the more you know the less you know

I am back in the UK, sat in my Mum and Stepdad’s dining room drinking a cup of tea and staring out the window whilst listening to the birds sing outside in the garden. It’s already a far cry from the noise of horns and general carnage that have accompanied me on and off for the past five and a bit months whilst spending time across Asia. You forget just how noisy India in particular can be – and that’s just the music played between overs during the cricket! If I am honest it’s just lovely to have some peace and quiet after a twenty three hour door to door journey from Chennai to Bristol via Dubai and London Heathrow a couple of days ago.

I haven’t really thought a great deal about what is likely to be a last entry. The one thing that has struck me as a natural subject is to write a bit about what I have got out of this trip on a personal level. After all, if you go away round the world for several months by yourself and pretend not to have learnt anything then you are a liar. One of the biggest things people like to say about travellers is that they are going away to find themselves. Before I went away I thought this was just bullshit. Reflecting now, having done what I have done, seen what I have seen and experienced what I have experienced, I still think it is bullshit. I know I am still pretty much the same opinionated, reasonably confident and up for a laugh person that I was before I left for this adventure. That in my opinion is a good thing. I liked who I was before I left and still like myself now. And I’m certainly not ashamed to say that. Is it not true that if you cannot like yourself then you can’t like anyone else?

So what have I learnt then? Well I do have one major lesson that has struck a chord me over the past few weeks that I would like to share. As I just said, I’m pretty opinionated when it comes to all things life. This very blog is full of my opinions and it’s cool whether people agree or disagree with them. The one thing I do try and make sure is that if I have a strong opinion on something, that I have some evidence to back it up. There are too many people in this world that talk crap on subjects that they really don’t have a clue about. Which brings me on to my lesson – the more you see of the world, the less you know. This may seem an odd statement so I’ll try to explain what I mean.

When you live in a small city, town or village and only leave that comfort zone every once in a while for a family holiday or a weekend break, you live a very secluded life. Now, before I go any further I just want to emphasise that there is nothing wrong with that. It wouldn’t be my choice but I respect anyone that makes a decision to take an ‘easy’ option of leading a quiet life. My point is that if you live in the same place all your life, work in the same job, visit the same pubs, speak to the same people and walk or drive the same roads, then naturally you are going to know everything there is to know. That is your world and you profess to know everything. Travelling (and I don’t mean a two week break in Magaluf) opens up a whole new world. A fascinating, beautiful, confusing and infuriating world full of different religions, attitudes, cultures and people. By stepping away from that comfort blanket of a quiet home life and putting yourself in the middle of nowhere is an incredibly uplifting and rewarding experience. It makes you realise that the world is such a massive, diverse place that is worth the hardship sometimes entailed in order to view it. Travelling definitely broadens the mind. I know that’s one of the biggest clichés knocking around, but it is true.

I’ve also learnt that I much prefer travelling in the company of someone else. When I set off I was comfortable in my own space, not realising that as time wore on I would become wearier and wearier at the prospect of having to sort everything out by myself. It’s the simple things. Hot and bothered from a sweaty walk through Kuala Lumpur the other week I found myself struggling to find the energy to do something basic like queue up for a ticket for the monorail. I walked off to get a drink, only to find on my return that Steph had purchased me a ticket. My spirits were instantly boosted from the fact I had someone alongside to help me out. These simple tasks over a long period away, trying to communicate to someone who speaks broken English what you require can be extremely frustrating. Surrounded by several dozen cricket mates in India ensured that the daily arguments with tuk tuk drivers over a fare could be shared equally. I suppose you could say that I’ve become much less controlling, quite happy for others to make decisions for me from time to time. Experiencing where you find yourself, whether good or bad, alongside a travel buddy also gives a greater feeling of satisfaction. They don’t have to be people that you will necessarily see again, such as the several dozen I shared the experience of being on the top of Mount Kinabalu with as the sun came up. It’s just that feeling of seeing the happiness on other people’s faces, enjoying seeing what they are witnessing just as much as you are. Having someone there to wax lyrical about just how great place is helps keep that feeling fresh in the brain. On the flip side, if a place comes across as a shithole then you can both have a whine and a moan together about it. I’m not sure me or Dave would have got through Calcutta as easily as we did had we not had each others company! I still had a great time for the majority of the times I was travelling on my lonesome, but I definitely didn’t get as much out of these times as I did when in the company of friends, old or new.

Another question that gets thrown about a lot is what do I love about travelling? The one thing that sticks out that excites me more than anything else is when I stumble across a place that has great natural beauty. It could be a simple thing, like a bus journey through Cambodia’s stunning rural countryside or some morning mist collecting on top of a mountain in Thailand. Perhaps sipping a cold tiger beer on the beach in Langkawi whilst watching the sun go down, ending another perfect day. Even the sea crashing into the cliffs whilst driving along the Great Ocean Road in Australia or taking a motorbike ride through the winding roads outside Nha Trang, Vietnam. Basically I just love being in places that the world has created and humans have yet to ruin. They tend to be places that make day to day strife seem so far away and unimportant. I also love watching the world go by. Watching people go about their daily lives; shopping, socialising, working or even in some places simply surviving – it’s a fascinating world out there.

There have been far too many highlights to list them all. Ones that stick out include winning the Ashes in Australia which was undoubtedly as good a time as I have had in my twenty five years on this planet. At the same time getting to spend time with Loz in three different states ‘down under’ added so much to the Australia experience. I’ll be eternally grateful for her and her families generosity over Christmas. From a travel point of view no feeling came close to the matching what I felt on top of Kinabalu. Another cliché here, but I literally felt on top of the world. Meeting the incredible kids at CCH with Fred in Phnom Penh was a hugely uplifting experience. Seeing how happy they were at our presence and our willingness to play a simple game of chase the bouncy ball with them was remarkable. Chilling out on the beautiful isle of Gili Trawangan after the hardship faced in getting across Sumatra the previous week gave a great feel of self fulfilment. Likewise, challenging myself in going back to the south of Mumbai, a place that gave me nightmares, only to come through that gave an equally high sense of satisfaction.

There have been low times too. After all, five and a bit months away from friends, family and familiarity is bound to throw up sad times. That first week alone in Vietnam after leaving all my cricket mates and Loz back in Australia so soon after my ‘best week on earth’ was as tough a time as I can recall. There was an incident back home during the Adelaide test that nearly made me cancel the whole trip – thank goodness I didn’t as it has all turned out fine.

It feels slightly odd writing this. Hereford Rich has come to an end, at least in its current format for the foreseeable future and that is quite a sad moment for me. I’m thrilled to be back, reunited with family members on what is a special time of the year (yesterday was a family meal for Mum’s birthday) plus the thought of having several weeks, as opposed days, to fit back into what can be classed as a normal life. I know for a fact that I made the right call in booking that Emirates flight ‘home’. There maybe one or two more entries if I feel the need to get more off my chest, but for the time being this is the end. Thanks to everyone who has contributed whether it be commenting on here, emailing me or a simple ‘like’ on facebook. Even those that haven’t, I hope it has provided you with an insight of what it has been like to follow a dream and live it out. If anyone out there is stuck in a bit of a rut and fancies a change then I would recommend packing everything up for a period of time and hitting the road. It’s a big wide world out there and despite what you might read in newspapers or watch on TV, it really isn’t all bad. It’s there to be explored and I’m already looking forward to my next adventure – whenever and wherever that maybe.


7 Responses to “the more you know the less you know”

  1. 1 Donna
    March 9, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Well Rich you certainly have grown over the years of my knowing you but none so much as the last six months…..very enjoyable read and lovely to know you got so much out of it. xx

  2. 2 Martin
    March 9, 2011 at 4:54 pm


  3. 3 Loz
    March 9, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    I’ll think you find that it is if you cannot like yourself, then no one will like you, rather than you not liking anyone! :p

    Great blog as always, so many things ring true to me from when I travelled!

  4. 4 Martin Chapple
    March 9, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    It’s been a privilege to share in the ups and downs of your travels and I think you have written a brilliant blog…a shame to see this particular train come into the station! It is great to have you home before you move into your new gaff, and I am looking forward to the golf activities together!

  5. 5 donna
    March 10, 2011 at 8:01 am

    I am going to miss reading your Blog very much including wondering about and trying to imagine and understand your latest adventures..if someone asked me what struck me most about the blog, your travelling and you returning I would tentatively suggest that for me…not having been a ‘traveller’ meant it is hard to imagine that experience and your blog, and particularly your openness and excellent prose helped me share your travels…but more than that…what moves me is your humanity and in that your myriad of feelings and thoughts which you show the reader…and at your age I lived in a world where ‘travelling’ was barely possible as a concept never mind actually doing it and ‘blogging’ was a concept and experience in the future….yours and mine … into which we both have travelled….! Thanks it has been brilliant…

  6. 6 Pat
    April 5, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Fantastic blogging althrough your trip buddy and it was great to be part of it as well .
    Pat ,,

  7. April 14, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Enjoyed reading your blogs. I was out for all 5 tests and just wasn’t ready to come back. Asia would have been an excellent addition to the trip as I really want to see Vietnam and Cambodia before they get too commercialised. I trust the trip was money well spent as you will never eradicate the memories. I am of to SL next week for a bit of a ‘recky’ prior to next years tour, looking fwd to it !

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