A year on the road today... Quite the milestone!
This is actually the longest Faye and I have ever been away from home, our last travels lasted just less than a year, so this is quite monumental for us.
I'm actually suffering from severe blog lag. We're not in Vietnam as the last published blog suggests, in fact we're not even in SE Asia anymore, we're currently living under canvas, roasting our asses off in a beautiful Western Australia summer. Between then and now, we spent a month in Thailand, a couple of weeks in Malaysia and a month in Java and Bali, these blogs will be written eventually, but for the moment I'm enjoying doing not a lot and will probably continue to do so...
So how has travelling with the children been?
Our biggest challenge is that we're effectively parents 24/7 with no break. We never expected these travels to be anything like our previous travels where we did whatever we liked, whenever we liked without really having to consider anybody but ourselves, but I don't think we realised how hard it would be at times. What we find interesting the boys certainly don't and
even if they do, their attention span is so short it doesn't last long and we have to move on. Gone are the days of spending all our time lost in a book, sleeping or just relaxing and with this some of the best parts of travelling as we've experienced in the past.
Of course there is a more positive aspect, especially for me as a father. I've literally watched my children grow and change every moment over the last year, watch them develop into walking talking little people and develop the personalities that will probably shape their future. I love the fact that I’ve actually had a part in that development and not just had a couple of hours a day like most fathers sadly do. This is an experience which will stay with me forever, they may not remember the details of this trip, but I will, hopefully it'll impact them positively in ways that aren't really noticeable at the moment.
One thing we quickly realised is that all the impetus that's put on parents to get their children into a regular routine as quick as possible isn't really for the children's sake at all.... It’s
all for the parents! Do my kids care if they're charging round an airport in the middle of the night? Do they act up if they're not tucked up in bed by a certain time? Nope, not at all! Do I wish they were sound asleep on that plane at midnight? Do I feel exasperated that they're not asleep already when we've arrived somewhere new? You bet I do! To be honest, as long as they're kept fed, which we do try to keep roughly at the same times every day and they get the chance to have a good sleep at some point, they're ready for anything....
Have these travels changed us?
This was never planned to be a voyage of self discovery and hasn't turned out to be either. We've always been happy with how life's turned out for us and have been through enough already in our lives to become the people we are. We've dropped a few pounds and gained a bit more ink but we're the same people we were when we left, and we're happy with that.
How much have we spent?
In exactly a year we have
spent the grand total of £27912.01, which sounds like a lot, but included in that is £3100.03 in unexpected medical expenses, £1807.06 on Tattoos and £583.55 replacing two iPods (one stolen, one broken) and a camera lens that got scratched. So after those unexpected expenses the end figure isn't actually too bad for a family of four for a year. We'd of certainly spent more than that at home in the UK for a year and as we have our UK home rented out, we do get a small income which offsets that further. We could of done it cheaper if we'd of opted to stay in the cheapest accommodation and also cut back on the types and amount food we ate but we had no intention of doing that as it wouldn't of been fair on the boys, we could of course also done it a lot more expensively....
It’s been an incredible year filled with some amazing moments but of course there have been a few lows. Here's a list of the highs and lows as I think of them, but as there's so many, there will be some I've missed...
- Beautiful city, good food and cheap. St Petersburg, Russia
- Seriously stunning city that simply blew me away. Mongolia
- Our gateway to Asia, we ate great food and was constantly amazed by the vistas of Gorkhi-Terelj National park. I would love to return here someday. Beijing
- loved China on our first trip in 2006, Beijing reminded us why, another country I could return to again and again. Vietnam
- loved it so much we spent 3 months there on this trip. It's full of scams, it sometimes feels like everybody is out to fleece you but the food, the people, the shopping and above all else the dirt cheap cost of things left us with huge smiles on our faces... Hoi An would be our highlight city of Vietnam and Halong Bay is simply beautiful. Luang Prabang, Laos
- Relaxed and shabbily beautiful. We had an amazing time here. Temples of Angkor
- Third time visiting the temples and still they took my breath away, a highlight of any SE Asian trip I'm sure. Train travel
- travelling long distances with kids can be a nightmare. Train
travel reduces the stress a little, there's space to run, they can't go anywhere and delighting the travelling locals with two little white faces always brings a smile. Western Australian beaches in summer
- Vast, empty of people & sparkly clean. Crystal clear blue oceans, sunny skies and warmth always lift the spirit and calm the soul; I'm surprised any Western Australian leaves in summer.... We're currently in Esperance, Google 'Lucky Bay Esperance’; I dare you not to wish you were here! Our relaxed pace of travel
- with no itinerary, no timescales and an open mind we've drifted around at our own pace, sometimes cramming in loads but mostly taking the time to do diddly squat. When sightseeing isn't the purpose of your travels you see things from a completely different perspective. Christmas in Yogyakarta
- put simply, Christmas without family just plain sucks! We however had as best a Christmas as we could; we made tons of decorations for the room, even making a paper Christmas tree and took a horse drawn carriage ride round the city. We topped it off with a Pizza Hut Christmas dinner, unconventional but tasty nonetheless. Meeting Ali, the
creator of Travelblog - The man behind the site. Had a great lunch and a great visit to Travelblog towers, where all the magic happens. Thanks Ali for keeping us connected! Free stuff
- We get given loads of free stuff all the time for the kids. Normally food and most of the time completely inappropriate for the age they are. This I great as it means we get to eat it!!!
Lows... Russian costs
- Wow, this country is expensive. We ate in McDonald's way more than is healthy. Getting obliterated on Russian Vodka with locals on the Trans-Siberian
- I made a complete ass out of myself, and ruined the ending of the train trip to Irkutsk for pretty much everybody. Local attention
- Specifically China, but the rest of Asia was bad at times. Two adorable western boys get a lot of attention, and I mean A LOT! At times it felt like we were fending off paparazzi from rock stars, most of the time it was fine, but other times it scared the shit out of the boys. Also cheek pinching and groin grabbing in Vietnam, one chap made Nate
flinch he pinched him so hard, he soon backed off when he saw I was going to hurt him back. As for groin grabbing, if you want to know the gender of my children (although it’s quite clear from their clothes I think), ask, don't grab their junk as it's just not polite! Surgery in Vietnam
- Faye required two bouts of surgery in Vietnam. As you can imagine this was not a good time. Thankfully the standard of medical care was exceptional. Bali
- What a complete shithole! We enjoyed our time there a few years ago and were actually looking forward to going back. The prices are astronomical for Asia, the beaches are simply disgusting and the locals are out for everything they can get. Ubud was the nicest part for us, but not even that could save the visit. We left at a real low point in our travels but thankfully a few hours later we were standing on a beautiful, empty and most importantly sparkly clean beach in Perth (see highs above). The cost of things in Western Australia
- It’s a good job it's so damn beautiful here in Australia. Our first
trip to the supermarket left us stunned. I would go as far as to say it’s more expensive than the UK now. New Year in Java
- After a great Christmas our new year was just lame. Kids in bed by 8, so nothing to do but watch the Sydney fireworks on the TV while they slept.
That's it for now; we do have a rough idea of where we're going from here. After Australia we're heading back to Asia for a very short while and then probably back home but of course nothing is booked so who knows, we always said we'd keep going till either the money ran out or we stopped enjoying it and surprisingly the latter has come first. We are actually loving travelling at the moment (think of those Western Australian beaches again) but as you can imagine, travelling with two young kids is hard, constantly trying to stay 20 minutes ahead of the hunger/tiredness/boredom meltdown curve is draining and we're very tired. Travel with children is as rewarding as it is challenging, sadly though at times it can be a little overwhelming.
I would like to thank
my boys though for being the spectacular little people they are. We're lucky enough to have a couple of kids who are more than willing to accept change as a part of regular life and adapt to whatever living/sleeping/travel arrangements they're faced with, as this changes daily. They drive me to the edge of insanity sometimes but with a winning smile and an unprompted hug or “I love you Dad" they can instantly turn me into the happiest man alive. I love you boys!!!!
The photos from this blog are some of my favourites from the trip so far. Enjoy!
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