Day 228: The End?

So here we are, the final post I will be writing of the Erratic Ramblings of an Uneducated Daydreamer. It has been one hell of a ride. As I started writing this, this day seemed unfathomable, yet I was always trying to think of some way to end it. The whole way through I have been trying to touch upon something profound. As I started writing about my journey it truly was just something I did for me, then when I began getting messages from people who enjoyed it, I felt compelled to finish. I thank you all for your kind words, without them I’d have stopped long ago. It has been extremely difficult for me to write about everything I have seen and done over these past 7 and a half months. Everything from the most microscopic to the most behemoth experience has been ineffable. I encourage all of you reading this to go travelling, it’s not a lifestyle choice they teach you in school, had it not been for Sarah encouraging me to do it in the first place I’d have never known it existed. Before this trip I never knew what I wanted, I was closed off from the world working 34 hours a week in a warehouse, I had no idea of other people’s ways and beliefs, and now I’ve had my eyes well and truly opened. This trip has also been the closest thing to freedom I will ever get. I cannot stress upon you how much better I feel within myself everyday, compared to how I did back home, waking up to go to a job I wasn’t passionate about. I have found a release in writing, and possibly a future career. When this is all over I may consider pursuing it. The pen truly is mightier than the sword, all I can hope for is that someone reading this has been inspired to go travelling themselves. It sure as hell beats a nine to five…
So ladies and gentlemen, for one last time, please allow me to entertain you with what happened on our final day in Asia.

Yaaaaaaaay, finally, a morning where we stayed asleep until the alarm clock rang at 8:45am. Rather than get up and go for breakfast right away, we put on the last 40 minutes of the movie – although I convinced Sarah to do this by saying “it’s alright, we’ll only watch 10 minutes”. Her love of all things Oz got the better of her and it was 9:30am before she turned it off out of panic. Sarah feared we’d miss breakfast if we left it any longer. We got ready and enjoyed our final buffet breakfast of the day, although neither if us could eat very much. It made me believe the hotel staff added something to the food to make it more filling, but this is just a conspiracy theory. In reality we just didn’t feel hungry in the first place. Afterwards we got back in the lift to finish off the last of the film… there was only 30 seconds remaining. We put on one episode of “Arrested Development” then got ready for the beach.

The Internet was down first thing this morning, but while we were getting ready we received a phone call from reception. They told us somebody had been in to fix it and everything was back online. We needed to print off our flight confirmation ready for our one way flight to Perth later that evening. Rather than take our passports out with us, we took pictures of our details, then used the hotel’s laptop to print off what we needed. We were now one step closer to leaving Asia, which made us both sad and excited at the same time. Instead of thinking about all the things to look forward to, all we could think of were the things we’d be leaving behind… bye bye fruit shakes, bye bye cheap massage parlours, bye bye cheap food, bye bye cheap accommodation, basically bye bye everything cheap. Feeling slightly blue we put the printouts in the bag and caught a taxi to the beach.

The security guard helped us cross the road again, and got the attention of a passing taxi. The driver switched on the meter, then dropped us off at the other end of Legian beach to yesterday. This was better for us as it was less busy, and the tide was still out, there was no chance we’d float off on any loungers. After only 5 minutes we found a series of unoccupied loungers. A man came running out enthusiastically and sold us two beds. I then got to work on my blog in the shade, while Sarah read her kindle in the sun – it’s no wonder she’s so brown. When I was nearing completion, the enthusiastic salesman was making his way back from a potential customer, when he stopped to chat with me. He asked where I was from and for my name, I told him, then he said his name was Puldro, and that he spent a year of his life in Greenwich, London. He had met a girl in Bali 5 years ago and she flew him to England to be with her. I don’t think it worked out as otherwise he wouldn’t have been selling us the beds. After our brief chat he told me if we needed anything we were all but to ask, then he returned to the shaded area below the trees with his friends.

After I’d finished editing my blog I moved the bed into the sun and allowed myself to cook at a temperature of around 30•C for several hours. Because we were at a quieter spot of the beach not many people passed. It was a far cry from the people watching I was able to do yesterday. There were no men with monkeys, nor were there any large breasted women to admire. The time was getting on for 3:15pm when we concluded our final day at the beach, we then took a slow stroll through town. Along the way we both made a couple purchases, Sarah bought a new pair of sunglasses, while I procured a bag to help distribute the overall weight of my luggage. It appeared as though Australia was very stringent with weight limits. If the holdalls were over 15kg just slightly it would result in an additional charge. We were now low on money after those purchases, we had only 50,000 (just over £3) left to cover the taxi fare, hotel bill, and dinner later on. On top of that we had to pay an additional cost of 200,000 (nearly £14) for late check out. This meant rather than leave our bags in storage from midday onwards, we would be allowed to return to our room and check out at the later time of 6pm. We would then only have 4 hours to wait before our flight. A stones throw from the shop was a bank, we went inside and withdrew 1,000,000 rupiah (£60) then hailed a taxi back to our hotel. It was then a case of taking one last shower, packing the bags, and settling our bill.

The packing went on a lot longer than either of us had predicted. After an hour we were still moving items about to ensure our holdalls didn’t exceed the weight limit. To ensure they didn’t we put on our heavier items such as jeans, trainers, and hoodies. This was something we hadn’t done in a while, and each item felt foreign as they clung to our bodies. For the time being it was hell, the temperature outside was in the high twenties, but it was something that would pay off when we landed in Perth. According to our friends Beth and Adam the temperature there was somewhere between 6 – 8•C. This was terrible news, the whole time we’d been in Asia we didn’t have to worry about seasons because they simply didn’t have them, now we were going somewhere that was in the worst of the four… winter. When we finally juggled all the items about and fastened all the clips of our bags, we left the confines of our a/c room and went to reception.

The staff put our bags into storage, and we paid the debt on our room bill. After that we went out for dinner. The security guard outside told us there were plenty of restaurants just a ten minute walk away, but when you’re wearing jeans that small amount of time feels like forever. He helped us cross the busy street, then we followed his directions until we found a rather expensive looking Chinese seafood restaurant. For the final meal of our Southeast Asian adventure we had a feast. The pair of us ordered several dishes to share. We started off with roasted pork in honey sauce, followed by sweet and sour chicken, then kung pow chicken. Each dish was exquisite and added a perfect end to our journey. However, the bill that followed was a bit painful, there was an extortionate tax and service charge of 21%, I did say the place looked expensive. As we entered, the car park was empty, but as we left it was filled with Mercedes Benz and BMW’s, had we seen that at the beginning we would have probably given it a miss. On the walk back we had to pass a family of beggars. The children lacked the etiquette it requires to gain something from strangers, I say this because one of them said to Sarah “give me your water!” Which she did, but only because she wanted to, or so she claimed. She said she’d rather they had it considering we’d just eaten an expensive meal. We then walked the last few hundred yards towards our hotel and crossed the busy street unaided.

We were quite sweaty and sticky by now, so to help cool down we sat in the bar area that had a/c. The machines were set to 16•C, this felt just right, too bad Perth was currently half of this. As we sat at a table, Sarah used the Internet to write to Beth and let her know our e.t.a. On the other side of the table I was given one last parting gift by the ever friendly Mosquitos. Without realising it, until it was too late, one of the blood suckers had taken a sample from one of my index fingers. I was livid. After Sarah came back from the bathroom she told me there were loads flying around in there. When I felt the need to go, I exacted my revenge. I swung and swatted but kept missing, until I saw a single one pitched on the wall. BLAAAM!!!!! Double whammy! Somehow I’d managed to kill two Mosquitos with one hand. The balance was now restored, I washed my hands and returned to Sarah to tell her of my victory… she didn’t care. Shortly after, we arranged for a taxi to collect us and waited outside with our bags.

When our taxi showed up, the driver helped throw the bags in the boot. It was clear roads all the way to the airport, and no sooner than we got used to the a/c in his vehicle, we had arrived. All the porters were waiting at the drop off point, offering their services to all new arrivals. I told one particular man that we didn’t need his assistance, then we struggled to the check in terminal. Had we known it would be as far away as it was, we’d have probably paid the small fee for some help. We showed the officials our flight confirmation and were granted access to the security check in scanners. Because I was wearing jeans I had the pleasure of removing my belt. I narrowly escaped embarrassment as I rushed through to grab it before my bottoms fell down. We then went over to the check in counter to weigh our bags in. They were just on the limit, meaning we didn’t have to pay any additional fees. Now we were free of our holdalls we had the pleasure of paying to leave the country. Yes that’s right, to leave Indonesia you actually have to pay an exit fee. It’s not enough that you have to pay to enter the country, they demand additional money as you leave. Begrudgingly we handed over 300,000 rupiah for the pair of us before being allowed to enter the departure lounge.

They’re the same the world over, extortionate convenient stores, duty free perfume, alcohol, and cigarettes, and the always present souvenir shops. We took a look at the various perfumes on offer, before leaving the shop to find a bench where we could sit and await our flight. There were so many Australian tourists waiting to fly home that you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d already arrived. Surprisingly we were called through ahead of time. We had to go through a second security check, where once again I had to remove my belt. As I walked through the scanner the young security guard on the other side laughed when he saw me holding up my jeans. He then jokingly asked me to raise my hands so he could swipe me with the metal detector. We all laughed, then I fumbled to put on my belt before more bags came through the X-ray machine. Our flight wasn’t scheduled to leave until 10:25pm, but we were allowed to board ahead of time of 9:50pm. We handed over our boarding passes, located our seats, then waited for take off.

Halfway into the flight I closed my eyes ready to go to sleep, but without warning there was a sudden shudder from external turbulence that rocked the cabin. Immediately I opened my eyes only to not believe what I was seeing. I sat up and rubbed my eyes to get clearer vision. Four walls covered with wood chip wallpaper surrounded me. Fixed to one of the walls was a flat screen television set. Through the window was the view of a neighbouring terrace block, and an energetic Jack Russell looked out from the window ledge wagging his tail furiously at the passing post lady. I recognised this place instantly. I was in my bedroom back home in England. It turned out these past seven and a half months hadn’t happened at all, in fact, it had been all but a dream….

Ahhhhhhh, I’m just kidding, I wouldn’t do you like that. Of course I haven’t been dreaming, how would I have added the photos of my experiences had I been. Besides Sarah tells me, to end a book with “and it was all a dream” is the worst possible way, it constantly annoys her when it happens in the books she reads. When I learned of that I thought it would be clever if I could incorporate it into my blog somehow. For 7 months I’ve been waiting to write that ending, ever since Sarah first told me about it. Not to keep you in suspense any longer, what really happened during the flight. I stayed awake working on the final post for the whole 2 hours. When we landed we had to go through the rather strict immigration, I say strict, it was more the way they sounded than acted. When it came to telling them where we’d be staying in Australia, all we could say was Beth and Adam’s house. Apparently that was enough, from the looks of things, this place really was laid back. Our bags were two of the first to arrive on the carousel, we just about grabbed them before they disappeared through the second door. We showed the security guard our yellow slip to gain access to the country, then headed towards the exit. There they both were, Beth and Adam were waiting for us with a cup of coffee in their hands. We shook their hands and gave them hugs, then we left the airport to begin a brand new journey together…

Now that we know it wasn’t all a dream, I would like to take some time to say a massive thank you to everyone I have met along the way. Without your presence in some of the places Sarah and I have visited, it wouldn’t be what it was. I won’t do any shout outs because there were so many of you, and if I forget to put anyone’s name in here it could lead to arguments. In one way or another, each and everyone of you have helped me grow as a person. The hard truths I was forced to learn, and my little quirks some of you picked up on have made me stronger and better than before. I owe so much to the people we’ve met along the way, the strangers who have helped us out at a moments notice, and my family for being so supportive, encouraging me to pursue this once in a lifetime journey. I would also like to thank the company I worked for back home, the redundancy money I received helped fund this trip. More thanks go out to all the people who have subscribed to, and liked posts from my blog right from the very start. I know at the beginning the posts were long, but as the days went on I endeavoured to make them more concise. Words can’t describe how I’m feeling right now as I sit on this plane to Perth (well maybe one… tired), to everyone I’ve met, I love you all, I believe we met for a reason and I hope the world continues to be kind to you. For my last thank you, and probably the most important of them all…

Sarah Duxbury.

Without your constant encouragement to make me leave England we both know I never would have. I know I’ve not been the easiest person to travel with. This blog took up a lot of my time, meaning you did 90% of the research and arrangements, which I love you for. Thank you for having the patience to stick with me as I slaved away into the night writing like a madman. But I am a free man now, and although we won’t be together 24 hours a day anymore, I promise all my free time will be spent with you. You’re a brave girl coming to Australia, what with your incapacitating fear of spiders, but that’s what makes you great. I can say things like this because I know you’ll never read this post, like you haven’t any of the others. You’ll continue to mock my blog like you do, never fully knowing just how much I appreciate you. I love you Sarah Duxbury, and from the bottom of my heart, thank you for the kick up the arse to leave our little bubble back home.

Now I’d like to end this blog by paraphrasing “Big Chris” from the movie “lock stock, and two smoking barrels”…

“Thank you Southeast Asia, it’s been emotional!”