Me and Him
Hard to construct a few sentences let alone a few paragraphs on this outgoing and stubbornly brilliant gentleman when I can barely piece together a few words on my overall image of the trip.
The skin of a six year old, the ego of a rockstar on cocaine at a sellout show, and the heart of an untameable beast. Without this man I wouldn’t have come close to experiencing what we did together.
There’s something near impossible about saying “no” to Max. Unsure if it’s the rotten look recieved when uttering the harsh monosyllabic word or if it’s his awaiting and degrading “pussy” response. So most of the time, I said yes.
If memory serves me correctly the times I did say yes resulted in pyschedelics, motorbikes, unplanned and amazing countries, a larger percentage of liver abuse, and to not drag on, almost everything spontaneous and surprising during our six or so months together.
From plane to train, boat to bike, bus to car, truck to tuk tuk, we saw a total of thirteen countries throughout a period that seemed daunting before leaving but now seems like the extended version of some life changing movie.
Max has an unstoppable urge to get out and get going pretty much all of the time, he seeks the stories and gets the stories simply to say he’s done it. Each day had a new goal which is important when on the move, some more startling than others like deciding to motorbike the whole of Vietnam once discovering one for sale in an elevator in Hanoi. But each goal had it’s rewards and that’s what means the most in retrospect. We went out there and did it and I couldn’t have done it without him.
For the first time in what feels like a while I can safely say I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
Thailand x2, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, England x6, Scotland x2, Holland x2, France x2, Italy, Austria, Germany, Belgium.
Doesn’t seem like much when blotted down on this screen but it was. All of it and everything in between. But this second to last post is not about the countries we saw but more the people we met, where we met them, and how brilliant each of these people were.
It almost becomes a toll meeting so many good people while moving around rapidly, I’m unsure if it’s the common ground of travelling that sparks automatic relationship or if it’s the fact that you get so used to the same conversations with each new meeting that you tend to try and derive the best from each person. If you find someone interesting, and you begin conversing, the last thing on your mind is the knowledge of their names or where they’re from. You cut straight to where they’ve been, where they’re going, and why they’re interesting.
The first people we met were 2 girls named Nicole and Jantine from the Netherlands. I don’t know if it was because it was our first real day in another country, if we were culture shocked and feeling alone, or if there was some strange connection between the four of us but we spent 3 days with these girls and made instant promises to reunite. So we did, which is important.
Jantine, Nic, and Max, Thailand.
We then ventured south to Koh Samui in which we instantly connected with an amazing Austrian couple by the name of Martin and Stefanie. There’s not too much more to be said about Martin & Stef other than ‘legends.’ A few months and countries after Koh Samui and Koh Phangan, we reunited with these guys for a week in their amazing town of Landeck, Austria.
Martin & Stef in Koh Phangan, Thailand
The 4 of us high on a hilltop, Ried.
The second group of people we met in southern Thailand was a group of four ‘Cambridgeshireians’ by the names of Jack, Jonny, Sam, and Frankie. We met up again with the four in Bangkok and proceeded to Vang Vieng, Laos to lose our minds together. While Jonny and Sam were in New Zealand they stayed at my parental’s residence in Christchurch so when me and Max found ourselves in Cambridge we had reasons to bludge from all of them. Similar age and similar people, they are now our best bros in the motherland.
The group + a great man named Ben and a dog in Cambridge.
Amongst meeting many more heroes and Heroins, there is one man who stands proud amongst the crowd, with a flourishing beard and an overwhelmingly brilliant personality, Matt Lewis was something different. We met through and American man named Kyle in Kolkota. We had lunch, boarded a train to Darjeeling, then decided we’d spend the month together. Monstrosities occured and men were made men through the trials and tribulations that occur naturally for an unaccustomed foreigner in the sub-continent of India. A great man.
3 of us in Darjeeling
Matt in Delhi
Matt in Leh
We left Matt in Mumbai then met up with our first familiar faces, Henry Dunford Baker and Laura-Jane Leniston. Two good people that we spent good times with, mostly blurry when looked back on.
Us in London
Max and I then split up for a moment. Max made movements toward Croatia and I found myself with a ticket to Leiden, Netherlands, to take a girl up on her offer. Spending a few weeks with Nicole and her family in a city that felt familiar was one of the best decisions made on the trip.
Nicole in De Haag
Seeking a decent Europe expedition, we joined forces with Max’s mother and her team of three, then set out on a journey through time and space… and canals. From barge to car to campervan, we saw, over a month, the sights of France and Italy. We lived like poor mans’ royalty throughout this part of the trip and although lacking in the monetary department I feel we delved into the very alive and healthy modern day heart of these bustling countries. The photo is in Paris and sums up the month accordingly.
Me, Chris, Cam, Flick, and Max
We left Italy, the campervan and the tenacious trio, caught up with the legendary couple of Martin & Stef in Austria for one of the greatest weeks on the trip, then found ourselves in Innsbruck, Austria, watching Thomas Rennie step out of a minibus and into our arms. A month or so was spent with this powerfully positive being and we saw through mostly intoxicated eyes the countries of Austria, Germany, Holland, Belgium, England, and France together. Never without a smile when with this man.
Tom and I in Gent, Belgium
Tom and I in Paris
The final familiar travelling partner I found myself with was my very much missed mother, met up with in the Motherland. Our outing was explained in another post but the woman is the greatest.
Tik and I in her hometown of Gatehouse of Fleet, Scotland
I have yet to and hope never to lose touch with any of these individuals that produced great inspiration and motivation throughout each step of the trip. Highs were high and lows were eventually picked up by someone or something. But as heard from a father before departure, it’s the lows that ignite appreciation for the highs. It’s all much like a wave. No amount of thanks can help to show how much each person meant so I shall instead end on a cheers.
Arrival into a land of short grey clouds, white capped mountains, and all green everything. Surreal is a suitable explanation of the feelings felt upon stepping out of the arrival gate and into the arms of some good people. One of those things with home, it’s always as if you’ve never hopped on an Airbus A380 and flown your way around the world, you’re right back to square one as soon as the bag is off the back and your ass is back into the mould of your favourite chair. Home is the true culture shock, screw the bustle of Bangkok or the incoherence of India, home is the one thing that scratches the senses. You begin to treat the foreign countries and the foreigners you see them with as your home and your friends because you fall into this sort of worldly chap that treats each bed with the same comfort as the one that lies in Te Kura Street, Christchurch. It’s all good and well to feel at home when not because the heart begins to grow fond of new sights and wants to remain exploring but there’s something about a mattress that just matches.
With friends seen, some stories said and some more to come, and with the jet lag slowly and softly departing from this bewildered body of Mein, I feel positively prepared for the next Couplie Countries.
After a goodbye slap ‘n’ pound at Finnsbury Park station, I departed from Thomas ‘Chilly Charles’ Rennie’s company and made movements towards Heathrow terminal 1.
This was not as to depart from the motherland but instead to meet my waiting mother. A warm embrace, a chicken sandwich, and a cookie later, we were en route to Cheltenham to stay with Tik’s childhood partner in crime, Claire.
A few nights were spent with Claire and her fantastic family and before I’d recovered from the festivities that naturally occur with reunions, I was joining my magnificent mother, her brother and his partner in a car towards her hometown to soak up the southwest of Scotland.
A small town near the Fleet river-mouth hosts an extraordinary bunch of extraordinary people in an extraordinary location. Ales were had while ‘ai’s’ were heard and we roamed up and down the gravel roads that once hosted many of the Ormond family, including my creator.
Tom forgot his passport so I went to France on my lonesome.
Arriving into Marseille to the face of a recognisable aunt who didn’t recognise me was a warm event. I hadn’t seen this this relative of mine since the days of expecting NBA deals at Kirkwood Intermediate. We drove out to her house in the village of Cucuron about an hour out of Marseille.
Waking up the next day to news of Rennie already somehow making it to Paris with plans of pick up later on in the day. Post-pick up, we spent a night in Aix-En Provence. Receiving VIP treatment due to cousin connections, the night ended with the duck I consumed earlier being sprayed across the right side of the car on the way home.
After eventually recovering from the vodka induced experience, we indulged in the southern French scenery. Bikes handy, we toured through the near villages and cruised on by the simple life in second gear.
The warmth and autumnal tones surrounded us by day and by night we were searching starry skies for a reminder of home.