When the end is nigh; pre-return contradictions… 

NB: I apologise once again for poor photo quality; still no laptop/camera access! 

I’m happy… But I’m sad. I’m hopeful, but I’m also a little nervous. I’m tired, but I’m full of excitement for the next part of my life.

Such are the feelings I face as I scuff my toes in the hypothetical dirt, unwilling to drag myself away from the action-packed, varied life of travel which I have been living for the last few months, leaving behind the unpredictability of life on the road in favour of a new Bachelors degree and a whole YEAR of living in the same place. I left university nearly six months ago; I flew to India a month later. Since then, it has been such a roller coaster ride. The lows are few and far between, but despite what some would have you think, they do exist. But the highs… The highs are extraordinary in every way.
I would not take back a second. I would not reverse a single decision or moment which led me to be here, writing this post in a cafe in Kanchanaburi, watching the monsoon rains splash on the road outside. Even though at points during the last year, I’ve felt so desolate that I could barely see my own existence into the next week, I am now exactly where I am supposed to be. 

 

I swear I am having fun, despite my face… Taking in the history in Kanchanaburi
 
 

And well, if that happens to be poised to board a plane and return home, so be it. It’s something that everybody who travels must face at some point. That feeling of almost-nostalgia. The knowledge that you’ve got to return to normalcy. Unless you just keep on moving forever, which to me seems too much like running. I think the grounding of meeting family and friends after a long time away can’t hurt! Ultimately, I want to make travel my life. I love the change, the pace, the knowledge that you will never be as young or as beautiful or as full of a mad zest for life as you are RIGHT NOW. I love that I can be whoever I want, but who I want to be is really just utterly and unashamedly myself, without the filter of other people or responsibility or the pressure to conform to an idea of who I should want to be. 

But although I don’t want to leave this life for good, I’m excited to see my family and friends, and to move onto a new degree in something which genuinely interests me even if there isn’t a clear cut career at the end of it, because I know that in the end, this life will wait for me. The wonderful thing about the world is that it won’t ever run away. There will always be somewhere else to go. Far more than one thousand and one somewheres, really! Even though I’m pretty sure everyone is going to get sick of my stories eventually, it will be fun to tell them the first couple of times… 

What troubles me about going back to England is the fact that it represents returning to a place and a state of mind where I wasn’t happy with myself or where my life was going. I now equate travel with freedom and happiness, and my university with feeling trapped in a depression which was becoming all I was. I know it doesn’t have to be like that. I’m sure it will be different now. It’s still a niggling worry though. Home is security and familiarity; travel is the glow of new discoveries to be made and strangers just waiting to become friends. 

 

With my amazing couchsurfing host in Chiang Mai
  
Some of the Pai crew – the coolest kids in town
  
Koh Rong bonding
  

  

Waiting for SOME PEOPLE to pay the taxi driver on the Pailin side of the Cambodia-Thailand border
 
How can I possibly explain this feeling to someone who hasn’t made the journey? How can I make my friends or family understand the draw of not knowing where I am going to be the next day? Not to sound like a complete tool, but it is undeniable that people you meet travelling are people you have a very unique bond with, regardless of the context in which you met or the depth of your relationships. The people we meet on the road, however short- lived our acquaintance or however that acquaintance may come to a close, meet us outside the context of our banal everyday lives. Perhaps that is why everyone you meet whilst travelling is just that little bit more interesting than they would be if you met them in your hometown, and why you’re a bit more willing to put up with the bullshit which at home, would give you cause to kick a potential new friend or lover to the curb.

Am I right? Bet you’re all nodding sagely. 

It’s a sad fact that I probably won’t stay in touch with most of the people I met during this trip. I will definitely make an effort to keep up with some, but the people you meet in a time when everything is so transient and changeable often fade completely from your memories before too long. We need those people though, all the ones we added on social media knowing full well that our communication would drop off eventually, because there will come a time where our friends and family back home will get tired of our stories, and we will want to talk to someone, anyone, who understands how we feel. Someone who understands what it’s like to be homesick for the feeling of having no home at all. 

Oh, the people I’ve met. You deserve a post all your own. You deserve the world. The things I’ve seen and done cannot be condensed into mere words.

 

Stellar views atop the Bangkok Ghost Tower
 
I now have four years of stability before I enter the unknown again. Not including the travel adventures which I am sure will occur whenever I have a holiday from university. It’s a little daunting, to be honest. I’m more nervous than I was about leaving for four months of unknown shenanigans in Asia. Good lord, four months. It seems like much longer and yet feels as though I boarded that plane to India only a few days ago. I am changed, I am sure. For the better, I can only hope! 

Despite my pre-flight jitters, I know I can adjust. I know this because I now believe that I can do anything. I am stronger than I ever knew before this year. And I have still got four days around Bangkok before I get on that flight! As I finish this post, I’m itching to get back on the motorbike I’ve parked outside the cafe and keep on living this amazing life I’ve chosen. 

 

Most amazing sunset swim on Koh Chang
 
Talk soon; I’m off to stick my head in the clouds for a little while longer.

X Bea

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