He Said/She Said: Back to the Western World

He Said/She Said: Back to the Western World

After twelve months in Asia struggling to communicate and eating many unknown dishes we welcomed our return to the western world.  Singapore eased us out of Asia and Australia has provided a warm welcome and some much missed comforts from home.

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HE SAID…

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“Can you stamp my passport on the page that I marked?” I sheepishly asked.  The Sydney Airport immigration officer quickly replied, “no problem” with a smile.  It was nice that they would help save pages in my passport, but what struck me was the smile.  In much of Asia a smile from a public official is hard to come by.  In fact, in many of the countries we visited poker faces were the norm, with smiles as rare as safe tap water.

Before exiting the airport I noticed several other things.  The airport was quieter than many places I’ve slept in the last year.  There were no bustling crowds that I had to squeeze through, or people trying to sell me things. The quiet and calm was eerie, I wasn’t used to this, I became accustomed to the hustle-and-bustle of Asia, the noise, the crowds, the rush.

It was an interesting welcome back to the spacious and sterile Western world.  Everything here is quite nice, people walk a little slower, if someone bumps into you they say “sorry” instead of glaring at you, and things seem a little better built.  Life is good, life is the way I like it, but still, it’s pretty dull.  There is just so much more happening in Asia, there is action all day and night, lines that would be a city’s population in the USA, and constant noise.  Trying to quantify the differences I found that Shinjuku train station sees 3.64 million passengers a day, popular tourist attractions in China can see 100,000 visitors a day in small spaces, and Hong Kong has a million more people than San Francisco-San Jose MSA in 1/10 of the space.

I appreciate the quietness, space and cleanliness of the Western world, in fact it is the thing I miss most, but I miss the constant action, amusement and sights of Asia.  Then again, in two months when I land in India, I am sure I’ll be eating every word I’ve written.

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SHE SAID…

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I don’t know that I even realized how much I missed western comforts until we got to Australia.  Sure we had written posts about things we missed from home, but entering an Australian grocery store for the first time and finding cheese readily available in a variety of flavors for a reasonable price was nothing short of thrilling. Talking with people and being understood felt like a miracle.  But most of all being back in the western world makes me miss home.

Seeing people hanging out with their friends and meeting up for happy hour makes me miss my life back home. I find myself envious of Australians walking around in jeans and t-shirts as I sport my zip off camping pants and breathable shirts, that are far from stylish, for the fourth day in a row.  I miss being able to call up a friend and chat as I see people walking down the street laughing with each other.  These were things I just didn’t see in Asia or didn’t take notice of because I didn’t understand what was going on, but now I see them and miss them.

Throughout Australia we have also stayed with couchsurfers, which is something that just wasn’t possible to do in Asia.  Staying with normal people going about their regular schedule actually makes me miss routine a little bit and yearn for my kitchen back home and savory home cooked meals.  Being back in the western world has even got me daydreaming about a life after constant travel, a house, a kitchen and our regular farm share.

Coming back to the western world, has been more like coming back to reality for me and as much as I am enjoying Australia I have been caught off guard by my yearnings for a “normal life”.  I guess all the constant commotion of Asia served as a distraction to what we’re missing out on back at home.  However, just like all the other times we have written about home and the distant thought of returning to a typical life, we know we still aren’t ready to stop traveling.  There is a little bit in each of us that can’t wait to get back into the fray of the developing world in March after two months of western relaxation in Australia and New Zealand.

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Comments

» Mom A :
Jan 11, 2012

In about a week home will be meeting you in the middle! We can’t wait to see you for the first time since Christmas 2010! Hopefully it will be just enough of a fix for all of us. Almost two months is the longest we will ever have lived out of a backpack. And the longest I will have worn zip off pants! It was only one month this summer camping in Canada. Thanks for stopping on the way to your next stop in the developing world to put wind in your sails.

LOCAVORista Reply:

Mom, that’s a pretty good compromise, can’t wait to see you guys in Melbourne! If I haven’t told you, I am very impressed with you guys living out of a backpack for the next two months. Clearly I got my travel itch from you two. See you soon!

» Kerin :
Jan 12, 2012

You do rock those camping shorts and breathable shirts though. :)

And I’m officially back at work today and I’d rather still be travelling. Sleeping in my bed was pretty awesome but the 12 degrees we came back to is crap.

I miss you guys already!!

LOCAVORista Reply:

Kerin, thanks for the fashion compliments, I do what I can… Miss you guys too, you should have stayed down under with us, Tasmania is amazing. Maybe this is where we will open a bed and breakfast? You in?

» Donna :
Jan 12, 2012

Well, as you get older, coming “home” becomes more and more inviting. I find now that after 18 days on the road, my own bed and routine are mighty appealing. But, as you, I still wouldn’t change those decisions to travel and see places I’ve never been before … or go back to old favorites. But I think it’s easier to find a healthy balance between the two. If I ever lose my interest in travel, you’ll know I’m dead! :-)

Didn’t get a chance to talk to your folks before they left … wish I could have joined y’all down under, but got this new puppy that needs my undivided attention here for awhile yet. Hope to have his manners all down pat before I head back to Europe in the spring. Have a great time! Send updates!

Donna

LOCAVORista Reply:

Donna, home is always tempting and I imagine as we get older our trips won’t last as long as this one (13 months and counting…) but no regrets! I hope you never lose your interest in travel, I know I won’t. Have fun with the new puppy and keep us updated on your Europe plans, can’t wait to see where you head to this year.

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About the Author

LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.

About the Author
LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.
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