Looks like it's the last post on the bugle!
I've totally misstreated my blog and been too lazy to post anything during the last months of my travels. So now that I'm actually home in Finland already (and for a big while too), I've gotta try to tell all the last stories.
Starting with leaving Sihanoukville. On our last night at the Victory beach there was a big party in our guesthouse. Totally unrelated to our leaving but since we had stayed there for so long and gotten friendly with the staff (we even went fishing with them on one occasion), they invited us anyway. It was all about very loud Cambodian karaoke, various types of seafood and endless amount of beer and whiskey. Good times.
Next day Amos and I followed Sigi and Dodo back to Siem Reap. We went to see some orphanages cause we wanted to volunteer in one. It was interesting and the children were adorable, but fortunately in the end Amos and I didn't have the time or the money to do it. Sigi and Dodo did it for a week though and they really loved it. Other than that the thing I remember the most of the last days of Siem Reap was the sweating. And being sick.
Then Amos and I took a bus to Bangkok, from where he flew back home to Israel the next night. Bangkok is not my favourite city in the world, and I was quite miserable to be left behind alone over there before my own flight to Israel 5 days later. On my last days I concentrated on finishing the rest of the souvenirs and other shopping, and, well, being sick. And sweating my ass off. There was a reggae party at the Overstay on my last night in town. That was cool. But when the time came to go to the airport, I was really happy.
I landed in Tel Aviv and after some interrogation at the immigration I was happily back in Amos' arms:)
The place he lives is amazing, a little countryside kibbutz village, Nirim. It really made me feel like home and so did his family and friends. We spent a lot of days around the fields, for example we went to pic carrots straight from the ground and I got to drive a huge tractor! i didn't expect it to be so much fun! One of the best things about being in Nirim was that it felt really like halfway home. I didn't have to live out of my backpack anymore, and Amos and I could spend time cooking, seeing friends and family and watching movies like a normal couple.
We did quite a lot of traveling around too. Our first trip was a 2-day hike in the area of the Golan heights with Amos' dad Miki and brother Yuval. It was good to go for a hike for a change and the views were really nice: the valleys, mt. Hermon and the Kineret aka the sea of Galilee (where Jesus apparently walked on water). The Golan heights it's one of Israel's most important war sights and I spent some time learning about it as we visited the Valley of tears.
Next Amos and I did a little city tour: Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Jerusalem was a really interesting place to see, even for a non-religious person like myself. The old city was beautiful, and it's possible to circle around most of it by walking on the wall surrounding it. The old city itself is divided in quarters of different religious groups, such as the christian quarter, the muslim quarter and the jewish quarter. And obviously there were lots of re-presantatives of all those groups. It was funny seeing catholic ladies, for example, kiss and put their cross to every spot their guide said Jesus had touched. Even I was thinking of Jesus too while walking the via Dolorosa, which nowadays is full of T-shirt stands. Also the West wall, also known as the crying wall, was touching. At night we managed to see Daniel who lives not too far away from Jerusalem and went for a couple of drinks with him. Good seeing him too! Next day we went to the Israel museum, that I actually really enjoyed, both the history and the art sections.
Then Tel-Aviv, where we got to stay at a place of Amos' other brother (one of 3), Boaz. Tel-Aviv was more chilled, we spent some time with Boaz and his fiancee Anat, then visited the old town of Jaffa and the fleamarket, which I obviously really enjoyed:) We also had "dinner" at Max Brenner's chocolate restaurant. Chocolate by the bald guy, so good.
Last trip we did was a roadtrip to the dead sea. The area of it is gorgeous and agonizingly hot desert, and the sea itself is 423 meters below sealevel. Gorgeous and hot. Swimming, or rather floating in it was amazing! The bottom of it is full of huge chunks on salt instead of sand and swimming there feels like the sea is trying to throw you out:) The water floats you so good it's actually quite impossible to swim. It's more like floating and paddling with your arms for speed.
One of my favourite things in Israel was the opportunity to take part in Amos' brother Boaz's wedding! It was the first Jewish wedding I've ever been to and it was really a blast! It was all about dancing and laughing, enjoying ourselves and celebrating the bride ands groom with all our hearts. Plus the food was really nice! Amos and I terrorised the desert table:)
The time I spent in Israel was really good and it was hard to leave after getting such a homy feeling over there. At the same time I was tired at traveling and happy to go and see my family and friends again.
My trip all and all was amazing, the best time ever! I enjoyed enormously the first months of being totally by myself and free to do whatever I want. I think it was a very valuable experience for me and my independence. Although halfway through my trip I started to long for real companionship and someone to share everything with, since the group of people I was with would change really fast everytime when everyone went their own ways. I can't describe how happy I am about meeting Amos and finding that much needed companionship from him.
One thing that surprised and disappointed me was the amount of backpackers in most places. I thought doing a trip like this would me a bit more unique in a way that I'd see real cultures and meet a lot of locals. That was true in some places like Indonesia, and the deserted locations we went to in Vietnam, but in a lot of places I notices that backpacking is just another type of tourism, and I was disappointed to find a lot of locations sort of specifically built for backpackers needs to party, etc. (especially Vang Vieng in Laos). Those places can fun but it's such a waist for 90 percent of backpackers to only see those places when there's so much to find and learn about the real culture of those countries. I get such a turn-off from places built for tourists and making money off them.
I finished my trip 6th of June, almost 3 months ago. Adjusting into being back home has been very difficult at times, and it's also been hard to write this final post, to end the trip in that sort of way too. Now it's done. And my ambition to travel again is bigger than ever!