This morning I woke up and pointed my bike in the direction of Singapore. Just 70km to go. I allowed a goofy, big grin, that would startle anyone who saw it, and began to pedal. I was going to make it... I was actually going to make it! I smiled again, and then I laughed.
Two years ago, I had rolled off the ferry in France and pointed my bike towards Singapore, 11,000 kilometres away. The end of Eurasia. I tried to imagine the enchanting cultures I would pass through. I wanted to cycle there more than I had ever wanted anything in my life, though I must admit, I never expected to make it.
Riding the final kilometres today, I retraced my route, flicking through the millions of moments that have accumulated to form this mammoth two year journey. I am surprised by how much I remember, and also how much joy each memory still brings (which is why I believe pursuing experiences and people, and not things is the key to happiness). I still vividly recall the smells and sounds of Istanbul, and the effects of altitude and my huge lust for bacon on Tajikistan's Pamir Highway. Many of the highlights have been times shared with people; it is an amazing thing to form friendships with people living wildly different lives, who share no common tongue and who may be 5 years old or 80! And it takes only minutes to form these bonds; we focus so often on our differences, but people are mostly all the same... People in Myanmar or Kosovo or England find the same things funny, have the same stresses, and share the same dreams. The things that make us different are the very things I search for, and relish about travelling. Snuggling under one blanket with 5 teenage nomads in a Kyrgyz yurt, sleeping in Buddhist temples, and using hand gestures to discuss circumcision with a curious Uzbek Baker; I hope the joy from these experiences lasts a lifetime. It will certainly outlive that new pair of shoes or the latest Iphone.
I exited the Malaysian Border Control, rounded a corner, crested a hill, and suddenly there... there was Singapore. The end of the world. The end of my road. A narrow causeway bridged the sea, and gravity pulled me onto it. Goosebumps overcame my body. A car beeped and stuck a thumbs-up, but I was too paralysed to respond. My hand rose to cover my mouth, I had shocked even myself. When I left England, I had cried because I didn't know how I could be so naïve to think I could ride a bicycle around the world. Now I wept because I had done it. It's horribly cliché, but this was a dream realised.
So, where one road ends, a new road begins? I'm sure you're familiar with my spontaneous tendencies and aversion to planning, so I don't know exactly where I'll be going next. Over the next few days, I'll be deciding between heading straight to Australia, or checking out Indonesia or Borneo first. I'm open to recommendations!