There are only two measly days left before we finally head off on a trip that I have been anticipating for over a year, and I am still struggling to understand how I feel about the whole thing. I can tell you that the old familiar knot in my stomach has finally made an appearance, the knot that was last felt as I drew closer to the due date of both of my children, as well as during the chaotic last days before I got married, all those years ago. I know from experience that the knot can be relaxed by a combination of rubbish TV (old murder mysteries are most effective), and the calming effects of having a few generous glasses of wine, but of course, as I keep telling everyone, I am far too busy to do either because I am so disorganised. I have only had a year to plan this thing after all.
This time however, I know that the knot is not caused by fear of the unknown because I have done this before and I know there is nothing to be scared of. I am pretty sure that it is caused by the knowledge that in a few short days we have to say our goodbyes again, embarrassed by our tears and floundering for anything to say that will ease the pain of what we are doing by taking ourselves and our children away, again. This time, we can’t even say when we will be back.
There has been quite the lead up to this point. The last few months have flown by in a stressful, messy blur of activity. It all started with us selling all of our possessions one by one, and is ending here, in my Mother-in-Law’s house near Belfast, where we have been for the last four weeks, getting under her feet and writing endless lists on scraps of paper that I lose before I can tick anything off. In between there were mad dashes between embassies, arguments with obnoxious strangers on EBay, the removal of one small child from school, and numerous glorious rounds of goodbye drinks with our brilliant and inspirational friends in Belfast and London.
So here we are, the bags are packed and I am delighted to say that everything fits. We are taking two big rucksacks (65 and 70 litres), and each of us, even the two-year-old, will be taking a day sack as well. As a reformed over-packer I have been pretty ruthless about what has gone in, and am proud to say that, apart from our first aid kit, nothing has been included ‘just in case’. I would also like to add (smugly) that my bag weighs less than the one I took backpacking before my children came along.
I only have to count down one more sleep with the kids before we board a bus to Dublin and from there, our flight to Bangkok. We will have two months in Thailand and maybe a month in Laos before we need to head to New Zealand where Spud has landed a blinder of a contract to work in the North Island for a while. After that we don’t know what we are going to do, maybe the South Pacific for a while, or possibly head back to Asia to spend some time in the Philippines and Indonesia. It’s exciting not to know at this stage.
Next time, I will be writing from Thailand, with two grumpy jet-lagged kids, while sweating and complaining about the Wi-Fi. Can’t wait.