Deciding it’s time to go home. 

So I got my flight back to the UK. I decided it was time to go home.

Do I feel like a failure?

Yes and no. Why do I feel like a failure? Because I set out to do something and I didn’t see it through! But I also feel like I have achieved far more than I ever set out to do or ever thought I could do.

Do I feel like I have let people down?

Yes and no. Why do I feel like I have let people down? Because people look at what I do as ‘inspirational’ and I don’t think seeing someone ‘give up’ as particularly inspirational. But I have also received messages from people to say they have been inspired to do a long cycle journey, or even to just try a short cycle touring journey (not all adventures have to be long ones). When just one person writes to you to tell you you have given them the motivation they needed it feels great, but when several people – who are complete strangers – take the time to write something nice to you it is amazing

– “I don’t wanna sound creepy but I always look at your Instagram and you are like my goal self. You seem so true, sensitive and badass at the same time. You make me want to get a bike and just go somewhere! When I doubt myself about the PCT I look at your photos and it reminds me why I want to do it.” – a heartwarming message received from an Instagram follower. 

Do I feel like quit when the going got tough?

Yes and no. Why do I feel like I gave up when the going got tough? Because it was tough! I tend to down play the things I do because when you look back on them you think they were easier than they actually were at the time. But I think I was walking the line between stubborn and reckless with what I was wanting to do and I didn’t want my luck to run out.

The beginning

I set out to walk across America and New Zealand and that’s exactly what I did. Everything that came afterwards was a bonus and I always said I would just take each day as it comes.

I had decided on a bit of a whim to cycle and – never one to do things by halves – I wanted to make it from Sydney back to Salisbury, having never ridden a bike for a long distance, let alone a loaded touring bike. I didn’t even know if I was going to like cycle touring, but once I had decided to do it I felt this (self-induced) pressure to carry on regardless.

I took a big gamble by jumping into something brand new and setting myself such a big challenge. I had the best time cycling across Australia. It was so tough in the beginning, and I doubted myself so many times, but those times when I was sat on the side of the road, unable to sit on the saddle because my bum was so sore made getting to Darwin all the more sweeter. I was so lucky with the way it turned out and the people I met along the way. Maybe I wouldn’t have loved it so much if I hadn’t had that chance meeting with my Germans and I would have had to battled the head winds alone all the way up to Darwin, but I will never know that.

Asia | Cycling | Solo

Asia is a totally different ball game to Australia and it was one that I was really looking forward to tackling. I was looking forward to good food, cheap cost of living, beautiful views, friendly people…but what I found was greasy fried and sugary foods, costs on a level with the UK for a lot of things, pollution and rubbish everywhere and the majority of people look at you as a walking bottomless pit of money. There were of course some exceptions to this but they were definitely in the minority.

I feel like you can put cycling alone in Asia into one of those venn diagrams…at the moment I have all three things, but to have enjoyment as well you are only allowed to choose 2 things…

fullsizeoutput_1ab8

Asia – solo (not cycling)

Not a problem. Travelling around Asia solo is fine. It’s fun! It is cheap to get around by train and local bus, you meet loads of different people and you can change you plans on a whim and do different activities with people you meet at hostels. Asia is full of backpackers looking to save money by joining forces. But with the bike it is stressful. I only met a handful of cyclists and none of them were on the same schedule as me, and very few of them were doing it solo.

I didn’t camp once in Asia and that was because I didn’t feel comfortable camping on my own, and there wasn’t really anywhere to camp. There isn’t much free land, if it hasn’t been built on then it is used for rice paddies which definitely aren’t suitable for camping!

Cycling – solo (not in Asia)

Also fine, fun in fact, but stressful in Asia. Not only are you a white western tourist who has the money to fly on a plane halfway across the world and travel for pleasure, you are also carrying around with you a ‘fancy’ bike, with more than a wooden box holding your possessions, a camera, an iPhone and money. You feel like a target, and although I hate to admit it, it is more difficult as a solo female, especially in Asia where women’s equality isn’t quite as progressive.

Although I never felt unsafe, I did always feel on-edge in Asia, in a way I haven’t felt anywhere else I have been. I would definitely go on another solo cycling trip, but not in Asia.

Asia – cycling (not solo)

Cycling around Asia is a real adventure. You can never be exactly sure what state to road will be in, you’re never sure who you are going to meet, there is always somewhere to get food and water and because so many people live there you are never far from people.

I would return to Asia to cycle but I don’t want to do it on my own. Sometimes you have to leave the bike, if you want to go in a shop or if you want to take a side trip and it is always a risk to leave it. It is much easier if there are two of you and one can stay with the bikes.

If you are on your own it’s harder to meet people as almost no one is doing the same thing as you or travelling in the same direction at the same speed.

The end?

When I finished in New Zealand I was tired but I wasn’t ready to come home. I felt like I could carry on forever. But after Australia I was even more tired and when I thought of being on the road for another year I didn’t get a good feeling about it – my heart sunk to the bottom of my stomach. Is it a good idea to carry on regardless when you aren’t enjoying it?

So back when I was in the Gili Islands, I made the decision to go home. On any long journeys there will be days when you just feel like going home, but they are normally when things are tough, when you are a combination of cold, tired, hungry and wet. The feeling usually passes when you resolve those issues, but this time it was different. I was thinking about going home every day. I felt something inside me compelling me to go home and I’ve never really felt like that before.

When I made the decision to go home I wrote down the decisions why:

  • I think I might have burnt out. I’m seriously exhausted. I worked out that out of 465 days away I have slept in 348 different places.
  • I miss my friends and family. Why do I feel like there is shame in admitting that? It shows a lack of strength maybe?
  • I’m not enjoying being solo in Asia. I also feel like there is some kind of shame in admitting that too. I feel like there is shame in admitting you aren’t enjoying something people dream about doing.
  • I’ve had my heart broken twice this year and I’m lonely and I need to feel loved by people who love me. I also feel like there is some shame in admitting that too! People think I am really strong, but sometimes I’m not.
  • I am totally unprepared to do what I am doing now.
  • One of the things I love most about my adventures is the people I meet along the way and the renewed faith in humanity they give me.The kindness of the human spirit. You don’t get that in Asia, or if you do it is mostly with other tourists and it is fleeting.
  • I am missing out on a huge part of my life. My parents. My friends. My friends have had babies who I have never met and they are a year old already!
  • I’m ready. I’m just ready.

I also had to think about my limitations. While Priscilla did a great job of getting me across Australia she isn’t the best touring bike. The gear set up isn’t going to get me up the hills I will face and if she breaks I don’t know how to fix her, and now I am heading into areas where it is difficult to communicate with people and it is difficult to know who to trust, I could find myself in a very tricky situation.

Ultimately the best thing for me to do was take a break for my physical and mental wellbeing. Sometimes I make the mistake of thinking going home means the end of the adventure, but there is nothing stopping me going back, and the end of one adventure just means the door is open for beginning of a new one…

fullsizeoutput_1aba


LET’S GET SOCIAL

Enjoying this stuff? Check out my Facebook page where I will be posting updates of my adventures so please give the page a like!

And if you head over to Instagram you can follow my Instagram Stories feed…random daily snaps, with a few little videos thrown in so you can put a voice to my face!


JUST A DROP

I continue to raise money for Just A Drop – they bring sustainable clean water, sanitation and hygiene projects to communities around the world.

663 million people across the globe are living without access to clean, safe water. That’s 1 in 10 people. A child dies every 90 seconds from a water related disease. One third of the worlds population – 2.4 billion people – don’t have access to adequate sanitation.

If you have enjoyed this blog, please consider donating a few…pounds / dollars / euros / yen… and together we can change lives.

Advertisements

38 thoughts on “Deciding it’s time to go home. 

  1. Alex you are definitely not a failure, you have done some amazing things, and obviously met amazing people on your travels; but your friends and family at home are amazing too and they also need you, so it’s not weak to admit that you need them just as much.
    Well done and keep writing 💕💙😍
    Have a wonderful Christmas X
    Love Andrea xxxx

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you! for every picture and every word shared on your journeys. I found your PCT NoBo blog (seems like a long time ago now) and have been hooked ever since.
    Two fabulous phrases which for me sum up the journey so far:
    “I have achieved far more than I ever set out to do or ever thought I could do . . . the end of one adventure just means the door is open for beginning of a new one…”
    Happy Trails for your next walk (be it around the park or across a continent) and Tail Winds for your next bike ride (whether that’s popping to the shops or right across Europe)!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well done, Alex. There is no question of failure – you have achieved so much and can take pride in your own strength of character. So pleased that you now have a chance to rest and recuperate with your family. John and I have thoroughly enjoyed following your adventures so far and send best wishes for whatever you decide to do next.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sometimes admitting that the chosen path was not the right one is the hardest thing. Safe travels back to London – if you ever fancy a coffee when in town let me know! Kat (aka the Brit you met on your SB PCT hike somewhere near White Pass) x

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I thought you might have gone home, I saw LHR on your bike box 😉
    I’ve been following your adventures since the PCT, thank you so much for writing so often and so much. Just know that so many people appreciate and enjoy it.
    I hope you’re settling back into the UK and catching up on everything and with everyone. I hope there will be future adventures with you to follow 🙂
    Take care!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Such amazing journeys. I’ve followed along since NoBo, and have loved hearing of the different adventures. Gives me lots of fuel on those trail (or life) days when the going seems too rough and I’m not sure if it’s worth it to keep moving forward, or if I’m the only one that has bad days on adventures that are supposed to be an escape. I’ve learned much, laughed along and look forward to hearing about the next adventure!! There is certainly no failure in taking a break and stopping a journey that’s no fun. The next one is sure to be the best yet!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Chris. I try to tell it like it is and not glamourise adventure too much. Just like life it still has its rough days! Thank you for following along for all this time, I am sure there will be an adventure of some kind in 2018 😜

      Like

  7. Such a challenge to decide what comes next. When one door closes another opens and the mists clear and anew adventure starts. Be it at home, on foot on a bike or a boat. Enjoyment must play a part in your choice. Good luck in what you do decide and do continue with your blogs as they give pleasure, inspiration to so many, and you are such a good writer! Look forward seeing you in print!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Alex – a failure is something you’re not! I tell so many people you’re story and they all say how amazing you sound! I then tell them to follow you on Facebook or Insta! It’s so interesting!!
    I’ve loved following your journey! But…. I for one will enjoy catching up with you soon!

    Like

  9. Thank you so much for letting us readers live through your adventures! Found your diary for PCT sobo, which I am hoping to do in a couple of years. I was amazed that you made it through Australia. If you even think that going home now is anywhere close to failure I don’t know what to say. Let me know if you want to walk Norway from end to end next. 🙂
    OH btw I blame you for me gaining 5 pounds. Your writing about food made it impossible to resist the resulting sugar urge. Jelly babies FTW.

    Like

  10. I enjoyed your blog each time they came through Alex. I am sure you won’t stop now though, surely there is some obscure river in northern Mongolia that has your name on it that needs to be canoed or a mountain somewhere in western China that has to be climbed. Actually aren’t you about to paddle across some massive volume of water shortly?

    Like

  11. Just don’t stop blogging – selfish I know. Adventure is supposed to be exciting, hard, fun, different and satisfying when completed. It’s not supposed to be a slog just so you can say you didn’t quit. I don’t understand this “shame” that has become attached to quitting something. Travel is not cheap. Why would you spend all that money and time when you are not enjoying yourself? You worked hard to be in a position to go adventuring. Going home to recoup for the next adventure is natural.

    Like

  12. Dearest Rock Star,
    Alex please know all of the joy you have brought to so many, certainly me. I laughed at your posts and worried like a father while you were in Indonesia. You have been my inspiration to complete the PCT. I have studied your blogs all of your adventures and followed day by day with Google Earth on my other monitor. Thank you so very much. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

    Okay, whats LHR?
    Rick

    Like

    1. Hi Rick. Thank you so much for following along and worrying about me! I’m sure the next adventure isn’t too far away. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too! (LHR is the airport code for London Heathrow)

      Like

  13. Congrats! I knew you went home when I saw the LHR (Heathrow) on your bike box. No, you’re not a failure. Taking a break is not quitting.

    First off, Indonesia is not a fair representative of “Asia,” which is quite a large place. Had you been virtually any place else even in neighboring SE Asia, your experience would have been markedly different! Had you been in Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia or Vietnam, you would have found great food, vibrant, fresh and healthy, not sugary and greasy and zero problem traveling as a solo female Westerner. Biking would also be okay, although camping might not be as easy as in Australia, but still doable in the countryside. There wouldn’t be any organized camp grounds but you could just ask a local to put your tent on their land. Hostels and guest houses are plentiful, nice, clean and cheap in cities or villages. It seems a shame you were so close to these countries and missed them on this trip, but they’ll be there when you’re ready to see them.

    Second, no shame in wanting to go home to loved ones for a time. The world will still be there when you’re ready for your next adventure. Enjoy your time at home, see all your favorite people and places, explore some news ones. Sometimes it’s fun to play tourist in your home town.

    Third, if you want to continue traveling by bike, there is plenty of reference material to research more cycle-friendly places to travel, certainly blogs like your own. Be self-reliant and prepared; knowledge is power. Knowing how to care for you and your bike will make you feel better, safer and more in control, aka less vulnerable. Ask around your local cycle community and shops for a class on basic bike mechanics so you can learn how to do the most common maintenance and repairs and get the right tools for your bike. Get a good lock. Bottomline, you can cycle tour virtually anywhere in the world with the right knowledge and kit. I’ve met cyclists everywhere, even where there are only dirt roads and almost complete isolation like across the Tibetan plateau.

    Finally, even if not by bike, just keep traveling! The world is an amazing , giant place!

    IAE, thanks for taking us with you on your journey. Keeping up with a journal or blog is not easy and your candid writing is great!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. When I met you on your PCT SOBO, you told me you were doing a blog. I didn’t remember that until about a month ago, and pretty much binge watched the entire set. I think it would have killed me to have had to wait for each chapter. You are amazing, and there is no room, in a description of you, for the word failure. Merry Christmas and Happy 2018 Trails.

    Like

  15. Very good decision, Alex. You are smart to think ahead like that and know when it’s time to just be done with this particular adventure – there will always be more adventures to come. And I imagine your mum and dad and so happy to have their girl home – especially for Christmas. Your adventures have been exciting to follow. Thanks for taking us along.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s