An Awkward Hello
A few weeks ago the Birth Clock clicked over another year for me, painfully bringing to light that my 20’s are now slipping away from me faster than I would like them to. Being somewhat of a global gypsy these last few years, I am also well used to presentless birthdays, but the token birthday e-mail I received from my Dad was worth any present I couldn’t think of on the spot when Mum asked what I wanted. He ended with the following few words:
“…much love & proud of the way you are carving out your own destiny & not just being run by circumstances.(even if I wished you had finished your university first).”
In introducing myself to the Vagabundo Audience, and as Dad’s e-mail confirmed, the path that has lead to this current point in my life of becoming a ‘travel writer’, is intertwined in my desire to not let my Dad down but doing it in a way that somehow manages to let him down.
To put this path into its context I will start at finishing school. I jumped straight into a trade apprenticeship and eventually finished it after four years that felt like they were never going to end. It was quickly followed by a stint in the Australian Army that saw me serve overseas twice. It was when I was getting towards the end of my second deployment that I made the decision that once I got home to Australia, I was going to leave it again as soon as possible – but this time under my own agenda. I can remember my imagination constantly running wild after hearing Dad’s random stories from when he and five other Kiwis drove a van from London to India in the 60’s. I knew now was the time to forge some of those memories for myself.
The country that has captivated me most has always been Turkey, so I headed there ASAP… via Japan, Canada, London and Greece, from which I then had to fly home from Barcelona… which I reached by travelling overland through the Middle-East and North Africa…
Life-long friendships were made, busses were missed, my senses were introduced to ones they had never felt before, insecurities were exposed and tested, 9 kilos were lost and most importantly biased pre-conceptions of other cultures were tipped on their head. I was really starting to live the saying “The more I learn the less I know”. The liquid nature of backpacking and travel had brought me a freedom I had never experienced.
I didn’t realize at the time, however, that I had become an addict. I thought that trip was the last phase in my coming of age that would then lead into an obligatory life long role of employable consistency and responsibility.
I’ll save the details but in short – that addiction was recognized half way through a Project Management Degree. I realized I didn’t have the desire and/or will power to treat it, so instead I booked a one-way ticket to Vietnam.
The addiction has since lead me to my current location in the incredible city of Chiang Mai, Thailand. Along with developing my skills and goals by being part of Vagabundo, I am establishing an e-commerce business that I hope will allow me to work on goals for my future path – To create sustainable infrastructure projects in developing communities in the Middle East.
The coming few months will see me Heading to two of the three countries that make up North America via Berlin. After that? Well that’s a bridge to cross whose location I’m not too sure of at this point.
What I do know is that I will still be following my inner curiosity of destinations significant for their historic and cultural relevance rather than their ease of travel or token popularity. This curiosity has lead me to walk amongst incredible places like the ruined city of Palmyra in Syria, to the temples of Bagan in Myanmar. It has opened up interactions such as drinking Gin and Tonics with veteran Middle-East correspondent Robert Fisk In Beirut, to getting an inside view of the work carried out by people helping young boys from minority tribes in Northern Thailand break free from sex trafficking. It has allowed me experiences like swimming with Whale Sharks in the Philippines to climbing Indo-China’s highest mountain, Mt. Fansipan, in Vietnam.
These moments count most
Through my continual, unfolding work in progress, AKA my column here at Vagabundo Magazine, I hope to continue to share the places, situations and experiences that result from making sure I always pack the above mentioned curiosity when I head to a new destination, hopefully showing people that its our drastic differences that bind us all together more than drive us apart.
“Sound, sound the clarion, fill the fife!
Throughout the sensual world proclaim,
One crowded hour of glorious life
Is worth an age without a name” – Thomas Osbert Mordaunt