Yep. Wham, bam, I said it. I left Australia and I’m not going back. What the hell gives? I still have a couple of months left on my working holiday visa to boot. If you read about my travel plans for 2016, you’d know that my original “plan” (through I rarely stick to plans as you can see) was to fly to Myanmar for a couple of weeks of adventure, fly back to Melbourne to work one last month, and head to Croatia to begin my dream job living on a sailboat for the summer.
Not happening anymore.
So what changed? Nothing really. I’ve always had no desire to wait tables for a living, but I do it because it’s easy and fast cash and I know how to do it well. That doesn’t make it any less soul-crushing. Just weeks before flying to Myanmar, I grew more frustrated with everything. I couldn’t bear another day taking an order, yet I did because of my fear of not having enough cash for travels. All the while spending heaps of money living in a city like Melbourne that, besides my tiny day trips exploring national parks, really requires going out to bars and music shows and restaurants to get the full experience.
I’ve let it be known that I never planned to explore Australia this time around. Of course living in a country for 9 months will make you hungry to see more of it, and that was where the dilemma arose.
Do I spend the money I’ve saved on Australia? Or do I choose to save it for something else?
That something else is Europe.
Ever since I fulfilled my childhood dream of going to Italy, and after bouncing around Germany and Czech Republic and Hungary, I yearned to return. Castle addict, what can I say. It’s been on my mind the moment I left, and what I half-planned half-hoped to do after Australia.
I wrote that a few destinations in Australia had piqued my interest, and that last month would be spent in part waiting tables, and combined with micro-trips to places like Sydney or Tasmania. The more days I worked, the more stressed I got, and the less I wanted to stay. My brain was fried. My soul screamed. My bank account wept. Hours were cut at work, and I bled money with bills. I counted the days until I flew to Myanmar, and knew it was only a little more time until Croatia.
Could I really leave on a two week trip and come back to that? Would you?
My decision to not return to Australia was helped by a midnight conversation weeks before I left with a roommate that I almost never saw. It was after one of those long “fuck this” days that left me wanting to drink a bottle of wine and drown myself in a bucket of hummus. Pity pita party style. I told her that I might rent the room while I’m in Myanmar, and she replied, “Why even come back?”
“Well, I don’t want to be an ass and leave the room on such short notice.”
To which she stated, “Don’t worry about that. It doesn’t make sense to come back.”
She was right. It didn’t make sense to leave Australia for a couple of weeks, to just return to work for a month before leaving again.
That would lead to more stress, one more month of rent, the fact that I may or may not get enough hours at work, and the costs of living in an expensive city.
Full Power 24 Hour Travel Mode
Once I left, my mind would detach from work mode and go into full-power-24-hour travel mode. So I decided just that — to not return and to not finish the last couple of months on my visa in Australia. Had I been able to get a second year extension like most countries can, that’d be a different story. But just as I left Australia, they began allowing US citizens to do the 90 days of farm work for a second year visa. Bugger!
I may have gone to Myanmar, only to worry about work and money. Instead, I could fully immerse myself.
I left Australia, What Now?
Thailand baby. Say what? In 2012 and 2013 I spent 6 months in Thailand, only to leave after I said I wouldn’t come back for a long time. It turns out that an opportunity presented itself and I couldn’t pass on it.
My Rickshaw Run buddy Derek of the HoliDaze was there. While in Myanmar, we chatted about finally getting together again to get these Rickshaw Run videos finished we promised a year ago. After the Nepal earthquake and other circumstances, we haven’t been able to link up again since. Until now.
Thailand for May
Once the adventure in Myanmar was finished (sad face) I flew to Bangkok and went east to meet up with him. And for the past week or so, we’ve been holed up like a couple of cave men scouring the 1TB of video we recorded on that insane trip, through 3 GoPros, and iPhone, and a DSLR. Chya, that’s a lot. Instant noodles and cheap pasta and 14 hours a day watching clips. Maybe a little beer thrown in.
The good news: We’ve sorted through 7 out of the 12 days and more than half of the footage from the Rickshaw Run. The bad news? We had to do a visa run to Cambodia last-minute. It’s not SO BAD though, given that we can still work while overlooking the bay near Koh Kong. Sure, we aren’t frolicking about Cambodia or Thailand doing crazy things like Tuk Tuk Mario Kart or something, but when I say “work” it’s something I love to do.
What’s Next if not Australia?
Australia is scratched off the list for now, but don’t think I’m not coming back at some point with enough cash to have an epic road trip around the land of Oz. I want to return with the plan to travel around, not just to compromise, and to have enough moolah to do so without worry. I’ll suss it out sometime in the near future. Whatever the hell that means…
Until then, it’s onward to new travels and adventures.
After this week in Cambodia (and hopefully finishing the videos) I’ll head back to Thailand until May 25th. That last week I’m going into full vacation mode and I’ll spend a glorious week basking in the naked sun and sand of Koh Chang, one of the less touristy islands in Thailand. Away from the full-moon nonsense. I cannot wait. Most of the time as a backpacker I rough it, which can be fun, but sometimes you need to indulge. Worry-free hammock chilling, fresh coconut, and happiness. Maybe I’ll a bit of snorkeling in search for Dory. Nemo was found, forget about him. But I know it will be one of the best weeks ever.
Then, to Croatia!
Come May 25th, I fly from Bangkok to Vienna where I’ll need to figure out how to get to Split in Croatia to start my MedSailors trip before I begin my photography job there.
Hm, maybe it’s time to see how my hitch-hiking skills are?
BIG NEWS on that front. After announcing that I’ll be on their sailboat tours as a photographer for 6 weeks, we had a chat and they’ve invited me to stay for 4 months! From June to September I’ll get to live aboard a sailboat, learn to sail, and snap photos of people living it up in the Mediterranean. Can’t ask for a better gig.
Goodbye Australia, but not for good.
It was only in my last couple weeks in Australia did I begin to truly enjoy it, and know it’d be hard to leave.
Yes, most of my time in Australia was spent in Melbourne not doing much besides waiting tables. That part ruled over most. I spent a lot of time fighting the call of the road and the urge to up and leave. I did however meet some of the most incredible people who are now the best of friends or family to me, and that is what made my time in Melbourne memorable.
I’ll never forget them.
The national parks I spent most of my free time in were some of the most beautiful I’ve been to. And the city, had I not been on a budget, is a pretty awesome one. Camping trips in beautiful national parks contemplating life under the milky way. Road trips at night dodging kangaroos. Clapping off curious wombats who broke into the tent. Encounters with scorpions and snakes, blue-ringed octopus and bogans. Silhouettes beneath the stars, wandering redwood and eucalyptus forests, front flips into hidden lagoons. Secret bars behind bookcases, reunions with old travel friends, pick up lines at drum and bass events. Did I forget smashed avo?
I enjoyed plenty about my time there, but I didn’t spend enough time enjoying. I’ll be back. There is too much I miss(ed).