The final few days are suddenly upon us. Seems like no time at all since we arrived in Bali and wondered if all of South East Asia would be like Bournemouth or Benidorm (turned out that a couple of places were – Sandakan and Penang to name two). However, most places brought something new to see, hear, smell or taste.
As we reflect on the past five and a half months, here are some top fives.
Five things we’ll miss:
1. Arriving in a new place every few days and finding it’s nothing like we expected
2. Really fresh food (in Allan’s case one of the 101 varieties of prawn curry he’s sampled) prepared by someone else – same goes for having your laundry done!
3. Being able to see modern history in a real context – especially the impact of the Vietnam War on the region and the related horrors in Cambodia
4. The smiling – everyone smiles
5. Scenery, sunrises and sunsets – a week hasn’t gone by that we haven’t needed to say ‘WOW!’
And five things we won’t:
1. Packing everything into the rucksacks – our most hated activity
2. Everything starting at sunrise – cockerels, temples, traffic, loudspeakers – if you’re not up by 6am you’re probably dead
3. Buses – yes, it takes five hours to get from A to B, but you forgot to mention the extra hour spent messing about before the bus leaves, the hour waiting for the engine to cool down half way and the 25 additional ‘little stops’ to drop off and pick up when you sold us the ticket!
4. Larium – our little weekly pill of sleeplessness
5. Biting things – could have been worse but we won’t miss mossie spray
Five things we’ve missed about home:
1. Family and friends – a surprising amount, thanks to everyone who posted comments and emailed us (a special mention to Mr S, who has entertained, surprised and outraged in equal measure – just like home!)
2. Cheese – especially with pickle, mmmmm… – proper cheese doesn’t seem to exist here and pickle is a pipe dream, we’ve craved it for months even though it rarely crosses our lips at home
3. Cats – especially when we’ve been ill, when it seemed odd not to have a hot, heavy, purring ball of fur sitting by our heads
4. Fixed prices – bartering is novel at first but it gets very wearing when it’s over every single purchase, even a bottle of water – Vietnam was definitely the worst for this
5. Pavements – being able to walk side by side down the street has been a great rarity, to the extent that when a local woman asked us what we’d liked about Kuala Lumpar it was the first thing we mentioned!