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A surprise ending to our five-month trip

6 Comments 07 March 2013

A surprise ending to our five-month trip

Five months of pure travel have come to an end.

Way back in September, Ric and I set off for a trip that would take us back to Southeast Asia and to both our homes in time for the holidays for the first time in two years.

Our plans went almost according to plan, that is, until the very end.

Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Our route

Starting in Auckland, New Zealand, our first destination was Bangkok, Thailand. After one week of partying in the city, we headed north to Chiang Mai, where I played with elephants and met a few bloggers. From there we met up with my Dad and headed south to Railay. With only a 30-day visa, we had to leave Thailand after that, so we headed to Langkawi, Malaysia. Meant to head back to Bangkok overland, instead we continued south to Kuala Lumpur then flew back to Bangkok for free thanks to a canceled flight at the start of our journey, which Jet Star gave us $100 sorry vouchers for.

The next leg of our journey almost didn’t happen because of stupid Hurricane Sandy. Our flight from Bangkok to New York was scheduled for only two days after the hurricane hit the northeast. Luckily, we made it to NYC okay and on time. This would be my first visit home in over a year and Ric’s second visit to the USA. Our stay in NJ was more about spending time with family than traveling, but we still managed to fit a few trips in, a weekend in Brooklyn, a week in Canada and day trips around my home state.

After one month at home, it was off to England, Ric’s homeland, for Christmas. Ric is from a little town in the north called Bollington. This would be my first time visiting England with Ric and his first time home in three years. Needless to say people were happy to see him. This leg of our journey was also more about spending time with family, but again, we couldn’t sit still for too long. While in England, we visited Eyam, Liverpool and Lyme Park.

Photo by Richard John Hackey

The surprise

When this trip started I published a post mapping it out and wrote at the end that what would follow our five-month adventure was a surprise. Well, it was a surprise to me too.

I was meant to be writing this post from Mount Maunganui, New Zealand and telling all of you that we returned to the country with BUNAC visas. Instead, I’m writing to you from London, United Kingdom a bit of a shocking reason as to why the plans changed.

We missed home.

And I don’t mean like homesick, I miss my Daddy. I mean like practically, I don’t want to spend another few years not seeing my friends and family. I know it sounds crazy coming from a girl who praised Australia and New Zealand and would do anything to stay.

A mixture of not wanting to spend over a grand every time we wanted to see our families, getting sick of dealing with visas and a need for some kind of a real base has led Ric and I to England. Obviously, Ric is from here, so he’ll be working. Me on the other hand, I’m just a visitor, so I’ll be freelancing, while we take steps towards something more permanent.

This actually wasn’t the easy route for us and our relationship, but in the long run, when we both have the same place to call home and go back to it no matter what, I think we’ll realize it was the right decision.

Photo by Richard John Hackey

The other surprise

On top of changing our last stop, we also added an entire other trip to the itinerary. If you haven’t noticed, I kicked off 2013 with a road trip around western USA. The trip with Jucy rentals came about very randomly.

I had worked with the company before and really love them. Someone on the team asked me if I could recommend any US bloggers to do a trip. At that point I was coming back to the States in January anyway to sort out my New Zealand visa, so I jumped at the opportunity. I spent three weeks cruising out west, two of which I got to share with Ric.

Photo from Pulau Payar by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

The best moments

-Finally discovering the perfect island in Southeast Asia. I thought this would come about on my first trip to the region in 2011, but every island we visited was missing something. Langkawi, Malaysia was not. On this island we found a cheap hut on the beach, warm waters, friendly reggae bars and food I could actually eat without getting sick. Thank god for Malaysia and curry.

-Ric celebrated his first Thanksgiving and I got to celebrate my first with the newest addition to our family, my nephew. Having a cross-cultural relationship, one of the best things in the world is to be able to celebrate special occasions with your partner and your family. This Thanksgiving was perfect.

-Having my name chanted by tens of drunken Englishmen to the tune of a football chant. I loved Bollington. It was so good to finally visit Ric’s village, meet the people I felt like I practically knew already and see where my special boy grew up. The partying wasn’t so bad either.

-Falling in love with the USA again. When I left America three years ago, I really didn’t want to go back. I just didn’t feel like I belonged there or that my thoughts on how life should be were possible there. That all changed in California. It made me not only like America again, but want to move back. I realized how vast the USA is and how different every city and state in it is as well.

Photo from Art13 London by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

What next

For the first time in probably two years I don’t really have a concrete travel plan. I am a free-spirit and what not, but since meeting Ric, we’ve always had a plan. We have one now, but it’s more to sort out our living situation than go on any big trips. But there are still a few things on the horizon.

First is the Three Peaks Challenge in northern United Kingdom. To complete, people must climb the highest peak in England, Scotland and Whales in less than 24 hours. I plan to do it in the summer. I’ll be back in the USA this summer for a friend’s wedding and Ric and I are hoping to get his family out there in the summer as well. We’ve been together for almost three years and our families still have not met. Bonkers!

Finally, I won a trip to a dude ranch in Montana with Passports with Purpose this Christmas. That’s the second year in a row that I’ve won something through the organzation. I can’t really express how excited I am for the trip. I’ve had a weird fascination with Montana for a very long time. I’m hoping to visit in the Fall.

Until then expect a lot of posts about my favorite city in the world: London. If there’s anything you’ve ever wanted to know about or see in the city, let me know and I look into it for you!

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- who has written 310 posts on Heels and Wheels.

Creator of Heels and Wheels. Writer, traveler and more.

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  • Heather

    It’s hard to be away from home for so long! I wasn’t ready to leave Australia to return to the US, but after being home for nearly two years, I’m glad I’ve been here for this specific time period. Enjoy getting to know England better and all of the fun things you have planned in the US already!

  • Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    Thanks so much! It really is. Like the thing that kills me is that I can’t just pop in every now and then to see everyone. I don’t think we are through with Oz or NZ, but I think now it was just right to be in the northern hemisphere!

  • Hogga

    that elephant picture is pretty great

  • Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    Thanks so much! I love it.

  • Liv

    It pays to be flexible with plans as you never know how events will make you feel about ‘home’. Good on you for deciding to focus on home for a bit. Your families and friends will love you, even more, for it!

  • Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    Thanks so much! Yes, I always try to leave room for the random while traveling. You never know how you’ll feel throughout a trip.

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