I have been told many times that I am a dreamer. I cannot deny that this is true. And although sometimes I may dream up some crazy ideas that seem to be completely unrealistic at first glance, I am a firm believer that if I set my mind on something, I can achieve it. This trip abroad was one of those crazy ideas that I had set my mind on, many years ago. In fact, I told Mike on our first date at OJ's that one day I would go travelling for a year. That was 9 years ago. Also a part of that conversation was me telling him that I was a flight attendant with sweet benefits and that I could make him my companion and we could fly somewhere cheap... on the first date???! Yup. Like I said, I'm a dreamer.
However, I must admit there were moments of doubt during those 9 years; wrong timing, maybe I'd still be in school, Mike had his career to consider, family pressures, lack of funds and sometimes just plain wondering if it was the wrong decision. It's not easy leaving family and friends behind for such a long period of time, especially when considering that we would be missing out on some of our loved one's greatest life moments. My newest niece was born right before we left and she is an entirely different human since I last saw her. Including the growth and development of two of my best friends kids and our other nieces and nephews, I missed three of our good friends weddings, many loved ones engagements and some others learnt that they too were expecting. These were all big moments that we missed in order to fulfill our own dream of travel.
We had to sacrifice a lot to make this trip happen. Mostly during the one and a half years that it took to save for our year abroad. We missed a few of our dear friends destination weddings, we missed our annual ski trip, we stayed in on many nights when we could have been dancing the night away at one of Kida's events, we changed our lifestyle and cooked many of our meals at home, even though we love going out to eat and I didn't buy a single item of clothing for an entire year. (A greater accomplishment than you might first think if you knew how much I love shopping for clothes at Superstore!) We sold my retirement stocks from Westjet, Mike sold his beloved sports car, we spent the retro pay from Mike's job and used some healthy tax return cheques. For us, it was our everything and we knew in the end that we could and would, make it happen.
Before we knew it, we were saying goodbye to our beloved friends and family, expecting not to see them for a year. Fast forward 11 months later and we are making our way back to our favourite city. The last 3 weeks have been especially hard for me to come to terms with the fact that our amazing trip is over. It was only after talking to my dear friend Kayla in the last week of the trip that I realized something for the first time and it really helped me enjoy our last days in Nepal. This isn't the end of travelling for us, it is only the end for now. We have an entire lifetime to discover the world together. I have learned so much about myself and my relationship with Mike and I believe that we are both coming home better people. I am more mindful and grateful for all the opportunities I have in life and Mike... Mike is... Mike has... a giant red monster growing on his face. He is also more insightful and aware of how my mind works. As a couple we have grown immensely since leaving home. Going forward, we both intend to practice living in the moment, we are going to remind ourselves that suffering comes from within, we are going to enrich our relationships with family and friends while letting go of resentment, we are going to try to overcome our habitual minds, we intend to find more balance in our lives, taking more time to enjoy our hobbies and most of all, we are going to remind ourselves everyday to be grateful.
Mike and I have spent the last few nights reading over the blog from the start and we have reflected on some of our favourite moments, along with the pictures that represent them. Below, is a collection of some of our favourite images from the trip. Sometimes I think back to the beginning and it feels like we just left but after compiling all of these images, I see how long we've been gone and all of the amazing memories we've created together. We also looked back and remembered the amazing people we met while on our journey. Some had a great impact on our lives and many have become life long friends. As author Tim Cahill put so perfectly, "A journey is best measured in friends rather than in miles". This being the case, we are finishing an absolutely incredible trip.
Intense Hike, Kona, Hawaii.
Manta Ray Dive, Kona, Hawaii.
Volcano, Hilo, Hawaii.
Stunning waterfall, Hilo, Hawaii.
Turquoise Waters, Maratua, Indonesia.
Bat flying into the sunset, Maratua, Indonesia.
Rice fields, Ubud, Indonesia.
The monkey attack, Ubud, Indonesia.
Private Island, Maratua, Indonesia.
Learning to ride, Canggu, Indonesia.
Double Volcano, Lombok, Indonesia
The proposal, Gili Islands, Indonesia.
Feeling the love, Gili Islands, Indonesia.
The happy couple, Gili Islands, Indonesia.
Peace n Love, Koh Phangan, Thailand.
Long Tail boats, Railay Bay, Thailand.
My Laura Croft moment, Railay Bay, Thailand.
Love the bond between our two best friends, Railay Bay, Thailand.
Jenga intensity, Railay Bay, Thailand.
Magical Tree, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Tree hungry, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Bayon Temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Butterfly, Jungle Beach, Vietnam.
Phosphorous waters, Jungle Beach, Vietnam.
Bonfire night swims. Jungle Beach, Vietnam.
Magic, Jungle Beach, Vietnam.
Charming City, Hoi An, Vietnam.
Beer Pong Champs, Hanoi, Vietnam.
Fire in the sky, Coron, Philippines.
Underwater Mike, El Nido, Philippines.
WWII Wreck Diving, Coron, Philippines.
Tent in Paradise, Black Island, Philippines.
The three best friends there ever were, Remote Island, Philippines.
May the Force be with you, Singapore, Singapore.
And since it's my last post, how could we forget..... CHAARRRRRLlE, Brisbane, Australia.
Longboard Dreams, Brisbane, Australia.
Duck Face, Noosa, Australia.
Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, Australia.
Sunset, Great Ocean Road, Australia.
Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Australia.
Merry Christmas, Sydney, Australia.
New Year, New Friends, Noosa, Australia.
No Rain, Yasawas Islands, Fiji.
Found Nemo, Yasawa Islands, Fiji
No Place like no Home , North Island, New Zealand.
Perfect mountain range, South Island, New Zealand.
Foraging for clams, Cape Rienga, New Zealand.
Killer Beach, Killer Whales, Piha Beach, New Zealand.
Natural Hot Springs, Kerosene Creek, New Zealand.
Emerald Lakes at the top of the Tongarero Crossing, Tongarero, New Zealand.
Roy's Peak, Wanaka, New Zealand.
Starry Nights, Lake Tekapo, New Zealand.
Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Couple-a-Yogis, Dharamshala, India.
Himalayan Storm, Dharamshala, India
Colors of Pushkar, Pushkar India.
Small pup, big world, Varanasi, India.
Flying Mike, Kerala, India.
Color bombs, Mathura, India.
Holi $h!#, Mathura, India.
The blue wall, Kochi, India.
Peek-a-boo, Delhi, India.
Namaste, Himalayas, Nepal.
Love in the mist, Himalayas, Nepal.
Baby goat, Himalayas, Nepal.
Rhododendron, Himalayas, Nepal.
Bonnie Beavers, Tamur River, Nepal.
Dancers, Patan, Nepal.
Birthday Boy, Kirtipur, Nepal.
Rive Walking, London, England.
Best Run in yet, London, England.
Here is a little summary from the past year.
Countries Visited: 13
Days Spent Together: 323
Nights spent apart: 0
Most Hours Spent Apart: 3
Scuba Dives: 18
Hospital Visits: 2
Doctor Visits: 2
Food Poisonings: 1
Bed Bugs: 1
Plane Rides: 28
Boat Trips: 31
Skin Rashes: 4
Injuries Sustained: 1
Mountains Climbed: 7
Colors of Sand: 6
Cup of Noodles eaten: 1000000
Broken iPhones: 2
Times Robbed: 3
Visits with Calgary Folk: 3
Encounters with Crazies: 2
Time Zones Crossed: 10
Photos Taken: 7000 +
Items Lost: 19 (including iPad, headphones, sunglasses, necklace, shirt, board shorts, baseball cap, water bottles, headlamps, flashlights and games.)
Kms Driven in Campervan: 16000
Seasons of Survivor watched: 2
Seasons of the League watched: 4
50 cent McDonalds ice cream cones eaten: 40
Near Death Experiences: 1
I would like to end this post by thanking my number one support. Mike made this dream possible for me. Without Mike my dream would not have come true because my dream was to not just travel for a year but to do it with the man I love. He too has a passion for travel but had it not been for my incessant begging and whining, he probably would have never left for such a long period of time. Little did he know when he agreed to go 'live in Australia for a year' that it would evolve into a 13 country adventure. He worked hard, gave up many of the things he loves and left his friends and family to make this trip a reality for us. While on the trip, he continued to put my needs before his own and did everything in his power to make our experience unforgettable. He surprised me everyday with his willingness to be open minded and try things that I know wouldn't normally be his first choice. He helped me through my own struggles, offering patience and empathy and encouraged me to better myself throughout the trip. He empowered me to have the confidence needed to take on every challenge presented while abroad, as well as the challenges in our future back home. I am grateful to have him as my husband and best friend and I cannot thank him enough for being my sidekick over the past year.
Thank you to everyone who followed my blog, your love and support didn't go unnoticed and I hope you enjoyed following our travels. I hope to continue the blog on our next adventure... When will that be again Mike? I guess it's time to start planning. Until then, I'll keep on dreaming.
"To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life." The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.