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Go All Over

From Bali to India to Myanmar
Matt Clark

We file off the ancient bus, our third in three days. Before that we sat on two day- long trains. Backtrack further and it was three flights and two stopovers. We had spent more time looking out windows to ever-changing landscapes, a constant blur of colour, noise and new faces, than we had amongst them.

To locals we must have looked a treat: stale from hours on end in cramped confines, heavy-eyed, slow moving, jetlag taking over, with the only focus a pillow to rest our weary heads on.

Travelling like this, to what your friends and family consider the edge of the world, is unlike any other trip you can take. Days are spent, beginning to end, getting to unspoken places. Sometimes out there at the edge, it takes three times as long to cover the same distance as it would back home. These trips mostly end during the darkness of an early morning in an unfamiliar place. The only constant is the ever-present unknown. The barrage of the new and different is acute. It sharpens senses, so that even language barriers can be overcome. Beyond the familiar day trip or weekend getaway are the experiences that change perspective forever. Out on the edge, we collect memories that last a lifetime.

The barrage of the new and different is acute. It sharpens senses, so that even language barriers can be overcome. Out on the edge, we collect memories that last a lifetime.
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There’s the first morning, when the busy world meets you with a barrage of horns, spices, barks and music. The sounds are an alarm and a wake-up call. Home is a long way away. Or the time a local family extends an invitation for dinner, and conversation flows through differences like water through a net. Their hospitality comes at the cost of a month’s wages and will be remembered for far longer. Even the simple act of sharing a football match in a dark café with locals and lukewarm beer until the early hours of the morning changes you.

It’s about interpreting a tone in a language you don’t speak and getting the universal grin once you are both on the same page. It’s about opening your mind to a country, city or culture that is far more than a negative news report, second-hand story or, worse, a review from someone who simply couldn’t find it on a map.

On my return home, I’ll often tell myself that I’ll be done with these adventures for a while. I think maybe I will enjoy the luxury of English-speaking towns and local haunts. But soon the map in the corner of my office starts to catch my glance. I start to fidget. I begin to dream that I’m back on an ancient bus, winding around high mountain switchbacks with no idea what’s around the next bend.

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