So, after 4 countries, 3 months and only 1 broken foot, my travels have finally come to an end. I can’t believe that it is over, this trip which I have been planning for so so long and excited about for even longer. I have been vaguely planning to go to Australia since being in 1st year at uni and it was at the start of my 2nd year that I first picked up the brochure for Far and Ride and decided that I wanted to go and ride through New Zealand. That seems like such a long time ago now. Sitting at Bangkok airport and scrounging my last little bit of free internet I’m trying to go over my 3 months in my mind. Without a doubt they have been the best three months of my entire life, and although it’s a cliché I do feel like I’m going home a changed person. It’s not just the slightly lowered hygiene levels, or the slightly raised alcohol/goon tolerance levels, it’s more the fact that I set off all by myself to travel the world for 3 months and I actually did it. I made it onto all the correct flights on time, I didn’t miss the bus, I didn’t run out of money, I coped with my own company when it was necessary and I also made loads of new friends. I would like to say that I also made it home in one piece, but that’s not quite true.
Although I am now looking at my broken foot as a good thing. It is a classic case of everything happens for a reason, and I feel I have learnt more from this experience than from anything else. I have always been the sort of person who tends to over-react and over dramatize things. I am still that sort of person, but I have also learnt that I do have the determination to overcome difficulties and problems, to find different solutions and make the best of a bad situation. Basically, that things are never that bad. When I broke my foot, I thought my travelling world had ended, and yes it did threaten to end my travels right there and then. But then the Eatons got in touch, and suddenly a whole new aspect of travelling I had never envisaged opened up for me, and turned out to be brilliant.
Most of all though I’m proud of myself for managing to have such an awesome time on Fraser island whilst on crutches. I sometimes forget that I did Fraser island only 2 full days after the accident, when I could barely walk at all. But even so, it was one of my absolute highlights of my whole trip, because I managed to power through. I was constantly determined to do everything I possibly could, which I did, and I also managed to laugh at myself and stay upbeat throughout most of the trip. Only once did I feel defeated and upset and thoroughly frustrated but with the help of Geoff managed to turn the fact that I couldn’t make it to Lake Wabby into a positive. Before I left home, I would never have thought that I would be strong enough to keep going and still enjoy myself in a situation like that, but I did. I learnt never to give up, to keep going because it will be so worth it in the end.
Of course other things went wrong over the course of my travels. Tours were booked onto the wrong days, or not booked at all. Travel agents randomly booked me into hostels that weren’t the ones I had asked for. There were times when I felt incredibly on my own. It sometimes rained. But everything that went wrong brought something good with it, and if it didn’t I managed to find something that made it worthwhile, whether it was new friends at hostels that were miles out of town, or a free helicopter ride to make up for a mistake in booking. I learnt that I am capable of using initiative, thinking on my feet, complaining, walking up to a group of strangers and making friends with them all, and having an awesome time despite the weather.
But the biggest thing I learnt about myself is that I simply love travelling, and that I will never be satisfied with being in one place too long. I thought three months would be enough, but now I know that once you’ve started, it is nowhere near enough. And that the only way to cope with one trip of a lifetime coming to an end is to start planning the next J
I always knew I would come home with lots of stories and lots of excitement about all the things I’ve seen and, more importantly, done. But I never realised that it would be so much, and that choosing any highlights would be so hard. But I’ve done my best. A top 5 is impossible, and so is a top 10, so here is my top 15 travelling moments.
No. 15 – Riding an Elephant through the lush countryside of northern Thailand, passing tiny villages of thatched huts, countless banana trees and wondering why our elephant was the laziest and hungriest of the four.
No.14 – Swimming in Lake Eacham, after jumping off railings and trees into it…floating lazily in the volcanic lake’s warm water, underneath a clear blue sky and a sinking sun, feeling a million miles from anywhere.
No.13 – Surfing at Lennox Head – this wasn’t the best surf of my trip or the best weather for it (in fact it was probably the worst), but I just had so much fun…I felt myself improving so much over the session and it was so exhilarating – I was on a high all the way home and all evening from it.
No.12 – Swimming on horseback in the warm sea at Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Island. There wasn’t anyone else around, except us and the horses, who absolutely loved it as well. The feeling of a horse swimming beneath you is just amazing.
No.11 – Feeding wild Rock Wallabies on Magnetic Island – we arrived with 2 apples and were son surrounded by loads of wild wallabies who ate out of our hands. Several even had joeys in their pouch. Best of all was when a young wallaby crept onto my lap while I was sitting on a rock, and stayed there!
No. 10 – Watching a simply stunning sunset on an empty beach in Perth with Katie – ties for the title of best sunset of my trip, but the fact that it was with one of my very best friends, and we went and had a an incredible dinner afterwards, and that it was my only Australia sunset into the sea, makes it stand out from the rest.
No.9 – Walking out onto the Skypark Bar on the roof of the Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore, thinking I knew what to expect, only to be totally blown away by how incredible the view over the sparkling city was, and the electric atmosphere of the whole place.
No.8 – Kroombit – the whole experience was unlike anything I have ever done before, and coupled with an awesome bunch of people meant the most amazing day and night: riding, mustering goats, learning to lasso, a goat rodeo, whipcracking, a mechanical bull, some amazing steak and a lot of drinking as night fell.
No. 7 – White Water Rafting on the Tully river, Xtreme style! This was terrifying, exhilarating, totally new and massive fun. We rafted, we flipped over, we swam, we hurtled down waterfalls, we bodysurfed the rapids, we had a great BBQ on the side of the river – I never wanted it to end.
No.6 – Seeing the Twelve Apostles from a helicopter – apart from the excitement of my first ever helicopter ride, this is one of the most stunning views I have ever encountered, with clear blue sky and the deepest blue sea I have ever seen. It was totally, take-your-breath-away beautiful, as well as incredibly exciting. And it was free!
No.5 – Galloping down the stunning long, white, deserted beach in Dunedin – there was no other person in sight, just the three of us and the horses, the crashing surf, and wild windy conditions just adding extra adrenaline to the whole experience. My horses, Freckles, was quick as a bullet - this was one of the most exhilarating moments of my life.
No.4 – The Canyon Jump – this is something I thought I would never do, yet on my second day as a lone traveller, I did it. Swinging gently through the beautiful canyon, with a brilliant blue sky up above the mountains, still shaking with the adrenaline of the fear and the 109m free fall, having accomplished something I never thought I would…that was a very special moment for me.
No.3 – Fraser Island – the whole trip! Swimming in lakes more gorgeous than I ever thought possible, camping on the sand dunes with the dingoes, sitting on the empty beach watching the sun come up, floating down Eli Creek with not a worry in the world, meeting amazing people and hurtling down the wildly beautiful beach in a 4WD, and accomplishing all this on crutches!! Say no more.
No.2 – Riding through the most breathtaking scenery I have ever seen, in the Mountains of New Zealand’s South island, camping in old musterers huts, washing in lakes, and being real friends from day one. This whole experience, riding through actual Middle-Earth, felt almost other-worldly.
No.1 – Skydiving! This was, without a doubt, the best experience of my life. The adrenaline, the exhilaration, the sheer beauty of it…words cannot describe how incredible the whole thing was: going up in the plane, sitting on the edge, tumbling out, free falling, soaring with the parachute above the most beautiful scenery and landing softly on the beach…words simply cannot describe.