Time is a strange thing. It feels like only yesterday that I set off from London town, and yet when I look back on all of the adventures I have had, the 16 countries I have visited, the people I have met, the amount of times I have watched the sun set on another day, the food I have tasted, the number of places I have layed my head, it seems like I have been away forever. As cliche as it sounds, I have had ‘the time of my life’, and the memories I have made will stay with me for the rest of my days. Across Africa, India, and the far out corners of South East Asia, I have left traces of my heart.
The end of a 38K walk to Livingstonia, Malawi
Travelling to places whose riches are differently dispersed than that of my own has made me feel unbelievably lucky about where I was born, and the loving people that I have had surrounding me throughout every year of my life. Poverty is the common human condition. Across the globe, people struggle from one day next to next. I am blessed to have grown up in a nation where freedom and stability are almost taken for granted. I have crossed nations where pain and sadness continues to drown their eyes from their unforgettable and unfortunate past. These people deal with sorrows which are difficult to comprehend, and at times even inconceivable for us. But despite their sorrows, countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam & Malawi manage to hold a very unique and powerful attitude. They publicly show positivity, high spirits and satisfaction. I have begun to realise more than ever from this trip that all we really have is the here and now. The past and future live only in our minds. We make our own destiny, and our perspective and attitude towards life will either make us happy or unhappy. Our society are the masters of whining. Whether it be high petrol prices, late trains or the on going bad weather, there’s always something to moan about. However, the more you travel, and the more you learn, you realise that we have a life more priviledged than most. I hope that long after this trip is just a memory, I will continue to remember all that I have learnt, and remember just how fortunate we really are. Life is a gift, and we are lucky to be here.
Chilling with Cheetahs in Namibia
Despite the poverty stricken places I have visited, the differences of race, religion or culture with the people I have met, something that has struck a chord with me is that all of us share a common bond as members of one human race. We are all striving for a future filled with joy, love and happiness. We can create bonds and share moments of laughter with anyone round the world, whether it be with a tribe in Tanzania, street children in India, or local market sellers in Indonesia. It is the people that I have met that have affected my journey the most. I was able to stand in some of the most beautiful places on our planet, experience world wonders like Victoria Falls and Angkor Wat, and watch more sunsets than I can count on my hands, but meeting and talking to people from all different walks of life, whether they be a fellow traveller or a local person in a place I have visited has been what has made this trip all worthwhile. This experience would not have been the same if it wasn’t for these people who stumbled in to my journey. I have learnt so much from the people I have met, and I know that some of them will be friends I will have for life. I will never forget the people who I have been lucky enough to spend time with, and the lessons I have learnt from them will linger on forever in my memory.
An unforgettable experience – Meeting the Masai, Tanzania
The one person who has been there throughout this entire experience, morning, noon & night, is my travelling girl Emily. I could not have done this trip without her, and I feel blessed to have such a true friend who I could share this experience with. There is not many people you could spend this amount of time with and not get tired of one another. We will forever look back at the photos and the memories with nostalgia, but also happiness that it even happened at all. We were so lucky to have met each other, and both shared a similar dream of travelling to the places we have now visited.
The Elephant Festival, Jaipur
It might seem that this journey of enjoying life to its fullest is merely a holiday, but it has been emotional, tough and stressful. Continually worrying about our belongings, where we are going to sleep from one day to the next, or how to get from one place to the other has been tough. From camping for six weeks in Africa, staying in bug-ridden beds and jumping in freezing cold showers, travelling hasn’t been a leisurely experience. The backpacking lifestyle is no catwalk, and I am sure we will look back at some photographs and cringe at the sight of our unkept selves. But this is what was expected. We wanted an adventure around the world, and we had exactly that.
They say that the grass is always greener on the other side, but more vividly than ever, I can see the forty shades of green that grow deep in the heart of my own garden. Across all of the countries that I have walked, family is the key to a richer life in love and happiness, and it is the greatest source of joy. Despite feeling sad about my journey coming to an end, I will never feel sad about returning to the people who care about me most. I have never been so excited to spend time with my family, and throughout this trip, I have never loved them more. I would not have been able to do this without their continual love and support for me, and the constant flow of emails back and forth. Despite being miles apart, we always remained close. With the wedding of my brother Liam and his beautiful fiance Michelle coming up in 2013, there are so many happy times to look forward to.
Irish dancing round the world – Namib desert, Namibia
As Rudyard Kipling once wrote, ‘The world is yours and everything that’s in it…’ This trip has given me an incredible thirst to explore more of our beautiful world. The travelling bug has truly grown within me! We are so lucky to live in a time where travel is possible, and I intend to grasp this luck with both hands. The world is ours to explore, and I know that this trip is just the beginning of a life long love affair with all the wondrous places there is to see on our planet.
I feel that there is nothing more apt than finishing this post with what I wrote on my first blog post six months ago. This sums up for me the reason why I wanted to travel, and will continue to be the reason I venture to new and untouched places in our beautiful world.
We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again, to slow time down & get taken in, and fall in love once more. And, if travel is like love, it is, in the end, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why, the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.