Reflecting on six months of travel

64 comments

I am so lucky. I cannot count how many times I have said or thought these words. At least once a day since we left England six months ago. Over 180 wholehearted expressions of gratitude. I am lucky to be where we are, without question, but more than this, I am so very lucky to have been born with the pure grit and determination needed to get myself here. To seek out the darkness within, that incongruous strength so often required to bring our dreams to fruition. To carve out for myself a life less ordinary, a life I felt born to live.

Before we left England, my dream of travel was like a wild animal that had been caged, a tiger pacing up and down inside of me, longing to be set free. For two seemingly endless and challenging years I lived with that tiger, paying off my debt and building my savings, waiting for the lock to turn. Then, six months ago today, we set foot on the shores of India, and just like that, I felt my tiger released.

It had begun, the life I had been waiting for, a life filled with chaos and heat and adventure, and I was finally free.

Six months on, you might be wondering is it everything you ever dreamed of? I can tell you wholeheartedly that it is everything and more. It is better and worse, easier and harder, more full and more empty. This is not the easy life you might imagine, but it is the one I know, with every cell in my being, is right for me to be living. I didn’t think I would ever be able to say something like that.

Lucky.

lucky-buddha

These six months have been like the delicate unfurling of petals, revealing their colour and beauty with a sense of ineffable purpose that takes my breath away. I don’t know what my future holds, and for the first time in my life I don’t wonder beyond where my next destination might be. My yearning for marriage and children left along with my tiger, the search for something more at last called off. Because this is it. This is my more, and it is as breathtakingly simple as being a wandering heart at peace in the world. That’s all I want; to be right here, wherever here may be. An infinite parade of here’s, waiting to march past.

In many ways I have grown to look on this time less as a period of travel, and more of a period of growth, as though the lines of my road map have been furiously spidering outwards, expanding to fill the pages of a story not yet written. It has been like a gradual introduction to myself, a prologue of sorts, setting the scene for what I’m sure is set to be one heck of a page-turner.

I have begun to understand myself, to feel less fear of what lies within, to love the dark just as much as the light. The tiger may have been abated, but there’s still something there, something constant I am always aware of. Some soft animal, rubbing at my ankles, purring for attention. So I move on to new adventures, slowly, with little forethought to where next.

I want to enjoy each new corner, set up ‘home’ for a while, get to know the place and its people. There is something so magical about slow travel, the way you become the master of time, and how and where your precious portion of it will be spent. It affords you the opportunity to unpack more than just the contents of your backpack. You can open yourself up, shake out the crumbs, and repack a little lighter, a touch more breathing room in amongst your faded T-shirts.

There are so many lessons wrapped up in this half year, so many experiences, good and bad. Even if all this was ever meant to be was six months, and I was heading home tomorrow, what a gift these six months have been. But (and I write this with such a swelling of joy in my heart) there is still more to come. So many more six months. So many more chances to see the world, to see myself through the eyes of her people, to learn and strip away and grow amidst the delicious uncertainty of all that lies ahead, and the knowledge that I can make of it what I choose, with respect and love and sincerity.

break

 

{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

TammyOnTheMove April 1, 2013 at 15:05

Really inspirational! Whilst we are not traveling constantly, we too are so happy to have left England behind when we did to work in the international development sector in Cambodia and travel around Asia as much as we can. Just can’t imagine ever going back to my previous life.
TammyOnTheMove recently posted..Everest Base Camp chronicles

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Hannah April 2, 2013 at 10:16

Thank you Tammy. It’s amazing how quickly you become absorbed in your new normal, isn’t it?! England seems so very far away…

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Monica April 1, 2013 at 15:31

And the world is luck to have YOU sharing your beautiful pearls of wisdom. xoxo

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Monica April 1, 2013 at 15:31

*lucky
Monica recently posted..Friday Photo: Self-Observation

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Hannah April 2, 2013 at 04:56

Thank you my dear, and likewise xxx

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Rhonda April 1, 2013 at 15:33

As usual, So beautifully written! You are so adept at putting MY thoughts onto paper (or computer in this case) and it makes my heart joyous just to read about your joy. Even though our RTW journey is several years over, and we have not yet begun our next big adventure, reading the thoughts and feelings of yourself and others like you makes me realize the life we are longing for IS possible…we just have a little more work to go to get there.
Rhonda recently posted..Foto Friday

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Hannah April 2, 2013 at 10:21

Thank you for your kind words Rhonda. And yes, I truly believe the life you are longing for is possible, and look forward to following your journey towards it :)

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Casey @ A Cruising Couple April 1, 2013 at 16:12

This is so beautifully written. I loved how you conveyed that travel is a gift. You know you’re doing the right thing if you can say that you are lucky every single day. :-)
Casey @ A Cruising Couple recently posted..Taiwan Calla Lily Festival: Frolicking Permitted

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Hannah April 2, 2013 at 10:39

Thank you Casey. It’s amazing to be able to say it – even in the depths of a really bad day, of which there are many, the feeling is always there. It really is a gift :)

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Kim April 1, 2013 at 17:18

Hannah, so beautiful. I completely agree. It isn’t perfect but it is wonderful in all of its imperfection. It is completely, imperfectly YOURS and that is what makes it beautiful. Happy six months. I still remember on New Years Eve, sitting at that palace in India, the fireworks exploding in the sky overhead. You turned to me and said “this is the first year we’ve started with freedom.” I’ll never forget that, and I thank my lucky stars every day.
Kim recently posted..And we’re off

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Hannah April 3, 2013 at 01:41

Kim! I remember that too – it was so cold there beneath the stars as we sat on the very edge of that huge adventure we were about to embark on. It was a beautiful moment and I’ll never forget it either. So glad we got to share it.

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Jade April 1, 2013 at 18:13

Happy 6 months! May the next ones be just as full of joy, peace, beauty and freedom. Wow that sounds like I’m quoting Moulin Rouge, but no they are the beautiful words you so often use to describe your incredible life- you really are so lucky.
Feeling lucky is something I am very familiar with as I realise everyday how incredible my life is and just to be able to entertain the idea of life travel is very special indeed. I cannot wait until my own adventure begins anew.
Thank you again for your beautiful words!
Jade recently posted..Memory Lane Monday: Perfect moments

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Hannah April 3, 2013 at 01:46

Thank you for your kind words Jade! I liked what you said about realising how incredible your life is – because I think that is one of the most important things in life – to be able to look upon things with gratitude, and grow with the awareness that if you don’t like something in your life, you have the power within you to change it. If we can do that for ourselves, that is all the luck we will ever need :)

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Patti April 1, 2013 at 18:40

Congratulations on the first 6-months chapter of your new life. I love the photo, so peacefully calm and as you say, you have become the master of time. I believe travel offers such freedom. I look forward to continuing to follow your journey.
Patti recently posted..May The Force Be With You ~

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Hannah April 3, 2013 at 01:47

Thank you Patti!

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Gregory April 1, 2013 at 19:38

Thank you for this beauty. Like the tiger, your joy oozes through your words, incapable of being contained. Truly inspiring.

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Hannah April 2, 2013 at 10:40

Thank you so much Gregory!

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Lindsey April 2, 2013 at 01:04

Hannah, you are such a gorgeous soul, and I count myself lucky to be able to read along with your adventures and use them as inspiration for creating my own luck. You are indeed lucky, I’m so glad that your travels are treating you so wonderfully!
Lindsey recently posted..The Philippines’ Sinulog Festival

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Hannah April 3, 2013 at 01:51

Lindsey, what a beautiful compliment, thank you so much for your kind words. I am so blessed to have your continued support :)

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Michelle April 2, 2013 at 03:48

Congratulations! I’m so jealous—for the past 3 years, I’ve felt something like the tiger… but I’m unsure if I’m in the right place in my life. Thanks for sharing everything with us :)
Michelle recently posted..Chicken Curry Rice Recipe

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Hannah April 3, 2013 at 01:55

It took me 30 years to get to the right place, so there’s no rush. Just take good care of your tiger in the meantime, and nurture the dreams within you. When the time is right, you will know. I wish you all the best :)

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Erik April 2, 2013 at 05:33

Congrats on 6 months! Love your openness and honesty. May all your future travels be full of continued blessings!

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Hannah April 2, 2013 at 11:03

Thank you so much Erik, and may your own travels be equally blessed :)

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Sofie April 2, 2013 at 10:59

Congratulations on the 6 months!
Really glad to read how this trip is turning out to be more than a ‘trip’ for you.
Hoping that one day I will find myself experiencing something alike. Not necessarily talking about being on the other side of the globe, but more about the emotional stuff:-)
Sofie recently posted..In search of the light: Artisanal fishing in Senegal

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Hannah April 2, 2013 at 11:37

Thank you Sofie. It’s taken me a long time to get here, and I feel like I am only now beginning to finally step into myself at the age of 33, but it has been the most important journey I will ever embark on.

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D.J. - The World of Deej April 2, 2013 at 12:38

Great stuff Hannah…I remember reading your blog during the planning stages, as things were getting so close you could almost taste it. Nice to see that, in the end, travel was just as great or maybe even greater than you expected. For some it is not, and turns out to be a disappointment, but perhaps that’s another way you are lucky:)
D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Resort

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Hannah April 3, 2013 at 01:58

That’s a lovely way of looking at it, thank you! It’s so nice that you are still reading all this time later and I feel very lucky to have your continued support :)

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Candace April 2, 2013 at 15:37

Hannah! I so, so loved reading this post. I loved what you said about the tiger being released, and how content you’ve grown to live in the present – that, too, has been one of the greatest lessons travel has taught me – of which the “Be here now” bracelet I now wear is a symbol! And this, I just have to say, is pure gold: “Because this is it. This is my more, and it is as breathtakingly simple as being a wandering heart at peace in the world.” I am SO WITH YOU on that one. Sending lots of love north to you right now :) (I’m currently in Malaysia – just one country away!)
Candace recently posted..sketching singapore: shophouses and shisha on bussorah street.

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Hannah April 3, 2013 at 02:02

Thank you my dear, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! We are both so lucky to have been able to create a life that satiates our souls. It’s something I know I will never take for granted, and believe that when you do that for yourself, the sky is the limit.

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Ashlie April 2, 2013 at 17:08

Happy Travelversary, my friend! Cheers, to freedom and tigers on the loose. Isn’t it such a blessing to reflect back at how the time has rearranged you? One of the best gifts for sure!

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Hannah April 2, 2013 at 17:46

Thank you Ashlie! It really is a blessing, and one I will never take for granted :)

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Katie @ Domestiphobia April 3, 2013 at 02:01

I’m so thrilled you’ve found your more. I hope I get there soon. :)

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Hannah April 3, 2013 at 02:12

Thank you so much Katie. You will get there, just keep feeding that tiger!

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Coco April 3, 2013 at 18:08

Hannah, you write one of the best travel blogs I’ve ever read! I love reading about your experiences and feelings, and I often feel like I’m there with you. Thank you for sharing your big adventure with us! (it’s my little bit of escapism from the cold and dreary UK weather haha) :)
Coco recently posted..Invoking the summer

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Hannah April 4, 2013 at 02:00

Coco, that is such a wonderful compliment, thank you so much! I love writing here on Further Bound, but it is always scary hitting that publish button and putting myself out there. Words like yours make it all worthwhile. I’m so lucky and grateful to have your continued support :)

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Victoria April 3, 2013 at 22:13

This post is so peaceful, it’s wonderful. Having been a little jumbled myself recently, it’s encouraging to see such clarity. Thanks for sharing Hannah.

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Hannah April 4, 2013 at 01:49

Thank you Victoria. The clarity comes and goes, I can assure you, but the gratitude always remains. And you have good reason to be jumbled of late, with so many wonderful projects swirling around in that talented head of yours!

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Shana April 4, 2013 at 15:28

This is so inspiring… it got me really excited for my unknown future of travels! So glad I came across your blog :]
Shana recently posted..In Limbo

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Hannah April 5, 2013 at 02:20

Thank you Shana! And how wonderful to have your own unknown travels stretching before you. I wish you all the best with your journey :)

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Charlie April 7, 2013 at 20:31

Ah, that feeling that right here, right now, you’re where you should be; when all yearning for somewhere or something else dissipates and you truly live in the moment. This feeling could perhaps be what I miss most about travelling. Happy 6-month anniversary!

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Hannah April 9, 2013 at 06:43

Thank you so much Charlie, you describe the feeling so beautifully :)

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RobRob April 8, 2013 at 16:50

What a great post! As joyous to read as I’m sure it was to write. Just the other day, I was writing about the “evolution” of travel to tourism, sort of lamenting the fact that, as tourists, we might see more places but see less of them. The idea of getting to settle in and really learn about a place, its people and customs is so appealing. After all, isn’t that why most of us want to travel in the first place? It’s great that you’re getting a chance to do that. I’m sure many of us reading are green with envy! Congratulations on this milestone; the first of many, I’m sure.
RobRob recently posted..Evolution in Travel

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Hannah April 9, 2013 at 06:36

Thanks Rob, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I have done my fair share of faster-paced travel in the past, but have found this new, slower pace far more rewarding in a multitude of ways. I highly recommend it :)

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Hannah West via Facebook April 8, 2013 at 23:38

Great post! Thanks so much for sharing your musings with us…

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Hannah April 9, 2013 at 06:34

Thanks Hannah!

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Further Bound via Facebook April 9, 2013 at 04:29

Thank you Hannah, I’m so glad you enjoyed it :)

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Stephen S. April 15, 2013 at 13:11

I got cold chills as I read the first paragraph. I’m also a wandering heart and I’m ready to start wandering. Great post Hannah.

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Hannah April 19, 2013 at 05:19

I look forward to the day I can read your six month update Stephen, you will have so many wonderful adventures to look back on :)

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CurlyTraveller April 17, 2013 at 05:49

Another lovely post, Hannah!

Very wise and positive attitude; I could not agree more. I don’t know you, but I am very happy for you, that you succeeded to pursue your dreams and needs. And that you are content and grateful! Wonderful.
CurlyTraveller recently posted..Why a private backwater tour is worth the money

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Hannah April 19, 2013 at 05:20

Thank you so much, I really appreciate your kind words :)

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Amy April 27, 2013 at 04:33

Congratulations on six months of travel! Beautiful post, as usual – it’s been great to read about your adventures so far – I look forward to seeing where you travel to next!
Amy recently posted..Adapting to Travel

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Peter Korchnak May 20, 2013 at 16:31

“The harder you work, the luckier you get,” I’ve heard an inspirational speaker say. I agree because I don’t believe luck is random: you make it happen. It takes hard work to merely decide and do everything in your power to pursue your dream, not to mention change your life around to make it come true and put yourself out there for the world to see. So, I say, congratulations. And as I mentioned in my comment on your post about the pre-departure jitters, your transformation is fascinating to follow.
Peter Korchnak recently posted..What is home?

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Wade June 11, 2013 at 05:21

As a soon-to-be first time world traveler (leaving with my girlfriend on our first RTW journey in March)…I’m hoping that 6 months into our journey, I can look back and feel the same way! Thanks for a reassuring post!!
Wade recently posted..The Question That Changed Everything: What Do You Fear?

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Hannah Loaring June 11, 2013 at 05:36

Thank you Wade, and good luck on your forthcoming travels. I remember so clearly how it felt to be on the edge of our adventure. Enjoy this time :)

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Amber August 3, 2013 at 08:00

I like that you remind people that this life of long term travel is not always easy. There are good days and bad. What I try to remember, when there are bad days, is that my worst day on the road sure beats a day in my old life. It helps to keep things in perspective. Good luck!
Amber recently posted..12 Things I Have Learned After 12 Months on the Road

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Hannah August 14, 2013 at 01:27

Thank you Amber! Life on the road has provided the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows. When things are bad, and you are miles away from friends and family, it can be a real struggle. But despite that, it is still the best thing I have ever done, and as the end of our first year of travel rolls around I am excited to see what year two has in store for us.

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kenny hawk November 5, 2013 at 01:32

Not sure how I found your site… But truly happy I did. I myself have “slow travelled” in europe and asia for approx 8 years now. Now I ended up in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I was reading your beautiful insightful words, feeing the longing for new adventures, while enjoying your current ones… I do not know why I could not get these words out of my heart and mind while I was reading your words, but they come from the movie “V”. I mean all them, and I don’t even know you. Only the part of your soul that you choose to share with us in these pages on your blog:

“It seems strange that my life should end in such a terrible place, but for three years I had roses and apologized to no one. I shall die here. Every inch of me shall perish. Every inch, but one. An inch. It is small and it is fragile and it is the only thing in the world worth having. We must never lose it or give it away. We must NEVER let them take it from us. I hope that whoever you are, you escape this place. I hope that the worlds turns, and that things get better. But what I hope most of all is that you understand what I mean when I tell you that, even though I do not know you, and even though I may never meet you, laugh with you, cry with you, or kiss you, I love you. With all my heart, I love you. Valerie.”

It’s a deep text, and in a sense, your words do the same for your readers as that little note did for Evy. Brought her hope. So thank you.

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Hannah November 5, 2013 at 10:16

Kenny, thank you so much for your kind words, and for sharing that beautiful quote – I am so grateful. It means the world to know that you have been enjoying my blog, and finding some comfort in my words. So thank YOU, from the bottom of my heart.

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Das Kuwanr June 24, 2014 at 21:02

For last few days I went through several blogs, including yours’, Candice’s, and Mariellen.It was like a chain reaction one leading to others. Enjoyed each and every post of all the authors and felt great to find so many people content and living a joyful life. It has been my experience and just wanted to know how do you feel about it:

You start admiring your life as you start believing your life worth much more than just getting surrounded by the materialistic objects and psyche created by humans which push us far from what we naturally meant to be. But it doesn’t start till you start admiring the little things in my life. till you start living in the moment. and it doesn’t happen till you let go off your ego!!

It is my view that India helps you by letting you get rid off your ego which makes you appreciate little wonders which you were not able to notice before. It connects you to yourself.

As it is said in the Epic Gita: God is in every single invisible piece and we all are part of that single god.

Do you also feel the same?

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Hannah July 5, 2014 at 10:45

Thank you so much for your thought-provoking comment, Das. I’m so glad you you have been enjoying my blog, and those of other women I admire greatly — and that you took the time to share your wisdom here. I agree with you wholeheartedly, and have found that, since shedding most of my own material possessions, I was able to explore a richness that is all too often overlooked in modern society. The true measure of our independent wealth is found not in the depth of our bank balance, but in the depth of the love and compassion we show towards others, and receive in return. India is a place that encourages connection and openness at the most basic of levels, taking us back to this vital place of human interaction, and reminding us of what really matters in life. There is more richness in the hearts of the Indian people than any other place I have experienced so far in my life, and it is this stripping back of the proverbial bullshit that allows us to see what really matters.

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