I can’t believe the day is almost here. I fly to London tomorrow. Naturally I’m now reflecting a lot on the absolutely epic three months I’ve just had, and how they’ve affected my head, heart and soul.
Firstly I appreciate more than ever before that I have amazing friends and family back home. Being miles away from familiar faces can be hard at times, so I’ve enjoyed every WhatsApp message and call received. And thank goodness for WhatsApp! Back in the Jurassic period before good smart phones and Wi-Fi it was bloody hard to stay in touch across seas. I got pretty homesick when I was in New Hampshire for three months, despite being only a six hour flight from home. I am hugely grateful for everyone who dropped a message, made a call, liked my Facebook posts and of course… read this blog. You are awesome and I can’t wait to catch up with you!
Secondly, I have met some incredible people on my travels. I could not have asked for a better TEFL partner, travel companion and roomie for the best part of eight weeks. I am devastated that the Atlantic Ocean lies between us and that teleportation hasn’t been invented yet. The wonderful staff and students at my school in Thailand will always have a place in my heart. I hope that someday I can visit. When that day comes I’ll ring ahead and make sure the canteen stocks enough fried eggs to satisfy my addiction. Thailand does awesome fried eggs! To my fellow TEFL-ers, you were an absolute pleasure to discover Thailand with. I have so many fond memories. One highlight has to be my birthday bash in Kanchanaburi. Singing and dancing to the Lion King, in the coolest bar in town, was the best way to turn 27.
Alongside the teaching, another transformational experience was the return to the backpacking and hostel life. My perspective on life’s wonders, problems and priorities has changed significantly after meeting so many wonderful people in Kanch, Bangkok and Chiang Mai. After years of a decent salary and getting used to the ‘finer things in life’, hostel life opened it’s arms and gave me an unexpectedly warm and tight hug. Meeting people from across the globe and from all walks of life taught me a vast amount. I’ve realised that it’s easy to share a bathroom and bedroom with strangers. Because with this comes awe-inspiring stories, learning about different cultures and careers, and of course making new friends. If any of you fellow hostel dwellers are reading this, thank you for opening up my eyes and making my travels in Thailand some of the best times of my life.
To the friends who hosted me and Tom on our travels, and showed us the wonders of your neighbourhood and ‘back gardens’ we can’t express our gratitude enough. Being far from home can be a little exhausting at times and the world can feel like a terribly big place. But your generosity, kindness and friendly faces made it feel a little smaller and a lot easier. I hope that our visit can be just the first, not the last.
I can’t lie, as I think about heading back to the UK I cry a little inside… I have taken to the travelling life like a fish to water. More so than I imagined! Plus the last two weeks in Australia have been beyond my wildest dreams. I have become rather attached to this country of friendly chatter, stunning beaches and amusing slang.
I’ve seen the Sydney Opera house – something I learned about at the age of 7 when playing a computer game called World Explorer. I remember having to work out how to fly around the world and get stamps in my “virtual passport”. I’m pretty sure I still have the passport my Dad printed out for me when I finished the game! Anyway back then the idea of travelling to Australia was ludicrous. But here I am in the land of kangaroos, sunshine and much needed eskies – and I don’t want to leave!
I’ve also held a koala, seen a monstrous crocodile, bushwalked through the mountains, snorkelled among tropical fish, chatted with friends around a beach bonfire, and discovered that Sydney has some of the best ‘secret bars’ – we almost missed them they were hidden so well! It pains me to have fallen for a place so far away from the UK. But who knows, perhaps living in the land down under is my next adventure…
On the other side of things, I am super excited to see my mother in the arrivals hall at Heathrow this Sunday. And I look forward to being home for my Dad’s birthday, where we’ll hopefully be in the great outdoors on a country walk. I just need to learn how to wrap up warm again! I also can’t wait to grab a beer with amazing friends over the coming weeks. At least in the British climate there’s no chance of my beer becoming warm before I finish it! Finally, I look forward to carrying on with the life I have been blessed with. The last few months have changed my perspective somewhat on my priorities over the next few years. I look forward to pursuing the things that truly make me happy. And learning to cope better with the things that don’t. When you see how beautiful the world is, and experience the kindness of people around it, it helps you appreciate what really matters. Suddenly the reasons you flew away in the first place seem a lot more trivial.
Happy Australia Day!!!