Mount Dandenong Hiking Melbourne Australia

Why I Left Australia Early, and Not Going Back

In Australia, Personal, Working Abroad by Ryan9 Comments

Australia coin in Bagan Myanmar

The Queen enjoys a sunset in Bagan.

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.

me-atop-colosseum-rome

Colosseum selfie is a must.

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.

Myanmar Hsipaw Tree Temple

Is that…a tree…growing out of a temple…?

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.

Derek Holidaze Ian Where Sidewalks End Ryan Lost Boy

4 travel bloggers+beer=trouble.

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.

Derek and Ryan editing Rickshaw Run videos

Go to editing snack: Boxed spaghetti and canned sauce.

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).

Portait Ryan atop Mount Dandenong in Melbourne Australia

Share a thought or similar experience friend?

Comments

  1. I think you made the right choice. It didn’t seem like you were enjoying Melbourne to the fullest. You seemed a bit stressed here. Four months living on a sailboat should help though. Enjoy!

    1. Author

      Hey Heather, yeah I wish we could have hung out a bit more. My mind and heart weren’t in it, but I still enjoyed parts. But yeah very stressed. But that’s all passed and now I’m counting down the days until the vacation and Croatia gig!
      Ryan recently posted..Why I Left Australia Early, and Not Going Back

  2. Your Croatia deal sounds AMAZING! Also you must message me about this second visa?? I can find info on it! Since when!? Not exited about farm work buuuuutttt….could be beneficial for staying here longer.
    Keep you doing what you want to do, whatever makes you happy.
    Say hi to Derek!

    1. Author

      Thanks Nina! Can’t wait. How is Melbourne treating you still? And a few people messaged or told me in person about the rule change but I don’t have the exact information, sorry! Yeah, if I had a second year I think I would have been more keen to explore around and not fret so much about budget. Will say hi to him, and enjoy Oz!
      Ryan recently posted..Why I Left Australia Early, and Not Going Back

  3. It’s a shame your job was putting a damper on your time in Oz, but it sounds like you’ve definitely made the right decision in not coming back right now! I know what it’s like living abroad and trying to balance a full time job while getting to know the city you live in, plus trying to see as much of the country as possible before your visa expires – it can be overwhelming at times. Also, congratulations on your photography job – it sounds unreal!

    1. Author

      It is really about balance Ashley, and I wasn’t finding the right balance there in Melbourne. I know that when I do go back to Australia, it’ll be to actually enjoy it, and I’m sure I’ll have a better experience then. But working abroad, especially in the job that I was in waiting tables, takes it’s toll. But the gig for Croatia, though a job, will be in line with what I love to do so thank you!!!
      Ryan recently posted..Why I Left Australia Early, and Not Going Back

  4. I felt this way upon my second trip to South Korea. I’d headed back post break-up in hopes of recapturing what I’d loved about my first two year stint there, but my heart just wasn’t in it.

    I had come to hate teaching spoiled brats who had no desire to learn and that, coupled with a generally low state of mind after the break-up, lead to me actively hating my time there. I lasted 3-4 months of my year long contract and just bailed.

    Sometimes a place just isn’t where you need to be at a given time. I’m excited to be re-visiting Korea this year, but my days of living there are done. It just wasn’t what I wanted anymore.

    1. Ah, that would definitely put a damper on an experience and a country. Surprised with all of that going on and hating the experience there that you lasted the full contract, fortitude. You’re right, not all places can be great and not all places can be fun an sometimes it comes down to your state of mind at that moment. Interested in seeing how your revisit to the country goes though!
      Ryan recently posted..Why I Left Australia Early, and Not Going Back

  5. Nice one Ryan!

    That’s the best way as life is too short. You’re young. You’re single. If it’s not happening, you’ve got to move on! And you did!

    The best way to get from Vienna to Croatia is by a very cheap flight. But if you have a little time, break it from country to country and either take a local train or the bus.

    p.s. I’m enormously pleased that your trip to Croatia has extended from 6 weeks to 4 months. That’s good karma talking for ya! Hurrah!
    [email protected] The British Berliner recently posted..12 Unique things to do in the Algarve!

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