here from people from home. I’m going to have a ‘song of the day/blog’ just to make each blog a bit more interesting and maybe some of you can listen to the song at home! By the way, my music collection stopped in 2005 and I started working back through the years. Be prepared for some Lynyrd Skynyrd and songs like Free Bird. If you’ve never heard this song download it now!

Well enough of the deep thinking and quotes. Now for the real talk. We are about to head off on the most amazing time of our lives. We are going to have a few bad memories but thousands of great memories. We will dance to many local songs and get drunk on even more local brews. We will eat many delicacies and turn green at the thought of others. We will meet lots of eccentric, funny and odd people. We will make many short term friends who we will probably plan to meet again but will only ever do by chance. We will miss many buses but catch even more. We will stay in lovely hostels for next to nothing and horrible ones for even more. We will hike many mountains and cross many rivers. We will take wrong roads but find new places. (mothers…. I’m talking about the camper van in NZ and not while trekking in Bolivia) We will loose things and we will gain things. We will have a few grievances with each other every now and again but be thankful we have each other to share the many special moments. We will hate our backpacks but soon accept them as another limb. We will get sick and feel unwell. Get bitten by all sorts. We will see strange creatures, who will be as afraid of us as we are of them. We will travel so many thousands of kilometers (nearly 68,000 as the crow flies) that the Green’s will ban us from re-entering Ireland because our carbon footprint is above a lifetime’s average. We will endure just about every possible weather condition there is. We will learn peoples cultures, languages and history. We will bungee, raft and maybe even ski. We will travel by bus, plane, boat, train, tuk-tuk, foot, car, camper van, bike and surely by things we've never even heard of.

Our route is as follows.

5th March - 9th June
Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru and Chile.

11th June - 1st Aug
New Zealand

1st August - 13th September

13th September - 20th December
Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam.

Trying to plan something this big and remember all the information is practically impossible. We have to an extent a route around South America but there are still many blanks to be filled for the rest of the countries. Some of the things we’ve highlighted for ourselves already include the Inca trail to Machu Picchu, the Iguazu Falls in Brazil, all Argentina, all New Zealand and island hopping in Thailand for our last three weeks before we return home. Well, in the different languages from the different countries we will visit we say Ate mais tarde, hasta pronto, ka kite ano, G’Bye, Lear heouy, Tam biet, La gohn, am laa and last but not least Slan agat agus Go mbeannai Dia guit.


Until we get home

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5th March 2009

Best blog Ever
Please write more- i finished reading..xxx
5th March 2009

hoare ur some man to type, fucking hell and you have bearly left the country.. very funny though it a good read.. have a great time i'm lokking forward to the next blog.. take her handy tell michelle myself maeve and ellie say hello...!!
19th June 2009

regards from penny's ballina
How are things, i can see from the blog that ye are having a ball. All quiet here in the sunny north west. Any sign of a fainne yet, keep up the good work on the blog.talk soon

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