‘Home is where the heart is’ – The End of an Epic Adventure…

‘Home is where the heart is’ – The End of an Epic Adventure…

After an amazing two and a half months, we said goodbye to Melbourne with a slap up three course meal prepared by Rich and his sister Sarah. They slaved for hours to cook up a feast of roast chestnuts, pork & crackling with apple and mustard sauce, followed by baked Pear and chocolate sponge, which we washed down with some gorgeous Aussie plonk. After a few games of pool around at Fast Eddies, it was time to hit the sack before getting up for my last day of work in Melbourne’s CBD.

It was a pretty emotional day – I’d only been working at Inter Staffing Services for less than two months, but the whole team had made me feel so welcome I really didn’t want to leave. They threw me a ‘leaving do’ with drinks and nibbles in the office, which was really touching – you’d never get that kind of hospitality working as a temp in the UK, particularly for such a short period of time, but these Aussies are all heart!

Sarah gave Rich a lift into the city to meet me and after saying a family farewell in the street, he made it to the office for a beer before we strapped on our backpacks for almost the last time. It felt odd having them on our backs after standing still for so long, and I have to say – we’d really missed them!

We walked to Southern Cross Station and boarded the overnight bus to Sydney. We were in for a 12 hour journey, but weren’t too worried about the ride – the roads in Australia are nothing like those in Laos where we last took an overnight bus so we knew we would probably be able to get at least a few hours sleep!

Our final leg…

Arriving in Sydney early the next morning, we were dismayed to find that it was pouring with rain! Oh no, we want our last memories of Oz to be glorious! It must be a sign we thought – perhaps Australia was as sad to see us go as we were to leave. Having fished out our umbrellas we started walking to Luke and Kristen’s house – our friends were about to put us up for the third time in four months and we were looking forward to spending our last couple of days with them.

We were treated to egg and bacon on arrival – Luke cooked it for us while we filled him in on our last couple of months. The rest of the day was pretty chilled – I was shattered from the bus journey (mustn’t have had that much sleep after all) and crashed out on the sofa. Kristen joined me for a nap while Luke and Rich went out for a while and they came back a few hours later to find us both asleep in front of the TV. That evening, we ordered Indian takeaway from Holy Cow (what a great name!) before watching the Green Hornet movie (not so great).

The next day, we had a lazy afternoon watching Strikeback – an awesome TV Drama from the UK that we persuaded Luke to download, and then decided to actually leave the flat that evening and go out for Mexican! After some delicious tapas and a few litres of Sangria we headed off to the pub for a nightcap. Kristen wasn’t feeling too good so it was just us and Luke enjoying a few vodka and Redbulls – we were about to call it a night when we got a phone call from our friend Joel – he lives in Barcelona but just so happened to be holidaying in Australia with his other half Nadine and had just arrived in Sydney that evening!

They weren’t staying too far from us, so we arranged to meet up with them down the road. It was so bizarre, yet weirdly normal, for us to see them wandering up the hill towards us. We all lived on the other side of the world (except Luke!) yet it seemed completely natural for us to be stood on a street corner in Sydney having a chat! The pubs were calling us once again so we headed back out for drinks with Joel and Nadine in tow and had a great night hearing all about their trip to Oz.

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The next morning, we were ever so slightly worse for wear, and while Luke went to work (poor guy) we amused ourselves by doing some washing, shopping and repacking our backpacks in preparation for our flight the next day. We met up with Joel and Nadine again that evening for a much more sober meal at the Empress of China restaurant before bidding them farewell and taking a wander by ourselves down to Sydney Harbour for the very last time.

It was a beautifully warm night and we were happy that the famous bridge and opera house would be one of the last things we’d see on our trip.

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We were up at the crack of dawn the next morning – 4.30am to be precise! We walked down to Sydney’s Central station and caught the train to the airport in time for our flight to London via South Korea.

I can’t even describe to you just how gut-renching it was to look out of the aeroplane window and see Australia getting smaller and smaller beneath us. The four and a bit months we’d spent Down Under were full of the most amazing experiences we could ever imagine. From the wild and mystical Outback; swagging it under the stars; sharing a drink with new friends; marvelling at the coastlines and enormous deep blue skies – to living like a local in Melbourne and discovering that aussies really are THAT friendly – we will never forget our time there.

Of course, it was exciting to be heading to South Korea for the night, and we loved our stopover at Incheon’s Best Western Premier hotel. We were treated to a 4 star dinner ‘on the house’, followed by a huge complimentary breakfast the next morning and even lunch in the airport. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see much of Korea itself – apart from the immediate vicinity of the hotel, but managed to venture out for a walk to try and soak up some atmosphere and got the impression that we really would enjoy Korea if we were to visit ‘properly’.

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Our hotel was situated within Incheon’s New Songdo City, the most expensive real estate development in Korean history! This billion dollar planned city already houses Korea’s tallest building, the North Asia Trade Tower and the world’s tallest twin tower buildings are in the early stage of construction. Whilst the entire area is still very much under development, it is designed to represent the “bright future of Incheon and South Korea”. It would be great to return one day to see how it’s all turned out.

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The flight to London was flawless– we really can’t recommend Korean Air enough – they’re cheap, comfortable and dot on time with departures and arrivals, but for us, the flight signalled the end of our journey, which was an event we weren’t quite ready to accept.

Arriving back in London we headed to my brother’s house for a welcome home dinner – it was a surreal feeling and while it was lovely to see family and familiar faces we couldn’t quite shake off that feeling that we had forgotten something…until we realised that we’d left our hearts on the other side of the world.


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