Saturday, July 01, 2006

Musings on the third phase of the trip


Looking back we see that our trip divides very cleanly into three phases, corresponding to the three continents/areas that we have travelled in. Phase one was Europe. This was a time of learning about how we travelled together and what sort of things we needed to do to stay within our budget. It was characterized by many visits to close friends, lots of sightseeing of old buildings and art of historic/cultural value and hours and hours of walking through the streets of the European cities. Despite the fact that Ireland was the only official English speaking country we visited, language and communication were rarely an issue (not only because English is so widely understood but because we either spoke or quickly picked up a number of the languages). It was a relatively easy way to start travelling: low culture shock, high budget shock, low discomfort level and many familiar faces.

Phase two was Asia. This was different in almost every way. Nothing was familiar, the potential for discomfort was much greater, the budget pressures were much much lower, and though we did see famous "things" (monuments/buildings/temples/art), much more of the experience was just seeing the people and the way they lived and trying to interact and learn from them. Though it wasn't always fun, we always had the sense that this was 'really travelling' and it changed us in innumerable ways. Easily the most memorable part of the trip.

Phase three is Australiasia and the South Pacific: Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. Especially after China it was such a change (and a bit of a relief) to arrive somewhere uncrowded, clean, full of natural beauty, and English speaking. If Europe was about seeing history and Asia was about seeing people/culture, then this phase of the trip is about seeing nature. And what glorious nature it has been and continues to be...

Surprisingly though, we're finding this to be the most difficult phase of the trip mentally. I think we sort of expected it to be smooth sailing once we left Asia and made it down here, but we're actually struggling quite a bit. A number of factors have led to that. The primary one is probably the fact that two weeks ago we hit the one year mark. It's funny, we didn't expect that to be that big of a deal but psychologically it appears to have taken quite a toll on us.

The second factor is the fact that we are starting to get a little more organized about and focused on life post-trip. So we are starting to work on our resumes, do research on potential employers, and start looking into neighborhoods and housing prices, and that means that we spend a lot more time thinking about home than we did earlier. Plus once you start making plans about how to approach things like selling and buying houses or job searching you start getting impatient to start implementing those plans.

The third factor was one we hadn't expected at all. But it turns out that after the extreme culture shock that is SE Asia and the sort of surroundings that you get used to (farm animals wandering across the road, cars driving every direction on the road, bargaining for everything, colorful markets, different languages, strange foods, etc. etc.) it just seems very ordinary travelling here. Combine that with scenery in NZ/OZ that looks remarkably like Oregon/NoCal and in some ways it doesn't really feel like we're world travelling anymore. We could just be in a really beautiful part of home. (Hopefully that feeling will change a bit when we head out into the Outback next week) So that also makes it seem like we should be home.

The end result of all of this is that we are really tired...mentally and physically...and it shows in everything we do: going for hikes, trying to plan trip logistics (transportation, lodging, etc.) for coming weeks, maintaining the blog. We are really, truly ready to come home. At the same time, we love this part of the world, are enjoying our visits, and are looking forward to all the parts yet to see. So maybe I should say instead that we will be really ready to come home.

Until then, here's to more adventures.

Becca

btw...to all those who knew me before the trip, yes that is me drinking beer. who woulda thunk?

1 comment:

blondebombchelle said...

Amazing that beer actually tastes good outside the USA!