Homeward Bound

What will it be like to return to the place our adventure began, all those months ago? I vividly remember sitting in the departure lounge at Heathrow in March last year after saying our goodbyes, unable to comprehend that our new life of travel was about to begin. Back then we had no idea what was in store for us, we couldn’t have imagined that we’d end up volunteering in a disaster zone; that we’d sleep out in the jungles of Borneo, get homesick in Indonesia, learn to ride a scooter or end up spending nearly a third of our trip in Thailand. So on Thursday when we say goodbye to this adventure and board a plane back to England, I will do so hoping the next phase of our lives will be as unpredictable, intense and incredible as these past fifteen months have been.

Trekking in Taroko Gorge, Taiwan

Trekking in Taroko Gorge, Taiwan

Too Much Travel?

Since we left England we’ve travelled to eleven different countries, taken 24 flights and hundreds of journeys by bus, train, boat, taxi, tuk tuk, jeepney or trike. We’ve stayed in a few places for a week at a time and rented an apartment for a month in Thailand but on average, we’ve slept in a new bed every two to three days – yep, we never did get the hang of travelling slowly. As a result, although we’re still in love with travel, we’re also completely burnt out and ready to take a break from our nomadic lifestyle.

These last few weeks in particular have been the hardest. After volunteering in the Philippines we endured some tough days of travel which culminated in a horrific experience at Ninoy Aquino airport in Manila where we waited hours in the longest check-in queues I’ve ever seen and almost missed our flight to Taiwan. At that point I was so tired and stressed that if you’d offered me a ticket straight back to London I would have taken it in a heartbeat.

Exhuasting Trek in Taiwan

Another exhausting (but beautiful) trek in Taiwan

I am glad we made it to Taiwan though, it’s a beautiful place filled with vibrant cities, incredible scenery and amazingly kind people. The country is so small that it takes just a few hours to get from one place to the next and everything is clean, orderly and high-tech. Our generous Couchsurfing host Jackie gave us such a warm welcome to the country, treating us to dinner, booking our train tickets and helping us plan our itinerary. As we’ve made our way around the country countless people have stopped to give us directions, help or translate for us. Just this morning an old Taiwanese man followed us from the bakery to the 7-11 to give us some sweets to welcome us and last week when I felt ill from heat and exhaustion a kind woman massaged tiger balm into my neck.

Trekking in Alishan, Taiwan

Exploring Alishan in Taiwan

Despite all this, we’ve been plagued by exhaustion during our time in Taiwan and in the last few days we’ve managed to take the wrong train, miss our bus stop and get lost numerous times. It’s also comparatively expensive here and we’ve been battling to keep our costs down by staying in hostel dorm rooms and eating from 7-11s. After another night of broken sleep in a dorm room silently seething as people crash around, rustling plastic bags in the middle of the night I have to admit that boarding a plane back to England in a few days will come as a bit of a relief.

Returning to the UK

I always imagined that when the time came to head back to England I’d be heartbroken and consumed with dread but instead, I’m filled with excitement. Over the past month I have found myself visualising our return over and over again; my parents will be there waiting for us at the airport, hopefully with a cheese and pickle sandwich at the ready. We’ll step outside, probably shiver from the nippy air and take in the familiar British scenery as we head back for the first proper cup of tea and plate of fish and chips we’ve had in over a year. I don’t know exactly how it’ll feel being back; maybe it’ll be disorientating and strange at first, perhaps we’ll feel like the last fifteen months never happened or maybe everything will seem completely new.

Big Ben & The Thames

We can’t wait to see London again

One thing’s for sure, we’re looking forward to seeing all the familiar faces we’ve missed while we’ve been away, not to mention a few brand new ones too – I am beyond excited to finally be meeting my month-old nephew Alfie as well as some new additions to several of our friends’ families. My heart also swells at the thought of returning to London, the place I still consider my true home. However far we’ve travelled I still have yet to find a city as amazing as London and I have a hunch that it’ll always be my favourite place in the entire world.

This return home will also serve as a transition for us from constant travel to temporary ex-pat life in Asia and I’m sure it won’t all be plain sailing. While Andrew tries to get some teaching supply work in London I’ll start my TEFL course and we’ll begin gathering documents and applying for teaching jobs in both Vietnam and Korea. We still need to find accommodation for our stay in London and we’ll also need to keep a tight eye on our budget. As I’ve mentioned before, the path ahead is more uncertain than ever and we don’t really know what to expect when we head back to Vietnam in August.

The View from an Aeroplane

We’re homeward bound!

For now, we’re just grateful for the last fifteen months and happy to be homeward bound – England, here we come!

35 thoughts on “Homeward Bound

  1. I say, enjoy it while you can and you’re not worried about what’s next! You have plenty of time to worry. I, too, will be returning to a new nephew and it’s one of the reasons I’ll be excited to go back. Safe travels!!!
    carmel recently posted..AROUND THE TABLEMy Profile

    • You’re right Carmel, I must get my worrying under control and just enjoy being back and seeing everyone. Congrats on your new nephew too :)

    • Thanks Kellie – there will be lots of food pictures over the next few weeks, I’m sure! We plan to eat a lot of cheese in particular :)

  2. Safe travels and re-entry back home. I am sure after 15 months, it is such a confusing ball of emotions. Good luck. Here’s hoping no moss can grow under your toes. :)

    • Thanks Kathrin, tt definitely is a bit strange, I’ll be sure to write about how the transition goes over the next few weeks.

  3. I’m so excited for you! Look what you’ve accomplished in the last 15 months and now it’s time for a return home. How fun! And if your mom reads your blog, I suspect there will be a proper cheese and pickle sandwich waiting for you although I can’t even begin to imagine a cheese and pickle sandwich. ;) I look forward to reading about the transition back to London life and your preparations for teaching in VietNam. Safe travels ~
    Patti recently posted..Joy, Laughter and Yes, A Few Tears ~My Profile

    • Thanks Patti, looking back on it I can hardly believe how much we’ve done and how much ground we’ve covered, it’s definitely time to stay still for a bit and absorb everything as well as plan for the future :)

  4. Well I see your first adventure is over. Get ready for Vietnam, it is a buzz and the people are great.
    Sure did enjoy your trip blog. What about next time a video as you have the gift for voice over.
    Enjoy your fish and chips. May see you in Vietnam next year but for now Indonesia is home for me.
    Good luck and Cheers
    Rick Powell
    Sanur
    Bali
    Indonesia.

    • Thanks so much Rick. We’re a bit behind with the blog so we still have plenty of stories to share from Burma and Taiwan over the next couple of months while we visit the UK and prepare for Vietnam – we’re really excited about that and perhaps our paths will cross while we’re there :) Continue enjoying life in Indonesia :)

  5. Looking forward to seeing you both! We’ll have a great weekend at Center Parcs. Then I suppose I’d better stock up on favorite foods especially the cheese.

    • We’re looking forward to seeing you all too, it’ll be great for everyone to be together again at Center Parcs – see you soon :)

    • We’re looking forward to seeing you too! The more cheese the better! See you soon mum!x :)

  6. As someone who has just started following your blog, I’m amazed how much you have done in the last 15 months.. What an inspiration you are as my husband and I are preparing to leave the UK in September. Your hints and tips on money, accommodation, what rucksack to take have been invaluable so thank you! I’m now taking a 60 litre and not 85! Wish you the best of luck for your future plans.

    • Hi Lisa, thanks for reading and commenting, I’m glad you’ve found our blog useful. It sounds like you have a very exciting trip of your own coming up and I’m interested to hear more about it so I’ll check out your blog when we get back to England. You definitely made the right choice going for a smaller pack too :)

    • Thanks Kerri, we’ve just arrived back and it’s great to be home, it’s all pretty, green and summery here (but not too hot, of course!).

    • You can never have too much travel of course, we just need a break and we’ll be back out on the road in August :)

  7. A break sounds like just what you guys need! Traveling like you have been is wildly exhausting – we switched beds every few nights in South America and NZ/Australia and it’s driven us to embrace traveling more slowly. And to taking lots of naps!

    Best of luck back home and maybe we’ll cross paths in Vietnam – our current plan is to spend August exploring the country.
    Tyler recently posted..A Look Back at South America: An InfographicMy Profile

    • Yes Tyler, taking lots of naps is essential and it’s something we need to do more of! Hope to cross paths in Vietnam, we’ll be in Hanoi from the 22nd August :)

  8. Have a great time and rest once you get “home.” As a fellow Brit; sometimes the simpliest thing like a cheese and pickle sandwich, vinegar on chips, and a good cup of tea, is really all you need to feel “at home.”

    I know how you feel getting exhausted. When I went to India, although I loved it n’ everything, it was the first time that I just couldn’t wait to get home. It was a relief that I could get into my own bed with crisp, clean sheets, the quietness of twittering birds (I live in Germany), and the coolness of an orange Autmn leaf.
    However, when you’ve regenerated, filled up the financial coffers, and are ready to go, it makes you appreciate home all the more and the lucky opportunities we pretty much have. I look forward to reading about Taiwan later on!
    Victoria recently posted..Bill Bailey, a very tall German, and the English-speaking stand-up comedy scene in Berlin!My Profile

    • Thanks Victoria, you’re right it seems very simple to get the homely feeling but the things you mentioned like vinegar on chips, cheese and pickle sandwiches and a good cup of tea were often difficult to find. We’ll certainly stock up before we leave again in August! We’re all quite simple beasts really aren’t we?! Especially when we’re pleased by clean sheets and a cuppa! :-)

  9. Can’t believe it’s already time for you to head home (though of course you’ll be back out there again in a few months…)! It honestly feels like just yesterday that you were stepping onto that plane to NZ… where has the time gone?

    The future is full of uncertainty for us too, but if traveling this long has taught me anything, it’s that things really do have a way of working out. You’ve set yourselves a goal and I’m confident that you’ll figure out a way to make it happen, even if there are some bumps in the road. Enjoy your time back in London and visiting with your family & preparing for your next adventure!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..Travel Photo Roulette #81: The Face of a NationMy Profile

    • I can’t believe it either Steph, the time has flown by yet we’ve done so much. I’m growing more confident that things will work out for us too as we’ve begun working hard on the foundations for this next phase, no doubt there will be some bumps though!

    • Thanks Heidi, it’s great being back so far. Our batteries should be well and truly charged by the time we head back to Vietnam and in August – perhaps we’ll see you there :)

  10. Thanks for a great and honest post! Although we have never traveled longer than 6 weeks in total, I can imagine how you must feel. Sometimes the chaos and the unknown world around you becomes just too much. You need some structure and a regular schedule..at least for some time. Although you are now so much longing to get back to the UK, I’m sure you will quickly feel that urge to travel again…somewhere deep down in your body. Have fun in the UK!
    Emiel recently posted..Discovering the beauty of the Harz region, GermanyMy Profile

    • That’s exactly right Emiel, I’m sure after a couple of months at home we’ll be ready to get back out there again and explore!

  11. I think we’ve been “home” in London for about a month now, after 7 or 8 years away. Shall I tell you a secret? I”M LOVING EVERY SECOND OF IT!! God I’ve missed this place! But come January we’ll be ready to start again and we’ve got Italy to look forward to in July. Hope we get to see you while you’re here. And isn’t the food GREAT!
    Alyson recently posted..Why We Don’t Travel LightMy Profile

    • Glad you’re loving London Alyson :) We’ve still got a couple of weeks to go before we get to London but in the meantime we’re enjoying catching up with family, we’ll definitely have to meet up sometime in July if your Italy plans allow – exciting! I am loving the food too but will be fat soon if I don’t start running religiously every single day!

    • True Peter, we already have the plane tickets to Vietnam back so it won’t be long till our next adventure :)

    • Thanks Gabi, I hope your transition is going well too. I’m trying to learn to embrace the uncertainty as I know that’s what makes life so exciting, sometimes it does freak me out for a moment though!

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