So did all that just happen? That's a question I've been considering this past week, as I slowly readapt to life in the UK. Because not a lot seems to have changed in my hometown (except for maybe one or two shops and bars morphing into new identities), it's very easy to wonder if the last three months were a kind of freaky dream. Jet lag of course doesn't help the matter.
It was a nice dream that would be the overarching feel of it. As with any dream it was a bit odd at times (like seeing a dog wearing glasses and a Boston Red Sox jersey, but then that's just Japan for you I feel); there were moments of panic and worry occasionally, but then to wake up back where I started again is naturally an anti-climax. My home is very nice to be fair, we get a relative balance on weather; there is no threat of earthquakes, tidal waves and tornados etc. Well, aside from the odd Icelandic Volcanic fuck up, but that's just Iceland causing trouble for Europe again, the scamp. All the same though, it's nowhere near as exciting as the great beyond of the Asia Pacific that I've left behind.
So what's happened since I bade farewell to Japan? The flight home itself could be best described as restless. I didn't sleep, and why would I want to as from my perspective my flight began in the morning and continued until late evening, and its hard to sleep in the light. Crossing time zones confused this a lot as I arrived in the UK at what was mid-afternoon. The strangest thing is that because I'd been awake; in perpetual sunlight for about 24 hours, I didn't crash as massively as I was expecting. It didn't make the transference back to my old life any easier though, as trying to work out the confusing change in time difference and how many hours this meant I'd been awake for etc, and what time it would be if I'd stayed awake that long normally without changing the time all the way, was enough to turn my mind in knots. It was like being bullied by a giant watch.
After that befuddlement not a lot has happened. It's a bit awkward sliding back into normality again, as quite honestly I forget what normality was. This is also not helped by arriving back into a country which is in full swing for a major election, and at a time when many of my friends are in a state of limbo between end of year exams, the end of their year at university, or even their impending graduation, so whatever's going on now won't be in a couple of months. It's like up is down, left is small tangerine and north is 1968. Yep, whatever normal was before I left, it ain't here now.
Unfortunately as unsure as life is for my friends, I am also now faced with the big impending questions of what now? I went away hoping to get my head together on what my life’s ambition is, and I'm really not much better off. Sure, I quite fancy some stability, but not to construct my own cell. Thankfully as I'm still readjusting that staves off the over looming big questions of life, for now.
So looking back at the trip for a second, what was the best part? Well, whilst cutting through the bullshit of being 'unable to choose one bit, as it all blurs together,' I'm going to say New Zealand. It's just an amazing country with so much going for it and with little pretension in doing it. It's just a pity I didn't have more time there really. After that I'd say Vietnam in general was certainly a high-point. It was a fascinating country, which justified me going out into Asia, as it delivered the sort of different experience I was looking for.
So in summary I've achieved a lot over the past few months, and am now buggered if I know what I'm doing. Here are some statistics to quickly sum up the trip:
• I visited 7 countries. (in order Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and Japan)
• 3 of these countries were ex-British colonies.
• All the places I visited except Japan and Thailand had been under the imperial control of a European nation in their history.
• All but Hong Kong and Vietnam had monarchs of some description.
• I spent 7 weeks out of the 13 in English speaking nations.
• All counties drove on the left, except for Vietnam and Cambodia.
• 5 countries required me to know how to use chopsticks.
• 3 countries occupied a single landmass of some sort.
• My trip lasted 100 days.
• Overall I spent about a week in transit of some description.
• When I left the UK it was winter. Despite it being the same season in Asia I was thrust into (what is in my UK frost addled mind) summer conditions. Then 5 weeks later when I moved onto Australia it was then autumn (but still summery, to my mind again) and in New Zealand the same albeit a bit colder, and then when I arrived in Japan the seasons skipped back to spring. It was a bit like the description in this video.