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Time’s Up

ship at sea

It’s time to go.

By the time you read this I will be flying from Brisbane back to Auckland, where I’ll tie up some loose ends and have one last ice cream cone. Then I go home.

It’s been eight and a half months since I exchanged final goodbyes with my family at Winnipeg International. Before I disappeared through the security gates, my well-travelled sister hugged me and said, “You’re going to have so much fun.”

I remember thinking “Really?” It’s hard to believe now, but “fun” was not what I was picturing at that moment. That day I was quite nervous about the whole thing — enduring a 17-hour flight, navigating Bangkok’s chaotic streets alone, establishing myself in another country where I didn’t know a soul.

That seems like ages ago.

The gravity of my trip’s ending has been coming down more heavily every day this last few weeks. It’s been a sentimental week, as I seem to be doing everything for the last time: booking the last hostel, buying the last batch of backpacker groceries, confirming my final flight. It really does feel like the end.

It was so much more than fun. I had the time of my life.

Right now Brisbane is grey and rainy and I’m in a 24-hour internet café. I’ve come down with what is hopefully a mild bug, and my head is cloudy. The moment feels very heavy and words are failing me right now. But I’ll just say it feels like the most pivotal chapter of my life is coming to an end.

It doesn’t exactly feel like I’m going back though. My hometown almost seems like a new destination now, because I’ve become a different person.

If I think of how overwhelmed I felt on my first day in Thailand — stepping out of a cab, beyond exhausted, into Khao San Road’s sweltering gauntlet of pushy vendors, trying to look like I didn’t come straight from the airport — it almost seems like that happened to a different person.

It did.

The young man who was so nervous to throw himself into a new country last October is not coming back. He perished sometime between the 4am train to Hua Hin and the ice-cold swim in the Clinton River. I’ve never grown so fast as I have this past nine months. I am calmer, more grateful, more aware. I’m much better able to socialize, to walk into unfamiliar settings without trepidation, to live my life without explaining myself, to bear pain and tedium (thank you kiwifruit industry), to live with few possessions, to flirt (with people and disaster), to try new things on a whim, to be upfront about who I am, and to appreciate whatever I have, wherever I am.

My voice is a bit louder, my posture a bit better. I use words like “mate” and “boardies.” I say “it’s meant to…” instead of “it’s supposed to…”

I am still reeling from the whole thing. Something huge has shifted, and I won’t know exactly what until I’ve spent a bit of time back in Canada. There is so much to talk about, but tonight I’m as dull and dreary as the streets outside.

This is my last post from this side of the planet.

Monday evening, I will be home.


Photo by David Cain

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David June 24, 2010 at 1:40 am

By the time you read this I will be flying from Brisbane back to Auckland

Haha… I assumed. I was bumped from my 12:15 flight to a much later one and I’ll be arriving in downtown Auckland around 1am.

Jess June 24, 2010 at 2:53 am

I love that “mate” and “boardies” are now part of your vocabulary : )

Have a safe trip home, I’m looking forward to hearing your reflections on the trip after you’ve had the chance to gather your thoughts.


David June 24, 2010 at 8:27 pm

I’m sure there are more foreign words that will pop up in my vocabulary back in Canada. Some I’m probably so used to that I won’t even notice. “I’ll be a few minutes late, I have to stop for petrol.”

Lex June 24, 2010 at 6:17 am

You are always home – you’re carrying it inside with you. What an adventure you’ve had! I can’t wait to read about how life continues forward….and inward. Have a good flight !

David June 24, 2010 at 8:28 pm

That’s true. I have felt perfectly at home most of the time I’ve been gone, wherever I’ve been.

JoyChristin June 24, 2010 at 6:48 am

I love love love the photo–it’s my vision of a perfect day!!
If you believe in the mind/body connection..then the mild bug is reflecting some of the emotions you are processing as you release parts of this journey to prepare for your ‘new’ one. May the underlying insight that you share with us in this post be the same for us all..even if we haven’t georgraphically travelled as far as you have..may we all approach life with the same zest for learning, adventure, growth and look back o nthe last year and say–as you have–I’m not the same…
And I agree with Lex..you are always *home*…
Much peace as you celebrate all that you have accomplished and experience your hometown as this fresh new you:)

David June 24, 2010 at 8:30 pm

I took that from the cliffs of Noosa national park a few days ago. I was just walking along and I saw a period sailing ship out there. It was like a 300-year flashback. Then a helicopter showed up and ruined the moment :)

Jay June 24, 2010 at 6:56 am

Welcome home, mate. I’m glad you had such a good trip, learned so much, and had so many great experiences.

And yes, you are a different person. At least in part, it’s our experiences that define us as human beings, and so each new one changes us. You’ve had many different experiences in such a short amount of time that it’s no wonder you feel completely different. You *are* completely different!

So quoth the Wallflowers: “Man I ain’t changed, but I know I ain’t the same.”

Embrace the new you!

David June 24, 2010 at 8:32 pm

Hey thanks Jay.

Yes, my scenery has been changing so quickly, I’ve changed so much in a short time. Long-term travel is a great way to accelerate the personal growth process.

Brenda (betaphi) June 24, 2010 at 6:59 am

I was thinking of you last night, wondering when the tour would end, how the daily meditation practice went, if your goal of nonattachment was met, why there haven’t been more stories about the big and little events of your travels. Thanks for all the sharing you have done. I look forward to hearing more as you settle into the new and improved version of yourself.

David June 24, 2010 at 8:33 pm

I’m sure the learning will continue over the next few weeks as I readjust.

I haven’t updated my meditation progress in a while. It has hit an impasse — I’ll put up the update in a few minutes.

lauren June 24, 2010 at 7:42 am

Great post!!!!

David June 24, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Thanks Lauren.

Tom K June 24, 2010 at 11:14 am

Safe travels, David. Looking forward to your posts on returning home…

David June 24, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Me too. It will be nice to have a stable place to write again.

Brad June 24, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Wow. I am looking forward to taking a journey some day. But as the saying goes, “You can’t go home again”. Probably one of the saddest expressions I know. But definitely not without a positive side.

David June 24, 2010 at 8:35 pm

I know what you mean. Things just can’t stay the same. It’s sad and liberating at the same time.

Tim June 24, 2010 at 11:28 pm

Hey, I totally forgot for a second that you’re from Canada. I’m in Canada right now. Lethbridge to be exact.

I journeyed 20 hours alone in a car to get here. You’ve got a nice little country up here.

David June 24, 2010 at 11:31 pm

Yes I miss it very much. I didn’t know quite how great it was until I left.

Vincent Nguyen June 25, 2010 at 1:47 am

Home is where the heart is my friend.
I have thoroughly enjoyed all of your traveling and personal growth experiences David.
Bigger and better experiences are coming your way David.

Take care and see you back in Canada “aye”? hehe

David June 25, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Aye :)

Hilary June 25, 2010 at 2:30 am

Hi David .. you’ve been on an amazing journey .. and life will be different .. because you have done things so many others haven’t .. you’ll be able to share those experiences with many .. so many doors will be open ..

Enjoy being home – it will be wonderful to see family and friends .. so much to tell and so much to share

Have fun .. Hilary

David June 25, 2010 at 7:04 pm

It will be so great. A friend of mine is getting married next saturday, so even friends who have moved away will be back in town. And Canada Day’s coming up too — it’s going to be awesome.

Ck June 25, 2010 at 5:17 am

Safe travels. Back to the ‘Peg, eh? Good luck with that. I lived in Canada for nine years but never made it out west. I’ve only ever heard about the big Prairie skies. Keep travelling, keep writing.

David June 25, 2010 at 7:07 pm

The sky is definitely big there, because in every direction the horizon is as low as it could possibly be.

Don’t worry, writing and traveling are things I will always do. :)

Joshua Noerr June 25, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Thailand did the same to me when I went. When I stepped off of the plane I said, “What have I done?” But I think we can both agree, it is absolutely an experience I can not picture my life without at this point. I hope it was the same for you.

David June 25, 2010 at 7:09 pm

Yes, that’s exactly it: “it is absolutely an experience I can not picture my life without at this point.”

That there is what I was trying to say with this post. I cannot imagine myself without this trip as a part of me.

Thanks Joshua

Anna June 26, 2010 at 8:33 am


I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts about your travels in NZ. I too left Brisbane three months ago to go home to NZ from a few years of travelling. When I left it was sweltering hot though :) I can’t picture it grey and rainy!

I am looking forward to reading what you share on here about the next chapter.


Karo June 26, 2010 at 5:08 pm


I know whatcha mean about that coming back stuff. I moved, quite impulsively, from here in Michigan to Atlanta, GA for a few months. Didn’t work out, and I ended up in Nashville for a few more. After those 5 or 6 months away.. when I came back home, it seemed like a completely different planet. I found myself feeling lost, in places that I’d known like the back of my hand for 5-10 years. There was a very distinctive discomfort lodged in me, actually. I discovered that I was ten times more intimidated by my hometown than I ever was about moving. I sort of felt like I’d betrayed it, and it would need time to be inviting again.
‘Course, a lot of that probably has to do with the fact that I moved against my family’s wishes, and all of them telling me it was a bad idea. I’m not very good at apologies, nor am I anything short of a sore loser when proved wrong. It doesn’t happen much. So when it does, I don’t handle it gracefully.

David June 28, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Hi Karo. I’ll never forget what happened one time when I visited the town I was born in. I walked up and down the streets, looking at houses I remembered, and everybody was staring at me like I was some outsider, some sketchy drifter. The had no idea it was my town first :) I felt like an alien.

gustavo June 27, 2010 at 11:07 pm

Good Ride. Go and rest now.

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