The Grand Tour: Where Do We Go From Here?

Geez, has it been that long since I have posted?  We’re into autumn for goodness sake!  I shouldn’t berate myself for not having had the will or inclination to write.  Well, I have been writing, just not in a public forum.  Writer’s block is a real thing, I tell you, and as I learn more about it and start to work through it I realize that it is less about the actual writing and more about the emotional baggage I have been carrying which has prevented me from putting pen to paper.  Or fingertips to keys.  Man, it’s getting heavy – time to offload!  A few kind words about this blog from friends in San Francisco and New York gave me the nudge I needed to reexamine why we undertook The Grand Tour in the first place I why I decided to write about it.  (Thank you those individuals – I think you know who you are 🙂

Since we have returned from Asia the last few months have been a whirlwind of actions and emotions: reconnecting with friends, fighting with family, picking through what’s left of our clothes and belongings and wondering why we stored most of this stuff, deciding our next steps and arriving at a purpose in life.  After having experienced an incredible six months in Australia and South East Asia – scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef; driving through southwestern Western Australia in a campervan; eating fried tarantulas in Phnom Penh; hiking 7 KM through Paradise Cave, the longest cave in Vietnam and possibly the world; feeding and bathing rescued elephants in Thailand; waiting two hours in blazing heat to eat the cheapest and best dim sum in Hong Kong in a shoe-box sized restaurant with a  Michelin one-star rating – the oft-asked question is “What are you going to do now?”  Derivatives of this question are “Where are you moving back to, San Francisco or New York?”  “Are you looking for jobs?  You must be running out of money.”  And, the ever-reaching all- powerful “When are you coming home?”

Emma kayaking to the next cave hike, Phong Nha Ke-Bang, Vietnam

Home.  Home?  I don’t what that means anymore.  A part of home is in San Francisco where I left my heart years ago and where I have been residing for the last few months courtesy of  good friends Sean, Abby and Larry Norton (Larry is their Wheaten Terrier mix and my buddy).  Another part is in New York City where over four years ago we willingly jumped into the concrete jungle and sucked the marrow out of it, stopping before it kicked us in the teeth (Gotham is still bigger and more powerful than we ; one can never be too big for that city.)  Yet a little of me still calls Australia home;  it is the land of my birth and where most of my relatives still live.  It is also the place where I learned to love Vegemite on toast, put beetroot on a hamburger, understand Aussie Rules Football, support the underdog, and correctly pronounce Melbourne, Canberra, Bondi, Cairns, Wagga Wagga and Geelong.

Flinders Street Station, Melbourne, Australia

For Steve home is England, and England is where he has been for the past two months, working at real ale festivals around the country (oops, I meant to say volunteering, as I would hate to give the pasty-faced hag with a badge a reason to disallow him from entering the country or another reason to hassle him at the crossing) and learning more about the beer world as he helps a friend set up his first brewery in Peterborough.  I must confess I , too, miss England, especially the rambles through the footpaths and bridleways of the countryside, afternoons spent chatting with locals at the pub, the cider, the pies, the sausages and the bacon baps (again, I obsess over food.)

Steve at the Chappel Real Ale Festival

But a new home is calling me and I have been attempting to land there with a job in tow.  I liked South East Asia more than I expected to and I felt comfortable in both the chaos of its cities and the dreamy lushness of its countryside.  For the past two months I have been researching and applying for English teaching jobs in Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Burma and Malaysia (I was an ESL teacher many moons ago.)  There has been some interest although most schools won’t take me seriously until I am back in country and they can meet and interview me in person.  (I guess I don’t blame them for that, really.  I can imagine many schools have been burned by people who have committed from overseas only to get cold feet and stick to the familiar, the predictable, the same ol’ same ol’.)

Controlled chaos in Hanoi

So the next bit of research is on cheap tickets to Asia.  I just need to pick a country from which start and take it from there.  Selecting this country will also give Steve a place to meet me once his beer reverie is complete… or at least until the visa runs out.

In the meantime I will post some vignettes of our travels, including some promised posts on dining experiences. I have had time to think about both the European and Asian legs of The Grand Tour and have remembered some forgotten interesting moments, some poignant others downright hilarious.  Like the time when Steve morphed into MacGyver and saved us from having to pay £250 for a pair of keys that went down the drain on Commercial Road in London’s Aldgate East.

Stay tuned.

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2 thoughts on “The Grand Tour: Where Do We Go From Here?

  1. Emma,

    Great to catch up on your travels. Best wishes on finding your next adventure. I hope it comes easy for you.

    Cheers!

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