The New Twenty-One

Five years ago today, I turned 25. I admit, I felt a bit down that day, as I felt that life was slipping me by, and that at 25, I hadn’t really done much. I was single, only in my second professional job, had only lived in two cities, and had only visited one other country – and only Australia at that. I thought that by that stage in my life I should have seen and done more.

Fast forward five years. Still single, and living back in Auckland again. But I’ve lived in three different countries now, and I’ve visited over 30 countries – and more than 20 of them under my own steam. I lived in England and Scotland, I travelled around Europe, I travelled independently around the Middle East, including less-visited countries such as Libya and Syria. I’ve seen rock art in the Sahara, I’ve been to the great bazaars of the Middle East, I’ve walked “that street they call straight” in Damascus, I’ve been to the scenes of major WWII battles for NZ soldiers – Crete and El Alamein.

The last trip was of course the most challenging, riding a bike across the Eurasian and Australian continents. All worth it, to see the old Silk Roads, and to challenge myself in a completely different way. I’ve seen parts of the world that not many tourists ever see, and a different side to countries to that normally experienced by visitors. I’ve seen severe poverty, and I’ve seen extreme wealth – often in the same country. I also pushed myself further than perhaps I knew I could go.

I’ve met many people along the way, and, I hope, made a few friends. Things weren’t always easy, but if I looked around, there were people to help and support me, and I thank all of them.

So I’m happy with what’s happened in the last few years. Does this mean I’ve done everything I want to? No, of course not. But that’s what the next 60 years is for, insh’allah. I’m currently pondering my next major move – trans-America by bike is very appealing, but I like the look of Te Araroa – an off-road walk the length of New Zealand. Not quite complete yet, but getting there. Perhaps a different challenge to the bike. It can wait for a while though.

I went to get a physical check-up today, as required for doing a dive course. The quack seemed to think I’m pretty healthy, no problems there. I blew into the asthma tester, and it went off the scale “Don’t think we’ll bother doing that one again.” I seem to be a couple of kilos heavier than I was when I got off the bike – probably a good thing there, now I’m closer to a healthy weight. Been back at the gym too, the legs are fine, but the arms are so weak!