We’ve got 99 problems but travelling isn’t one!

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The realities of coming home…

2380Two people, two back packs, nine countries, twelve planes, ten months and then … home. Did that just happen? Did we really just spend the majority of 2015 living our dream, fulfilling our wanderlust, exploring, adventuring, and travelling the world… to now be home?

The harsh reality is coming home is harder, much harder than going away and this is our first really personal blog. We’re going to let you into our minds and see how we are feeling now we’re home. If you’re NOT a traveller the likelihood is you won’t have a clue what we’re talking about reading this, and if you ARE a traveller we know you’ll be able to relate to this more than anything else you’ve read today.

Our year travelling Singapore, Australia, Bali, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and India came to an abrupt ending the minute we arrived back on home turf. As the plane landed in Heathrow we were a mixture of emotions; tired, sad, shocked, excited to see our families (we were surprising them) uncertainty, and most of all it all just seemed like a big haze, a dream, we couldn’t accept that we were now home. They say time flies when you’re having fun, well boy, we must have had a blast because it felt like we simply blinked and we were home again.

781After three months in India the journey in a black cab down the M25 was somewhat different to a tuctuc zooming around Delhi. All of a sudden we were being bombarded with being home; red busses, Ford KA’s, level roads, road signs, Costa Coffees, rain and we had to take all of this in as we made our way into Essex. Culture shock going to India? Forget that, coming home after so long is the biggest culture shock ever and you’ll either settle back in going back to your old ways or you’ll feel this now alien country is no longer home.

Our first few weeks home were incredible. Seeing the looks on the faces of both our families and friends when surprising them after so long was priceless, emotional and completely unforgettable. Sleeping in our own bed, the build up to Christmas, the welcome cold weather, the partying, it was good to be home. You know you’ve been away for a long time when you can feel yourself talking in slow, broken English to your mum!

However, as the weeks passed we both started to feel unsettled. Imagine being together 24/7 for nearly a year, just us in our own little bubble, doing what we want, when we wanted with no one to answer to and not being held back by the reality that is society. We feel it may have been easier if we came home and were living together, but we’ve both had to go back home to our parents, and we’re hugely thankful to them, but truthfully we just want to be together in our own little routine that we built whilst travelling.

671We’ve both had to adjust back in to our old lives, new clothes, hair and makeup done, nights out and expensive dinners. Gone are the days of 20p beer in the street with Pad Thai for dinner wearing anything we could reach for from our backpacks including the tops with international beer logos on (we would never wear those at home!) We found this really difficult, why can’t we walk around bare foot anymore?

As we’re writing this we don’t really know where we are going or what we are trying to say? It’s hard; it is really hard being home and we think people underestimate that. All we want to do is look for new and exciting opportunities, spend time on our blog, keep talking about the incredible experiences we’ve encountered and keep posting our favourite travel snaps. But the truth is no one really cares. At first this is hard to accept, but it’s true and you will soon realise that no one cares about the name of the volcano you spent a day climbing and were so proud of yourself for doing so. Yes of course everyone wants to know how it was… How was it? How was your year travelling? What was your favourite country? How can we answer any of these questions, have you got another year to listen to us? No not really, so you reply with “It was great, we can’t tell you our favourite country as they were all so different” If someone asks a question and you actually begin to open up and elaborate into your magical story, well to you it is, it’s almost guaranteed you will notice the person is not paying for attention, because they don’t care! And in all fairness why would they?

1051You experience all of these wonderful countries, with beautiful cultures and you embrace them throwing yourselves in head first. The people you meet become your family and you rely on them as much as you would your parents. We spent a lot of time volunteering so got to experience first-hand a lot of local communities and we fell in love with all of them particularly, Our Home Community in India. We now spend our days missing them and wondering why we aren’t there, we feel we could be of so much more use out in the big wide world, where we can freely express our love, passion and understanding that has become who we are.

We want to spend every minute of every day together because only we know what each other is feeling, but we can’t. That isn’t reality is it; we have to work to make a living so it’s back to our 9-5 desk jobs whilst our minds are still wandering to the days where what we would have for dinner was our hardest decision. We now realise the simplest luxuries that we took for granted, normal toilets and no more carrying around toilet roll? Much easier right? But so boring.

1118Travelling gave us a sense of purpose, and belonging that we can no longer feel here? And will we ever? It’s been three months since we returned and we still have the same hunger and desire to be waking up in the morning to something new, a different adventure every day. We miss the simplicities in life that is travelling and appreciating the treats when you get them! Our first Nando’s in Chennai was literally like heaven on a plate after six months. Being able to have it every week in Romford Brewery isn’t exactly the same. The excitement of having a decent Wi-Fi and being able to contact your friends and family for a real catch up is brilliant. So is being able to update yourself with the world of social media, not having it on hand every second of every day. Spending evenings watching countless friends episodes was a real treat, here they’re on Comedy Central all the time! The novelty wears off…

We were lucky travellers, only one case of bed bugs, a few Delhi belly occasions, a little bit of travel sickness, some sleepless nights. But we’ve come home with something much worse. We have a very bad case of the travel bug, and what’s the cure for that? To go again…

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Travels

We have travelled 22 countries so far, and visited the majority of those during a year we spent backpacking through Australasia and Asia.

Travelling is something that is a priority for us, we’d even go as far to say a necessity. We have a hunger to explore, and will continue to fulfil our wanderlust through budget travelling and luxury breaks.

We’re currently back in London after four months volunteering at Our Home Community Orphanage. You can read about our adventures below:

10 things to do in Hong Kong… as a backpacker!

We were SO not prepared for how “unbackpacker friendly” HK actually is and have therefore put together our favourite attractions which won’t break the bank whilst you’re exploring on a budget!

1. DisneyLand, £59: 

Disneyland
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Okay, so this definitely isn’t the cheapest thing to do whilst in HK, however it was one of our best days and you cannot miss skip Disney! We actually found that eating in Disneyland was cheaper than eating on Hong Kong Island … crazy! If you haven’t been to Disney before, imagine being 10 again and genuinely so excited you find yourself running between the characters, rides, and shows! The Lion King performance here is unmissable, as well as the parade and night time fireworks. We guarantee you will have the time of your life here, even as you enter the park you get to ride a Disney themed train! Also keep an eye out for discounts and special offers which they regularly promote!

2. Big Buddha, free:

Big Buddha
The HK Big Buddha is extraordinary and probably our favourite from the many we’ve seen! Take the bus up the mountain rather than the cable car, it saves a lot of money and is an enjoyable drive. Once you arrive at the top you immediately have this overwhelming sense of tranquility and peace. A great photo stop and place to experience the Buddhist culture in Hong Kong, you could easily wander around for half a day.
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3. Sky100, £17:
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Sky 100
We chose to book a “Night Package for 2” which offered a discounted price as well as a 241 drinks vouchers, which was a great added bonus. Sky100 is a fab opportunity to ditch the backpacking gear, get dressed up and have a cocktail whilst witnessing the most incredible city view we have ever seen. HK is Asia’s concrete jungle and seeing this magnificent city light up is incredible.
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4. The Peak, £3.32 tram:
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The Peak
We purchased a return tram ticket and this was an experience in itself, especially if you’ve never been on one before. We didn’t opt for the viewing deck ticket at the top, as the view was already breathtaking enough. We ventured up in the day and not only do you get a great view of Hong Kong’s mountains and skyscrapers, but there are also plenty of shops and restaurants to keep you amused for hours, including our favourite Bubba Gump’s!

5. Ladies Market, free:

ladies market
Right in the heart of Kowloon, Ladies market is one of our favourite markets, not only in HK, but ever and we went back three/four times! You have the hustle and bustle of the crowd and some great cheap restaurants around whilst you immerse yourself in the rich culture. Grab yourselves a bargain on souvenirs and postcards with all starting prices being heavily negotiable, of course!
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6. Kowloon swimming pool complex, under £5 on weekdays:
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Kowloon pool
Presumably you will be staying in a budget hostel as a backpacker meaning complementary swimming pools are be a no no! If you need a break from the humid city then this complex is perfect, with a huge indoor pool and three outdoor pools, pull up a sunbed, sit back and relax!
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7. Stanley Market, free:
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Stanley Market
The bus ride here is a great drive as you head out of the city and into the Hong Kong mountains along the coast. Stanley market is another opportunity to haggle yourself a few bargains, the clothes in particular here were our favourite. The location is fantastic, you can have a walk around taking in the views, visit a few temples and sit back over happy hour with a cold beer to watch one of the street entertainers that come out at night.
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8. Avenue of Starsfree:
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Located in Tsim Tsha Tsui, right on the edge of the river Avenune of Stars is unmissable. Not only do you get the opportunity to see Hong Kong’s favourite film stars and snap photos with their handprints, this is a good opportunity to get a great view of HK Island without paying. Grab an Ice cream, take a stroll up the promenade and you could easily spend an afternoon here admiring the view.
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9. Hong Kong Museums, free on Wednesdays:
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Visiting the museums in Hong Kong is a excellent way to learn about the city you’re visiting whilst experiencing the different exhibits these museums host. Check out our favourites which were the Space, Science and History Museums, all on Kowloon Island and in walking distance of each other.
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10. Ocean Park, £44.30 :
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Ocean Park
Unlike any other theme park this is located in the HK mountains and you even have to take the cable car between some rides, brilliant! It hosts a good selection of rides however we would rate this theme park more on its huge aquarium and selection of Asian animals. Another fun day out if you still have money left in your budget!