Numbers, like words, can paint a picture, tell their own story. They can give you insight and understanding.
The numbers on my journey are all telling me the same thing. It’s time to go home.
I left Australia on April 16th 2013, almost an entire calendar has flipped over since then.
Here’s a few of the other numbers.
I’ve visited 19 countries, admittedly Singapore was a single night on a visa run from Thailand (thanks for the bed Liz and David).
I’ve taken 47 flights (that’s a hell of a lot of airports).
Seven pairs of thongs (flip flops) have been used and abused. Seven is also the magic number for hats.
I’ve got through two pairs of prescription sunglasses. I lost one, bought a replacement in Vietnam, lost them in Cambodia (note to self, must check hotel rooms thoroughly before leaving).
And then we come to the big number. I’ve slept in 142 different beds! They’ve ranged from tiny to huge, soft to concrete-like. Sometimes the bedding has lacked a little cleanliness other times it’s been non-existent and I’ve slept on my own towel.
This is blog 36 (anybody out there still reading?) There could have been many more.
There were stories I tried to write but which somehow defeated and defied me. My first attempt at yoga on the island of Gili Air was a near miss.
I had two marriage offers on the same day……now that blog really should have been written.
I wanted to tell you about Christmas and New Year’s Eve with two wonderful Thai sisters of mercy and some lovely strangers from across the globe.
Dancing the night away in the basement of a Bangkok car park was another memorable night.
I wanted to pass on some of the pearls of wisdom I’ve picked up on my travels. I now know the best time to commit a driving offence in Mandalay. The answer is after 5.30pm (all the traffic cops finish work then so the country’s strict motorbike helmet rules are immediately ignored).
I could have explained the best method for eating green curry while lying down in a cinema. Or how you’re never more than three feet from a crowing cockerel or a yapping dog at night in south east Asia. The price of paradise is often a lack of sleep.
I’ve swapped hundreds of stories and had tens of thousands of laughs. But I’ll only confess to one tear. A perfect day in Bonn finished with a free concert. Massenet’s wrenching violin piece Meditation was followed by the pleading sorrow of Puccini’s Vissi D’Arte from Tosca. It was incredibly touching and out of nowhere a single tear rolled gently down my cheek.
I’ve seen the beauty of the natural world and the genius of man’s creativity.
I’ve met a gigolo and the most beautiful woman in the world; spent time with the headhunters, a nuclear physicist and a former CIA chief; come across people with almost literally nothing, and a couple of people whose wealth could probably be counted in tens of millions.
I’ve driven a train, been a Hindu for a day and witnessed unique, ancient rituals. I’ve been enchanted by great company, loved the solitude of lone travelling and at other times felt a touch of loneliness.
But I’ve never been far from the kindness and caring of wonderful people. The generosity of complete strangers has been incredibly uplifting throughout the past 12 months.
Just a couple of days ago I was walking with my backpack through intense heat and humidity in Malaysia. Unknown to me a young girl saw me from her home and sent her aunt out after me in the car to offer me a ride. Incredibly kind and so typical of the help I’ve received. The same applies to old friends and new, family and relations. I am sincerely grateful. It’s the people who made it a year like no other.
And now it’s time to go home.
But there is just one tiny, little problem. The last thing I did before starting my travels was to sell my house. Oh dear, time to add to the statistics. Does anybody have a bed for a couple of nights?
Cheers to each and every one of you,