Sunday, 9 January 2011

The final farewell...

Written by Tom whilst waiting for our flight from the Andamans:


As we sit in the airport in the Andamans with the sun shining outside and the birds singing in the trees, waiting to board a plane that will take us one step closer to the UK I guess the phrase “all good things must come to an end” has never felt more fitting! I’ve been thinking the last few days that a final farewell blog post might be appropriate but have been unsure exactly what to write. Since we have a bit of time now before we board I thought I’d give it a go.

Looking back over the last 15 months I actually can’t believe how far we’ve come and that we are finally at the end of such a huge journey. We set out on this trip not knowing where it would take us, what would happen along the way, how long it would last or what we would see and experience. Elizabeth and I spent our last night on Havelock island in a bar having a few drinks and reminiscing. What was amazing was that even in a few hours of talking through the trip in the order that things happened I think we only made it to French Polynesia (ie not even halfway round the world). It really is incredible how many experiences life can give you in such a short period of time (especially when armed with a backpack and a sense of adventure). 

Travelling around the world has long been an ambition of mine, a personal goal I have often dreamed about but never really known how to achieve.  It’s amazing what obstacles you can believe exist for yourself when contemplating taking a leap of faith and heading into the unknown. I can now say with this dream accomplished I can’t believe I almost let short term fears stop me from chasing it. The thought that I could have postponed and procrastinated long enough and let the opportunity slip by is almost inconceivable now. And whilst it feels great to have actually travelled the world it is without doubt (to use the phrase) “the journey and not the destination” that matters. The greatest thing about achieving a dream is not necessarily it's completion but rather the experiences and adventure life gives you along the way. It’s these experiences and adventures that I will take with me as memories for the rest of my life. 

We were talking with some travellers a few days ago who were asking about our trip and I heard myself saying that I wouldn’t change a single thing about it. And when I think about it, I genuinely mean that - not one single thing. The good, the bad and the ugly. The truth is I feel that even with the odd disaster we’ve had (like that rather unfortunate motorbike accident that left me unable to walk for a couple of weeks!) I have learnt things about myself and the world that I could never hope to sat in an office for 12 hours a day. The trip has deeply affected the way I think about life (I know how clich├ęd that sounds from someone who’s been travelling but I genuinely mean it). People ask us “aren’t you tired of travelling, don’t you want to go home and sleep for a few weeks?” etc, but the truth is that whilst travelling is sometimes tiring, the trip if anything has given me an even stronger sense of adventure. Not necessarily just for travelling (although I do want to do a lot more of it) but for life, my career, having fun, relationships and pretty much everything else.

It’s my genuine hope that our travels might act as a source of inspiration for anyone else who is in that exciting moment in life of thinking ‘what if...?’. And on that note, I’ll finish this post, if I may, by saying the following: to anyone out there who may be reading these words and contemplating pursuing something, a dream such as travelling the world or anything else life changing (and frankly the pursuit of a big goal is always life-changing) I would like to humbly offer two simple words of advice: Do it. Trust me on this, just get out there and do it. I think there are some things in life you simply will never regret and I firmly believe that chasing your dreams is one of them. Life really is an amazing gift, a privileged opportunity we should make the most of and for me a life with this simple pursuit is a life well lived. With that piece of personal philosophy I shall sign off for the last time in this chapter but watch this space – dreams are contagious and tend to breed more dreams! I can’t wait to find out where the next one will take us...



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Written by Elizabeth since returning:

With Christmas and New Year over and done with and while its snowing again outside, its almost unimaginable to think that only three weeks ago we were sunning ourselves on the Andaman Islands! Firstly I agree with everything Tom has written above – our adventures around the globe were incredible and when I think about all the places we saw and things we managed to do I really do feel so lucky. But before I go on to talk about our future plans I feel I ought to finish the blog where we left off...

We flew back to Chennai from Port Blair, only to discover from the “Airport Manager” that Heathrow had been totally shut down. Snow. Not quite the metre or so you might expect to force one of the world’s busiest airports to close, all in all about six inches. Hey ho I’ll refrain from complaining about the UK and its inept ability to deal with such minor incidents (where else in the world are trains cancelled due to “leaves on the line”?!) Luckily for us British Airways very kindly offered to pay for a 5* boutique hotel, which when compared to our previous night almost caused me to jump with joy (obviously I played it cool...) So after 24 hours in a plush hotel room (wifi costing more than two nights’ accommodation in our usual standard of hotel) we trundled back to Chennai airport and finally boarded our plane – one of only seven being given the all clear to land at Heathrow that day. 

Yes the flight was emotional - there were profuse tears – but there was also some amazing scenery over the Middle East which sowed a seed for another trip. Eleven hours later we touched down at a whiter than usual Heathrow and all the thoughts we had anticipated having when we left nearly 15 months ago came pouring back. Everyone always says “nothing changes” when you’ve been away, but I actually think London did feel different and not just because it was bitterly cold and akin to a ski resort! After talking it over we’ve come to the conclusion that maybe we’re the ones who’ve changed.


A very cold and snowy Heathrow. Not quite the Andamans!

 

Now at the end of the first week of January, with the prospect of moving back to London on the horizon, my feelings of nervousness are actually turning into excitement. As we’ve said the trip really was amazing and I would set off again tomorrow if I could, but the real world is calling us so “Wizz and Tom’s (next) Big Trip” will have to wait... We hope you’ve enjoyed following our adventures, the blog has definitely been a worthwhile memento and I hope will continue to inspire us to pursue our wanderlust in the coming months and years. 

Finally back - the bags that took us round the world in snowy London

2 comments:

  1. Hi Wizz and Tom,
    Dunno if you remember me, I met you on a camel in Rajastan with my girlfriend Karen.

    Great write-up, I've only read this one and skimmed the others but will definitely read them all when I get enough time.

    I just wanted to say thanks really. You met us when we were about 2 weeks into our trip and still really scared we had just thrown away a perfectly good flat and jobs back home. Meeting you was such a relief because it proved it was possible to get around the world and still be smiling from ear to ear.

    We're having a great time in Laos now with only one very minor hospital trip so far so doing well I think ;) Looking at the (most excellent) photos (on this naff internet connection) it looks like we've been to a lot of the same places.
    Except your photos are way better. Damn ;)

    Anyway, just thought you'd like to know you inspired us and helped flip our mindsets into really positive (excitable/childish) ones.

    Big thanks again,
    Matt (and I'm sure Karen would agree but she's out teaching english...)

    http://www.mattburns.co.uk/travels/

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  2. Hi Matt,

    Great to hear from you and of course we remember you and Karen - how could we forget those two days on camels!

    I took a look at your site and it sounds like you're having an amazing time on your travels. We're obviously firmly back in the UK now and I'm very jealous! I look forward to following your journey and seeing all the awesome things you get up to.

    If we helped in some small way to get you even more excited about travelling all that time ago in Rajasthan then I'm really happy to hear it and I'm sure that you will have the same effect on people you and Karen meet on your travels!

    We should definitely catchup again when you've finally finished travelling, it would be great to hear all your stories and "compare notes"! In the meantime continue to have the time of your lives and enjoy it!

    Tom
    (similarly: I'm sure Elizabeth would agree but she's away doing a meditation course near Hereford of all places!)

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