It’s a Wrap! Part 1 – The Return!

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Happy not to be pulling this goddamn thing around with me anymore.

Well, that’s it, we’re done. Back in Vancouver. All we have is our memories and I’ve done my best to obliterate those with the many bottles of scotch I received for my birthday. We’ve been back a week now and I think that finally we might be coming around to the idea that we don’t have to cram everything inside our suitcases, check the Tripadvisor, make boat/train/plane/camel bookings and head on down the road anymore. I have to admit it’s kind of weird. And maybe a tad depressing.

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Had to leave my knuckle duster behind. Damn rules!

It has been a tough week I have to admit. I wasn’t sleeping very well – waking up in the middle of the night with no idea where I was – walking around in a haze or daze or both, trying my best to communicate with folks and failing miserably and just trying to settle back into our former lives. I went to work my second day back and all I could do was change a light bulb before I had to flee the premises. I’ve had trouble eating and was (probably) drinking too much. I wasn’t getting nearly enough sleep – I went 25 straight hours last week with any shut-eye. It was tough. I was quite miserable, very emotional (I’d almost well up with tears just talking about any faction of the trip) and I missed our travel days way more than I thought I would.

I thought that the best thing I could do was throw a huge party at my house for my 50th birthday five days after our return. I’d get to see all of my friends all at once. Even my long-lost brother flew in from Toronto for the festivities. It seemed like a brilliant idea when I concocted it over cocktails on the beach on Gili Air a month and a half ago. Unfortunately, this brilliant idea just led to much stress and anxiety all week. It was weird, all of these fine folks were my good friends and they all wanted to see me and I wanted to see them, so what’s the problem? I’m still trying to figure that one out. I just don’t think I was ready for such and overwhelming situation. As mentioned, I could barely speak to anyone during the previous 5 days and now I had to chat and be social with 50 of my closest friends!

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The aftermath. The beforemath was much more fun.

But all my worrying and anxiety turned out to be completely unfounded as the evening turned out to be a ton of fun. Everyone was in a great mood, I reconnected with folks I haven’t seen or talked to in almost a year, much booze was consumed (thanks to Bomber Brewing for supplying a couple of kegs!). My only disappointment was that I didn’t get a chance to chat with everyone as much as I would have liked. Still it was good. Around 2 am, with most folks gone, the weight of the pressure I put on myself had lifted and I could relax and eat some terrific ham (thanks Angela!). I feel better, I’m getting proper sleep, my brother has gone home so my liver is happy and I’m back to work which is great and back on the ice (boy I sucked my first time out). I guess that “normal” life is settling back in.

So why did I put myself through all of that nasty business last week? It was all part of the trip – the coming home. One of the hardest parts among many difficult situations abroad (12 hour train trips, Swanson barfing on boats, in cars, on planes and in front of hotels, sweltering heat, nasty bugs, spiders on my towels, moving around way too much, 36 planes trips, unscrupulous cab drivers, terrible food, ugly backpackers, white knuckle drivers to touch on a few) is the reintegrating back into society. Well, looking back on the past 10 months I can come up with a myriad of reasons why we put ourselves through this;

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Spiders in our glasses…

Walking down through the canyon known as The Siq and having it open up into the ancient ruins in Petra, Jordan was easily one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen/done/did.

Trekking through the desert on the back of a camel is an experience I won’t soon forget. Even if I’m starting to forget about the ball-crushing last hour of it. We ate a great feast that was cooked in the ground and slept in the desert in a Bedouin tent. I left my hat there.

Stepping out of the subway in Barcelona and saying to Swanson, “Turn around”. He did and had his mind blown by the immense Sagrada Familia monstrosity looming over him.

Spending almost 4 months on various tropical islands is something folks dream about. I’m here to tell you to follow that dream because it’s everything you think it is. And more.

Sipping coffee on my balcony in Istanbul in the morning, listening to the Call to Prayer, watching birds fly over the many huge beautiful mosques.

Running through the streets of Thong Sala on the Thai island of Koh Phangnan with water pistols and buckets, squirting everyone in sight as we celebrated the Thai New Year festival, Songkran. We had so much fun I can’t begin to say (well I did begin to say, but that’s all I have).

Standing on the beach at the Seaflower on Koh Phangnan on New Years Eve watching hundreds of Chinese lanterns float out over the ocean as a myriad of fireworks exploded over our heads.

Swimming in the turquoise blue water of Koh Lipe. Postcard perfect.

Snorkeling with sea turtles in the warm clear waters of Gili Air in Indonesia.

Drinking port at a winery (portery?) in Porto, Portugal.

Washing, feeding and hanging with elephants in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Spending Halloween in “Dracula’s castle” in Romania. It was fun, cheesy, cold, a bit disappointing, but still…Dracula’s fucking castle in Romania for Halloween!

Walking into the Medina in Fes, Morocco for the first time. It felt like stepping back in time 2000 years.

Seeing the joy on Swanson’s face spending a couple of days in Legoland in Malaysia.

Climbing to the top of a mountain in Sintra, Portugal and finding a huge castle. Then getting lost during a fun trek on the way down.

Getting up before dawn to watch the sun rise over a volcano on Gili Air and then, later that day, watching the sun set over a different volcano on the other side of the island.

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Ya, it’s alright.

Happy hour on the beach at the Seaflower. Almost everyday for two months!

Climbing up many the ruins of Angkor Wat.

Making Tami and birthday dinner (roast chicken and root vegetables) in our apartment in Sofia, Bulgaria.

I could sit here and go on and on about many more amazing, wonderful things we saw and did and saw on this adventure but I don’t want to put you all to sleep. I thought that this would be my last post but I think I still have a couple left in me including the top things/places/people we enjoyed, the things that I won’t miss about traveling, tips and advice for future travelers and what a difference the world makes when you get out and explore.

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On our front steps after 10 months on the road! The three of us plus some weird dog we picked up in Japan.

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