Saying Goodbye to South East Asia

I’m sitting in the departure lounge with tears rolling down my face, staring blankly at my telephone screen, knowing he is also online, right there at the other end.

Part of me would like a few last comforting words, but I can’t seem to think of anything to write that won’t make me look like the desperate mess that I am. What is there to say anyway? We’ve said hello and goodbye briefly a few weeks ago – and perhaps that was all a huge mistake – but this really should not be what the magic of the journey of self-discovery I have been on those past months amounts to, in the wake of a 20-month South East Asian whirlwind adventure. Yet, here I am, balling my eyes out and feeling like I’m back to square one.

Nusa Lembongan, Bali, Indonesia

It’s really happening. I am leaving South East Asia.

Meditation and bicycle touring, Penang, Malaysia

A stranger comes up to me, touches my arm gently, and asks me if everything is OK. For a split second, I think of asking him for a hug and regret instantly not doing it as he returns helplessly to his seat, throwing a few worried glances at me on the way. I’m sure he would have obliged. We should hug more strangers in life. Especially in airports. God, I hate airports. I always cry in airports.

Bangkok has felt incredibly lonely, which seems strange after two months of cycling on my own and having the time of my life getting to know myself and enjoying solitude. Ironically, solitude seems like it has morphed into loneliness now that there isn’t a moment alone in the hustle of the urban jungle.

Seeing him before leaving was potentially not the greatest idea. He was so glorious, and gorgeous and glowing and perfect. I’d forgotten what it was like to lose myself in the blue of those eyes. We had fun. We spoke of nothing serious. We laughed. He brought me presents. We hugged and it was both foreign and familiar and I wanted to cling on but I also wanted to push away. For half a day everything seemed like it made perfect sense. But as I stepped into my sponsored five star accommodation all on my own, it dawned on me how painfully lonely I was. I wish I’d had someone to share this with. I wish someone was there to share with me the little successes I’ve raked lately with my blog after two years of hard work.

Sunset in Gili Air, Indonesia

I still believe in the positive empowering messages I have sent out there these past months and I know what I am going through now is also part of the journey. One step back, two steps forward, onwards and upwards, and all that. A few people have commented that they have appreciated my candor as of late, so there’s my heart wide open for you today.

Rice paddy, Hoi An, Vietnam

It’s a lonely journey. And so far I have been able to appreciate that. But today is hard. I am incredibly sad to leave Asia, and for so many reasons, but I’m the one who is throwing herself in at deep end, into the unknown. As much as I know this is the right thing to do, today I am feeling scared and lost.

Why leave South East Asia if I love it so much? Truth be told, I don’t know. I need to go see what else is out there. See if it’s true that there are even greater things lying ahead. I’m running out of cash and I’d like to have one last run at discovering new places before this is all over instead of sticking to what I know and love.

Yoga, sunset and mosque. Malacca, Malaysia

So me and my bike, we’re in Istanbul. My flip flops are packed away. We’re headed towards the Balkans. And you’re coming with us.

Gili Air, Malaysia

Kapas Island, Malaysia

Good bye jungle woman. For now, anyway.

Koh Phangan, Thailand

Vang Vieng, Laos

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