It’s 20:45 and I’m sitting in my room in the Clayton Hotel by Manchester airport. In 6 hours I’ll be getting up and heading off into the (relative) unknown of 12 months in China working as an English language teacher for adults. Is it weird that given to get here I’ve quit a well-payed, stable job, spent most of my savings re-training, walked away from a group of exceptionally supportive and loving friends, the most successful singing career I’ve ever had and will be planting myself on the other side of the world from my family, yet my main concern this evening is that the airport will lose my case and I won’t be able to buy any oversized clothing in China? As a psychology graduate I’d say yeah, it is wired but probably normal as if I focus on all the other stuff I’ll run screaming back the way I came as I chastise myself for being such a moron.
However the truth is that this is the beginning of a journey I’ve been planning my whole life. Well, dreaming of anyway (I’ve never really been one for planning!) Ever since I was a child I’ve wanted to travel. The problem is ever since I was a child I’ve also had often debilitating health issues linked to a birth defect and a leg length discrepancy. Thankfully this was finally ‘resolved’ (or at least, the pain was alleviated) with spinal surgery in 2010 and so, aged 30, I could finally start to consider making the dream a reality.
My first real travel ‘taste’ (excluding 3-4 day min breaks around Europe) came around two years ago when I spent 8 weeks backpacking around Vietnam & Cambodia (some of the blog posts are below but they still need some more detail and pictures adding) The point was to give it a try and firstly test that my back was up to the rigours of the road and also to see if the reality loved up to the idyllic mental picture I’d painted of the travelling life. It was; and so much more!
Twice on that trip I had what I describe as one of my ‘moments’: a sudden realisation of not only what I want but also what I really don’t want (to be stuck in an office for my whole life, doing a a job I hate for money I don’t need to pay a mortgage on a property I don’t want and that ties me to one place indefinitely!) I imagine it’s identical to the feeling Jules is referring to in Pulp Fiction when he describes his “moment of clarity” Once was when I was sitting on a small boat watching the sunset over the mountains of Kep national park, sipping on a beer and chatting with some new friends I’d made. The second time was when I was wadding elbow deep in a pitch black sea in a beach off Koh Rong island, where the sea lit up with luminous waves every time I moved my limbs in the water. Both times the question was the same : “What the fuck am I doing with my life?”
That was the question which prompted my internal monologue to really start scrutinising my decisions which ultimately led me here. Walking away from the life I’d built and selling almost everything I owned to chase a dream. It might be a great decision, it might be the single biggest mistake I’ve made in my life but either way I’m looking forward to finding out, I hope you enjoy the ride with me! Twist.