A Year on the Road

It seems impossible that a year has gone by already, but there it is, and what a year it has been! I have made some wonderful new friends, lived new cultures, had 3 close encounters with snakes, slept in some dives, in pretty hotels, in a giant pipe and paid an eye wateringly expensive rate for a decrepit postage stamp of a room in Hiroshima because I had not realised it was Golden Week, fasted for 6 days in Bali, lost most of my hair most likely due to the shock of the fast and then cut it short for the first time in 30 years, bathed an elephant in Thailand, screamed with delight at the occasional sight of Starbucks and would have a muffin and a Frappucino for dinner, fulfilled a teenage dream of visiting Sarawak, visited old friends in Australia, snorkelled for the first time in my life on the Barrier Reef, found a couple of places I did not like one bit like China and Burma, a couple others I loved like Laos and Burma (evidence that you can dislike and love a place equally!) others that made me sad like Cambodia, witnessed stunningly beautiful cherry blossom in Japan that brought tears to my eyes, saw my dear friends Elena and Naana who came to the other side of the world to spend some time with me in Bali and Cuba, I danced salsa and more importantly, did not have any tummy troubles the entire year thanks to my friend Janine of NutriLife Clinic who gave me tonnes of stuff to prepare my insides before I set off.

Hirosaki, Japan

Hirosaki, Japan

Which place did I like most? Different places for different reasons. Australian skies and sunsets were breathtaking, Burma had the most stunning temples, I saw my kids in China twice, Japan’s spring flowers were out of this world and is home to the kindest and nicest people I have come across in all my year. Have I changed? I have no idea. I am unfazed by most situations and more self-sufficient than I was. Land in a new town tomorrow and still do not have any accommodation? No worries. Something will turn up…

Sulamani, Bagan, Burma

Sulamani, Bagan, Burma

“Traveling with a companion, with a wife, with a girlfriend, always seems to me like birds in a glass dome, those Victorian glass things with stuffed birds inside. You are too much of a self-contained world for the rest of the world to be able to penetrate. You’ve got to go kind of naked into the world and make yourself vulnerable to it, in a way that you’re never going to be sufficiently vulnerable if you’re traveling with your nearest and dearest on your arm. You’re never going to see anything; you’re never going to meet anyone; you’re never going to hear anything. Nothing is going to happen to you. You are simply not lonely enough when you travel with companions … Spells of acute loneliness are an essential part of travel. Loneliness makes things happen.” These words by Jonathan Raban are true, more than the sights, the key has been coping with the moments of loneliness. Most people imagine a year filled with glamour, arriving at new and exotic locations, cocktail in hand, laughing away. Few seem to understand the loneliness that goes with it. It is a difficult concept to grasp because the trip is a very long holiday and you have fun on holidays, don’t you? The most important issue of my year of travel is I have learned to be alone without feeling lonely. It is not something I can show anyone like a painting or a wooden carving but it is the most valuable thing I have acquired while on the trip. Although I admit that after a year, I am tired of eating by myself every evening…

Happy Birthday! At Borobudur, Java

Happy Birthday! At Borobudur, Java

I never realised before I set of was how much time I would have to dedicate to planning my trip while on the road. When you plan a holiday the research happens before you go and it is spread out over days or weeks. In my case, I have to do it as I go along and it is time consuming and a little frustrating…I may be in a new place but need to set some time aside because in a couple of days I go somewhere new and have to prepare. For the last seven months I have been constantly on the move and lugging my suitcase every few days plus planning the next stage or even the one after has been tiring. I can’t keep that pace anymore so the next leg of the trip will be more sedate, choosing less destinations and spending more time in each. I am a little sad. The challenge is choosing the places I will skip and most likely never get to see because I can’t go everywhere. It is hard.

Adelaide Sunset with Pelicans

Adelaide Sunset with Pelicans

The question from everyone now is “when are you coming home?” The answer is I don’t know. I feel that this trip is not over yet. Visiting Asia and Australia was about seeing the sights, doing the touristy thing, oohing and ahhing over amazing temples and vistas, visiting somewhere very different. I would like my trip to be about more than sightseeing and I am open to what the US has to offer. Maybe do a course or two and that is the reason I chose it as my last destination. Fingers crossed that I will be granted a six month visa, that is where I am heading next. Anyone or friends of friends who want to meet for a coffee or drink would be most welcome!

Hobbit Hole or Converted Pipe? Tulum Mexico

Hobbit Hole or Converted Pipe? Tulum Mexico

 

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6 thoughts on “A Year on the Road

  1. I’m amazed at your year of travel Silvia, you never cease to amaze me at your bravery, independence and gift of appreciating beauty no matter where your travels take you. I especially enjoyed reading your take on loneliness….a fear that keeps me from travelling alone….looking forward to your arrival to CA!
    Hugs!

  2. What a great comment on your year Silvia. I completely agree on your point on learning to be alone without being lonely. Though I did used to miss just being able to say to ‘oo look at that’ to someone that I knew. Well done on such a fabulous year which I know has held its challenges. Good luck with the new interesting phase – and finding fun dinner partners!

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