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Published: December 27th 2014
Well, here it is. The inevitable self-reflective, "my life is changed", wannabe philosophical blog about the end of my travels. Feel free to stop reading now.
Today I come home. Over the past 6 months, I've traveled to Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. I've seen beaches, glaciers, mountain tops, vineyards, oceans, lakes, rice paddies, volcanoes, the bush and the rain forest. Seen kangaroos, echidnas, spiders, snakes, geckos, monkeys, lizards, kookaburras, koalas and really big bugs. Lived in a dingy flat, slept in friends' beds, strangers couches, bungalows, tree houses, a nudist's sons room, mansions, and 8 bedroom dorms. Rode the bus, hiked, cycled, drove on the left side of the road, rode on motorbikes, hailed tuk tuks, kayaked under icy waterfalls, sailed on longboats and took a helicopter to a glacier top. Drank pinot in Adelaide and sparkling shiraz in Kangaroo Island, Sav blanc in New Zealand, rice wine in sapa, Coopers, Tiger, Angkor, Hoda, Larue, Bia Hoa, Leo, Saigon, and Chang. Learned trauma surgery from attendings, tips and tricks from international fellows, real life from private surgeons, mountaineering from glacier guides, squiggly gum and whale watching from nudist cartographers, SUP from Byron potheads, how to play the didgeridoo from more Byron potheads, kayaking from the men at Milford Sound, Buddhist and Hindu theology, horrors of the Khmer Rouge, and rice harvesting in Sapa. I've eaten $700 meals in the barossa valley and 25 cent snails on the streets of Vietnam. Tim Tams in Oz and pies in New Zealand, amok in Cambodia, Kao Sao in northern Thailand, and Che in Vietnam. Shopped in markets by land and by sea in US dollars, Australian Dollars, New Zealand dollars, bhat, dong, Ringgit, and riel. Gained about a kilo in weight I'd guess and wouldn't change a thing. I've felt the pulse of busy city at rush hour and the penetrating serenity of a foggy hilltop village. Heard the kookaburra cry in the bush and woken to the sound of waves lapping at the shore. I've been freezing cold and disgustingly hot. I have peed in places I'd like to forget and have gone extensive periods of time without showering. Made many new friends, locals and travelers alike. I now remember how to have a conversation without checking my cellphone 10 times, sleep without dreams of the hospital, and how to spend a day with no real idea of where the local wind will take me.
But I'm ready. A very recent revelation, but truly ready for this journey to end. I am ready for hot showers that are not over a toilet, a refrigerator, a washing machine, a consistent supply of toilet paper, dry clothes, more than 2 pairs of shoes, a defined job description and a paycheck. Ready to catch up with those who have known me for longer than a few moments or months, have seen me at my worst, and choose to love me anyway. These last 6 months have left a permanent but gentle fingerprint on my heart. I hope it hones my appreciation for things I previous took for granted, and grants me small moments of serenity when the pace of life gets inevitably too busy.
Thank you to all that have joined me on this journey, from near and far, and know I am just waiting to pay back or pay forward all of the gifts of kindness, generosity, and knowledge which have been given to me.
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