More Memories of an Epic Adventure…

More Memories of an Epic Adventure…

Oh the memories!

Carrying on with our trip down memory lane where we shared the highs, lows and regrets we had during our 11 month overland trip, we have now turned our thoughts towards the memories and places that affected us the most and the lessons we learned along the way.

Places that affected us the most…

Travelling overland means that you get to experience life in a particular country ‘as it really is’ rather than just sampling the tourist spots. It’s great to immerse yourself in the daily life of the locals and get an insight into different cultures and customs but this can also mean coming across things that you perhaps didn’t really want to see.

Here are a few of our most poignant memories…

Street kids in Pakistan – we met some adorable children whilst at the beach in Karachi who literally had nothing but a smile. Filthy dirty and shoeless, they were selling flowers to passersby and became fascinated by our cameras, giggling and posing for pictures. To us it was unbelievable that they could be so happy despite their dire situation – their wide smiles hid any sign that they were aware of just how poor they really were.

pakistani-street-kids

India was a complete eye-opener for us, as we knew it would be. But whilst we had already spent time in Pakistan, the poverty in India seemed so much more ‘in your face’. One day in Delhi we were faced with the heartbreaking sight of a little girl dancing in the street for money. Her younger brother, who must have been no more than 5 years old, came up to us and offered us a fistful of pencils whilst clutching his stomach – he had the saddest eyes we’d ever seen and it was heartbreaking to think that he would still be there long after we had left.

Choeung Ek Killing Fields, Cambodia – our trip to Choeung Ek where thousands of innocent Cambodians were murdered by the Khmer Rouge, is one of our most vivid memories and was made all the more poignant after visiting Tuol Sleng prison. We’d already seen the faces of the victims in their photographs, so to follow that up with a visit to the place where they were killed and seeing their skulls and the horrific  ‘baby killing tree’ really was chilling.

skulls-of-killing-field-victims
tuol-sleng-cambodia

The huge divide between rich and poor was never more evident than in China. As the fastest growing economy in the world, we started to think that it won’t be long before the ‘bubble’ bursts and the everyday people of China realise that they are being left behind as the few get richer and richer at their expense. Here, we witnessed two world’s colliding and one memory that captured this image perfectly was in Shanghai where we watched a designer-laden young girl in heels, literally stepping over a man on the pavement as he cooked his dinner in a pot on the floor.

Whilst the above memories will stay with us forever, we’re pleased to say that not all of the places we visited affected us in such a depressing way – most of our experiences were profound for all the right reasons…

Iconic landscapes – you can’t beat the feeling you get when surrounded by vast mountain ranges, lakes or deserts. We have visited many of the places that Mother Nature is most proud of… the mighty Himalayas in Nepal, the heavenly Tibetan Plateau, the volcanic wonders of Indonesia, stunning sunsets in Laos, majestic Glacial valleys in New Zealand and the vast, sun-burnt Outback are just some of the unforgettable landscapes we have encountered. Many people save for years to experience just one of these environments and we have been lucky enough to see them all!

breathtaking-tibet

mount-bromo

mount-cook-national-park

Ancient Wonders – aside from the natural wonders we have encountered, there are many man-made sights and sounds that have defined our trip…the Great Wall, the Taj Mahal ,the White Temple in Thailand and the Angkor Ruins in Cambodia all gave us a ‘pinch yourself’ moment where we both had to stop and wonder “what on earth have we done to deserve being here?”

great-wall-china

taj-mahal

ruins-at-angkor

Lessons learned…

We’ve been to some of the richest and some of the poorest places in the world and consistently found people in the poorest places to be both the friendliest and the most generous. This got us thinking and we came to the conclusion that those who ‘benefit’ from the most development, often suffer from the unfortunate by-products of materialism – greed, ignorance and rudeness. It appears that those with busy jobs and lots of ‘things’ in their life are too busy to give a moment of their time to someone else, whereas those who go without often have nothing but time to give.

This one observation taught us that the best things in life really are free but there were many other lessons learned along the way

Don’t write anything off too quickly – this goes for people, places and food! When we first arrived in India, Cambodia and Indonesia we were irritated by the touts, disgusted at the mess and frustrated with the persistence of the locals in offering us ‘taxis’, not to mention being slightly apprehensive of the local delicacies. Our first instinct was to write the place off, go in search of the nearest McDonald’s and look forward to leaving but we soon learnt to take a step back, relax and appreciate all the good things about where we were and go with the flow a bit more! We learnt to appreciate that we may never come back to these places again so rather than leaving with regrets and a bad impression, we learnt to throw ourselves in, suck it up and just appreciate where we were!

Be more tolerant – For example, the story of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia really gave us a better understanding of the Cambodian people and their customs. Once we knew what they had been through as a nation it enabled us to respect the way in which their society was developing and we became much more tolerant and appreciative of their situation and the way they behaved.

Keep positive – it’s difficult not to “sweat the small stuff” when you’ve been travelling for a while. The smallest things appear to turn into the biggest problems as your concept of the real world slowly drifts away. You’ll run out of deodorant and think the world is about to end. The only way to dig yourself out of an emotional rut is to think positively. We learned that it’s important to look on the bright side and not to let anyone or anything grind us down! Who cares if you’ve run out of deodorant, you’re stood in front of the Taj Mahal!!

We definitely learned the true meaning of various adages whilst travelling – such as: “hindsight is a wonderful thing”; “the grass isn’t always greener”; “regret the things you’ve done rather than the things you haven’t”; “life is what you make it” as well as “There are two sides to every story”; “a double edged sword” and “Never say Never” to name but a few.

Appreciate what you already have – we’ve all moaned about being broke or hungry, having to work on a weekend or not being able to watch the telly when we want to, but travelling really has given us a new sense of perspective. We are extremely privileged to have been born on this side of the world and have the possessions, friends and family that many people can only dream of. It’s time we started appreciating what we’ve got, rather than worrying about what we haven’t!

Be more resourceful – we have surprised ourselves with the sorts of things we have been able to cope with. Having no showers, no hot water, no toilets and no washing machines was really daunting at first, but eventually made us much more resourceful! It’s amazing what you can do with a piece of string and a hole in the ground!

We are far too materialistic – our cars and widescreen TV’s don’t define us. They don’t make us better people and at the end of the day they really don’t matter at all. As long as we have our health and happiness that really is all we need. Everything else is a nicety not a necessity and the people we met around the world have taught us that.

There are two sides to every story – this adage hit home on a day in Pakistan, when we reprimanded our Spanish friend Tomas for giving money to a snake charmer and “encouraging animal cruelty”. Tomas simply looked at us and said “But the man needs to eat”. This really hit home to us as we had never looked at it that way.

Pakistan Snake Charmer

Don’t be suspicious of everybody – we learnt that it’s important to strike a balance between being generous and allowing yourself to being taken for a ride. There are always going to be people out there who want to scam you or rob you, but it’s important not to tarnish everyone with the same brush.

One thing is for sure, we are determined to never EVER forget the lessons we have learned and we hope that our stories can go some way towards helping you make the most of your own travel experiences. More than anything, the things that we have seen and done have altered the very fabric of our being and re-shaped our thoughts and feelings about so many aspects of our life. Next, we’re going to take a look at all of the ways that travel as changed us

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