03.03.2011 - 07.03.2011 3 °C
'Twas the night before our return to Ireland, and all that stirred were the loud drunken Brits three stories underneath my bloody window. Welcome to Amsterdam!
This little sojourn in Amsterdam has, I think, been a bit unfair to the city. We arrived to dangerously low temperatures and ridiculously high prices and promptly suffered a wee bit of culture shock. We have made a terrible mistake we thought, we should have gone straight back to Dublin, we should have stayed in Thailand, quick get on the next plane back to Bangkok!
After adding a couple of extra layers to our clothing, we ventured out. It was my first time in Amsterdam and it is a beautiful city, for the most part. I have to admit my opinion of the city has been completely tainted by the context of the last six months in Asia. For some odd and unfortunate reason, despite booking four months in advance, there was a lack of cheap (but not cheap by Asia standards!) and available accommodation in the quieter, and in my opinion more pleasant, part of the city. We were situated on the outskirts of the Red Light District, which didn't bother me (after experiencing the joys of Patpong in Bangkok, we've seen it all), but it rather feels quite like what I imagine staying in the centre of Temple Bar to be.
And so I'm dragged right back into the horrors of inner city Dublin, dodging drunks and piles of vomit and realising how much I spent on that coffee I just drank.
Is that it then? Back to "reality"? Will the last six months just fade into a distant memory so that it feels like it never even happened? That, I have decided, is entirely up to me. This trip has had many highs and some lows. The lows I can learn from but the high points are what I have to remember (read: desperately cling on to) and take home with me - I wish I could pack a Thai smile - and I don't necessarily mean specific moments or memories. What I mean is quite hard to articulate but what I can only describe as the feeling of freedom and the attitude that very little is ever really worth getting that stressed out over.
I acknowledge the attitude is a by-product of the freedom, it's relatively easy to dismiss a cancelled flight or a change in weather when you have no plans to disrupt and the ability to stay a few days extra here and cut short a stay there. If you are unable to attain that attitude - and it is difficult to get used to - then I would think you wouldn't last long on an extended trip through Asia where a lot of things go wrong a lot of the time. Your train is very likely to be late, there will always be someone waiting to scam you at a bus station and 90% of people will not speak English well enough to understand the question 'where is our remote control for the air conditioner'.
The feeling of freedom will undoubtedly take a hammering when I get a job and the requirement to answer to someone else (boo), but the attitude I hope to keep, alongside a sense of extreme luck. We have been so very lucky to be able to take so much time out and travel and to return - shock, horror - debt free! We'll be poor for sure, but debt free is quite an achievement I think.
I am quite looking forward to getting home and seeing much missed friends and family and discovering what's next. I don't think I'll be choosing to get on another plane any time soon, my travel bug (the existence of which I have doubted several times during this trip) is well and truly satisfied...for now....
I did promise you a philosophical entry and I'm sure it hasn't made much in the way of any sense so go read this short post, it's much nicer: http://hiandthankyou.com/2010/knowing-the-place-for-the-first-time
That's all folks....thank you very much for taking the time to read this blog, the fact that even one person (who isn't my mammy) would read it means a lot. What would also mean a lot is if you buy us a drink next time you see us...we're pretty broke.
Suze & Will (I am giving him credit, despite the fact that he's snoring beside me, because that's the kind of awesome person I am)