Saturday, 6 December 2014

Better Than This

"Could be a dead end road
I could be chasing down a broken dream
But I don't even know 
Just to where this thing is gonna lead 
It's a mystery
Oh, and ain't life a trip
No, it don't get better than this" 

Better Than This - Hunter Hayes

This blog is coming to you from a hotel room in Hanoi, Vietnam. I've been on the road for nine weeks, and this adventure is coming to an end of sorts tomorrow night when I board a plane back to Perth to settle for a little bit. I left New Zealand with my backpack and this blog post's song in mind, determined for it to be the theme song of my travels. It's been with me throughout Australia and came with me to Vietnam, providing a bit of comfort for me when things got tough. I was determined to see Vietnam and everything fell into place three weeks before I departed. 

Then, I did one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life - I got back on the Contiki bus. 

The memory of my last Contiki tour has been on my mind for the past 10 days. You never forget the sickening feeling of sitting in a room with your tour group and being told one of the girls you've spent a week travelling with died over night in hospital. I've been worried, paranoid and miserable at times because you can't help but think what if it happens again on this tour. I wish I was one of those people who could put such a tragedy behind me and go forward, but I'm not. Rather, I allowed myself moments on this trip to breakdown, and with the support of an excellent roommate and tour guide, these moments were short. 

Although this tour was tough, I knew it would be worse to have not come at all. Here, I overcome a fear and the reward was incredible. I saw the lights of Ho Chi Minh city at night, lay under the stars on the beach in Nha Trang with a cocktail in hand, and cycled through Hoi An in the pouring rain. I've tried dozens of new foods - soups, rolls, seafood platters, and local beers. I've learned more about the war which shaped Vietnam and saw the effects which remain to this day. I spent a night on a boat in Halong Bay, kayaked out to see monkeys in a lagoon and even held a python. And, of course, I did it all alongside a whole lot of new friends - these people made this trip incredible. 

There's a line in Better Than This which goes "learning through the downs, living for the ups" and I think that sums up both my Contiki tours perfectly. Traveling is tough - you want it to go so well and sometimes it just doesn't. But when things go bad it doesn't mean you should stop. There's a whole world out there which I still have the opportunity to travel. Vietnam is ticked off the bucket list but there's so many more places I want to go. I'm pitstopping in Perth for a bit but I'll hit the road again before long, with my backpack and my travel song blasting loud, because it don't get better than this. 

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