Well, here it is, the last day. Technically tomorrow is, but I’m travelling home tomorrow.
I’m both happy and sad to be going home. Happy because this has been a tough trip! I don’t have the stamina I used to have, and I sorely miss it. Feeling OK was just normal as recently as three years ago, apart from having this growing trouble walking. Now, everything hurts, everything’s an effort. Everything tires me. I’m sad about it. It’s not a good feeling to be losing your health and fitness. (Which leads me back to the gastric bypass – more later.)
But I’m sad to be ending this trip because it has been epic! This has been one of the greatest trips I’ve ever done, and I’ve done a few. I’ve done things on this trip I never dreamed I would do, that I never even thought about until a month or two before we left.
- Gliding out of Singapore Harbour at night through all the illuminated ships in the Singapore Straits;
- Silently entering Laem Chabang, the harbour for Bangkok among the islands as the sun rose;
- Hearing “Man Overboard” and seeing the ship do a complete 180deg turn to rescue three swimmers off Vietnam. And another 180deg as well, of course. Pure chance;
- Again, slowly, silently entering Hong Kong Harbour at dawn and seeing that massive skyline again, last seen in 1992. I never thought I would return;
- Being on the Victoria Peak at dusk, just as the city lights were coming on. This was by chance – we were held up by traffic earlier in the day;
- Gliding slowly past the city lights of Hong Kong at 8pm as the laser light show started and with the pulsing beat of old rock and roll. Again, coincidence, as we were two hours late pulling away;
- Entering the wide brown river of Shanghai Harbour and seeing all the hundreds of ships going full steam ahead both in and out;
- Seeing the Shanghai TV Tower up close. It’s more attractive than I thought;
- Riding the Mag-Lev train at 430Km/h in Shanghai;
- Seeing Shanghai laid out at dusk from a 77 storey building;
- Visiting the Nagasaki A-bomb site and Peace Memorial;
- Visiting South Korea, even though I didn’t go ashore;
- Seeing Beijing, especially in glorious crystal clear air, pure chance due to APEC;
- Staying in an unusually good hotel in an old area of Beijing;
- Seeing the Great Wall of China;
- Seeing the Forbidden City and Tien An Men Square. Even if I was too sick to appreciate it, at least I’ve been there;
- Visiting Hanoi and discovering what a fantastic place it is, especially at this time of the year;
- Visiting and dining with my cousin, the Ambassador in Hanoi;
- Coming back to this wonderful place, Bali.
What a trip! The beginning seems so far away now but it was only five weeks ago.
I must say that I couldn’t have done this trip on my own. It’s been very arduous at times and having someone to talk to and joke with has made it bearable. I would have become depressed otherwise, especially feeling so ill.
You’ll notice I don’t include the ship in the highlights. It wasn’t. No more cruising for me. The crowds, the queues! Never again.
Also a great thing has been the marvellous Olympus OM-D E-M1. This is one fantastic camera, both for stills and video. Thank goodness I brought my tripod too, because i have masses of nice steady vision, none of this amateur wave-it-about and hope for the best. You haven’t seen the video yet because it’s too hard to edit on the road.
I brought the Sony RX 10 as well. Marvellous lens, marvellous image quality, but I couldn’t get used to it. Too many times I hit the power switch when I meant to zoom. I didn’t use it much. Lesson learnt.
It’s been expensive, but worth it. I’m afraid the credit card is going to be a shock as I’ve hardly thought about what I’m spending, but time’s running down. Use it or lose it.
I can’t help reflecting on one very sad aspect: Minnie had to say goodbye for me to do this trip. I couldn’t do things like this before. In hindsight, I’d rather have Minnie back, but young and healthy. I couldn’t go through that trauma again. RIP Minnie.