The end of my Silk Road journey. My final days in istanbul before returning home.

I’m  sitting in a cafe in Istanbul having toast and coffee; a late 2nd breakfast. I spent the morning working at getting my business up and running again as it’s been in mothballs for the past few months.

It’s raining and chilly but I’m happy about this. It’ll help me acclimatise to the Irish weather. I looked at the forecast for Dublin this weekend and it’s atrocious apparently. There’s a ‘vortex’ off the west coast, in the Atlantic, and this is causing all sorts of meteorological shenanigans across the nation. Busts of wind of over 100 km/h, or more!, are promised. Yes, they used the word ‘promised’. Just as well it’s not a threat.

My trip is coming to an end. Tomorrow, I’ll be back home in Dublin and getting used to rain and a massive drop in temperature. I’m looking forward to it but not excessively so. I’ll be happy to get structure back in my life and some idea of what I’ll be doing tomorrow and the next day. I’m also looking forward to my morning pot of Barry’s Tea.

There’s only a certain mileage in hedonism and I’ve exhausted this particular vein of experience, even drained it to the dregs. I have a rich and meaningful life back in Dublin in my beautiful green island and I’ll be glad to engage with it again.

The trip has been amazing and way exceeded my expectations. This is largely due to the Lou and Nick who were, respectively, the tour leader and driver on the trip. Their professionalisation, friendliness, knowledge of the places we were travelling through, flexibility and calm natures enabled a unique experience. Kudos to them.

I don’t think I realise yet exactly how this trip, this odyssey, has affected me. I feel quite different but Dublin seems such a long way and a long time away that I won’t really know until the circle is completed and I’m back home in my little apartment and begin to compile my notes and photos and get some perspective.

Yet, despite all the amazing sites, sights and experiences, probably the most positive result from my 3 months away is the disconnection from my life in Dublin as a busy psychological therapist running my own business and doing my doctoral research. I needed time and space to decompress back into a bigger space. That happened but I didn’t really engage much with the people on the trip. For the first month or so, I didn’t want to talk, think and certainly not analyse or listen to what people were saying. I felt the clutch in my brain disengage with a clunk and my neurons just purred along in neutral gear. This worked great but now I need to re-engage the clutch again and, well, engage. My working at my business stuff today is 1st gear.

Another manifestation of the law of unintended consequences was my use of my 2nd name, Tom, instead of my 1st name, Brian. I mentioned in an earlier post how I found this trick useful on earlier trips to allow me to engage more with the here and now and disengage from the there and then, while on the road. However, I only did this on brief trips where I didn’t really get to know the people I was travelling with. It was different on this trip because, despite what I said above, it was impossible not to form close bonds with some of the people I was with for such a long while. This was great and enjoyable but I began to feel a bit of a fraud when they called “Tom”; I would hear “Brian”. I shared this with them and they understood and it was OK but I decided to allow Tom to settle back into the shadows and not to do this again on long trips. So, Brian is coming home.

I’ve already planned my next trip, in a years time. This will be a bit longer, about 100 days. I’ll be travelling the same way, in an expedition truck, from Nairobi to Johannesburg through Cape Town. I’ll be travelling through Botswana 🇧🇼, Ethiopia 🇪🇹, Kenya 🇰🇪, Lesotho 🇱🇸, Malawi 🇲🇼, Namibia 🇳🇦, South Africa 🇦🇫, Swaziland 🇸🇿, Tanzania 🇹🇿, Uganda 🇺🇬, Zambia 🇿🇲 and Zimbabwe 🇿🇼; 12 countries in all. Details are far from finalised yet but I’m pretty certain that I’ll do this trip. My departure date is end of 2019 so I’ve a year to plan, save, research etc. Watch this space!

I’m off  now to walk across the Golden Horn via Galata Bridge and set foot in Asia again for the last time. Who knows when, if ever, I’ll visit Asia again. I’ll have chai and then walk back again to my hotel to do some more work and to start packing, ready for tomorrow. My plane leaves at 2.30pm and arrives in Dublin at 4.30pm, all local times. I catch a shuttle bus from the hotel straight to the airport so no hassle.

That’s about it, possums. As the song days, This is the end, my friend. Until the next time…..

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