It is now four months to go before we finally leave Qatar for good, Keith is approaching 68 and is very ready to retire. We’ve sort of agreed to retire in 2015 and we have even discussed the exact date of our final day of working with KEO in Qatar. The big question is where should we go after Qatar?
“And the danger is that in this move towards new horizons and far directions, that I may lose what I have now, and not find anything except loneliness.” ― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
For many people life may be simple, once you are finished as an expat, then you just go home…. as Keith says, “ride off into the sunset….” But for us, this is “the question”, where is home…? Going ‘back’ to Indonesia could be an option for me, as my Mom, my sister and my brother are still back therevin Indonesia, and I am sure they would be delighted to see me back home. But my real home is where Keith is, like Tina Turner once said in her interview on her home with her German partner:”…. wherever he goes, I go,”… I guess that’s my answer to ‘home‘, wherever Keith goes, I go.
Well, not that simple; this is where the real problem come up, Keith’s home is not in Indonesia, and he thinks his home is in England, but he has nobody in England, all his kids who he loves other than me, are all in Australia, at the other end of the globe. Indonesia maybe close to Australia, but, he is an alien in Indonesia and Australia, and his kids are grown ups and they have their own life and family to attend to. They don’t need him anymore!!!
Believe it or not, language is the key, which means where ever we go, both of us should be able to operate in the new place which is very difficult when you don’t speak the common language the local speaks. Thus, for Keith living in Indonesia, is too hard, as he won’t understand the common language people speak.
So, What is the plan?
As we already narrow the option or rather the destination to going to is only the UK; the question now is how do we get to UK. As they said: “… there are many roads to Rome, the same thing in our case – the travel bugs in us told us that there are several options to get us to UK. We have been talking about how to go ‘home’ to UK with several options for more than a year now:
The first option/idea was was to travel back to UK with a car bought in Doha and drive it through Middle East: from Qatar – Saudi – Jordan – Syria – Turkey – Bulgaria – Romania – Serbia – Montenegro – Bosnia-Herzegovina – Croatia – Slovenia – Austria – Germany – Switzerland – France and finally UK.
But there’s a problem, the car that we should have bought in Doha will be a left hand steering wheel which is OK for Doha as well as driving through Europe, however, to drive it in UK would be odd, as the UK drive on the left hand side of the road and thus you drive with a right hand side steering wheel. Thus buying a car in Doha and using it later in the UK would not be practical.
Second option would be the same route but using public transportation, just like what I said in my Bucket List – traveling overland to UK from Doha, but instead of driving, we were thinking of taking the public transportation to UK. I know that there are very extensive rail network through out Europe including Turkey, which means it should be easy to get to Bristol (where we are going to build a home) from Istanbul.
However, from Doha to Istanbul, this could be the real adventure of taking the public transportation. Yes there will not be a railway connection, but although it’s uncommon, there’s a public bus that connects Doha – Riyadh (in Saudi), and from Riyadh to Amman (in Jordan) and from there on, at least there’s a railway route from Damascus (Syria) to Istanbul. I bet connection from Amman to Damascus could be done either by public bus or by train. The main problem with this option is that those areas are hostile, especially now with the ISIS issue. I don’t think we are that crazy or that brave to cross that area ourselves.
Third option come up when suddenly our daughter who live in Sydney (Australia) wanted to travel to South America for her 40th birthday. This gave us idea of forgetting option one and two of traveling to Europe overland, and do a bit of a detour. That is fly direct to Australia, and do baby sitting for her 3 sons who by then will be 5, 3 and 2 years old, for 3 weeks, then travel around Australia, the Pacific islands and maybe New Zealand, before we then travel around Indonesia for 6 month to a year. After that we would travel back to UK through South East Asia, Far East Asia and taking the Trans Siberia train back to Europe and then finally UK.
I must admit, the last option sounds very ambitious, and yet I already started to collect all the information required to do this as well as preparing the visas, including buying the guide book for exploring Indonesia as well as South East Asia. I already have the Australian visa, that enables me go in and out Oz several times for a year.
With technical issues of traveling eastwards sort of already prepared, there’s this mental issue and other technicalities that seems difficult to be coordinated:
- Are we really ready to be on the road all the time for more than a year, living out of our suitcase? we are not young anymore. Some more mature traveler we knew through the net did not do that. Yes, they travel long term (more than 2 months solid) but from time to time they go home, wind down before the go off again on the road.
- The children that we were supposed to look after and the reason we travel East, were still too small to be separated from their mother. This was proven when we were there 3 months ago, they are still very clingie to their Mom and difficult to handle. Having said that, Amy (our daughter) could not decide whether she really ready to leave her 3 babies for a long holiday with her husband.
- By the end of the day, I need another visa to enter UK as his spouse, which I think we need to pay attention to this matter as the requirements are not as easy as getting a visit/tourist visa to UK.
With the last issues coming to surface, the fourth option is to fly to UK direct from Doha, with all our belongings as a normal repatriate person for Keith, as for me, I need to apply ‘spouse visa’ to enter UK.
However there are a slight complications:
- Our flat in Bristol is rented out and the tenant wants an extension up to 2017. The good news is we can keep on traveling up to then; bad news is we have no place to put our belonging except renting a storage for more than a year???
- Visa application to enter UK as a spouse requires a lot of things including English language certificate as well as the process to do that will take 3 months before they can come with a decision to grant me the visa or not… the problem is, we plan to enter UK on the 11th of April… we may not be able to reach the visa deadline!
As we are approaching the last 3 months in Doha, we still don’t know what to do… or (this is where the fifth option coming…) just stay in Doha for the next 10 years…???? 😦