Monday, March 18, 2013

The home stretch?

No, I didn't traverse 100% of that green space in Australia and China before moving on.
I'm not Pac-Man, I'm a human being, dammit

At the start of 2013 I had an extremely vague plan for how my trips might look through to September and the third anniversary of me setting off from my home country. For the record, today is the less prestigious 2.5-year tranniversary (or 30 months if that sounds more impressive - it somehow doesn't). I thought it was still worth clocking.

I didn't know if I was ready to go back 'home,' even just for a visit, but I was ready to leave Asia, and if I was going to go to the Americas or something next, a stop-off in the UK on the way wouldn't be out of the question. If I could get back in time for the Edinburgh Fringe in August, that would be more exciting than showing up in the aftermath, I could pretend the celebration was for me. So I figured I'd have a small farewell tour of South East Asia before heading progressively west through India and Turkey or somewhere, on the way back to Europe. I wasn't all that enthusiastic about it though, as part of me felt that going back would be going backwards and signify some sort of failure, despite the experiences I'd had.

This extremely vague plan all got a bit screwed up when I met Jackie and we planned to travel together to some of the countries she really wanted to go to. This is just the sort of screw-up I've been craving - it's great to actually have an incentive to go to places rather than just treading water in South East Asia because I'm scared of South America. As we started to make plans and the next six months started to look a little clearer, it suddenly struck me that Jackie's desire to spend some time working overseas and my search for a reason to go back home didn't have to be mutually exclusive, if you see what I'm getting at...

(I mean we're thinking of going to the UK in a few months so she can get work and I'll take a rest from immigration hassle, catch up with friends and stuff. Oh, right, you got it).

The voyage home

I'm not in too much of a hurry to leave Asia

So far, my second summer of 2013 (bloody hemispheres) is looking a lot like the summer of 2012, as Jackie really wants to go to South Korea and Japan and I'm happy to visit those countries again, which are probably my favourites in Asia. I didn't leave too many reconstructed palaces unturned in Korea after four months, but stinginess meant I didn't see that much of Japan before running back to cheaper countries, so there's still loads of new stuff for me there.

Jackie's also interested in Hong Kong, which I never really understand when people say that, but it would at least be a chance to get another easy China visa and see a bit more of that country for nine days until the internet restrictions drive me crazy and I leave prematurely again. Visiting China always rears the possibility of the Trans-Mongolian Express and other ridiculously long-winded, overly expensive train journeys across the continent back to Europe, but as I need an internet connection and power socket for work and these are probably hard to come by when you're travelling second class (not third class with the gap year kids, I have some standards), I think I'll stick to flights.

It's possible Jackie will want to go home to the Philippines after travelling for a few months as she hasn't severed her emotional ties to everyone back home like I did (amateurs!) This could mean I have a few more bachelor trips in the mean-time if I don't want to hang around in that slightly depressing country (yeah, because Cambodia's laugh-a-minute), but freedom and independence are less appealing these days. There are a few places around here I still haven't been to or even really thought about which I could tick off for the sake of it, like Mongolia and Nepal. Sod it, maybe I'll even do the long-postponed India and Bangladesh trip if I'm desperate for variety and can put up with the visa hassle. I don't plan to colour in that noticeable white spot over North Korea though.

These plans and possibilities should take us through to August or September, which means, despite an abundance of fannying around, I could actually end up sticking to the three-year cycle I proposed this time last year and be home in time for Herring. Who saw that coming? And if I really want to get the United States out of the way, we could just sign up for a sensory overload Trek America / Green Tortoise trip for a couple of weeks. It's refreshing to feel the time pressure of a looming deadline after suffering boundless freedom for so long.

Unless the British government makes it practically impossible for a Filipino to get a working visa and our dreams are just destroyed. But how likely is that to happen?

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