It’s a belated post and for that, I’m sorry. You were worried, I can tell…
It seems the appropriate time, with Halloween upon us, to tell you my dark secret:
I am so, so scared.
Don’t say I never give you honesty.
I started this series of posts at the 12 weeks countdown to lift-off and it seemed so long still to wait. As is always the case, time has flown by far quicker than you’d ever expect it to, and now I’m staring down the barrel of 4 weeks remaining.
I recently read this post from a fellow blogger, describing how it feels just like part of life now, to pack up and move on, to say our goodbyes again and to start from scratch in yet another new country, and at the time I read it I wholeheartedly agreed with it. It made perfect sense to me. But that was a week or two ago and right now I’m in the danger zone. When you pack up and fly every second week, that’s not too tough, you don’t have time to get comfortable in one place before you’re on the road again, but I have this habit (actually, it’s more a necessity for financial reasons) of staying for longer than a few weeks, and a year after I land in each country, I find myself going through the whole countdown again, just like leaving home.
This time last year I was preparing to leave Australia to come to New Zealand for just 2-3 months. Find a little paid work to float me for a while and then back to slumming it on the road to everywhere and nowhere. In reality, I needed more than a float, I needed a whole new start and a bank balance booster, so I’ve found myself here 11 months later with enough money in my back pocket to see me back across the planet in style – shoestring style, but still, more style than a 40hr flight with a stop-over in the ever glamorous Doha.
Leaving Australia was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. It hurt me almost as much as the day I left home. I left pieces of my heart there that I’m never going to get back and I knew that the second I booked my flight to NZ. I knew how sad it was going to make me.
But here, I haven’t grown attached, my heart is firmly in tact this time (or at least what’s left of that over-enthusiastic muscle these days) – So why do I feel so nervous?
What I’m only now starting to realise is that this, my life, will never be “just what I do”, every time I book a one way ticket, every time I hand in a resignation, every time I cull my wardrobe (because seriously, a girl gotta shop, I’d have circled the world six times already if it weren’t for that devilish denim shorts habit), every time I leave a living situation, I am scared.
Scared of what? I don’t even know. Scared of exactly that, the unknown. But it’s that tummy fizzing kind of fear, which is actually a little bit nerves, a little bit excitement, adrenaline, a little bit “what if I forget something important”, a little bit “what if I only meet arseholes and I’m unhappy”, a little bit “what if I get lonely”, a little bit “what if my own company is different now and I don’t like myself anymore”… Pretty deep questions to have to deal with every time I go ahead and just do what I do.
I don’t actively consider all of these things, but I know they’re the questions lurking under the surface, the back of my mind, my subconscious saboteur.
The truth is, even when you live this kind of life long term, and travelling from one place to the next, meeting new people, discovering a new version of you is just what you do, those final moments will always be just as mysteriously nerve-racking as a bungee jump, skydive or that time your mate dared you to pee on Farmer Dave’s electric fence. For some people, it’s a split second of uncertainty, but for me, I guess, it’s about 4 weeks.
Maybe it’s like a break-up, maybe the timescales for overhanging feelings are more relevant to the time spent together than the actual feelings? Not at all true, I know.
I couldn’t say. All I know is I am leaving this place next month and I have no idea whether I’m prepared enough. But I am pretty damn excited to find out. And if it all goes to custard and I have to take a sudden last minute flight home, I think I’ve still done okay for a girl who wanted to be home within 7 months of leaving.
So I’ve gone a little off topic, I’m supposed to be showing off my planning progress. So far we’ve talked about the plan for Fiji, which is completely organised:
The plan for my return to Australia, which is intentionally unorganised:
And in my last post I told you about my plan to volunteer with Orangutans and Sun Bears in Borneo:
I’m getting there…
Where to next?
The problem I’ve encountered here is that I’ve recently broken one of my biggest travel rules: Always travel solo. I have invited friends from home to travel with me through certain parts of the trip, which means that my time frames have to be far more rigid than I usually like to keep them. I’m planning to leave Borneo at the end date of the project, March 17, my next stop will be Thailand and a friend will be joining me on the island of Koh Phangan just in time for the full moon party on April 12th.
After a few days on the island, we’ll be flying to Bankok for a 5 day trip to Chiang Mai – kayaks, temples, Hill-tribes, all sorts of fun times.
My dilemma is that this leaves me with a LOT of free time between leaving Borneo and needing to be in Koh Phangan… Singapore? Malaysia? The rest of Thailand? I’m stuck for what to do with that time. I plan to arrive in Koh Phangan at least a week early and spend some time diving, but that still leaves a few weeks of spare time on a shoestring budget.
Any suggestions for some small, inexpensive detours will be welcome, and I’ll leave you with a link to some beautiful pictures of Thailand which have inspired some of the post-Chiang Mai plan.
“I haven’t been Everywhere, but it’s on my list” – Susan Sontag