1. THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS IS TOUCHING ME BEYOND WORDS AND HAS 100% RESTORED MY FAITH IN HUMANITY
I have not had to pay for accommodation in over a month and food has been provided for me along the way on several occasions. Whether it be friendly and generous Couchsurfing or Warmshowers hosts, friends met during or before the trip or people at private houses, police and gas stations or temples where I have clumsily asked permission to pitch my tent, the response has always been overwhelmingly positive. I am just blown away by the generosity of everyone that has crossed my path so far. Although I know this isn’t the reason why they are doing it, I cannot wait for the day I can pay it forward when I am in a situation to do so.
2. STRAYING OFF THE BEATEN PATH IS MAGICAL
I feel that by cycling around I am discovering the true South East Asia I was dreaming of before I came here to backpack. Crossing little villages where few Westerners have been means meeting a lot of curious locals. Friendly smiles and waves, people stopping me to ask questions because they are genuinely interested and not because they want to sell me something, cheap and authentic food – with people inviting me over to sample it – are all part of my daily life. I feel privileged to get to see this side of South East Asia that few people get to experience and it is truly magical.
3. I WAS BORN TO LIVE OUTSIDE
There is not a chance in the world I will ever work in a cubicle full time again. What’s this crap about?! Real life is outside and I’m a jungle woman. Period.
4. PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE
Preparing this trip has taught me patience, something I haven’t always had. Learning patience is learning to be content with the present moment, accepting sudden changes of plans and letting go of expectations. An invaluable lesson indeed.
5. BEING A SOLO TRAVELER FOSTERS WONDERFUL ENCOUNTERS
It’s the best way to travel!
6. YES, I CAN
I have had to learn a few tricks of the trade in case I run into mechanical troubles, and I know there will come a point where I will be stuck and will have to learn for myself, which is really the best way to learn. Self-sufficiency, especially as a woman, is an extremely empowering thing. Having other women feeling empowered by what I am doing is equally very moving.
7. CYCLING IS A LIFESTYLE AND THE PEOPLE FROM THE COMMUNITY ARE REAL AWESOME
Be it online communities or other cyclists met along the way who have provided me with advice, shelter, food, free bike parts or just a good chat, I am happy and proud to be a part of such a great group of people.
8. IF IT FEELS RIGHT…
Just do it and the rest will follow. Everything has felt right since this crazy plan started sprouting in my mind: things falling into place on their own, wonderful encounters, even professional engagements along the way. I feel like I am doing what I am meant to do right now, and I am feeling so happy and free.
9. ACHIEVING COMPLETE BALANCE IS A WORK IN PROGRESS, AND I ACCEPT THAT
Before this trip, I was a health freak with way too much control over everything I ate. It was all about the superfood and everything had to be organic and wholesome. The only thing I had no control over was all the stress that I had inflicted on myself with a manic pace of life, juggling a university degree as a mature student with two demanding jobs and an intense half marathon training. I was stuck in this vicious circle that’s so common throughout the western world, and it was making me miserable. I was trying to lead a healthy lifestyle by having complete control of my diet and exercising, but so long as I was holding on to the stress I was never going to reach optimum health. Now, I have admittedly been eating a lot of junk so far on the trip (namely 7 Eleven instant noodles…), but I am feeling at peace, balanced and free from stress. Being able to let go is actually a great feeling. And I bought a bag of chia seeds. Baby steps. Life is a work in progress.
10. I FREAKING LOVE MALAY AND THAI PEOPLE
You have made this journey so amazing for me with your big hearts and funny English and wonderful smiles and beautiful land. I will be leaving a bit of my heart behind when I go next month, that’s for sure.