The end of a trip like this brings a lot of sadness but a lot of joy also.
The people, places and sights have been amazing, but home is now calling and a wedding of two friends is approaching fast. I had agreed to walk my friend Mhairi down the aisle and was looking forward to wearing the new suit that I had made for me in Ho Chi Minh city so many months ago.  After my week in Beijing, where I stuffed myself with tons of proper Chinese food, as well as some exotic 'delicacies', not to mention a lot of dietary rubbish I was looking forward to Sunday roast and home cooked food again. Will the suit still fit me ? I'm sure I put on some weight in that last week. Before I could check though I had to get home.
The van dropped me off at the airport where I encountered my first problem. The box was too big to get through the doors. Taking it back off the trolley and sliding it along the floor I was directed to the check-in desk before lugging the box to the oversize baggage counter. The look on the security guards faces was a treat when they saw the size of the box. We had to support it at an angle to feed it through the scanner before they would accept it but once done I headed for the departure lounge and waited for my flight. I was questioned a number of time by people curious to know why I had a bicycle with me, and their reaction when I told them what I had just done was priceless. 13,500 kilometres so far, and a few more to go before I reached home. The flight was supposed to be in three legs but turned into four due to the weather. Almost touching down at Bangkok before climbing again, we were diverted to another airport due to lightning. We sat on the ground for two hours before we got the clearance to head back to Bangkok. I was to stay on the same plane through to Colombo in Sri Lanka, and had a four hour lay over there before going on to Heathrow, so no worries for me. A quick turnaround in Bangkok and the second leg to Colombo went without a hitch. My turnaround was reduced to ninety minutes so no need to hang around the airport for ages, and at least I had a comfortable seat on the plane instead of the hard plastic ones which are the norm at airports.
By the time I landed at Heathrow I had been traveling for 24 hours with almost no sleep. I felt fine but knew there was a danger of jet lag and fatigue setting in as I road home. Passing through Maidenhead a couple of hours later I was joined by another cyclist who asked me where I was going. When I told him I was heading for Cirencester he surprised me by telling me he lived there and was heading home. After a brief discussion I found that the bike he was riding was one he had bought from Shane at Cytek in Stroud, my local bike shop. Small world. We rode the last 50 or so miles together with the offer of a place to stay for the night giving me momentum. The momentum didn't last all the way though. The last two hours saw me flagging badly, with Kevin repeating the mantras 'not far now', 'almost there' and 'just around the corner'. If it weren't for him riding just ahead of me and giving me a wheel to hang on to I would have stopped a lot earlier but we arrived in Cirencester at 7.20pm, eight hours after leaving Heathrow. My body clock was still on Beijing time where it was now 3.20am the next day. Kevin very kindly left me to make myself at home while he went to visit his girlfriend for the night so I made the most of it by ordering a pizza delivery and watching a film until I felt myself dropping off to sleep.
Rising late the next morning I had to get a move on to make it home in time for lunch. I had envisaged a leisurely cruise on a sunny summers day, stopping at a couple of my favourite view points before heading down hill and being welcomed home by my family with flags and banners. Instead I got heavy rain, a headwind and my father standing in the kitchen door telling me 'you can't leave that bike there you know'. Home. Somethings never change.
So after 7 months away riding through 6 countries, covering 13,600 km or 8450 miles, meeting countless people and making many friends I had arrived back where I started. What did it feel like ? Well, I think I will have to wait a while to let it all sink in before I can reflect upon that. But one thing I know for sure is that it won't be the last trip I make of this kind. So maybe that is a good indication of how it feels.
I shall let you know in a week or so.
 


Derek
13/08/2013 11:30

A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.
Well done you! I've loved watching your progress and looking at your fabulous picturers!
I do hope you fit into your suit - Ric told me about it and that you had a curry with him....
Have fun at the wedding (somehow I'm sure you will!)

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