While I write this, I’ve been on the road for 317 days.
WOW! That’s over 10 months, and what an amazing time it has been so far!
As 2016 comes to an end, it is time for some reflection.
Reflection on the amazing things I’ve seen and done, but also on the downsides of it.
So far I’ve visited 9 countries.
Even though they’re mostly Asian countries, it’s still very hard to compare them. Some countries I visited alone, others with friends or family. Some countries I stayed in for only 3 weeks, others for 2 months.. All these circumstances influence any experience you have in a country, so to pick a favourite would be difficult.
I thought Indonesia was absolutely gorgeous
but the mentality of local people towards tourists annoyed me greatly.. It also happened to be the last Asian country I visited before heading to Australia. Maybe my tolerance level would’ve overflowed in any country after 8 months in Asia. Maybe I had just reached my limit in tolerance, regardless of which country..
Vietnam was an amazing country
but I didn’t necessarily appreciate the southern region of it.. But maybe that was because I bought a crappy bike and spent too much time worrying about that damned thing.
Cambodia wasn’t my favourite country
We saw some amazing things there (the temples of Angkor and trekking in Mondulkiri being my favourites), but we had to stay longer than anticipated because of my cousin’s return flight.. Maybe we just lingered a little bit too long? And of course it didn’t help that my cousin got mugged the night before her departure..
So many things that influence the positives and negatives. But that what makes this trip unique and exceptional!
There are arguments to be made for going on a long trip like this, but also for just going on a holiday to each country separately. I got to see and do amazing things, and without trying to sound spoilt, I sometimes have difficulty telling things apart.. Was that beautiful waterfall in Malaysia, or Philippines? The amazing Buddhist temple with the intricate carvings.. Myanmar or Cambodia? All those Manta Rays while diving: Thailand or Indonesia? And that motorbike crash with the watermelon: Vietnam or Laos?
The experiences have been great, but it all seems to flow into each other.
I’ve kept a diary throughout this trip (so far I think I’ve managed to fill 8 books) and in a few years it will probably be amazing to read through it again to relive everything day by day.
Another thing to reflect upon is what I lack.
What I’m missing. Or missing out on, mostly.
When I left Asia, I thought that I really needed some quiet time; some comforts of home; a kitchen and private bathroom. But now that I have them, I can’t really say that it adds much value.. Yes, it is comfortable, don’t get me wrong. But I’d trade it in a heartbeat for the adventures and challenges of being on the road. Of not knowing where you’ll end up or what you’ll experience.
Here, while working, every day is the same.. It reminds me way too much of the life I had back home. I left for a reason; if I wanted to sit on a couch and watch TV every night, I could’ve just stayed in Veldhoven.
It would’ve made some things much easier if I’d just stayed home.
Money of course, governmental stuff, all that official crap.. It’s all a hassle long-distance. Also trying to figure out the official stuff in a new country isn’t that amazing either.. But it is a small price to pay.
I still believe that my decision to pack up and travel has been the best in my life
There is only 1 reason why I ever question that decision: people. My friends and family back home. As I reflect upon an amazing year of adventure and fun, I also reflect upon a year of hurt and grief that people back home have endured. Loss and pain, that I in no way could have made better, but would’ve been honoured to share in and provide a crying shoulder, a hug, a cup of tea and sarcastic comments where applicable. I’ve missed out on the pains, but also on the joys of everyone back home.
Last month I was talking to my brother: my mom was very sick and if it had gotten worse, I would consider coming home. But my lovely brother informed me that if I dared come back, he’d personally kick my ass back onto a plane to make me leave. So I didn’t 🙂
All in all it has been an amazing year.
I’ve met beautiful, wonderful people, some of which I believe will be friends for a lifetime. Others not so much. (You can decide which category you’re in for yourself 😉 ) As the people back home have made it hard for me to stay away, the people here have made it hard to go back.
Thank you to everyone I’ve met along the way, and everyone I’ve left back home.
Everyone that’s been supportive and helpful from a distance, or anyone who’s shared a cheap Asian beer with me (or 2, or 3)
I wish myself a repeat of 2016; a wonderful year that I wouldn’t change for the world. But most of all I wish everyone else a better year. A more beautiful, happier, more wonderful year. May all your dreams come true, be it near or far away from where I am. As a true backpacker I would raise a glass of cheap booze and say:
Cheers to 2017!