Buddha, Marx and Me: Thailand to Cuba
About Me (1)
New Zealand (2)
* New Blog
* Saved by Samoa
* Polynesian Paralysis
* Speed Racer
* Adventures of a Tourist
* Conservation, preservation and slackerisation Part 2
* Conservation, preservation and slackerisation Part 1
* Alternative Lifestyling
* The Biggest Sandcastle in the World
* Digeridooing it
* Beach Life
* Behind the Times
* Malaysian Roundup
* Kuala Lumpur vs. Bangkok
* Sad Samui
January 24, 2005
So I'm home now and have been for a little while. My trip lasted 164 days and took us through nine countries. I'd been looking forward to coming home for a while as I explained in the previous article. This meant that the actual coming home was pretty good. I don't think it would have gone so well if I didn't feel ready for it but had been forced to for money or time reasons.
It's all a bit strange. I had been planning this trip for nearly a year before we actually went and we bought the flights about six months ahead of time. It's hard really to describe what it feels like to be done. I think I would be having a lot more of a severe and vivid reaction if i didn't have a plan going forward but I do really and it's all quite structured. I have a period of about 5-6weeks to 'chill out' and do some work experience before starting another trip, so I'm starting to focus on that.
I do feel though at a bit of a low at the moment. The first few days I revelled in all the creature comforts of home. Hot showers at a constant pressure! It felt like I would never get bored of those. Even going to the supermarket was fun. Now though, the creature comforts are starting to be taken for granted and my life seems a little bit devoid of stimulation. I suppose that's to be expected given the constant choice, activity and stimulation of travelling.
What can I bring away from this trip? Well obviously a lot of great memories first and foremost.
Two things I notice that have changed about me:
I feel a lot more assertive now. I used to be very reserved about certain things. I didn't ever feel like I could say if I felt a stranger was being unreasonable. Now though having been ripped off so many times I've changed. In our last week in Cuba a few things happened which pointed this out to me. For one we gave an address to a taxi driver and asked him if he knew where it was. He replied that he did. So we got in and drove off. Five minutes later and after the taxi driver had stopped to ask two strangers it was clear he hadn't a clue where he was going so we asked to take us back to our starting point. When we got back we just walked off. He chased us and remonstrated with us to get us to pay but we had none of it. I'm not saying that before I would have paid up and walked off angry and bitter but I might have tried to work something out with him. As it was I now felt capable to just say; ''unlucky mate, if you don't know where something is you can't take people anyway and expect to get paid. Full Stop''. It wasn't quite like that as he was pretty persistent but it didn't make me think of changing my mind or anything.
Generally as well I feel more confident. Before, the idea of taking a flight on my own and having to get off at the other end and find my way somewhere is something I would have found quite daunting. Now I think I could cope with it quite easily. Of course the truth is probably that I could have coped with it all quite easily anyway but the difference is I now know it. This means obviously I now have the confidence to do things which I maybe hadn't considered before. For example some kind of solo travel which I'm not sure what it would be like but I'd be interested to try.
Do I still have an appetite for travel? Certainly. I think if anything this trip has only increased that. I'd like to go back to most of the countries I visited and in talking to other travellers my mind was opened up to a whole clutch of new countries. Before coming away Tuely and I both wrote down a list of the ten countries we most wanted to visit (which I recommend as a good way to sort out your priorities when thinking about travel). In Samoa we did it again and I realised just how many countries/places/activities I still want to visit/see/do.
I realise now that one of the best things about travelling is meeting people. Coming back to the confidence thing I was writing about earlier, I find it much easier to strike up a conversation with a stranger than I did before. Really I have realised most people are perfectly amiable and what's the worst they can do? If they don't want to talk then the conversation will simply stop. I think there is a bit of a culture in western society that you don't talk to strangers. I think the trip has opened my eyes up a bit to how peculiar this is.
How would I do travelling differently in the future?
Well I don't think I would go away for so long again as before or if I did I would like it to be a bit more structured. Packing/unpacking and moving on every few days whilst allowing you to see the most possible is a very tiring way to travel. Three months I think is the maximum to cope with this pace.
In future I think rather than having set flights like we did this time I might try the more flexible way of just buying one way tickets. Round-The-World tickets are certainly cheaper but they tie you in to some degree and I like the idea of just venturing out and going along as your whims dictate.
Learning the language: In the future I think I might try harder to learn some of the native language. As I wrote earlier, meeting people is one of the many joys of travelling. as well as that I think you can feel somewhat excluded when you don't know the language (which was often the case for me in Cuba where probably the least amount of people spoke English). As a result of this my new year's resolution was to learn some Spanish of which I did the first lesson today.
I might well add some more photos to this blog or put a selection of the best photos as I am aware there aren't many on here. I'll post about that if I do that too.
Apart from that thanks for reading,
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Posted by Richard on January 24, 2005 07:14 PM
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