So I landed in Heathrow yesterday evening after 15 months on the road. I visited 19 different countries in the process. I have travelled around 15000 km by bicycle. Not that impressive compared to some other cycle tourists, or compared to my first 2 and a half months when I covered around 4500 km, but the more I rode the more I began to see my trip less as a cycle tour and more as travelling with a bicycle.
As you can see from the title of this blog, the original aim was to head to China. And maybe back! The return leg went out the window when I got the deadline of my brother’s wedding, meaning I wouldn’t have time to wait for the Central Asian passes to open in spring. I decided not to head to China after Vietnam for a few reasons; the hassle of the visa, not really wanting to take a teaching job, wanting to come home with some money left and a big one was to see family and friends, especially for Christmas. But I don’t have to make excuses, it was my trip and I could follow my whims as I liked!
My last week post-meditation was spent mainly in Bangkok appreciating worldly pleasures. Some people really hate Bangkok, I am in two minds. I enjoyed wandered the city soaking up my last experiences of Asia for a while. I gorged on street food and fruits that I will miss. I watched women doing their laundry down small streets while kids ran around playing and men sat around smoking and drinking beer. I rode around the polluted streets weaving in and around the traffic in search of markets. And I hung out on the infamous traveler spot of Khao San Road. Khao San is entirely for tourists; a hedonistic street of live music, clubs, shops, hotels and people selling scorpion kebabs. It is a bit too intense for me, but the surrounding roads with roadside drinking and a slightly more relaxed atmosphere are great to meet other people on the road and share experiences.
I also watched some of the demonstrations currently happening in Bangkok. They are protesting against the corruption in the ruling party and the continual control of self-exiled ex-prime minister of Thaksin Shinawatra. His brother is in power and the protesters are calling for his resignation. They were mainly peaceful, with marching to various places around the city, lots of speaches and lots of whistle blowing. They meant that after my last few hours of frantic packing and shopping I was struggling to find a taxi to the airport. When I eventually got one it was a nail biting half an hour of being stuck in traffic, weaving round back alleys until we finally got to the huge raised motorway that would lead to the airport. We got up there just in time for the last sunset of my trip. The clear sky was a glowing pink and orange hanging over the sprawling city. As we swooped along the curving roads in between the numerous skyscrapers I admit I got goosebumps as mixture of emotions filled me. Or maybe the air con was bit too cold.
Anyway I got to the airport with plenty of time to rummage through my bags, stuff as much into my bulging hand luggage as possible and get rid of a few kilos of luggage as I was over my limit. They let me take 5kg over the limit in the end after much negotiating and I didn’t have to leave anything valuable but it still pained me to part with my well used ceramic covered tin mug with it’s build up of tea and coffee stains in it. I had a 13 hours stopover in Sri Lanka which to my surprise meant I got accommodation at a nice hotel, free transfers and breakfast. That beats the hours on a hard cold floor trying to sleep that I was expecting. I got back last night to be greeted by my brother who provided me with sheppard’s pie, ale, red wine and blue cheese. All things I had been missing, perfect.
Today I had a lazy day of laundry, catching up on music, watching TV on a comfy sofa with a duvet on me, wandering round the chilly streets of St Margarets and supping on proper cups of tea. Ahead is a weekend of catching up with friends and having a good boogie. It feels great to be back after being away so long away. There will be another blog post coming soon, about my thoughts and experiences gained from travelling, when I have them ordered in my head that is. This one is just to say that I am home safe (I’ll probably be mugged tonight now) and that I look forward to seeing you soon if I know you.