4 continents, 3 deserts, and 1 year later I again had to say ‘goodbye’ to my Travel Companion. If anyone is still wondering, I am now in the Good Ole USA! Here’s how it happened….
I’ve got a golden ticket!
I sang to myself as I drove my scooter home. It was traffic time in Koh Tao and the street was busy with its residents and tourists driving home or getting dinner. I had just gotten off the phone with my Travel Companion (aka Todd) and he had some really great news.
I had been living on Koh Tao for five weeks and no matter how happy I was, the desire to travel again became too overwhelming. Unfortunately, almost all of my money had been depleted and any option for change, other than staying on the island where my expenses were virtually nothing, was non existent.
However, this all changed when I was given the opportunity to have another adventure. My Travel Companion was going to ‘import’ me to Perth, Australia where we were going to cross the entire continent in his VW campervan.
This kombie was to be my new home for two weeks before coming back to Dallas to attend an old friend’s wedding. Even though this meant leaving my island paradise two weeks earlier than planned, I knew it was worth it. How could I pass up a free ticket to Australia?!
Stephanie and I made plans to leave Koh Tao and go to Singapore where I would fly to Perth and she would take an exhausting number of flights back to Texas. The weeks that led up to our departure were filled with innumerable adventures and wonderful days with The Lost Boys. We soaked up every waking minute (as well as soaked up a lot of water during Songkran-The Water Festival) with The Lost Boys and our other close friends on Koh Tao. I will never forget how incredible our time there was. With that said, I will retell many of those stories another time….like I always say…but it is all too good to pass up!
I flew from Singapore to Australia. I arrived with no expectations. I remembered reuniting with my Travel Companion 8 months earlier in Istanbul. Instead of a yellow banana, that he brought to the airport for me in Turkey, he brought a yellow VW campervan. My Companion tried to run across the street to greet me but the airport security would not let him leave the van unattended. I hurried over, dropped my bags and was happily surprised to be picked up and twirled around in a loving hug.
We drove away in a flutter of new and old stories. After spending almost every waking minute together for 6 months we had a lot to catch up on and say about the two months spent apart. The van itself is spectacular and instantly reassured me of the incredible adventures to come.
This picture shows the inside of the van where the couch retracts into a very comfortable bed, the fridge to the left of that, a sink that you cannot see to the left of that, and turn the camera around, a three burner gas stove. The sliding cabinet has three shelfs. I claimed the top one for my clothes and over time commandeered the middle one for toiletries. All you need; a bed, fridge, sink, stove, and a couple of shelfs. It was home.
When I arrived it was already dark so we found a place to park and sleep. I was completely exhausted after taking the 30+ hour journey from Koh Tao to Singapore that included a night ferry and three bus transfers. I woke up to the sun shining through the curtains and when I opened the door, a vast and beautiful blue sea sat within view. The terrain in Australia is a combination things. With big open skies, far reaching oceans, deserts, white sandy beaches, and cascading cliffs there is no room for more enchantments.
With petrol prices being the most expensive in Western Australia due to the mining economy, there was absolutely no way we could make the trip alone. Directly from Perth to Sydney would have cost $1500 or more in gas. So, we gathered two guys from a ride share forum who joined us across the Nullabor.
Our cross country team is in the picture below. On the far left is Miks who is from Latvia and next to him, Jordan from Essex in England. These two guys were incredible additions and it never would not have been the same without them.
Everyone was happy to take our time and see the sights along the way. One day my Companion took a turn on a dirt road. We ended up parking at the edge of the cliffs that you see in the picture below. We jumped out the van to peek over the edge of the cliffs. As we looked down, a school of dolphins swam by along the rock’s bend. It was truly magical.
We dropped off Miks in Adelaide and met up with a few of my Companion’s friends who had couch surfed with him in New Orleans over a year earlier. I will never forget the hospitality of Stella, Tom (Browny), and Matilda. They opened up their homes and lives to welcome us. A side note; is it just a coincidence that we would pick up another “Jordan” on the last leg of the Epic Adventure?
Leaving Adelaide and our new friends, we made our way on the Great Ocean road to Melbourne. The entire drive was incredible.
We dropped off Jordan in Melbourne where he would begin the search for a job. My Companion and I continued Sydney.
The pictures are alone testaments to the beauty that we saw across Australia. I am so grateful and prideful of my Companion’s incredible talent in capturing all of the places we have been. The photos not only provide proof of the countries, people, and events we experienced but more importantly the nostalgia. This visual art form is one of the most marvelous ways of reliving a memory or experience and my Companion’s ability to fully represent the various details of emotional and physical senses is prodigious.
When my Companion dropped me at the airport in Sydney I did not feel the same despair as our first parting in Thailand. Partly because the fact that I was in Australia in the first place was surprising. Only a month before I never even imagined going to Australia was possible. However, there I was and with my ultimate traveling companion.
The ‘unexpected’ won again and I was happy for it. Remembering this now is especially helpful in my transition back into the American culture. As I have said before, isn’t it better when you do not know what is going to happen?
Everything was planned out for me to not have time to even think about missing traveling or my Companion. I stepped off my 15 hour flight direct from Sydney to DFW and was greeted by my good friend Omar. He and Stephanie had come to pick me up and were awaiting with a half of bottle of Sangsom (the popular Thai rum Stephanie had brought back with her from Koh Tao.) She quickly put on one of our favorite Burmese songs and before I knew it, we were all talking as if no time had passed at all.
I got home to a massive box my Companion and I had sent from China. This box held both of our boots that had saved our lives in Russia and Mongolia, several souvenirs and gifts for friends, and some winter clothes that had been apart of our daily wardrobe on the Trans-Siberian. Instead of longing to relive these memories I let the nostalgia settle in me (especially after reading my Kazantzakis quote that is at the top right of this blog!)
“then to close my eyes and feel the riches deposit themselves inside me calmly or stormily according to their pleasure, until time passes them at last through its fine sieve, straining the quintessence out of all the joys and sorrows.”
Australia really gave me the time to root all of the amazing events and memories that have occurred over the past year. I had a lot of time to think and process in the campervan.
Yes, I could not prepare fully for my transition. And yes, it is really uncomfortable. However, this displeasure comes in phases and my longing for certain people and places comes and goes the more I realize that everything will work out the way it is supposed to.
Two days after I flew into Dallas, my dear friends and old roommates from New Orleans came and stayed at my dad’s house. We were reunited after at least a year for Erline and James’s wedding. It was, in simple words, a blast. I was so thankful to come home to a group of friends who know me as well as I know myself and in ways better than I know myself. The nights were filled with intriguing conversations and reminiscences and I remembered,
“Oh, I have lived before this Epic Adventure. Oh, I’ve HAD other epic adventures. And more are awaiting me!”
I was being provided for, having my friends there and being able to tell my recent story and past stories in the most sincere way. The Universe was aiding my transition from being away from the people and places I love, by giving me some of the dearest friends I have in the same place at the same time.
So, now the wedding is over. I visited New Orleans where my mom and Ken now live full time. They have a wonderful house and again I was lucky to see so many good and wonderful old friends that reminded me of the importance of my temporary return. OH YES. It is temporary. No set plan as of now but I’ll keep you updated…
Horrible quality photo but certainly captures the exuberance of us all being together again after so long…
How lucky am I to come home to my amazing family and friends? Thank you especially to Sophia, Dad, Mom and Ken for all the love and support in my travels. Thank you to everyone for always being there for me and mostly being here for me now!
Life is good y’all!