It’s been a fine road, a long road, and a road worth travelling. But it must come to an end.
There is no more east from Japan. Canadian branded airplanes have started appearing. My shoes are full of holes, so I’m coming home.
I have a nineteen hour stopover in China before I fly back to Gatwick. Just in time to get a pint of Guiness and chopstick down some fish and chips! God bless the Irish.
I’m staying in Tianjin’s ‘Italytown’. It looks like how someone would describe Italy down a phone. The food is good though.
The local security guards and soldiers keep bursting into giggles when I talk to them. I don’t think they see a lot of foreigners.
My memory card is full. My camera has been my constant companion; except that one time I left it behind and had to reverse a day to find it.
Here are my favourite shots from the last five months, and some lessons I have learned on my journey.
1/ There is no street furniture in Asia. You can sit on walls or the floor, and bins can be found inside convenience stores.
2/ The further east you go, the fewer English speakers you’ll meet. I havn’t had a real conversation since Vietnam. I’ve never really felt loneliness before. I’ll be kinder to the misfortunate when I get back to the UK.
3/ For the most part, the world is normal. People work, laugh, eat, sleep, fall in love and raise families. We have far more in common than the superficial superstitions that divide us.
4/ Dogs grow to emulate their environment. In India, the dogs are resourceful, territorial and loud. In Korea, they are smart and silent. In Thailand they are charismatic and sleepy.
5/ You must get your Asian slippers right. Shoes are for outside, except for short trips where you can wear outdoor slippers. Don’t get those confused with your indoor slippers, which are not the same as your bathroom slippers. At the airport they will give you a pair of slippers to walk the five meters through security while they scan your shoes.
6/ My top three ice creams –
Mango Sorbet from The London Dairy, South India. Apple and Cranberry from Swensens, Vietnam. And Kiwi Gelato from any 7/11, Japan.
7/ Three months on the road is enough. I hit a wall in Vietnam and had to take a break. I’m glad I finished the trip, but an endless wanderer I am not.
8/ My best food award goes the the Parsi Restaruant in Mumbai, who served me ‘Mutton Berry Pulau’. I’m going to reverse engineer this one when I get home.
9/ Sightseeing is not valuable travel. We all want a break from the 9-5, but there comes a point where you feel you have seen every temple, every mountain and every museum. You begin to ask yourself what you are gaining from the effort. I found myself much more engaged when I was perfecting a skill, helping a local or trying something new.
It’s been fun! Thank you for sharing my journey. I’m going to be staying closer to home for a while, but I have Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East on my radar. I’ll blog it when it happens.
Alavida, sà-wàd-dee kráb, selamat tinggal, hooroo, tạm biệt, zàijiàn, annyeong, sayōnara and farewell.