I’ve been back in Sydney for six weeks now, which means that only six weeks and three days ago I was in Bagan, Burma with my friend Alicia, exploring ruined temples and failing at trying not to crash my bicycle every time a truck or bus thundered past.
But anyway, back in October, after getting used to life without the internet after a month in the Mongolian countryside and then three weeks on the far Western reaches of the Tibetan plateau, blogging suddenly didn’t seem as important anymore.
There are loads of great blogs out there with tips and advice on planning a trip around the world, and plenty of blogs that cover the regions that I’ve visited. There seemed to be little point in keeping mine going, especially when I was trying to pitch paid articles and write in my journal and keep notes for fiction projects at the same time. And, oh yeah, actually see stuff in the places I was visiting.
Now I’m back home, I plan to semi-revive the blog, but it will be more destination and photo focused, with stories and images from my travels that won’t be published anywhere else. You can get your tips on what to pack or which vaccinations you might need somewhere else (or you can always email me about those things!).
So where did I end up going?
When I arrived in Nepal, I spent ten days in Kathmandu while I waited for my Indian visa to be issued, focusing on the writing that actually earns me money and celebrating diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. Then I bussed down to Pokhara. After my challenging high altitude experience in Tibet, I decided not to trek this time and instead spent a few days at a yoga retreat in the hills before crossing the border into India and returning to Varanasi, a city I first visited in 2008.
In India, I spent time in Rishikesh, Amritsar, Mcleod Ganj, Delhi, Pushkar, Jaipur, Fort Cochin and Varkala before deciding Christmas was probably better spent with friends. So after ten days on the beach in Southern India I flew into a snow-covered Britain, where my plane was one of only ten to land at Heathrow the weekend before Christmas.
A month later, after travelling by train through France, Germany and Denmark I flew to Thailand to meet Alicia for a brief excursion into Burma. I spent my 26th birthday in Bangkok at the Myanmar embassy, waiting for my visa to be issued.
By the end of January I was tired, running out of money thanks to the several weeks in Europe and ready for a break. New countries were no longer exciting and I felt like I was just going through the motions of travel. While I had a great time with Alicia in Burma, I’d done barely any preparation from the trip and felt like I wasn’t doing justice to the country, its people or myself.
So I flew from Yangon to Kuala Lumpur, splurged on a night in a five-star hotel and several new pairs of jeans, and hopped on an Air Asia flight back to Australia.
The reverse culture shock I’ve experienced being back home has been difficult to deal with, to say the least. Maybe you really can’t ever go home again. Or maybe you can, and that’s the problem – nothing ever changes. I even found myself working briefly for the company I thought I’d left permanently in May last year.
The trip has changed the way I look at my life, and how I want to live it. I’m still struggling to work it all out, but I know that I am not back in Sydney permanently.
In a few months I’ll be boarding a flight that will eventually land me in Guatemala City. This time, I have a return ticket – from Buenos Aires. A very dear friend is getting married in December, so I know I’ll be in Sydney at the end of the year. Beyond that? I’ll be working hard to make a stint living somewhere in Asia possible, and I’m determined to return to cover the parts of India and China that I missed last year.
In the meantime? Stay tuned for some stories and photographs from the second half of my trip.