I’ve been back in my home town of Sydney, Australia for five weeks now and a lot of my friends have asked me if it feels weird to be back. The short is no, it feels bloody great to be back. Towards the end of the trip I was feeling a little burnt out and after seeing Patagonia, I felt like I had ticked off everything I wanted to accomplish in South America. So coming back during the holiday season when everybody is riding the end of year wave of happiness and seeing my family and friends who have gone through some life changing moments while I’ve been away was the best thing that I could have done. The voice deep inside of me was telling me to slow down and have a break, so that’s what I did.
The truth was, that I always had a return ticket booked but flirted with the idea of extending the trip and stay in South America longer, but as soon as I decided to continue on to South East Asia, I knew that coming back from South America after eight months of travelling was the best decision.What I was looking forward to was just having a break from the constant researching, packing, organising transport and accomodation and for just one moment establish myself within familiar environment and faces and getting back into a routine and eating lots of Asian food.
When I flew back into Sydney, I was lucky enough to be offered some contract work with the previous advertising agency that I worked at. This meant that I wouldn’t have to dig into my savings and that I didn’t have to be too much of a grinch when going out with my friends. I’m actually calling my time here a working holiday. The irony is that people in the office are working 11 months of the year to take a month of work whereas I’ve been travelling most of the year to find a few weeks work to have a break from the travelling routine. In one way it was weird going back to the same agency, seeing the changes that always occur in an agency over the year such as new faces coming in and other leaving. On the other hand, it was easy to slot back in with already a network of work friends still there, understanding the same systems (I even typed in my old login password) and also gorging into a years worth of free Vegemite and toast in the work kitchen while I had the opportunity to do so.
Although I’m back home and working, I’ve still been living out of a backpack. Of the five weeks that I’ve been here in Sydney, I’ve already been in five different homes. Some of them as a house sitter and others just staying with friends. I’ve been surprised and it makes me feel so appreciative that so many people have offered up their spare room for me. Some rooms have been massive and other small, but I couldn’t care less as I’ve been sharing a room with ten other backpackers for the previous 8 months. Everybody that I tell is astonished that I can still move around from place to place like I’ve done back here, but it’s something I’ve already been doing for the past eight months prior. The only difference is that I don’t have to research which hostel to stay at, where it is, stay in a room with 10 other people, worry about things getting stolen and understanding a town’s transportation system. Crazy as it sounds but those were the things that I found the most stressful and now that I do’t have to deal with them, I’m super super relaxed.
Things slowed down on the blog over the Christmas and New Year period but I was ok with that. I had to force myself to stop staring at the laptop and spend more time in the moment here. I’ve spent more time with my mum here in a few weeks then I did before I left, done things I never used to do here like going for jogs along Bondi beach in the mornings. I’ve been trying to be more aware of everything around me here. More attentive, clutching onto every moment like it would be my last and not taking it for granted.
I’ve always had a wide and diverse circle of friends here and wondered how I’d fit in time to see them all but decided not to force anything and let things take a natural course. By keeping it open minded I was up for catching up with anybody who was interested in connecting. It’s these moments in particular with some friendships that I’ve had to accept that over time, things have changed the that I’ve had to move on. With some friends it was like things never changed and we could hit it off again and with others, either I felt we had both changed and had no value to add to each other or just didn’t have the time to make to meet up.
One interesting thing that I noticed while catching up with friends was that most people had ideas or plans themselves for long term and solo travel. While I’d recap on my experiences, they’d hang off every word which really gave my the warm and fuzzys. I really feel like I’m at a point where I can speak with confidence and some form of ‘authority’ from experience about longer term travelling so it’s an area that I want to focus more in my writing in future so stay tuned.
As I write this post, I have a total of five days left in Australia before I jet off to Cambodia. How do I feel? For somebody who is planning a longer stint in Asia than I did in Latin America last year, I feel a lot more relaxed. Perhaps I’ve just become attuned to long term travel. I still have the huge A3 sized spreadsheet with a weekly budget breakdown that I created to plan my eight month. This time around, I don’t feel like I need to do so much planning. Of course I’ll research the things like the history, people and food but the only difference this time around is that I’m not compelled to compile a huge list of things to do and tick off. I knew the moment I came back that I wasn’t ready to slot back into the normal life that I lived up until April last year. My life is currently going through a transition and onto a trajectory that is risky and with a chance of failure. However, it feels like the right thing to do so I have a one way ticket booked, a loose idea of what I want I want to accomplish by the end of the year. All I need to do is work out how to execute it over the coming months.