It scares me coming home. While travelling (especially by yourself) you are in your own little world. There are no politics of the office. No bitching. No @rseholes (if there are you leave them although I’ve been lucky to meet only one – a pissed English guy on St Patrick’s Day).
(Picture : Distance to London from Mount Eden, Auckland)
You don’t even care if the amount of petrol you put in doesn’t end up in a nice round number. $63.46 is fine thank you. No need to make it $63.50, or $64.00 (Shit! Was that just me that did that?). You don’t worry if you scratch your car. Or loose your travel speakers*. The only folk that piss you off is people who don’t clean up after themselves in hostels. And tour buses. You get up when you want to. And you don’t mind always wakening at 0700. (But that doesn’t mean you have to get up eh?)
(One funny sign in a hostel said : “Your mum is not with you. Please clean and put away your dishes.” Scribbled after it was : “Could you please translate this to German as they don’t seem to understand.”……although most of them do).
There is also no supply of money. Which is a problem.
You see I have £2.12 in my savings account. This month is the first I haven’t paid off my credit card in full. I still have 5 weeks left. Mostly in Japan. And I may be meeting investment bankers there to socialise.
In saying that I am writing this on my laptop in Ponsoby in Auckland, just having finished my Salmon and Cream Cheese bagel and a flat white coffee in a cafe that Zara Phillips apparently ate in a while back (according to the poster on the wall). Still, it was ‘only’ $11.
I’ve pimped my car around a few hostels, but to be honest I can’t be bothered. If I don’t sell it by Thursday I’m quite happy to leave it at the auctioneers and let them have their $350 commission, depending how much they sell it for. If they sell it. You see time’s short. I don’t want to sit around depressing backpackers car markets while the sun is shining. I just hope I don’t end up exchanging it for a bag of weed like I heard another guy do recently in his desperation to get at least something for it (no, mum, I won’t). It would give me some good Buddha karma points giving it away before I reach Asia!
I bumped into a couple of girls at my hostel whom I met in the Nelson hostel I stayed in. And I’ve just received some tips on how to preparemy pictures for one of the photo libraries 🙂 I never recognised them at first as they had their hands deep in the fridge cleaning for free accommodation at the time. I’m heading in to see Dylan Moran with a couchsurfer on Thursday night as part of the Auckland Comedy Festival. Kate from Raleigh in Borneo who tried to keep me on the straight and narrow,, and who I constantly disappointed with my pictures ;->, has given me potential contact in ‘Tokers’ (Tokyo) to show me the bars and finally blow that budget before heading back to cheap ‘n’ cheerful Asia. I also got some Japan hints from another couchsurfer in Nagano. I’ve not had too much luck with the couchsurfing.com enquiries I’ve sent off for Japan though which is a bit of a blow. But I did order my Japan Rail pass from STA Travel today.
Unfortunately I’ve probably put the motorbike hire on hold as it was £130+ per day…and $165 for the BMW I wanted.
What is good about coming to the end of my trip is that I have flashbacks from the previous 12 months. I often think I haven’t *really* travelled as it’s all been so easy. I often forget how much I’ve done until I double click on Picasa and open up the photo library of thousands. Sharing bus journeys with cool strangers. Getting a remote Laos village playing with multicoloured balloons with faces drawn on them. Wading through floods to the guesthouse in Inle Lake, Myanmar after hard bargaining for a 5 hour ride on the back of a pickup with new friends. Watching the hungover horror in Tracy’s face as she woke up ten minutes before her scheduled flight departure to Cambodia. Paying way too much for cool ‘hand made, one off’ pictures that I just remembered I sent back from Bagan in Myanmar. Watching as participants realised they had just cut down the wood for someone’s house to support water tanks in a tiny village in Sabah. Crapping myself hearing a rustle in the dark forest while walking on my own to see glowworms without having to pay $70 for the pleasure. Drinking the nicest tea ever (Buddha tea) in Hanoi. Running into relative strangers a few days after meeting them and feeling like they were best mates. Making kids cry when they saw a strange white man lifting his camera to take a photo of them beside a cockfight. Seeing frogs beaten over the head in a Cambodian market. Working out what to do when 2/3rds up Mount Kinabalu and a participant gets a suspected broken ankle. Buying a car with no mechanical check. Having a drinking competition with a waitress in Nah Trang as she challenged me on a bottle of vodka, which was bought by somone I met an hour earlier. Running out of petrol between army checkpoints on the Thai / Myanmar border. Walking away from a heated discussion having retrieved my passport and only put down 1/3rd of the asked rental fee in Laos after my motorbike broke down. Being offered a ‘smoke’ from a long tail boat ‘captain’ in Thailand. Saying hello to a 3m wide Manta Ray which hovered a few feet above me. Having a $1000 camera lens returned to me after finding out a traveller on my dive boat handed it in to a guesthouse in Phnom Penh. Purchasing my third compact camera of the trip due to previous flooding and dropping. Talking the same shit with John, but this time on a Thai balcony in Ao Nang and not his flat after a red hot curry. Getting up early to walk 12 hours off a mountain. Talking my way into a closed ‘illegal’ late night bar in Laos. Swimming with 400 dolphins.
(Picture : Auckland CBD from Mount Eden)
A slice of reality. Central Auckland traffic.
* – I did actually give a shit about loosing my travel speakers – I just don’t know if it was on a Philippines islands, Bangkok airport where noone told me my bag was open, or somewhere inbetween.