After nearly 8 months away, i guess it was inevitable that homesickness would catch up with us.
We were in Siem Reap. All geared up for a day at Angkor Wat. Number 1 thing on my bucket list. Suddenly, I was crying over my morning coffee.
Maybe it was the facebook message from an ex colleague about Hendrinks glittery gin, which reminded me how much i missed her, and , in all honesty, gin. Or the picture of our friends baby that will be 8 months old by the time we meet him. Perhas it was because whilst going round Angkor Wat the day before all I could think of was how much my mum, and father in law would have absolutely loved it, or how many photos my mother in law would have taken. Its possible it was that it was my youngest nieces birthday and i was not there, or that i suddenly realised i was going to miss one of my other nieces 18th birthday.
But I do know what set me off crying. A WhatsApp message with this photo
These are three of our best friends. People who were at our wedding in Jamaica. We spend Christmas with them and treat their kids like we do our nieces and nephews. These are people we have known for decades, and in the case of the baldy one on the left, Steve’s best man and someone who he has been friends since they were 4. The last photo of those three together included us at New Years, which was our last night in Britain before we left on this trip. Now, they were having fun – WITHOUT US.
So how do you get past the homesickness? Its likely to hit you at some point and you can’t feel bad when it does. You do have to deal with it though.
This was the point I was reminded how small the world really is. Next thing I know, we’re on a WhatsApp call with said friends, trying to talk them into a festival next summer
There are very few places in the world where there isn’t any wifi. There are hundreds of apps which allow you call people no matter where you are. WhatsApp, Viber, FB Messenger. Also, people will make an effort to keep up with you. My Grandad joined Facebook just to keep up with our trip. Set up a page so people can see what you’re up to. This also ensure that your main facebook page is not consumed with your trip photos etc and allows people to choose to see what you are up to!
I also find just dropping a WhatsApp to my sister & mum and an email to my Grandad helps me feel connected with home.
Next was to send a current pic of us to the friends with the new baby, with instructions to show said picture to little Theo lots so he knew who we were and didn’t cry when he saw us in the flesh. Every baby in Cambodia has cried when I smile at them. It hurts my soul so I can’t have him scared of me too! Sending a physical picture from Cambodia to Southampton is a somewhat time consuming process without technology, but thankfully there are apps that you can use for this too. My favourite is Touchnote, which you can use to send postcards which feature your own pictures. It doesn’t matter where you are, the postcards arrive in a few days and are at a really reasonable cost. We have used these for birthday cards etc throughout our trip
Keep busy and try to stay positive
With operation get over home sickness in full affect off we went to Angkor Wat. Where we spent the day clambering around Tomb raider temples like Angelina Jolie with smaller lips and MUCH bigger hips.
Taking your mind off it is definitely one way to get over it. Do the stuff you really want to do. If it suddenly makes you think about how much someone you know at home would love it, remember they will probably be really pleased to hear about it from you. Who knows; you might inspire them to make the trip themselves.
Now is also one of those few times when you need to absolutely forget your budget if at all possible. The last thing you need to be worrying about is can you afford to do something. If your budget is super tight, think about staying in more sociable hostels where you can always find someone to talk to.
Find familiar things
This one is very personal, and some might vehemently disagree. We find it helps to occasionally seek out familiar things. I can’t tell you how much better we both felt in Kenya when, after 6 months away, we saw recognisable brands in supermarkets or when we found a bar in Thailand that served was HP sauce.
And what could be more familiar than watching our beloved Spurs lose to bloody Chelsea? Even the annoying and unbelievably pissed Geordie behind us in the bar who knew nothing about football was strangely comforting.
Food is good no matter what the issue in my opinion. But this calls for specific food groups. Whenever we reach a new country we make a concerted effort to eat local. Its cheap, the food is awesome (the spicy Snake Steve had the other day being a very obvious exception to this), and it was one of the things we were most excited about when we started this trip. But sometimes, you just need a decent Burger and sometimes you need a meal which does not include rice. Fast food is your safest bet for familiarity. Obviously if you’re staying with a Hill tribe this will be a challenge but in most built up areas there is some kind of fast food available. (One note – in this instance KFC is not your friend as it is entirely different in Asia and may make you end up missing home more!)
The Good News
On more than one occasion on this trip we have discussed how difficult it will be going back to the real world of jobs, responsibility and routine. We know its going to be hard at first. But we were really worried it would continue to be hard in the long term. The fact we miss our friends and family also makes us realise that whilst it will be hard, there are things to go back for that will make the transition easier.
P.S. Sorry about the Baldy comment Andy – Love ya! x