Thursday 16th June
It’s been 8 weeks (give or take) since we flew out of New Zealand on April 23rd. You could say that time flies when your having fun but in our case we have found it has almost ground to a halt (I’m sure for some of my work colleagues they feel the same).
The first days were filled with the excitement that we were finally underway, renewing the sounds, smells and sights of Malaysia that we had forgotten about and reconnecting with old foods & friends. By the end of the first week we were in Borneo and in the thick of new places and experiences whilst meeting fellow interesting travellers (See the Art of Travel). By the end of our first 3 weeks we were in Penang having climbed Mt Kinabalu, maintained our budget visiting Legoland and were preparing for 3 weeks in China and Hong Kong.
This part of the trip we saw as possibly our most challenging but exciting as a family with our comfort zone sure to be stretched. Indeed it was for many reasons..the environment, the food, the system, the people……..granted we were backpacking so some of the more familiar luxuries we were going without but again this was what we had set out to do – challenge ourselves, challenge our children but above all adapt to enjoy the experience and in doing so we met some amazing people and saw some fascinating sights and history. As mentioned in an earlier update in hindsight we would have adjusted a few days around in our schedule to get more into the countryside but we all agreed (well Noelle & I) that we will return to China again. The 16 days we spent in there stretched the kids without breaking them. Our time in Hong Kong although it was too long by about 2 days due to flight availability did allow us the time to reconnect not only with a place that is so much a part of our personal history but with friends and old work colleagues that we had not seen for some time. As it turns out a few had passed away that we were unaware of. We have always been of the opinion that it is the people that make the place and some of our closest friends although we do not see them often as we are all scattered when we do get together it’s like we have not seen each other for 5 days rather than 5 years. Much of this stems not so much that they are all great individuals but that we were all brought together and survived/thrived in the unpredictable world that was Star Cruises. Collectively we were all in the trenches although we lost a few good people along the way….some for the most absurd reasons…..red carpet/blue carpet springs to mind…….ask us sometime.
The kids have been diligently writing their journal each day….sort of…… but they have definitely had their eyes opened to a world that is unlike where they live in Queenstown. Will they be happy to travel again with us? They say yes but i’m not sure for this length of time. They have expanded their boundaries and have been open to experiences and interactions with people and cultures they knew nothing about 8 weeks ago. It has been hard for them at times as they have no peers that they can interact with and like most brothers and sisters they have their disagreements but in saying that when you consider what we have asked of them we are proud parents (hopefully they will see us in the same way in the fullness of time).
So 8 weeks down – 5 to go. The first month just kept going and we lost track of days, dates and time (except for flights). The second month has also crept along albeit slightly faster. Our final weeks are pretty action packed with the African section so we expect that to tire us a bit towards the end. We are actually doing this section with another family (friends of ours) so it will give the kids a peer to interact with (they all get along well) and give Noelle & I other people to debate with. The 3 week African overland camping we are doing has another 3 families on the same trip so we are hoping this will be a nice way to end our adventure.
Thoughts of home have been minimal apart from the kids missing their dog. Thoughts of work ceased by the 3rd week and it has given me a mental break which I was in need of. Lately it has also had me thinking about my return and how some aspects of my professional life I will look to manage differently.
I was asked recently what the word “Realist” meant…. I tried to explain the meaning by using the example of where I get called negative for comments and views, I am in fact just being a realist. I can be opinionated…..wonder where I got that from Pop…. however in doing so I hope I have not come across as negative in some of my updates. I have tried to keep our views balanced and yes in some cases we were underwhelmed by what we have seen or done. No matter…it doesn’t mean we were unhappy with it just I guess flat.
As a region we love South East Asia…the history, the food and the people. It is different to how we live but therein lies the beauty of it. Asia has taught me over the years and hopefully our kids tolerance and patience (believe it or not) and acceptance that things will not always be perfect…even tonight at 10pm we have a plumber fixing pipes above us and fireworks going off from the street below, tv’s blaring all around whilst the kids are trying to sleep. Living in NZ makes you forget those virtues at times so hopefully the 2 months we have spent here will last us through the next couple of years before we can visit again.
Was 2 months in Asia too long – Definitely not….in fact we could carry on for another 2 months if we had the time. We had to compromise on what we wanted to see and do with the time we had and by and large we are content with our achievements. Roll on Africa!