Six months have flown past since I left on my trip. I was just reading back on my last post I’m back?! and how I talked about how I didn’t really have much time to put fingers to keys to write about my travels and I laughed. I’ve found myself in Australia for the past two months, a much needed break, I’m not as young and agile as I use to be! THIS was the time I was going to finally post but life took over instead. Brisbane to me is like my second home, it’s my alternative London. 10 years ago I arrived in Brisbane on a working holiday visa, met up with a friend and over a few glasses of wine a friend of hers offered me a room to rent in her house. The rest they say is history – I have what I hope I can call a second family here. It just makes it all the harder to keep leaving but as we’ve proved over the past 10 years the world is actually quite a small place.
Normal non-travelling life has resumed, well normal minus actually having to go to work, I literally don’t know how I had time to go to work, I can keep myself very busy. Lunches, dinners, dates, reading, swimming, shopping, pampering haha. Sooooo busy, blogging has taken another backseat. To be fair I have also been undergoing a lot of medical examinations. You may remember from some Facebook posts that I had buggered my knee. Well, five months on and I have a wonderful physio, had some pain relief injections, X-Rays and MRI’s and now I’m waiting on a date for surgery on my knee to remove some bits that got loose along my journey. Sometimes plans don’t go the way you want, but it’s not like I’m short on time to get these things sorted.
Anyway, I last left you in Malaysia. What.A.Country. My favourite by far. I was only going to stay for a couple of days, a stopover in Kuala Lumpur to visit the Batu Caves and I ended up staying for a month. The nicest people, the best (vegetarian) food, street art, beautiful colonial style crumbling houses, temples, colour everywhere, lush green tea plantations, Borneo! and a bit of island life. As a solo female traveller I felt the safest I have ever felt, possibly a little too safe when I took a lift from a stranger, when the other option was to walk 5 kms back to town, which was what I had intended to do. Whilst travelling over the past 22 years I’ve learnt to assess situations in seconds, use my intuition, listen to my gut. I know that won’t always protect me but it’s a good skill to have crafted. I don’t tend to put myself in these situations normally, I’m more likely to come across as rude and refuse help when people are just trying to be nice, but Malaysia had a hold on me. Apart from the struggles with the loneliness I was the happiest I’ve been in one country. It’s funny also, that after I wrote my last post and the lonely side of travelling, I ended up meeting two awesome ladies, at different times, but it certainly solidified the “chance meeting” paragraph.
From Malaysia to Singapore for a little stop over. I LOVE Singapore. So much. A lot of people just stay a couple of days, say it is expensive, just another city and move on but I could certainly spend a considerable amount of time here. When you’ve lived in London for 18 years there aren’t too many countries which are that “expensive”. There’s always something new to discover – loved the Gardens by the Bay and Cloud Forest, but I also went back to some of my favourite haunts and I ate more than my weight in as much food I could that I had assumed I wouldn’t be able to get from my next destination.
The next destination – India! FINALLY! For as long as I can remember I had wanted to visit India. I hadn’t planned on going so soon in my trip but when I was in Malaysia and the loneliness took over I decided to book myself on a group tour. I have a lot of female friends that have travelled India solo with no problems at all, but with quite a lot of bad press over the years about the safety of female travellers I decided a group tour would be good to combat any of my personal fears. Little did I realise before embarking on a 37 day tour of North and South India that the biggest threat to me would be an actual member of the group. A 61 year old Australian male. So ironic. India itself was incredible though. I know that’s such a cliche description, I think one that you can only use once you’ve actually left the country and have processed your experience. In all honesty the country was an attack on all senses. I struggled big time whilst in Rajasthan, it was so confrontational and challenging. The constant noise, vehicles beeping every second of the day, the smells, the pollution, the amazing food, the constant “selfie, selfie”, the warm and inviting people, the constant stares, the five chai’s a day, all of the cows, the pure beauty of temples, palaces, forts and stepwells amongst the pure heartbreak of poverty. It’s fair to say that South India was a lot more chilled out. Slower pace, less noise and pollution. In hindsight I don’t think I would have returned to India if I had only visited the North. I struggled a lot (as a fair few of you got to experience from my “I can’t do this anymore” voice messages). One friend summed it up perfectly for me. India is one of those places that whilst you are in it, you want to leave, but when you go home you desperately want to return. Despite everything I did truly love the country and all of it’s challenges and I did write my “still to visit in India” list before I even left the country, so I will be back.
Back to Singapore for a unscheduled over night stop. I survived 37 days in India without being ill. A bloody miracle considering my delicate stomach! Then Air India poisoned me and I had the worst panic attack of my life when I landed in Singapore with a few hours lay over before I was to board for Sydney. I did not get on that plane bound for Sydney. Singapore Airlines were the absolute best and rescheduled it for 24 hours later without any questions or any extra cost. Then stayed in a hotel at the airport which was more than a week’s hostel budget… sometimes needs must and after a two hour panic attack, self care takes precedent.
Finally, I landed in Australia just in time for Christmas and I’m still here. The past two months hasn’t just been about lunches, dinners, dates and hospitals but I’ve also got to visit some incredible beaches and towns along the Queensland and New South Wales coast. It still blows my mind how empty the beaches are if you’re not hitting the hot spots of Bryon, Surfers, Bondi etc. Every day I was walking along a stretch of beach and only passed a couple of people coming back from a surf or fishing. Maybe it’s because I’m such a pom that I ended up walking every day at the hottest time so of course no-one would be silly enough to be out. Or some beaches are covered in blue bottles or box jelly fish that they are avoided. Or simply that the whole of Australia is lined with beaches so they aren’t going to be that busy. But still! Just simply beautiful. A massive thank you to my friends that have taken me away to these places. I’m a very lucky lady.
Now, getting back to that actual blogging idea…. I’m sure with my upcoming surgery and a suggested six week recovery period I won’t have any excuse now not to document at least some of my highlights. Watch this space x