The time had to be now, it was time to leave for 1.2 years of travel
Almost as soon as I got back from Chicago I began to plan for my next journey. I think we all knew this was inevitable. When I arrived home some of my experiences began to play on my mind, you have these experiences abroad that change the way you think, your exposure to new sights and people can alter you in many ways.
Now you return home and realise that there’s only two sets of people interested in what you have been doing; your parents and other travellers. I’m not sure why this is and I’m almost certain this is a suffering of modern ideals. I remember when growing up many adults would tell me a story of a trip they had been on or an adventure and it would inspire me, my imagination pushed to far away places, of lonely forest paths, riding camels across the deserts and sailing the great oceans.
However now this seems lost to me and although at this point I had only been on a few small trips I had already began to notice it. Most people don’t like talking about traveling unless they are themselves travellers. Bringing up stories of adventure seems mostly to stir up feelings of resentment and a challenge is posed to someone’s closed-mindedness.
Over the past 6 months (I’m back in England now from my trip) I have become a heavy reader and lots of new and innovative ideas of mine stem from them along with a variety of good advice, quotes and stories. However the quote that comes to mind now isn’t from a book, it isn’t really from anywhere powerful or historical. It comes from Karl Pilkington on an idiot abroad, a tv show about a modern day homer simpson traveling the world for the first time. He talks about a famous saying of a toad trapped in a well. While down there it only sees part of the sky but if it was to climb out it would see far more of the world.
For me this is the simplest way to describe traveling, it is ultimately an endless new experience albeit fraught with danger and the most up and down way of life you ever knew. Karl had never left England. He reminded me of most typical Brits and prior to going away myself I would chuckle at his endeavours as he struggled his way round the globe. Why am I telling you this?
Well in the end Karl loved traveling, after all the doubt and not wanting to be removed from his comfort zone he ended up going to a wealth of new countries, wrote a number of travel books and even went on to make 2 more tv series. Now I can’t guarantee you what kind of a person traveling may turn you into but to me new experience is always something to be strived for. If you set out with a desire to learn, to discover and not to gain or travel to ride the various hits of dopamine around the planet then your heart is in the right place.
I now hardly ever talk about traveling or at least I try not to and it’s quite sad really. When your on the road or your in other countries abroad people are fascinated to learn of your story. Now being in England many people are almost disconnected from me, even the notion of talking about going to a far away destination makes people shut down. Maybe it appears that I am being arrogant in their eyes but to me it is the best experiences that I have been witness to and why would you want to talk about anything other than what your passionate about? I had this thought in mind after my few short trips to Shanghai, Germany and Chicago but I knew this was where I wanted my life to be heading.
Once you begin traveling it’s pretty hard to stop, like trying to not eat the entire packet of jaffa cakes kinda hard to stop. I was willing to accept that I would experience more disconnectedness when I returned in order to see more of the world and most of all see if there was others like me with a desire to explore and escape the rat race of modern life. I wanted real experience not going to work, drinking in the pub and spending my whole life trying to buy a home.
I sat at home and this idea filled my head. It was a childish urge that needed to be fulfilled. I was kicked out of school from an early age and had worked as an apprentice chef for a while followed by moving from one hospitality job to the next. Over time I had saved a decent amount of money along with my pay, selling off some of my stuff and various birthday money over the years. I had everything I needed, the mindset and the funding behind me to go for a trip so why was I still sitting in England? Something was holding me back, this long-time dream had been hesitated on for so long that it frightened me, I needed something to happen that would shock me into action.
In life we often have bad experiences that make us feel pretty damn right awful but as I get older I realise they are completely necessary and usually bring about more change that you could of brought upon yourself. These temporary sufferings challenge your sense of identity, they question your narrative and pull you out of the repetitive plateau you have got yourself into. So what happened to make me take the final action and snap me into gear? I broke up with my girlfriend. Oh dear god it felt like shit but my memories of it are now forever bitter sweet. I had no reason to be in England anymore, in fact with my ex-girlfriends house being situated on the road next to mine I didn’t want to stay at home anymore. The final decision was made for me, it was time to go on my biggest adventure yet. I planned to travel back to China first and then onto a childhood dream of mine. Australia!
I had no idea how long I would be gone for although is hindsight I definitely tried to plan the trip too much. My parents held a farewell party for me at home where different family members, old teachers and some of my work friends came to say goodbye. I had a bright blue cake with a koala on the top, my buzzing excitement bubbled over trying to escape. To finish the day our old washing machine man took me in his flash new car at top speeds along our local country side roads, I packed my bag for my big adventure and took my dog for one last walk as I wouldn’t see him for a long time.
In fact in my head I wasn’t sure whether I would be coming back. My parents took me to the airport, my bag weighed a ton. It was time. I waved at my parents, my mum was very emotional about the whole thing and off I went. Little did I know how much this trip was going to change me.
In next week’s blog I’m going to talk about arriving in back in China, what a country to visit again! If you would like to get exclusive updates and support my world walk at the same time please check out my Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/expeditionjosh