KL & Singapore: The Beginning of the End
“Happiness is only real when shared.”
– Alexander Supertramp (Christopher McCandless), Into the Wild
It’s hard to imagine what this trip would be like without each other. All the incredible, exhilarating, stressful, frustrating, dull, irritating, exhausting and awe-inspiring moments of this adventure would not be the same if we didn’t have each other to share them with. We can laugh with each other about inside jokes; we can reflect together after scary or stressful incidents; we can support each other when everyone and everything seems to be working against us. And most of all, after months of being away from family, friends and all the familiarity of home, we can comfort each other in times of homesickness and travel burnout.
After 8 months of being on the road, we have come to a point where it is a lot easier to reach our threshold and get frustrated very quickly with the aggravations of travel. Taxi/tuktuk drivers who know they have us under their thumb, overpriced food and drinks in tourist hotspots, and the vulnerability of being a foreign tourist in general has gotten pretty old by this point. At the same time, our trip is peppered with brilliant moments of beauty and awe that remind us why we embarked on this journey to begin with – and how much we are going to miss it once it’s all over. Despite our frustrations, and despite experiencing unexpected degrees of travel burnout and homesickness at this point in our trip, we understand completely that the excitement of being home will last a few weeks before we will be yearning for another adventure. That pesky travel bug is hard to squash.
Back when we had decided on our plans for Christmas and New Year’s, we looked ahead to late December as the beginning of the end of our trip. With a homebound date set for early March, we knew that by the time New Year’s rolled around, there would only be a few countries remaining on our long and ambitious itinerary. It’s hard to believe that we have already left Kuala Lumpur, Singapore – and the holidays – behind, with only 3 more countries to go before we head home.
To celebrate Christmas in a tropical country, we felt a good, old-fashioned steak dinner was in order – not least because it reminded us so deeply of home, where Eric worked at a steakhouse that we often visited for special occasions. It was a perfectly delightful evening in Kuala Lumpur, and we made the most of our own private celebration – though friends, family and turkey dinner were sorely missed. It also helped that we happened to receive a package from home on Christmas Day, complete with replacement cards (stolen from us in Nepal) and a few cheery reminders of home.
Singapore offered the perfect setting to ring in the New Year. A notoriously expensive city, it is not typically included on the backpacker’s list of destinations, but we worked it into our budget and decided that a splurge was in order for celebrating the coming of 2015 and for the beginning of the end of our trip.
As the return date of March 9th gets closer and closer, we can’t help but get excited and anxious about what we’ll do and how we’ll feel once we land in Toronto and reunite with our family and our hometown for the first time in over 10 months. The feeling we get thinking about our return home is oddly similar to the one we used to get thinking about leaving for this trip. It’s ironic how that feeling has come full circle after all that we have experienced in such distant, diverse destinations.
“The definition of the truly foreign locale is one that fosters a piercing and perpetual yearning to go home.”
– Lionel Shriver, We Need to Talk About Kevin
Airbnb – “Condo Living in Bukit Bintang”, $96/night for a private room in a condo unit, Singapore – Not Recommended
Explorer’s Guest House, $32/night for a double room with shared toilet, Kuala Lumpur – Recommended
Stephie – Tenderloin with garlic mashed potatoes, onion rings and buttered vegetables, $18, The Steakhouse (KL)
Eric – T-bone steak with baked potato, onion rings and buttered vegetables, $25, The Steakhouse (KL)