After 5 months on the road, I’m flying back to London on 25th January. Coming home at this time, albeit temporarily, was in my plans.
Leading up to heading home, I’ve been asked if I’m looking forward to it.
In truth, I am. Not because I “miss it” as such. I don’t feel I need my own space back, a wardrobe full of clothes or a currency I don’t have to do math with. I’ll enjoy having any of these things, but I still consider them as luxuries rather than necessities.
These are the 5 reasons why I’m actually looking forward to it:
- Yearly Tough Guy Pilgrimage
- Planning My Next Steps
- Catching up with Friends and Family
- Examining London Life Again but Through a Different Lens
- Build up of Small but Important ‘Maintenance’ Things
Yearly Tough Guy Pilgrimage
I’ve mentioned a couple of times about my respect for the event known as Tough Guy and what has become a yearly pilgrimage for me. For those who aren’t aware of it, it’s a gruelling obstacle course billed as the safest most dangerous event in the world. The main reason for such a label, is because of the conditions. It’s held in one location (near Wolverhampton) on the last Sunday in January – the height of winter in the UK. What this means is you sign up for the event knowing whatever the weather, you will participate. In terms of participation, we’re talking a 10km hilly run, climbing in and out of water-filled trenches, crawling under barbed wire, jumping over burning fire, through tunnels, over huge A-frames, through electric charged hanging strips and fully submerging in water to duck under logs. Add the elements of weather to the mix and you have plenty of injuries and hyperthermia cases as a result of participation. Here’s a brief YouTube video about it.
Before I left London, I had paid for my entry into the event. Although, I joked with people back home saying the ONLY reason to come back to London during my travels was that event, it is certainly one of the reasons. Tough Guy has become a yearly pilgrimage for me and I’ve been looking forward to doing it again this year. Back when I sent off my entry for the third time, I knew it was something “good” to do for mind/body/soul but I didn’t REALLY know why. I didn’t FULLY understand why. Travelling, surprisingly, taught me why that was the case.
After spending two months of my travels training Shaolin Kung Fu in China, one of the things I learnt was why Tough Guy is good for me. I explain it in depth in this post, but in short, for me, it’s the chance to practice spiritual acceptance. When you’re in the thick of the course, cold and (mentally) beaten, you need to – “accept every obstacle, accept anything thatâ€™s currently happening and will happen to you as you take part and youâ€™ll be much happier. The more you think about the cold, the mud, or any pain that youâ€™re in, the more it hurts and affects you”. Practicing something like this sounds annoyingly simple and strange way to do it through an event like Tough Guy, but for me, it’s very powerful and very fulfilling.
Planning My Next Steps
I planned my first long term travel adventures in Asia, however I always had at the back of my mind that another part of the world would naturally be next. South America, North America or maybe somewhere different. I use the word might, because even to date, I have no concrete decision of where to go post returning to London.
I’ll be in one place (home) and have easy access to resources like photos on google, travel guides and other people’s travel blogs. Comparing planning this part of the trip compared to last time though, I can take a lot of what I learnt from my first five months of travel into consideration. More of the stuff I’ve learned that I like, e.g. volunteer schemes, physical activities, landscapes and less “cities”.
Catch up with Friends and Family
Although I’ve found Facebook, Skype and Email are massive tools travellers can use to stay in touch back home, there’s NOTHING that can replace catching up with your loved ones in person after a long break. My sister is now heavily pregnant, my young niece is growing fast and other friends of mine have since given birth while I’ve been away. I’m looking forward to catching up with friends who aren’t all over social media too.
Before I left on my trip, I wondered who I’d miss back home and how much. Coming through the travel experience I’ve had, I feel like I have an air of clarity among who that is and how much.
Examining London Life Again but Through a Different Lens
Something that grew on me while I was away, was the realisation that London’s a very cool city. I often quoted it, but I think before I left for my travels, I didn’t fully understand why. You see, I got to know London well during my years in a fairly organic way. Through time I really got under the covers of the “usual” city activities, but I underestimated just how much until I was plunged into new city after new city during my travels. I often found myself trying to work out the cool niche entertainment and activities I had become accustomed to whilst living London town. I realise now I had taken plenty of positive comments in past from friends and family too lightly about how much knowledge I had.
It made me realise that coming back and examining London again through the mindset of a traveller will be a new and great experience. One way I’ll be doing that, will be by sharing that source of information I have. I intend to do that through a “London” category on my blog. This blog has been my first experience of the benefits of recording my thoughts and experiences through life and through all the positive feedback from readers, I feel like there’s more value I can add to those wanting to learn more about London.
Build up of Small but Important ‘Maintenance’ Things
When I prepared for my initial trip, it felt a little like a river needing to be parted in order for me to obtain the time and true mental “disconnect” to be able to travel solo according to my plans. Executing a clean, positive exit for a job like mine, securing good tenant for my flat, timing the season I wanted to see Asia and friend/family commitments that I wanted to make. In order to maintain that going forwards for my next travels, I need to come back and reorganise them again.
I can understand now, why people who want to travel for more than a year are advised to “sell up” their belongings and reduce their commitments/investments as much as possible.
In addition to those maintenance tasks I mentioned, I realise it’s a good opportunity to have a pit stop for the usual health checks too – dentist, optician and doctor. In the same way travellers ought to see these people before they leave for a long trip, seeing them again mid way through serves like a much needed pit stop.
After deciding on my next steps, it’s a good opportunity to stock up on fresh supplies like contact lenses, toiletries and any different travel kit I need. It’s probably a good idea to rotate some well used items from my travel wardrobe tooâ€¦