There are many different people inclusive in the travelling spectrum, from soulful hippies searching for meaning, to disgruntled students hoping to find themselves. I remember when I first decided to set off. I didn’t think anything through at all. I had a decent career in England, a flat and a car, but mostly I had a life. My friends and family all meant a lot to me and travelling had always been in my heart but never in any view other than trips and holidays. Just the same as everyone, I encountered enthusiasm, jealousy and general misunderstanding. A lot of friends believed I was abandoning them and took my trip personally. You see, I didn’t plan at all, I got drunk and booked a ticket to Bangkok, only realizing the implications during the morning hangover. It was the best choice I ever made. I found my soul mate, grasped my love of different cultures and discovered my love of adventure and exploration. After 18 months running a hostel in Malaysia I planned to continue this life for as long as possible, so, from Holland as I write and 16 countries in a year behind me, I am preparing to set off forever, only stopping occasionally to work and save. There are many reasons why you may personally want to travel but, like every experience, you must do it to truly know if it is for you. From dodgy hostels to shitting in a hole in the jungle, it isn’t always the easiest time. I have one story about my highest point and one about my lowest.
Naturally, I will start with the highest (apart from meeting Senna 😉). The place was Nusa Penida, Indonesia. I had travelled there with my two friends Adam and Evy and explored every place I could see at every moment. I was high on life and a little stupid. We went to a beach in the middle of the day and sat drinking in a beach hut and swimming occasionally. To the right of the beach there was a few broken down old concrete stairs, which disappeared into the cliff side, and I decided to see what was at the top. I set off alone, which is not always the smartest idea, and started the climb. Towards the top I became extremely tired and sweaty, but I desperately wanted to see what was there. To my disappointment there was nothing at all apart from a view and a pink arrow spray painted on a rock pointing down the other side of the cliff.
My investigative self had to know where the pink arrow directed me to and there was a slight opening in the jungle which I descended into. After what seemed like a life time, covered in spider webs and dirt on my feet, I decided to call it a day. I was very tired and the path did not exist much anymore which, I felt, meant that I was going nowhere. As I stopped to catch my breath and prepare to climb back, I heard the slight flow of the sea. I mustered on, only to arrive in the most memorable image I will ever burn into my brain. I was on a beach, in a cove, completely alone. I heard nothing, saw no sign of human life whatsoever and the only thing I could feel was peace. Now think about this for a second. How many times have you been truly alone. The world could have ended right there and I would have no idea. There was no plastic, footprints or sound, other than the water. Nothing but me and nature, comforting each other in the knowledge that, at 30 years old, this was the first time in my life I was truly free.
Now for my lowest point, and I don’t want to sound lonely or pathetic, when Senna had to leave. Travelling can be a lonely experience, you meet so many incredibly different people, but these encounters are usually only for a short while. You never really get to know someone, but you do get the best of people without all the bullshit. When Senna arrived in Penang she came as a workaway at my hostel. After an incredibly short time together, she changed her entire travel plans to stay with me. Four months down the line she had to return to Holland to work and pay for her flat. We had a plan to meet in Australia on a working visa six months later, and decided to take a final trip together to the Cameron Highlands to say goodbye. The trip was amazing and we spent most of it on some amazing hikes and taking in some unbelievable views.
The problem is, whenever you make a connection, the chances are you will have to leave them or visa versa. Travelling alone certainly has its downsides. Luckily for Senna, I saved every penny from that moment and joined her in Holland four months later. The rest is history with a permanent gaze on the future.
So whether you decide to travel alone, travel for freedom or travel for experience. Remember this one thing, I can guarantee your highest point will over weigh your lowest point, and if at any moment in life you are not happy, change it. Cheers!