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Needing a vacation from your vacation

in Chasing Summer/Featured by

We have now been on the road for a little over nine months and our time in Asia is coming to an end. And perhaps it is time: we have after all been here six months. That is more than the half of our time on the road so far this trip. Which is not bad considering that it was never meant to be more than a four week stop over as our bikes shipped to South America.

As our time here comes to an end I find myself welcoming it. Instead of pulling out a list of everything I have not seen (and despite being here six months there is still so much we have not seen!) and rushing around to do it, I find myself growing more introspective. I am just as happy going to a hole-in-the-wall cafe to order a dubious coffee (almost always instant) and to write or read. Or heading to the beach to play with our dog Mango and do nothing else. Instead of rushing about I want to be stationary. Which I found to be a little surprising given the nature of this trip. A year or more on the road traveling from Germany to Newfoundland by motorcycle. Isn’t stationary the very last thing you want to be? And then other questions pop up. If I am glad to be moving on, does it mean I no longer want to continue with the trip? That I am not enjoying it the way I thought I would?

Am I getting old?

No, no and…no

Needing time to regroup and recollect yourself is not only normal but necessary. As for age, we have met much older bikers on the road who show no signs of settling down. “Pension?!” they whisper with a twinkle in their eye as they jump back onto their bike to zoom off to their next destination. They have no intention of stopping; they don’t not even need to go back home to replenish travel funds. Jerks!

So it’s neither age nor a desire to quit. Nor is it because I went from a 650 to a 125, although I will admit my butt does hurt sooner with the new bike. But in terms of finances and fun, the Honda Wave has been fantastic and the absolute right choice for what we did. What I think all this means, is that as one phase comes to its end I need a breather to look back and reflect on everything that has happened so far. My life for the past nine months has been in a constant state of flux: meeting new people and saying goodbye just as quickly, often sleeping in a new place every night, and even the language I speak with my travel companions is not always English.

My life for the past nine months has been in a constant state of flux…motorcycle trips are not vacations, they are adventures.

I was reading a friend’s blog entry about his needing a vacation from his vacation, and it drove home to me what I always say to others: motorcycle trips are not vacations, they are adventures. That means that not only will you want a break from it at times, but at times you’ll just plain need it.

Counter-intuitive?

And yet that seems counter-intuitive. You are living your dream and you want a break from it? A break from what exactly? From not working? From doing what others only dream of? If you share such sentiments out loud it’s normally followed by something along the lines of: “You stupid ungrateful snothead, I’m going to knock you silly!” (actually, the response usually comes in the form of a much more colorful string of words: far more inspired but far less fit for print)

Even the people at the guest house I am currently taking refuge in think I am a little crazy. And it’s not because I talk to the dog (even though he listens with such understanding that I do fully expect him to answer back one of these days). What they find strange is that I am perfectly content to move no further than the beach or cafe, and almost always with a laptop in front of me. This seems incomprehensible. A time waster even. Seize the day and all that – so why am I wasting it? I should pull out that check list and get going! My days in Asia are numbered, and who knows when I will have opportunity to come back!

…motorcycle travel is one of the types of travel where the journey really is the point. And the destination is where you then lock yourself in a room to process it.

This trip is not a vacation. Yes, it is a year off from work, but taking a vacation means taking a break from your reality. It means (hopefully: things can always go wrong) not worrying for two weeks while you see an exotic locale or even stay at home and do nothing that has to do with work. It is a break from the normal and the routine. But for me, travel is now my everyday life. Before we continue on to the third (and final) part of the trip, I want some time to process what I have seen and done. This trip is not a giant check list of individual must-see’s. It is seeing the world. It is meeting people and eating wonderful food, it is seeing the landscape change as I ride though it and not as a series of disjointed images witnessed as I jump on and off buses and trains. I’m not knocking that mode of transport (ok, I am a little), but motorcycle travel is one of the types of travel where the journey really is the point. And the destination is where you then lock yourself in a room to process it.

In the end, it is not that I have taken a break from reality this year, so much as that I have changed my reality. I am not on a year long vacation. I am on a year long adventure. That means dealing with the bike, visas, the weather and occasionally flying your motorcycle off the side of Mongolian mountains. And that is more than okay. It has been fantastic and awesome, and I would do it all again in a second, and yet at the same time it has not been easy. There have been intense highs and lows. The way adventures should be. Adventures push you to your limit, challenge and change you. Or at least the good ones do; otherwise it’s not much of an adventure.

It’s more of a vacation.

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