The ‘honeyear’ 2014 is officially over and we have now returned to the UK, where it all started one year ago today. We are excited to begin our married lives together now that the honeymoon period is over. I wonder how we will cope!
We wanted to write one final post, and yes, there will be no more. Some will no doubt be glad they don’t have to read anymore but I know some actually liked seeing the ping in their inbox and reading what we were up to. Either way we are thankful to every single person who has read the blog over the past year. It has meant a lot to us knowing people have followed our adventures and experiences and traveled alongside us.
A large goal of the blog was to write capturing our emotions in the present moment. We wanted a diary to look back on once the trip had ended. I think we managed to achieve that on most occasions so again, thanks for following and sharing our joys and rants alike.
Thanks aside, this final post is to serve as a reflective summary of the most incredible year, where we…
– took 30 separate flights including one emergency landing and one where we jumped out
– visited 20 different countries
– experienced 16 different languages
– spent 2 nights in an airport
– had our passports stamped 56 times
– slept 21 times on an overnight bus
– slept 5 nights on a train
– had 176 different beds
– took 23 separate boat journeys
– traveled on 32 long distance buses
Since returning to the UK, the most frequently asked questions we have been asked, and our responses are:
Best country we visited?
It is almost impossible for us to say just one country but we have our favourites of course. Without any shadow of a doubt our favourites are Argentina, Vietnam and Sri Lanka. All for very different reasons but all three countries share one common theme. Each country offers everything within that one country. Wildlife, landscape, nature, culture and people. We would absolutely love to go back to all three of them.
We feel it would be unfair to omit Myanmar however. The country offered amazing people and an amazing experience. Some of which were defining moments of our trip. Maybe if English was widely spoken by the local people our cultural experience may have been further enhanced, as it was in Sri Lanka. Either way, we know we are very privileged to have visited the country and a country which is so new to tourism and therefore less “tainted”. I think a big thanks must go to Charis and Harry for this recommendation.
What weird foods did we eat?
We really did eat an array of different exotic foods throughout our journey often being drawn to and seeking the weird and wonderful. A diary was kept of all the countries and the “weird” foods that we sampled such as jelly fish, scorpion, duck egg foetus, fermented raw pork, guinea pig, silk worms and red tree ants to name just a few.
Most were delicious, some were strange, but all new experiences.
What did we miss from home?
Family and friends were the main thoughts of longing from home, especially Sasha, but that is of course the obvious answer.Living in Cayman away from friends and family made this of course easier so the real question is what else. In the first few months, before Argentina, food perhaps. We didn’t particularly enjoy the onslaught of potatoes in Peru and Bolivia, over 2,000 types. However, the further we got in, access to different foods was possible. I.e you may miss eating rice if you eat potatoes all day, then you have Asia. Or in Argentina, after steak 3 times a day for 4 weeks, a salad looks pretty good.
In the end, we made sure we didn’t long for the things that were not there as we knew this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and we had to make the most of it.
Would you do it again?
Travelling was an amazing experience. That said, it was an experience that Natalie has always wanted, but me, not so much. After Rio, 3 months in, and spending an awesome week with amazing people, I could have gone home happy. The longer we were away, moving so frequently, it become more exhausting. The more sights you see, whether it be a famous monument, a religious place of worship or a natural wonder, you begin to become desensitized to it all. The brain struggles to process and bank so many memories and it is almost like by seeing so many amazing things every day, day in day out, those things just become things. Not amazing things. The problem with that is it makes you feel ignorant in your self too.
Would we do a trip this length again? No. Definitely not. Am I glad we did this trip, yes absolutely. I wouldn’t change anything for the world. It wasn’t what we thought it might be. It was more, and sometimes less. Most importantly it allowed us to know ourselves completely and who we are, but also enriched us as people and a team. The travel bug has gone now. Well the year-long travel bug anyway. There will be lots and lots of holidays. We have barely scratched the surface of this massive incredible planet. The holiday destination list is frequently growing.
Worst thing that happened to us whilst away?
I think we can both probably agree on these. Both were moments we thought we were goners. The first was way back in Bolivia on the journey back from the salt flats. You can recap here (https://marriedtoourbackpacks.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/salar-de-uyuni-bolivia/)
The second was the horrifying failed landings, twice, in the Philippines followed by an emergency landing. This has definitely left a scar for future flights unfortunately.
Did we prefer Asia or South America?
This is such a frequent question which is again, so difficult to answer. Both continents are completely different so I cannot give a definitive answer. Both had amazing food, interesting faith and religion, and awe striking culture. The main differences we experienced as a backpacker travelling as a couple was the social side. South America brought older travellers. It was much more expensive, on average about two times more a week than Asia. All hostels were incredibly social with communal areas with kitchens where we could prepare our own food and chat and meet new people. Asia was so cheap to eat out and at street vendors, communal kitchens didn’t exist. Often hotels for a couple were cheaper than hostels, which charge per bed, so our exposure to meet like-minded travellers in Asia felt sometimes limited.
In the end, I say they’re both completely different. Writing this I cannot say one nor the other, nor do I think I should. Comparisons of places and sites is a common human reaction, but one that I dislike. We consciously made an effort to appreciate the site for what it was and tried not compare to anything else we had seen. Most of the time this proved very difficult, but we did try!
I wanted to include more on this but it may be easier to copy a link to this fantastic blog! This is an incredibly funny read for those who have travelled to Asia and for those who want to imagine. It is definitely accurate and applicable to us, bar maybe two or three (only because Natalie doesn’t eat fish and we are married)
This is a reason we love Asia.
What was our single most amazing moment?
No single defining moment just so many amazing memories we will cherish of things we have seen, experiences and people we have met. Completing the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu, Carnival with the boys (and Vania) in Rio, countless laughs and fun with Greg and Issy in Thailand, jumping out of a plane in New Zealand, visiting the Terracotta Warriors in China, trawling the rice paddies in Sa Pa, the sunsets over the jaw dropping horizon of Bagan, watching Lewis Hamilton take victory at the Singapore F1 and trekking early doors in Sri Lanka to the top of Ella Rock and looking down on the whole world. There are simply too many which means we are extremely lucky and fortunate. What a year!
Our advice for any future travellers…
Finally it’s not as hard as you think. In fact its way easier.So easy in fact that we are strongly urging, if not, forcefully pushing my dad into booking a 7 week trip to travel alone in Argentina.Like every traveller that commences their journey, you seek the un-travelled route. The areas untainted by tourism, seeking local traditions and cultures. However what actually happens, (well in our case and many others we met), you get greedy. You hear stories from all the amazing people you meet about places you haven’t visited and had no intention of visiting. These quickly get added to the list, plans quickly change. Some people tell you stories or stories they have heard. Your travels of areas untainted, which have to be in-depth and require time quickly become diluted. You want to see more.
You want to meet more people, see new places and get more stamps. This means that the trailed route becomes easier, convenient and cheaper. Greed… a common human trait. That said though, it’s not a bad thing. You change, and you adapt. Just do what makes you happy and have no regrets. Life is too short.
What is next for the Drury’s?
The million dollar question, eh? With the travel year over and so many exciting times to reflect upon we are also turning our attention to what lies ahead for us. When we left we always thought that we would return to Cayman to reunite with our fantastic friends and settle back into the community we loved. However, this will not be our next path.
Whilst we are sad knowing that the friendships we have formed will not be reunited as soon as we once thought, we are giddy in anticipation of the next step. We have accepted a job and are moving our lives to the British Virgin Islands. A new country to explore (and its surroundings), new people to meet and an exciting new work challenge to tackle with a huge company. The luxury of working offshore is that there is the ability to save a little bit, so we hope to have frequent meet ups in the states or surrounding countries with our fantastic friends from Cayman.
Work starts in February so we will continue to enjoy time with our family and friends in the UK, meet our new little buddy Florence and bring in the New Year in style. Christmas with my family, and two beautiful nieces is also something we cannot wait for. Christmas is always better with kids.
We have also just had two fantastic weeks with my dad, and Natalie’s mum and dad in Spain. We cannot thank them enough for the amazing time they showed us. We miss you already.
Once again, thank you for reading. We hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a prosperous New Year.