Almost 1200 hours since we left New Zealand. 

I landed in London with my best girl by my side 41 days ago now. 41 days. It feels like yesterday and forever ago all at once.
I’m going to write and write and write until I can’t think anymore. This might get long. If it does I’ll split it up. Promise.

58 days ago I handed in my swipe card and left Parliament through the public entrance. After 6 years of working in the complex it was a strange, sad feeling.

  

The following week passed in a blur of packing and storage units and farewell dinners. It was one of the strangest, hardest weeks of my life. But ultimately, adventure and wanderlust win out.

  
Our alarm went off at 3:30am on a Monday morning. We said a sad farewell to our cat and the best flatmate in the world drove us to the airport.

(seriously – she even snuck heartfelt presents into our bags. How fucking sweet.)

We queued with our enormous bags with a crowd of Australian waterskiiers returning home and one Greek Orthodox priest. It was a surreal morning.

  
Despite having a man of god on board, the flight to Australia was one of the most turbulent I’ve ever experienced and oh man that was just not fun at all.

Hitting the heat of Bangkok was almost a relief after the crisp sterility of plane travel. That lasted for all of about 5 minutes and I was relieved to be in the back of an air conditioned taxi driving into the middle of Bangkok as the sun set around us.

  
Both my girlfriend and I have spent time in Bangkok previously (her step-father is half-thai) so ticking off all the sights was not high on our list. We wanted to visit the malls, the forensic museum, eat a lot of thai food, drink a lot of iced coffee, and maybe visit a couple of temples.  

 

  
We achieved everything we wanted to and more – I think we had iced coffee at least twice a day? It’s one of the best things in the world. We also watched Fast and Furious 7 which was an excellent and important piece of cinema.

   
 But my favourite thing we did in Thailand was get out of Bangkok. My girlfriend’s Thai family have a guest house in a seaside town called Prachuap about halfway between Bangkok and Phuket and we headed there for two nights.

  
Prachuap combines all my favourite bits of Thailand, takes out most of the tourists, and has super cute monkeys you can visit.

(There are also terrifying monkeys you can visit and you should NOT get the two confused)

  
We borrowed bikes from a cafe and despite the fact I hadn’t ridden one in actually 20 years, it turns out you really don’t forget so we spent our two days in Prachuap cycling around like a goddamn Wes Anderson movie.  
 

One morning we climbed 396 steps up a hill to an abandoned monastery, fighting off decidedly unchill monkeys with selfie sticks (no, actually) (they were the terrifying monkeys) all before like 11am? We swum in the sea then ate lunch at a place which offered Shrimp Explosion and Taewpo Incubation Mix (to be fair, the food was delicious)

  
Our final evening in Prachuap was spent at the local food market where my girlfriend’s Thai family introduced us to their friends and bought us so much food. Just, so much food. It was all delicious.

  
The minivan we took back to Bangkok was possibly one of the most terrifying rides of my life. It was four hours of highways and changing lanes and no indicating and using the verge as a lane. I needed to close my eyes a lot because, well, they know what they’re doing. And we made it back to Bangkok in one piece.

The flights from Bangkok to Dubai to London were extremely stressful. For some reason, despite leaving more than enough time before getting to each gate, we ended up running and almost missing each of the flights. I don’t recommend it. 

But, on the other hand, when you ask for a wine with your meal they give you two, so Emirates is alright by me, overall.

  
All of a sudden we were in London. Separated with my Irish passport and her New Zealand passport, there were a nervous few minutes before we were spat out into arrivals where my girlfriend’s brother met us and helped us wrangle our giant bags onto the tube.

  
I was so excited. I still am so excited. I’m in my favourite city in the world with my best girl and I can’t quite believe my luck.

  
On our first full day in London we had lunch 36 storeys above the city.

  
Our second full day in London we had to haul our bags which just seemed to keep getting heavier and heavier from one end of London to the other. We used the tube and well, suffice it to say we decided we would NOT be doing that again before we leave.

I rented us an AirB&B studio in Stepney, forgetting that 10 minutes from a tube station is at least 5 minutes too far, and that the DLR is a pain and a half. It was a long week. 

(Also, the bathroom had taps shaped like dolphins, with one red eye and one blue eye to indicate temperature and they were the worst things I’ve ever seen)

  
The weather packed in and it was colder in London’s spring than it was in Wellington’s autumn. “We’re heading into summer” I’d told my girlfriend. I was perhaps a bit optimistic. Besides, anything after a week in Thailand is going to feel relatively icy. 

The rain didn’t help my rationalisation.

  
By the end of the first week I had shown her pretty much all my favourite places – the Tate Modern, St Paul’s, Borough Market, and we’d discovered new things of our own (like Porky’s BBQ in Camden).

Best of all we found a flat. We could see an end to living out of suitcases.

  
Our plan had always been to get to London, spend some time getting our bearings, and then take off for a road trip around the UK for a week so, dear reader, that is precisely what we did.

  
But ah, I wrote that and it’s super super long. So I’ll post that tomorrow.

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