A journey of home

Lost in a spiral of words, sentences splashed together and stories in despair. No beginning. No ending.  Just words, ideas and feelings lingering around, waiting to set foot on paper or take part in the endless love affair of life.

From nothing to something. From thin air into reality.

From far away to a place called home.


It is a strange thing to come home. It’s like getting lost while knowing where you are. Coming back home is part of the journey as much as leaving, yet people don’t talk about it with the same sense of curiosity and adventure. In reality, the journey never stops. Looking at the ordinary with new eyes suddenly opens new doors, new options and a new way of living. Me isn’t the same me from when I left. Me isn’t the same me from yesterday. Slowly I move along with time making a distinction between what is important to me instead of simply urgent, a distinction that easily gets lost in between the storylines of life.

Am I happy being back home? Yes I am. Would I be happy to leave again? Immediately!  For now I am finding joy in the little luxuries of life. Baking my own bread, watching the sun go down, being able to go to the shop and choose what I want to buy, riding my new old bike to work, moving into a new apartment and sitting down on a sofa. Believe me, don’t underestimate the luxury of having a sofa! That’s something we discovered being on the road for a year, sofas are hard to come by! Have I felt sad and lonely? Obviously! Suddenly you’ve seen your friends, found a job, told your family about your adventures and moved to your new place and all that is left is endless time. Time filled with thoughts, fears and dreams. Emptiness ready for a new start. At times, a difficult start.

Things like being home, happiness and pain aren’t static.  Nothing really is. They’re simply life’s way of showing you who you are, who you can be and who you want to be. Don’t try to be beautiful like somebody else, be beautiful as you!  

Advertenties

The labyrinth of life

Back home, back in Belgium. Life has been on the move. Life has been feeling like a labyrinth. One day it feels as if I am on track, the other I realize I am completely lost. We made it to the stage of finding a place to live, but now the job finding challenge is on. The urge to earn money can be pretty overwhelming, but if there is one thing I am sure of, it is that I don’t want to get stuck in a job I only do for the money. With not a lot of money left on my bank account this feels like being pushed into a road with no end, but on the other hand it is be an opportunity to start life the way I want it. Instead of working to live or living to work, I believe work should be something that fur fills you, complements you, something that’s an added value to who you are and to the people around you. We learn so much during our education, but do so little. Society, social media and newspapers somehow categorise people into failed or succeeded, good or bad and happy or sad. What isn’t discussed very often is the grey area, the area of dreams and the area of uncertainty. The urge to escape from uncertainty. Choose a job you don’t want and get certainty in return or decline the job and continue without knowing what is to come? A harsh decision, a decision only you can make for yourself. A decision I am struggling with. Do I want to keep on running along trying to keep up with time and miss out on the beauty and joy of everyday life or do I want to start moving along ticking away time my way with an aching uncertainty of what the next day will bring?

Since we’re home I feel I am not completely the same. There’s this feeling, this little stress monkey inside of me, jumping about, on the one hand struggling with the uncertainty, on the other hand embracing the freedom it offers. Difficult decisions that will take time, but at the same time make me realize how lucky I am to be in such a privileged position of being able to make decisions. Every  decision we can make in life should be a source of joy, as many people in this world aren’t fortunate enough to make choices.

Forgive yourself for not knowing what to choose, trust the path you are following, embrace the perfect chaos that you are and know that every choice you make is a little bit of freedom.

Take one step at a time, but keep on walking.

A little time keeper

Opening my little jewellery box I find you there, ticking away time second by second and minute by minute. One year has gone by and you haven’t stopped. While I was moving through a faraway world without you, you silently kept track of all that was and could be.

My grandmothers watch.

A reminder of childhood and of an untameable world, a reminder that if I think something is worth it I should go for it, a reminder that there is only forward. Now is the time! The time to tick away your own story.  Silently, hidden away and maybe one day out loud for the world to see.   Whatever you want or irrespective of how badly you want it, life will keep on ticking its story. Unnoticed it will go by until one day it may be gone. Don’t let it disappear! Nothing is worse than the realisation that it slipped away and there is no turning back.

Ticking of life goes by with highs and lows, smiles and tears, achievements and failures, but at least it is a sign you are truly living.

44737996_306214556634274_6087269376392691712_n

Little fears and a life ahead

DSC03649

As a child we expect so much from the world. Every moment is awaited full of excitement and untamed joy, but then we grow up. The twinkle in those young eyes fades away and is replaced by a hidden smile. Much to often dreams are replaced by routine. Curiosity answered by how things should be. No more questions asked. Walking in line, life goes by. Living suddenly became the main goal of life.

I cannot help but wonder, what happened along the way? Where did that twinkle go? Where did that untameable spirit go? Maybe I am stuck in a dream struggling to wake up, scared to see what the world has become, or maybe it is time for every one of us to think about the choices we make. Why do we make them? Where do they take us? Is this a step that will bring us closer to what we always expected from life?

Difficult questions, but how can we expect to find joy if we don’t dare to ask them. Too often decisions are made based on fear rather than passion. Fear is easy. Even though we don’t like it, it lingers around in our head and wraps itself around our heart. Fear of being alone, fear of what may be, fear of the future and fear that the past may catch up. I am no different. I am terrified about what is to come. I am more than scared to return back home. What will happen? What will life be like? How will I cope being at the same place for so long with a head filled with dreams and an untameable heart urging me to leave and keep on going?

Questions hard to answer. Doubts that scare me. No one that can give an answer except the future that lays ahead. Being on the road for about a year, I know one thing for sure, there is more to life than you expect. More possibilities, more options and different futures that can become reality if you choose them to be. It may not be easy, it may be unsure and it may be unconventional, but does it matter if that is what you feel is right for you?

With this I don’t mean to judge. Every dream and every goal is a good one, as long as it is a conscious decision. We all like to judge other people for what they do, but it’s not because it isn’t what you would do that it is the wrong thing to do. Wrong and right have a major grey area that is hugely influenced by who we are ourselves. People dream of a house and a child, people dream of a major career, people dream of working as a postman and people dream of climbing the highest mountains. I dream of seeing the world, being in nature and sharing this with those who would like to listen.

Every dream fills a place on this planet and non is more or less than another. Every dream is equal. That’s exactly one of the beauties of dreaming. Every dream and every life is an added value to the world, we just need to open our eyes, look up from our phones and take a look around to see it.

Welcome to New Zealand!

Another place in this world, another continent.

The perks of being back in a westernised country are many. Dry public toilets that have toilet paper, the food in the supermarket looks familiar, beaches are clean and roads are in good condition. Yet at the same time, many things are to be missed. People live their lives in a more closed off manner, no fruit shakes, no milk tea/chai and no cheap hotels. Eleven hours in the air and suddenly there is a part of the world that looks so familiar and yet everything is different.

Cuddled by all the warm clothes we can manage to wear and that have been hidden in our backpacks the past 10 months we set out to discover New Zealand. A country of intense beauty, winding roads and of course of ‘Lord of the Rings’.

Instead of motorbikes we this time ended up in a campervan. Maybe a campervan is an overstatement as it is, well, tiny, but it’s perfect to conquer the small unsealed roads, sharp corners and keep us warm when temperatures drop below 0°C. Even though it is tiny, it has a ‘port-o-poty’ (read: a toilet that fits into your hand luggage), a sink, fresh water and a grey water tank. To make things even better we have a gas stove to get some proper cooking done! Summarized: it’s a travellers (messy) dream on wheels!

Given, it doesn’t make my heart beat faster and my toes curl of excitement as a motorbike does, but it’s yet another experience I can add to my list. And instead of cooling you down it keeps you nice and snug in winter!

Anyhow, enough about the campervan, let’s talk about New Zealand! Our gateway to Oceania. Honestly, after a few days I fell in love. It felt like home, but better. Villages separated by endless green hills, century old forests and emerald blue bays. Green villages, small houses, cute houses and enormously friendly inhabitants. The first time we asked for a little information this ended with chocolates, home-made biscuits and fresh eggs of which we prepared a delicious breakfast. Up till now the kindness of people has been overwhelming!

We have been living every day intensely. Outside in the cold, but with a breathtaking scenery. If there is a place that will convince you life is beautiful, it will be here! I wish I could master the words to describe such beauty, but it’s utterly fur filling. Pure joy, intense love and never-ending peace. The perfect location for a fantasy filmset as the difference between myth and reality is easily forgotten. It kind of reminds me of Scotland, but then remoter, bigger and wilder. The forces of nature can’t be overlooked!

Around Rotorua the earth is boiling, bubbling and spitting steam up into the air. Warm water sprouts out of the earth with a curtain of steam lingering between the trees. Where are those demons? Where did the dinosaurs go exactly? No avoiding the question, what else is out there? 

Who are we but mere visitors in a world of immense power. Let’s tread lightly! Let’s rejoice and be happy to be part of what can be so beautiful!

DSC03419

A hot water waterfall! (Kerosene creek)

Welcome to Thailand!

The gateway to South East Asia, the entrance point to another world, that is what I would call Thailand!

DSC01848 (2)

Easy to travel, kind people, clean and cheap accommodation, no problems to get from one point to another with public transport, many people speaking a little English and you don’t need to worry about everything you put into your mouth. Just to be clear, this still doesn’t mean you should drink tap water or eat fish that has been sunbathing all day!

Leaving Borneo I already was a little sick and after the journey to Thailand, this only got worse. After a few days of resting and staying close to the toilet in Bangkok, we made it back on the road, but every time that just resulted in me getting sick again. Luckily, things got better after two weeks of taking things a little slow. No riding bikes, no funny foods, a lot of sleeping, no long hikes and we were ready to roll again.

During this time we visited Ayutthaya with its magnificent temples and the bridge over the river Kwai in Kanchanaburi. Funny fact, originally the bridge was never built over the River Kwai, they simply got this wrong in the famous book/film “The Bridge on the River Kwai”. As a result, people came looking for a bridge that in fact didn’t exist. Luckily, a solution was soon found and the name of the river was changed giving everybody the long hoped for ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’.

On first sight, Thailand seems to be spoilt by tourism, which is somehow true, but it just takes a small walk to discover another world. The perfect example would be Railay beach. A beach being acclaimed to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, so as a result, they decided to let resorts spring up like mushrooms. The funny thing is, less than 1.5 kilometers or a little rock climb away, there is another beach, Tonsai beach, which has long remained untouched by tourism. Sadly, it won’t be long before mass tourism also reaches this place. When we got there the first steps were already taken to start building the first huge resort. The only tip I can give you is, keep your eyes fixed on the emerald sea dotted with little islands, take a hike into the jungle or climb into a palm tree and you won’t be disappointed!

As was the case in Nepal, I am glad to be in Thailand in the low season. There are already so many tourists now that I can’t imagine how it would be during the high season. And what is there to complain about? Sometimes there is a little rain, there is some wind along the coast and temperatures I bearable. Sounds great to me! To make things even better everything is way cheaper. A lot of accommodation is half price, renting a motorbike gets cheaper and even prices for public transport go down. There are probably many reasons why monsoon season isn’t the touristy season, with the monsoon most likely being the main drawback, but I suppose it’s all about how you decide to see things. For me it is great! Especially now I can part from the bathroom without any concerns.

Oh, and my beloved sunsets are back! For hours I can watch over the sea waiting for the sun to go down, expectations rising for more spectacular colours, more dramatic clouds or a wilder sea. Dreaming away and worries disappearing as if they never existed.

WhatsApp Image 2018-08-20 at 11.25.09

A story left untold

A sneak peek behind the scenes of a travellers tale. A look into the story behind plans that turned into reality. Truth be told, whatever the reality may be, it still feels like living a dream. Very seldom it feels more like a nightmare, but when it does, there is no escaping it. When you are running to the toilet again with seemingly never-ending diarrhoea. When you are both so incredibly tired that all you can feel is pure and bitter hate. When you find a dead scorpion in your bathroom. When you need to hide below your mosquito net because thousands of flying insects found their way into your room. When you realize you don’t have money to do, well, all kind of things. When your mattress is so dirty dust comes out of it every time you sit down. When you are running out of toilet paper and can’t find a shop selling it. When you discover giant spiders chose your bathroom as their hunting ground. Or, when you nearly go to the next country and have no idea where to go or what you are going to do there.

Surrendering to life can be harder than it seems. Not knowing and not having control can be both beautiful and frustrating. In the end, things always turn out great, but this can be hard to remember when things turn pear-shaped.

WhatsApp Image 2018-07-23 at 15.58.42

Travelling shows you the best and the worst in the world. It shows you who you are, who you could become and meanwhile throws your shortcomings straight into your face. Where is that comfort zone when you need it? Where are your friends when you need somebody to talk to? Where is that ray of sunshine when all you can see is rain? Nothing in life can be without dreams, plans and a lot of work to get there.

Aim for the stars, follow your dreams, but never lose track of the reality hidden below. It will hurt, you will fail, you will hate yourself, but suddenly that will be forgotten and compensated when you reach those first stars, smile and see people that appreciate what you do.

Dream big, fall hard and continue your journey through life. Life is too short to throw away what could have been for what is.

DSC00719

Brunei: a country of the beautiful and the rich

DSC01451

When travelling overland in Malaysian Borneo there is no avoiding Brunei. And why should you, it’s the perfect chance to discover yet another amazing place in this world. I should admit, it’s not cheap according to the Asian standard, but then again, most peoples budget is less tight than ours for the moment. For those interested in reading a little more about that, I am working on a separate page where you can check out our budget per country in detail. To give you a general idea, we try to get by with 30 euros per day for two people. In some countries this is more than enough, in others, it can be rather challenging or near to impossible. Brunei is a good example of a country making it quite hard, but we had a huge room with a little kitchen, so no complaints there.

When you need a break from the bustling, dynamic Asian lifestyle, Brunei certainly is the place to be. Enormous roads, beautiful mosques, little parks and quiet walkways along the water.

In addition, you get the chance to see the biggest water village in the world, Kampong Ayer. The only way to really enter it is by taking a boat tour, but if that is above your budget, just cross the bridge and enter a smaller water village on foot. To be honest, I am not really sure if it is more of a slum area or just a not well-maintained part of the city, but for sure it is a great place for an early evening walk while the mosques start singing their song. There is something special when the song of prayer fills the air. A feeling of peace. A feeling that was strongly contradicted when we visited the mosque in the centre of Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of Brunei.

When travelling I find it of the highest importance to be respectful and dress appropriately. When visiting the mosque I was wearing long, very loose pants and a t-shirt that properly covered my shoulders. In addition, I had brought along a scarf to further cover-up. Surprisingly, none of this was enough and I was given a long black cape to wear. Wearing the black cape and the scarf on my head I entered the mosque. Again, I wouldn’t have complained about this, but then I was asked to properly cover-up myself and fully button up the cape. This felt like a slap in my face These words hit me hard. Wasn’t I already covered op? What did they see that wasn’t respectful? Up till now, it feels wrong. I truly believe covering up isn’t a sign of suppression, it can be a personal choice or a religious choice and I fully respect that, but let it be a choice! Whatever people wear or don’t wear, it doesn’t matter as long as it is an expression of who they are. An expression of the freedom to be who they want to be.

Brunei is a special place. Hidden behind all its beauty lay secrets scattered about. Secrets far beyond our reach, but enough indications that made us wonder. Apparently, the sultan owns 7000 cars of which 400 Ferraris. He owns hotels all over the world in which Brunei nationals can stay with 50% discount and lives in a palace with 1700 different rooms. He provides free health care and education to the people. He built full-fledged cities where people can live for peanuts. Some say the sharia law has been implemented. Some say this is not the case. The truth seems to be there has been partial implementation. Apparently, you would receive money when you become a Muslim. All rumours on the street, words going around covering what lay below. Uncontrollable richness. A country on the move, figuring out its future. A beautiful place. A scary place. A place belonging to the sultan and its people. A place in the world as no other.

Hidden in paradise

Paradise, a little place, your place!

Taking a shower whilst looking over the misty mountains and a palm tree in front of your window. Nicely fresh water. A little bird building his nest in the tree. It feels like paradise I realize while standing in my 1 by 1 bathroom, taking a shower amidst moulded walls with the toilet by my side. My bathroom in my dusty hotel room. A little town in the middle of the jungle. Nothing to do really, yet it feels like my piece of paradise. Walking around, looking, smiling, eating noodles and drinking a cup of milk tea. Little children taking a bath in a huge concrete tub, splashing around and jumping as high as possible to wave while we walk along. Wooden shacks outside the 2 roads that form the city centre. I would call them houses, but they are in such disrepair it would give you the wrong idea. Welcome to Belaga! Welcome to paradise! That is at least one way of advertising it. Of course, then the question arises, what is paradise for you? Is it an endless white beach with palm trees? Is it amidst eternal mountains covered by snow? Is it in the middle of a centuries-old jungle? Or is it in the middle of a flamboyant city?

What if the beach is covered by plastic lying around?What if the glaciers are melting on the mountains? What if the jungle is being cut down? And what if the city is being chocked by exhaust gases? Maybe, just maybe, paradise doesn’t exist, rather it is created by the viewer.

Paradise is all around us, we just need to open our eyes.

WhatsApp Image 2018-07-05 at 22.55.42

I have been living in paradise. Maybe I have had sleepless nights suffering from the heat, maybe I have been eaten alive by mosquitoes, maybe I have had scary animals joining me in the bathroom (read: huge spiders!) and maybe I have seen plastic lying all around, but this time I decided to see the beauty instead. I am living a dream. A dream that can be hard at times, a dream that sometimes tears me apart, but yet a dream I will fight for.

Never did I expect to be in Borneo travelling over water and over land, but yet here I am, sweating as a pig while discovering as much as I can. The kindness of people is overwhelming. I have been treated on several free meals, just because, and people approach me with an honest smile filled with curiosity. In this world of paradise, I am discovering myself thanks to the many challenges, experiences and kind words. Let’s hope that one day I can give back to the world what it has given to me.

Welcome to Borneo!

It felt as if Borneo secretly knew we had some trouble in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, selling our bikes. We were received with open arms, a lot of heat and amazing people everywhere. Hello Kuching! We like you. On our first walk through the city we met a lot of people, fellow travellers, who have been on the road for quite some time. Sometimes days, sometimes months, sometimes years. People travelling in an old army truck, people travelling on motorbike, people hitchhiking and people using public transport. All different means of transport, all different ambitions and all different interests, but all brought together by an urge for freedom. An urge to see the world with their own eyes instead of simply believing the messages spread by the news and social media. Obviously, there are disappointments on the road (as you could read in my previous blog), but the rewards are much bigger.

For the first time in my life, I saw orangutans. Imagine that! And we saw a proboscis monkey. Not to be mean, but dear proboscis, you are quite ugly. Huge, cute, lovely to watch, but a little ugly. These big animals are only the beginning. There are huge ants, colourful beetles, enormous millipedes and the most beautiful butterflies I have ever seen in my life. All hidden below the canopy of century-old jungles. Mind-blowing! To make things even better, we got back the stunning sunsets we were so used to in India. Probably this is common knowledge, but for great sunsets you really need to be at the west side of a place. I never realized this before being on the road. Vietnam, no nice sunsets. Laos, a few above the Mekong. India, the best sunsets, especially along the west coast and in Rajasthan. Borneo, in turn, combines the colourful sunsets with thunder and lighting. A spectacle of nature.

IMG_20180628_185630_2

It has taken quite some getting used to, to travel without motorbikes. Being on time to catch the bus or the boat. Getting places suddenly became more of a hassle. And it is so expensive! It may sound crazy, but no day goes by that we aren’t talking or dreaming about our next big adventure, our motorbike around the world trip! Which bike shall we take? Which route? Will we be able to start some online business before we leave? So many questions and we can’t wait to find the answers the future will bring! The upside of using public transport is that we suddenly have way more time to do small things that had to happen or that we just like to do. Things like getting my blog up to date. And I started to love travelling by boat! Taking you across the sea and further into the jungle. Winding rivers passing along the tiniest villages, hidden houses and dropping you off at a city with no roads connecting it to the rest of the world. Every time I see yet again one of those wooden houses along the water, I wonder what life must be like for the people living there. No roads, just a small boat. A house in the middle of nowhere. A garden. That’s all the eye can see, but hidden behind the walls there are human lives. Stories, struggles and experiences that probably are totally different from mine. It’s mesmerizing to realize that there is not one way of life. It’s just about choosing your way of life! Life doesn’t just happen. Give your dreams a voice, put your plans into words and eventually deeds. Step by step, make your life to what you want it to be!