My bags are packed, I'm ready to go....

Harrogate Travel Blog

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Lijiang, China

I returned from my first trip around the world a different person; something had changed inside me. I'd always had an inquisitive urge to discover what our earth really looked like, but nothing had prepared me for what travelling would bring into my life. It's a bit like being a baby and discovering that you can walk, you toddle off here and there trying to explore, absorb, and learn about this new found world around you. For 99.9% of people who manage to take these crucial first steps, whether it be as a 1 year old, or a 23 year old with a big backpack on their shoulders, it soon becomes an addiction.

I flew back from Brazil to England on December 1st 2004, drunk, upset, not ready to end my journey. It felt like I had only just begun, so why did I have to go home so soon? For most people a one and a half year trip would be more than enough, but this had been the best 18 months of my life; it was like taking away my legs, my ability to move.

Borneo, Malaysia
It wasn't just the places that I had seen, but the people that I had met, the bonds which had been created, the vibe and spirit of the locals and fellow travellers who had captivated my soul.

So what now, where could I possibly go from here? I envisaged sitting at the pub with my friends and recounting stories from my trip. Surely I would tell them of my encounter with a shaman in the Amazon, when I had a spiritual journey with the aid of Ayhuasca. What about swimming with alligators and piranhas in the Pantanal, or bungee jumping and sky diving in New Zealand? There was so much to share with them. I'd be the centre of attention for months to come, wouldn't I?

The truth be told, people who haven't travelled before just don't get it, and they don't even want to try and get it.

Boracay, Philippines
I felt like a Jehovahs Witness knocking on the door and receiving tired, annoyed glares whenever I brought up the subject which mattered most dearly to me. Within a week, I had given up even trying to talk about the world and had fallen back into the trap of drinking, football and girls. There didn't seem any other way. With no-one to share my memories with, they soon began to feel surreal. Did they even happen?

I had big plans when I got back to Harrogate, I was going to learn Spanish, go back to university and do a one year course to become a teacher, travel in my weekends and holidays and just become the person that I had imagined I could be, whilst I was on the road.

Malapascua, Philippines
I went to secondary schools and sat in on classes, trying to gain some hands on experience, but I had nine months until my degree would start, so the only sensible option was to find a job and earn some money.

Having taken a few part time jobs from recruitment agencies, a good friend of mine told me that there were vacancies at his work place, as a salesman. People had always told me that I could sell sand to the Arabs, as I'd always had a way with words and normally knew how to get people thinking on my wavelength. I had an interview and was offered the job the following day, which was perfect. My boss knew I would be leaving in September and this wasn't a problem, so I had three quarters of a year to save up as much cash as possible to help put me through university again.

Gunung Bromo, Indonesia

My pay wasn't great by English standards, only £10,000 a year plus commission. So, if I wanted to save any money then I had to work my arse off and hit my monthly targets. My first month went great, I received an additional £500 bonus and my boss was so impressed that he gave me a £1000 pay rise and promoted me to Industrial Sales Manager. Within half a year I had made £3000 in commission and my pay had risen to £13,500. It goes to show that if you really knuckle down to any job, you can reap the rewards before too long.

What I couldn't understand was the mentality of my co-workers, who were happy enough lazing around all day, turning up late and never getting any commission. I was earning £10,000 a year more than them by turning up for work half an hour early, leaving half an hour late and slogging my guts out whilst I was there.

Tagbiliran, Philippines
I wanted progression in my career and obviously the money that comes with it, which is something that opens a lot of doors for you in life.

When it came time to go to university, I had a decision to make. Did I want to study for another year, run up more debt and begin as a teacher on less money than I was earning in my current job? The answer was no. I talked with my boss and we agreed a deal where I would receive more money at the end of the year and in return I would stay with the company for the foreseeable future. Things looked bright.

I had three other addictions beside travelling: football, drinking and women. My good mate Hamill and I had made a pact in August that we would go with each other to every Leeds home and away game of the 2005-6 football season, which took up every waking hour of my free time and a fair bit of cash too.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Along with football at the weekend came heavy post and pre match drinking, a lot more than was good for my health. This nasty little addiction would finally catch up with me in Russia (http://www.travbuddy.com/travel-blogs/2550/My-whole-body-hurts-Saint-Petersburg-22), making me seriously reassess my life. To cap it all I had a girlfriend, so I was pretty content with the way things were panning out, travelling would have to take a back seat for the time being.

When Christmas came, I had a few unexpected surprises from my work, which included no Christmas bonus and no pay rise. After a few heated discussions with my boss, we agreed to re-evaluate the situation at the end of January. By the start of February nothing had changed and my manager said that he couldn't fulfill the promise that he had previously made to me.

Donsol, Philippines
I explained that if that was the case then I would quit, but he decided to call my bluff and told me that if that's what I wanted to do, then he wouldn't stand in my way.

That evening I went home, finished with my girlfriend, booked a flight to Prague for the beginning of June and started planning my next big trip! I would have left sooner, but I wanted to fulfill my promise of seeing all the Leeds games and this also gave me another couple of months to save up before leaving. I gave my boss a verbal resignation for the end of May, but he still thought I wouldn't go through with it - more fool him.

You see, when you aren't travelling, it is always something that you are dreaming about and more often than not you find yourself scheming possible routes around the world.

Brunei
I had a few ideas mapped out in my head, but the most appealing was an overland odyssey that would see me travel to South East Asia and back again, going by train and bus wherever possible. I was excited, buzzing, counting down the days. Had I made the right decision? Of cause I had!

By the middle of April my boss began to realise that maybe I was telling the truth about leaving and came up with an offer that some would have found too good to refuse. I was to receive the previously agreed pay rise and become joint manager of our branch of the company. I listened and smiled and said I would think it over, but what was to think over? I didn't want to work for someone so dishonest, and I knew that what I was going to embark on would be some of the best times of my life.

Kalaw, Myanmar
My mind was set, Prague here I come!

I quit my job officially in the middle of May and other than packing and buying a few essentials, my only concern was Leeds United. I had followed my beloved team for the last 9 months, travelling the length and breadth of the country, in the hope that we could win promotion back to the Premier League. We had finished 5th in the Championship table and this meant that we would have to enter the dreaded play offs, a knock out between the teams positioned 3rd to 6th.

Our first tie saw us play Preston North End and after a 1-1 draw at home, we pulled off an unlikely 2-0 win away, which meant that we would go to Cardiff's Millennium Stadium to play against Watford in the final.

Ao Nang, Thailand
I have been watching Leeds since I was seven and thus have become used to abject disappointment, and our big day out at Cardiff was to end like almost all of the others. Getting thrashed 3-0 and playing so heartlessly made me question why the hell I'd devoted so much of my time and energy to the boys in white; but that's a question that I have asked myself on too many occasions to remember. It was a sour note to have to leave on, but I knew that in time I would get over it. Football always has its ups and downs.

In the last few days before my departure, I did my best to eat as much of my favourite food as I possibly could and gathered all my music onto my laptop to transfer to my new MP3, which I had ordered online. On the last evening when I returned home from doing some shopping, I went to upload all of my music, only to find that my mum had closed my laptop with a pen on the keyboard, thus shattering the screen.

Zhijin, China
I tried to somehow upload the music, but it was all in vain. I had wasted my time and money buying what was now an empty MP3. This left my Mum and me at loggerheads, which really wasn't what I wanted or needed, when I didn't know when I would next see her again.

The issue with my 'old dear' wasn't over the broken screen, it was over why she had been going into my bedroom and invading my privacy once again. I was really ready for my freedom once more. I was now 26 years old and 18 months of living at home had been quite a stressful ordeal for all concerned, but it had helped me to save the money for the trip, thus it was a worthwhile sacrifice to lose my independence for this length of time. Anyway, time is a great healer and travelling gives you plenty of time to think things over and understand that such issues are trivial in the grand scheme of things, and soon we were back on talking terms.

Yangshuo, China

Anyway, that's how it all began, so I hope that you can find the time to read some of my blogs and view my pictures from this life changing trip that I have embarked on. Wherever possible I have tried to include relevant information on accommodation, hotels, buses and whatever else I deemed important. I think and hope that my writing and photography skills have developed throughout the blog. On a personal level, I know that the more readers that I have gained, the more time and effort I have invested in the project of writing this mammoth life event!

So, grab a cup of tea and a packet of biscuits, make yourself comfortable and enjoy the read. If you have any questions, suggestions or general comments, then please don't be scared to leave a comment.

Pulau Weh, Indonesia
I will always try to reply to you as fast as I can, and I will get around to it eventually! Thanks for your time, support and general encouragement... Now, let's begin.

Deats says:
Hi Tombom07, I think it's best to scratch that itch :D Get back on the road and finish what you started! I definitely don't regret making this second trip... I met my wife after a few months of the trip and we now have a kid. I also met the person who put me on the path to teaching overseas, which I've now been doing for 6 + years. This profession means I still get 4+ months holiday a year to keep travelling :) There's no better way to find answers in life than by travelling and experiencing new things, imo.
Posted on: Jan 04, 2016
tombom07 says:
I'm excited to read this! I returned from my very first solo trip abroad 18 months ago (my first trip also lasted 18 months) & I feel like I have serious unfinished business so I think I'm gonna relate to this =) Straddling the mindset of settling down/what do I do with my life/let's go travel again!
Posted on: Jan 03, 2016
Deats says:
Thanks for your comment :) And good luck with taking the first step... it's the hardest one. But once you have taken it, everything gets easier :)
Posted on: Jan 06, 2015
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Lijiang, China
Lijiang, China
Borneo, Malaysia
Borneo, Malaysia
Boracay, Philippines
Boracay, Philippines
Malapascua, Philippines
Malapascua, Philippines
Gunung Bromo, Indonesia
Gunung Bromo, Indonesia
Tagbiliran, Philippines
Tagbiliran, Philippines
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Donsol, Philippines
Donsol, Philippines
Brunei
Brunei
Kalaw, Myanmar
Kalaw, Myanmar
Ao Nang, Thailand
Ao Nang, Thailand
Zhijin, China
Zhijin, China
Yangshuo, China
Yangshuo, China
Pulau Weh, Indonesia
Pulau Weh, Indonesia
Sanliurfa, Turkey
Sanliurfa, Turkey
Marguzor Lakes, Tajikistan
Marguzor Lakes, Tajikistan
Nemrut Dagi, Turkey
Nemrut Dagi, Turkey
Bolshoe Almatinskoe, Kazakhstan
Bolshoe Almatinskoe, Kazakhstan
Borobodur, Indonesia
Borobodur, Indonesia
Afghan/Tajik Border
Afghan/Tajik Border
Huanghua, China
Huanghua, China
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Harrogate
photo by: Deats