Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Final Chapter

So here I am, sitting at my computer at home in rainy Hampshire. For at least a while my travels are over and I have the not so easy task of trying to sum up what this means. Like any large transition in life it involves a mixture of emotions and these were mine:

There I was, my last night on Phi Phi, Bucket fed and sitting in the sea under a three-quarter moon with my trousers on. Gutted. No other way to describe how I felt but gutted. Here was all this beauty and opportunity and it was slipping through my fingers. Where had the last year gone? How had this period of my life that I had longed for departed with such apparent ease? Life leaking away and out of my control.

The next morning Dave, Arron and I set off on the 16 hour journey back to Bangkok. The sinking feeling of the night before had been substituted with a point blank lack of emotion at to the imminent changes in my living situation. Watch Phi Phi disappear and past the stark juttings of Krabi without too much thought. Just get on with travel as usual, meet a nice bunch of people, do standard random things and collapse before I even finish my Singh on the overnight bus.

The last day in Bangkok, that ultimate fairyland of backpackers, my last day of travel. Once the mundane tasks are out of the way, a heightened and sharp annoyance with the whole situation takes over. Solution - beer. Slightly crazy Dutch guy from a month ago joins the boys and we hit the giraffes (3 litres of Chang in an ice cooled tower) hard. Narrowly decide not to get a ‘Carpe Diem’ tattoo.

Sombre attitude alleviated by final contemplative walks and meeting up with lasses from the journey back from Phi Phi. A last rush of laughs, drinks and squeezing of every last minute takes over. Throw my bag on my shoulder and say adios with an inane grin on my face.

Bugger…. I forget to give Dave the Kleiner Welt Atlas that a certain German gave me at the end of his travel 7 months ago with the promise to pass it on to a worthy recipient. Leave all possessions with Israeli couple and run more than mildly inebriated down the Khao San Road one last time – dump the book with the gals and sprint back to the bus for all I’m worth.

Enter the airport half cut wearing a singlet, thongs, pink glasses and Mr Brightside booming in my ears on repeat… everything dandy… DOUBLE BUGGER – manage to lose my bag containing not only all my money and cards but my passport God damn it… think of Mik… you’ve really blown it this time haven’t you… run with big bag on back and glasses to information, BA desk, police… no sign of bag anywhere… oh well you can’t argue with fate - back to the pub then… no… no… I have to go home…gate closes in a few minutes… think James think, where on earth could I have lost it… faint glimpse of an important memory… swinging trolley round a corner… BINGO… relief… my bag and everything in it… sweating but happy they let me on the plane… take off over uncountable lights of the metropolis… slumber…collapse.

Bump bump tschhhhh. Back on home soil. Familiar accents, buildings and ease. Friendly passport control, bag intact and I’ve made it. It’s not so bad. Resolute about future travel but not entirely against the idea of getting on with my life. And there they are, not only my dad but Christina as well. Two of the people that I could not but return for.

The final leg of my journey. Striding off a train in the morning light, through the town and now past the lake with the familiar and reassuring weight of my pack on my back. I had almost forgotten just how beautiful this part of the world is. A final thought for everything I am leaving behind, look forward with a genuine smile, walk through the door and surprise my mother. I’m Home.


This only leaves concluding words to thank everyone and everything that has made this year everything it has been. For opening my eyes and showing me just what life can and should mean and for setting me on my path.

A contemporary poet describes life as a bitter-sweet symphony – how accurate – a mixed bag of emotions, feelings and occurrence. Life like a symphony is not about its end but its journey. Every note is there to be grabbed, soaked up and savoured, bitter or sweet, whether you do so is up to you!
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