A year in the life...
So, it has now been a year since I left the shores of Australia bound for fun and adventure in lands unknown so of course I feel somewhat obliged to reflect on what has been one of the most amazing years of my life and see what has made it such a great experience.
My journey saw me leave Australia and head straight for the brilliant white sand beaches of Thailand, then off to Vietnam to the breathtaking Ha Long Bay, then to Hong Kong and on to the endless karst towers of China's sublime Yangshuo, then I experienced the majesty of the Himalaya's in Nepal, then London in England for a touch of western civilisation, Glasgow in Scotland to see family and the rolling green country side, then to the pristine alps of Austria, Germany and Switzerland, on to the vinyards, alps and amazing forests of France, back to London then of course on to the chaos and contrast of India.
Each and every place I have been has had its ups and downs of course, with being robbed twice and injuring my shoulder being the worst of the downs. But there have been too many ups for anything to really keep me down. I have seen new cultures, seen amazing civilizations both old and new and seen the most beautiful landscapes. I have even kept my brain active with doing my TESOL Accreditation, becoming an Level 1 accredited Thai Massage Therapist, reading dozens and dozens of amazing books, learning how to play guitar alot better, improving my spoken French and learning reasonable amounts of Spanish, Nepali and Hindi and a little bit of Mandarin, Thai and Vietnamese.
But in the end the thing that has made this year what it has been is the people. From the locals to the tourists, the backpackers, climbers, guides, bar staff, chefs, guest house owners, porters, drivers, chai wallas, boat captains and everyone else I have met... but most importantly all the people I have spent considerable time with (there are many and you all know who you are)... the people I have climbed with, shared rooms with, endured trains, boats, rickshaws, buses and planes with... my friends. My year would not have been anywhere near as fulfilling without each and every one of you. My unending thanks and love to you all.
But of course what about the climbing? Well it has been a hard year for me on the climbing front with seemingly endless injuries from cutting my foot open to a minor A2 pulley problem to tearing my shoulder to an infection in my arm... but in between them I have had a blast on the rock.
I have climbed over 400 routes and boulder problems this year on granite, limestone and sandstone, seen climbing mecca's like Fontainebleau, Hampi, Yangshuo, the Swiss Alps, the Verdon Gorge and many more crags in between, gone sports climbing, deep water soloing, bouldering and trad climbing, single pitch, multi pitch and everything in between, bolted new routes and developed new boulder problems.
Have I climbed harder than I have in previous years? No. Am I a better climber because of this year? By a long shot, yes. I have learned alot about climbing this year including how to be patient with injuries and how to enjoy climbing even more than I already did.
So overall this year has been amazing for sooooo many reasons and it's hard to really express just how amazing, but it has without a doubt been one of the best and with my flight to China leaving India in 5 days time for me to move to Yangshuo to live and work as a adventure sports guide I am hoping it is going to be the first of many!
I miss all of you at home and I will see you all someday soon enough, until then Happy New Year and all my love :)
Here are a few more Hampi pics...
A trail of headlights winding their way to Cosmic Cave with the lights of Hampi behind