I’m back! It’s been three weeks since I landed at London Heathrow. When I first got back it was a little surreal. I had said goodbye to my friends in Seoul and Incheon and then said goodbye to Susie at the airport. I can’t say I was happy as I got on the plane, in fact I was quite upset. Despite this, I did have the tingle of excitement that comes with travel.
But, it turns out I can’t sleep on planes. I have thought this before but happily I’ve never been able to test it. Unfortunately for me, my employer in Korea decided that the best way for me to get home was by spending twenty long hours in a plane and an extra four in Incheon and Qatar airports. I passed the time with about six movies, including one with no words (All is Lost – not recommended) and about a dozen T.V programmes (I do recommend The Crazy Ones – Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Geller, very funny). Finally, the wheels touched down on UK tarmac. After 14 months, I was back home.
I managed to miss my dad, my brother and his girlfriend at arrivals and so went home alone, taking the tube and coming out in my hometown, a place so familiar that every small change in scenery was screaming at me. A new shop here, a swanky tower added or removed. I noticed all the differences, but that wasn’t all. London is a city I love, but I forgot how grey it can be. After the bright neon lights, the noise and constant hustle and bustle of Korea, London seemed lacking somehow. By the time I got home I had been awake for 29 hours and travelling for 24. I was shattered. The adventure was over. The flight was over. My time in Korea was over. Everything that I had known for the last 14 months was gone. I was happy to be home, but knew I’d have to work a little to stop the change feeling like loss.
Over the last few weeks three things have occupied my time. One of them is The Wire. I’m going to focus on the other two.
Firstly, my plans to cycle around are coming closer to reality. I’ve managed to get a bike, ordered a new passport, and started collecting the bits and pieces I need to make the idea a reality. I’ll be doing a full blog post on this soon as things have changed since The Plan. When I first got back it felt like it would never happen, like so many pipe dreams made when travelling. It’s so easy to say you’re going to do something when you have the sun in your face and you are travelling. But, I recognise the feeling, the nagging that says “it’s not possible”, “there are too many other things to consider”, “maybe some other day”. It’s a feeling that most people get I think.
Many people say they would love to travel but when you ask why they don’t they just sigh, say, ‘I don’t know, someday I will’, and change the subject. Most of the time I want to shake these people but I’m beginning to see things from their perspective. I understand that I don’t have a car, or a job to go to, or rent to pay. But I’ve also realised that if you’re not happy about something, or want to do something, then waiting for change or happiness amounts to giving up years of your life, because change very rarely just happens, but the years keep going. Which is why I decided to keep planning my trip. Its why I decided to spend the money I’d saved on a bike, and equipment and soon, on visas and flights. It’s why I decided to do what I said I’m going to do.
Second, I’ve been catching up with friends and family all across the UK. I’ve caught drips and drops of their lives over the last year but Facebook is no replacement for seeing someone face to face. I’ve been jumping round London meeting friends and going to a few shindigs in the flats and houses that many of my friends seem to have moved into since I went away. I’ve also run to Aberystwyth for a weekend to celebrate a friend’s birthday and caught up with a few (young) old faces there. There are a few new relationships, some new friendships and not a few disagreements that have sprung up over the last year too. Lots has changed and lots has stayed the same.
Now the surreal feeling has passed and instead I’m just a little bored. Most of my friends have jobs during the day, which is great for them but leaves me with The Wire and too much time. Travel planning has helped keep me a little busy but I think I need to find something more to do over the next few months. No long enough to get a job maybe, but long enough to do something. Any ideas?
I miss many things about Korea, the people, and one person in particular. The food, which I’m planning to have a go at soon. The job, my boss was a horrible woman with some issues but the kids were great and I looked forward to teaching them most days. Finally, I miss the feeling that I know exactly what is happening and what is going to happen, right now most of time is spent waiting, and its driving me nuts.