Tomorrow is our final day in Bangkok and also the final day of the trip. Friday morning we leave in the early hours for a flight to Mumbai, then onward to London, hopefully making the 50 minute connection.
There are mixed feelings about returning to the UK. On the one hand there are people which we miss and so to get to see them is great. Yet on the other hand were leaving somewhere we love and somewhere we would love to live. The sad thing is I know full well I could get employment out here without a problem. Things are, unfortunately never that straight forward and so for now, with a sad kind of regret we leave SE Asia for the UK.
As I sit and look back over what we have done I do so with a smile and at times laughter. We have had the most amazing time, beyond anything we could have planned and hoped for. At times it has pushed all of us to our limits and the kids have exceeded at times what should be expected of them and they have made me so proud at their resilience and willingness to just get on with things.
It has been a quarter of a year since we were last on British soil and our trip has taken us through India and almost the entire length of South East Asia. We have seen and done things which we will remember forever, things that at the time have felt so surreal it only added to the absolute magic of what we have experienced.
There has been good times and bad times, and throughout I have learnt so much about myself and my children. It’s a funny thing, when you spend 14 weeks with your kids, every day, all day, you really get to know them as people and you get to see their flaws, which I suppose really are my flaws and you recognise areas where maybe as a parent you can improve. But you also see what amazing people your children are, and just what a good job you are doing. When I was at University there was a dick there called Simon, he was in his late thirties and I remember when I first met him and I asked about his kids, he replied “I don’t have kids thankfully” I told him then how wrong he was and I still believe a life without children is a life unfulfilled, a life wasted.
On our trip I have seen only a small handful of families, oddly out of the 5 or so I have met 3 have been French. There are of course many reasons why a family cannot just up sticks and head east, employment aside it takes a lot of planning, money and effort. When I was on Radio Leeds I was asked what one piece of advice I would give to people considering going travelling with kids and I said that they should just do it. That was after the last trip and still that is the piece of advice I could offer. You can sit and worry all day about this and that, but nothing could ever prepare you for when you get out here. Asia is a completely different style of life to that in Europe, it is much slower out here and violence is pretty much unheard of. No one gets hammered then takes on the smallest guy in the street. No one argues, gets angry or is impolite. SE Asia is full of gentle people who are run by religion, be it the relaxing and welcoming Buddhism, trendy Hinduism or a style of Islam that is much more relaxed than Islam in the UK. Of course there are still pockets of problems which tend to be political, but they have no effect on most people.
For a collection of countries that for decades have been plagued by war, poverty and corruption they hold no grudge and are far more welcoming than anything I’ve ever known. Such is the contrast to the UK or the US it really does seem like a different world and kids are adored throughout. My children have been shown nothing but attention and warm smiles, people genuinely could not do enough for them.
There was a lot of planning that went into this trip both before and during the trip, when you have limited time you invariably want to make sure you do what is worth doing and not waste time. Occasionally my planning due to travelling has been off but the only thing I would have done differently would have been to spread the journey between Phuket and Bali a little thinner. In Hindsight we should have done Java first and then flown out of Bali back to KL but I can’t change it now. That said for a 14 week trip to only have one thing I’d have done differently really shows the planning that was put into the trip. This in part was down to a couple of resources. SE Asia on a shoestring by Lonely Planet has been indispensable. Whilst there have been many times it has been proven to be wrong and inaccurate it has at times been an absolute lifesaver, ignore their accommodation recommendations which are suspicious at best but their to do, getting there and around and the border crossing info has been nothing short of excellent for us. Additionally we have used www.wikitravel.com extensively and the simply awesome www.seat61.com which gives every bit of info you could ever need in regard to overland travel. We have at times also used www.talesofasia.com and www.travelfish.org the best information though has come from people we have asked. Staying in budget accommodation is a huge advantage in that you get an opportunity to ask other travellers.
The trip would not have been possible or would have been a damn site harder without a few people who have helped us in various ways.
So a huge thanks goes out to everyone who helped in whatever way. It was all appreciated and your help has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated so thank you x
During this trip we have created a bond that I hope will never be broken, the kids and I have shared memories that will last a lifetime and I have been reminded that I have in my children something special – A reason for living.
Thanks to everyone who has kept up with our journey and I apologise that at times my posts have been a little crap grammar wise, I blame either the beer or the fact I don’t often proof read prior to posting. Either way, I hope you have enjoyed following us and if you have kids then I hope you find the confidence to get up and see the world.
Last year I finished the blog by saying the following:
We found a world full of people making happy lives for themselves out of nothing, people suffering poverty which I never knew existed, and we found those very people to be welcoming and friendly and so willing to help. We found sights and scenery which are unrivalled, and we found excitement and laughter a level above anything I’ve known. We found the world to be an amazing place, and in that amazing place we found each other.
A year later I stand by that statement.
Thank you for reading.