Final Thoughts on 6 Months of Travel!

Toronto Travel Blog

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Sand dunes, Tsar Dessert, Rajasthan, India

One year ago today I left on my big trip around the world.  Its been six months since my return and only now have I found the time to write my final blog entry.  Wow it’s funny how time passes by so quickly! I got back on December 30 and now its June 22. Six months have come and gone again in a blink. Since I've been back, the reality of the real world has set in. Everyday life has frankly sped up to another level since I first left. In the time since my last blog entry, I started a new role in my company, in a new office, with a new team. Who said taking six months off was bad for your career!! ;)

Where do I even start with this last entry?! Honestly, I've barely had time in the past six months to ponder what the six months prior meant to me. People ask me all the time, what was your favourite place, what is the most memorable part of your trip? Really there is no one answer to those questions. One day it’s going to random restaurants in China and ordering whatever my finger pointed to, to volunteering in Goa with 13 wonderful kids, to seeing my dad walk for the first time again after being in ICU for two weeks in Sri Lanka, to flying half way around the world to come home and surprise my girlfriend three days earlier than expected. Really every memory from my trip is something to relish, something to look back on and smile upon. So ask me again what my favourite place or memory was six months from now, I'm sure I’ll tell you another story :)
Looking back now on my time away, the one thing that stands out to me is how similar we all are around the world. Everywhere I went the settings changed, the history changed, the sights changed, but what bound it all together was how similar the people I met were to  you and me. In China, like Thailand, like Qatar and London, people went out for fancy dinners, people went to movies, people had drinks at the local bar or sports pub. The only things that changed from country to country were the cuisines, the subtitles in the movies and the labels on the beer. We are all the same, no matter where we are I guess.   

For example, you would think I had nothing in common with a Chinese teacher in Guilin, or the head of an orphanage in Goa or a camelman in the Indian desert or a Maasai warrior in Kenya. You would think! But I always was able to find a common bond with whomever I met.  With all these people I shared a laugh or two, talked about life, sports, and girls, had dinners with, watched movies with and even with that Maasai warrior, I shared a beer with! People everywhere are the same.  I realize everyone everywhere is striving for the same thing, to enjoy life, to have a good life, to have a happy life.   
So what did I learn about myself from six months on my own!? Well to tell you the truth, nothing mind-blowing or anything major, but I did realize a few things along the way.  I learnt quickly from the very first day on my own, that you are never really alone while travelling around. I met so many people in my travels, some for a few hours, some for a few weeks, everyone played a role in making my trip memorable, both good and bad memories (more on that in a bit).

I think one of the best things I learnt along the way, and this could apply to a week’s vacation or a six month one, is sometimes it’s good to just have no plan and just explore. Funny, I started my first blog entry with a quote by Paul Theroux, “Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.” Looking back now, those words did set the mood of my trip. Other than the countries I was going to, I never really had much of a plan of where I would be and when I would be there.  That uncertainty of where to go was part of the fun traveling solo and having the leeway to make my own decisions. Having no plan led me to McLeod Ganj, India for a week, it led me to places in China I never thought to go, it led me to a cooking school in Northern Thailand! I guess it is true, travellers really “don’t know where they are going” and that’s fine by me. :)
One thing I already knew, but I wish more people knew is you can take a trip like this if you really want to. A lot of people would tell me that they wish they did the same, had a chance to travel. Well everyone can, people just choose not to! It’s a choice. Materials items like cars, condos, that new home theatre will always be there, hey I want that new Audi A5 too! But the opportunity to explore the world, well that opportunity may be lost as age and responsibilities creep into life. I'm glad I did this trip now. The opportunity was there to take and I took it. I'm sure if I contemplated to do the same trip now, I would pass on it, the responsibilities now are much more than one year ago today.
So any disappointments? I think the major disappointment of the trip was unfortunately China. Not that China the country and all the ancient wonders there were bad, the great wall, temple of heaven, terra cotta warriors are all things you can't be disappointed with. My disappointment lies in the way I was treated by the majority of Chinese people. As I said before in my blog, I think I’m a very friendly person and have traveled much of Asia the last few years. Never, ever in that time did I once contemplate leaving a country.  So let's hope China was the first and only time. :). With that said, I don't hate Chinese people, to do so would not be me, some of my best friends are Chinese. I just hope that if I ever do go back, that things have changed for the better, maybe they'll be more open to people not like their own, maybe they won't!? Who knows.
One other disappointment was I didn't party enough! Party enough?! Yes that's right! Maybe I just wanted to live my 20s again, who knows, maybe I wanted to be like Peter Pan and not have to grow up. Whatever the reason, I thought I'd live it up a bit more than I did, party like I did back in my university days. Well I didn't, and I'm not too disappointed now as I was back towards the end of my trip. Maybe being back in the real world made me forget about it or maybe *gulp* maybe over those six months and now the past year I just grew up! :)

A couple final things before I end this entry. As I said before, traveling on your own doesn't always mean traveling alone. You meet people along the way every day. So many people made this trip so worthwhile, I've made so many new friends around the world that I know I’ll stay in contact with and see again. For example Emile, my travel buddy from Sweden who I ended up travelling with for at least a two months of my trip.  I randomly met him at a hostel in Xian, China and we ended up traveling China AND India together!  We had a bunch of fun adventures together and along the way met up with Sid from London and ended up travelling northern India together.  Good times. Hopefully I’ll see you guys sometime soon for another adventure. 

Other than those friends I met along the way, it was also my girlfriend and my parents who made this trip so memorable.  To my girlfriend, Kamal, a woman who didn't once question why I wanted to take six months off to travel, all she did was encourage me to explore and live it up. I might have travelled for six months alone, but for those six months she traveled with me in my pocket on my blackberry through texting, emails, phone calls, and Skype; the whole time away we were able to stay in contact. Not only was she there with me to hear about my adventures or help me make decisions on places to go see, but she was also there to help me get through the times when I did get lonely and most importantly she was there for me when my father got sick in Sri Lanka.  Without her support, things would have been much harder. Love you babe.
To my parents, I know both of you were reluctant that I take all this time off from my career, but we all know it was worth it in the end. We all got to spend a lot of time together in Sri Lanka, I know it’s time you appreciated, but it’s also time I appreciated as well. Although things got rough in Sri Lanka with my father getting sick, we all pulled through as a family. Everything happens for a reason I believe, and because of all that time together I think we're closer now than we ever were. I love you both.
So that's it! 91389 kms, 4 continents, 10 countries.  Planes, trains, cars, vans, boats, tuk tuks and even a camel got me where I wanted to go! The adventures of the travelling toxicologist have finally come to an end. Thanks to everyone out there that have been following me on this adventure. I've enjoyed so much writing this blog, I hope you enjoyed it too! Who knew I’d enjoy writing so much! Maybe I’ll write a book someday! Lol 

So on to the next adventure. I'm not sure where that next trip will be but where ever it is, I can't wait!

- aka the Traveling Toxicologist! ;)
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Sand dunes, Tsar Dessert, Rajastha…
Sand dunes, Tsar Dessert, Rajasth…
Loita Hills, Maasai Village, Kenya
Loita Hills, Maasai Village, Kenya
photo by: yasuyo