Luck or Lucky

Let’s set the record straight, as someone who loves travel one of my biggest bug bares is when someone tells me how lucky I am to travel.

Lucky, lucky, well sit your bum down right now and let me tell you about luck and lucky. There are numerous definitions of luck and lucky and not one of them include organising, planning, budgeting and saving.
According to the Oxford Dictionary the definition of luck is; “Success or failure brought on by chance rather than one’s own actions.”
Collins Dictionary defines luck as “Luck or good luck is success or good things that happen to you, that do not come from your own abilities or effort”.
“The definition of lucky is someone who has good fortune, an event that brings good fortune or results in good fortune all by chance. One would describe a person who wins the lottery as lucky for example”(Collins Dictionary 2018).
Luck and lucky are terms that apply only when something is out of your control, I would not for example say “oh aren’t you lucky to be having a house extension” knowing full well that you’ve made sacrifices in order to get the house extended, the same courtesy goes to me with travel. I lived at times like an unsocial hermit, saying no to social events because I am calculating and re-calculating how I could save more money.
Now before you think you’ve pressed the wrong button and fallen into an academic blog I’ll stop with the quotation marks and sentences that include terms like “according to” and hope you get my drift, I shall also step off my soapbox and explain that it took hard work and time to get me on the other side of the planet.

It took almost two years of saving up, no buying new clothes, no hair appointments, buying nothing that wasn’t considered as essential as it wasn’t justifiable. I sold my car and unwanted items like jewellery, pictures, books, clothes and I have little belongings to go home to. Do I regret that not one bit, am I nervous about going home starting from scratch? Absolutely not. The most interesting finding from this experience is in fact I am less anxious, I get less tied up making decisions on what to wear because really who actually cares what I wear? No one certainly not my family or friends. I now pay zero attention to society telling me I need this particular product to make me happy. I am less wrapped up in myself, I have clarity on what actually matters and what is good for my wellbeing.

Before my time out, music was just another part of my routine, the background noise of my day-to-day life. Whilst travelling I met a girl called Elke, Elke asked me if I missed TV and it dawned on me that at that time I had not watched any for five months however there had not been a day without music. Confucius once said that “Music produces a kind of pleasure that human nature cannot do without.” I whole-heartily agree with the Chinese philosopher. Music gives my life value and I had lost sight of that and through travel I rediscovered that joy again.

Routine is a structure, it’s all about efficiency, going from one tasks to another, getting the must do tasks out-of-the-way so we can enjoy our free time but sometimes that must do attitude rubs off on the things that bring us joy, happiness and in the end finds its way into our wellbeing. It’s easy to lose sight of what is important to you when consumed by the day-to-day motion that is life, I am under no illusion that at some point I will go back to routine but I am hoping to keep this lesson with me whilst taking up routine again.

On the road your priorities go back to basics, where am I going to sleep for the next few nights? What and where shall I eat tonight? They are my immediate concerns. I now know that as a person I am sensitive to my environment, uncomplicated living suits me, living within my means with minimal belongings allows me space to think, reduces my anxiety in turn making me feel good. Liam (a friend that I made on the road) and I had a discussion about Mental wellbeing and the use of labels, during our chat he introduced me to a term that I had never heard before “visual noise” within that moment a light bulb went on “Yes, that’s exactly what I’m trying to say,” was my response. I am a person who gets overwhelmed by stuff, it’s like putting your headphones on and pressing play without realising the volume is on maximum. That’s how I feel when I have too many belongings. Possessions are a physical and mental burden, the backpack life is a perfect description of how possession are a heavy weight on my wellbeing, the lugging around of one’s belonging, pulling on your back while trying to find your accommodation, soon has you practicing minimalism. I know there is a lot of criticism of labels but I was relieved that it had a name instead of me think that it was just an Amy thing.

I’d like to get this moment to thank you personally for taking time out to read this blog, my dad always said that the most precious gift you can give anyone Amy is your time and in a world where we feel there isn’t enough hours in the day, I thank you for taking time out to read my online diary.

Much Love

Amy x

Equals

This story begins with a man and a woman, not in that sense!
The setting is a hostel common room, the large space had a feeling of a giant living room of yester years. The 1970’s wallpaper and the psychedelic carpet the only saving grace was the open fire that was peculiarly placed in the middle of the rectangular room.

His name was Agustin, from Argentina, he was 28 years old. I had sat down for breakfast on this particular morning, hoping for no social interaction before my morning coffee, Agustin however had a different idea.
Agustin wandered over and asked if the seat opposite me was taken knowing perfectly well that the seat was empty. In a room full of empty seats he had chosen my table to sit at so I pulled my unsociable head out of my ass and invited him to take a seat.

Agustin and I faced each other, although we were sharing a dormitory we had exchanged very few words.
I asked him about home and how long he had been on the road, he told me that he had only been in New Zealand for one month and that he was the eldest of three children (one boy two girls).
One the surface you’d be forgiven for thinking that Agustin and I had nothing in common other than our love for travel but you would be very wrong.

Firstly Agustin asked me about the English’s obsession with tea, I explained that it is not the actual substance of tea that is important but what tea stands for, the invitation of having a simple “cuppa” or “brew” can be interpreted as a request for ones company or in other words “I’ve missed you” “ I really need to talk” “it’s been ages since we’ve talked” “I just want you to know that I care” “I love you” and so on. Like life, it is not what is said but what is not said that tea signifies. Agustin responded by nodding he tells me that Mate (a South American caffeinated hot drink) also has the same meaning but he articulated it beautifully by saying it is not about the Mate, it is about who you drink the Mate with. To his delight I said “I could not of explained it better myself and my only language is English”.

He gets onto a more serious subject, why was I on the road? I explained that I was feeling lost about the choices I had made and that things had not turned out as I expected. I confessed that my first mistake was to expect anything, Agustin shrugged his shoulders and told me “expectations is normal Amy but yes it hurts when it goes wrong.” I open up saying that I was upset with my career choices, his response was ‘do you enjoy it?” “No” I said. Agustin acknowledges with a soft knowing glance.

I go further by explaining that it has taken me six months to finally be able to say out loud that I was unhappy, that I had spent twelve years in the health industry, thinking that because I am a kind and caring person I should go into this profession when actually it brings me no sense of wellbeing, happiness or  lifestyle. I quickly injected into the conversation that I was good at my job, I enjoyed the people part of my work just not everything else, Agustin raises his hand to stop me, to stop me justifying my statement as if to say “it’s okay to be truthful, there’s no judgement here.” To my relief I could see that he was just listening not judging.

Agustin looked at me and said “Amy I envy you, you can say it out loud, I went to university for five years and during my third year I hated my studies but I thought it was just the third year. I started out wanting to be a mechanical engineer like my father and his brothers, my family have a business and I thought I should do this but now I am a mechanical engineer, I.” Agustin pauses, his shoulders hunched up almost to his ears, I do what I can to help by asking, “Do you like it?” He was looking down at his breakfast, lost in thought, “No Amy I don’t, I hate it, I should never have followed in my father’s footsteps, I thought I was doing the right thing but I was doing it because I didn’t know what else to do so I just followed what most men in my family have done. Now I am unsure on how to go forward, I don’t know where to start, for me this is the first time I have said this out loud, for me this is a very important conversation to have, other than a few friends no one else knows that this is how I feel.”
As Agustin said this statement I could see the tension leave him, his shoulders softened, like a big sigh of relief washed over him, he told me about his love of cooking and how he has family in Italy that he would like to visit, he said that he has no concept of time, like a true Latino he is always running late.

Before I knew it, it was lunchtime and Agustin offered to share his lunch with me (I had previously planned to go out for lunch but that was before I had a breakfast partner). I agreed on the pretense that I would do the washing up, explaining to Agustin that it was a rule in my house (Mum’s rule) that whoever cooks should not do the washing up.
Agustin smiles and says “we have the same rule in my house, I think it must be a mum thing.”

I looked at Agustin and I realised that in this moment in time we are equals. There are seven billion people on the planet and we have somehow managed to find ourselves in the same country, in the same hostel, at the same time, both of us navigating the uncertain seas of what to do next. I was the inexperienced sailor and Agustin the unknown coastline, providing me with reassurance that I am not alone and most importantly that it is okay not to know what to do next.
I suppose the moral of this story is a problem shared is a problem halved, it can be lonely trapped in your own head, thinking that this is YOUR problem and as it turned out with Agustin if you share your thoughts, you feel less lonely because someone else knows exactly where you are coming from.

The Maldives

I have a confession to make, I was never very excited about this part of my trip the reason behind them being apart of my itinerary was “Well they’re not going to be around for much longer so I probably should go” thought. I chose a boat trip as I thought there was less of a chance of encountering honeymooners.
This is as good a time as any to mention that I get terrible seasickness and I have a fear of open water so it’s safe to say I wasn’t entirely looking forward to this trip.
I thought what better way to get over your fear, having to face it multiple times a day for full week and so that’s what I did, I snorkelled three times a day minimum for 6 days straight (the first day was a right off as I clung onto the boat’s ladder hoping not to die or be eaten by any of the ocean’s inhabitants!).
I wouldn’t say that I am completely free from fear when I swim in the ocean as I am very aware that it is not my domain or territory but I am more comfortable than I used to be.

What I can tell you with absolute certainty is that the Maldives is paradise, these tropical island dotted around the Indian Ocean are absolutely magnificent.
They are everything you’ve imagined and seen on tv, the white sand the clear blue ocean so warm it’s like stepping into a bath, beautiful.
Whilst gliding along the calm Indian Ocean, on the horizon the ocean and the sky meet, the lines blur as if they are merging into one.
My legs draped over the end of the boat, the salty sea air and the endless horizon, all the space to relax and breathe, I noticed something, I had accepted my journey, how could I not? Why did I ever think that this was not a good idea?
It was in these thoughts that I finally acknowledged that I had battled with my thoughts about this journey.
Was it the right thing to do? What about my responsibilities? What about my life back home? Grandad and Mum? What if I love it, what do I do then?

It was in the Maldives that I had finally realised that I had been carrying around unwanted luggage that I was yet to offload so what did I do? I hear you ask. I unpacked the luggage one at a time, listening to these worrying questions, giving them time to be heard, gently accepting that I do not have an answer as I am not psychic but reassuring them that this is my road, my path and something that feels this good and this right cannot be wrong.
This was the first time I had notice these concerns and I know if I hadn’t of been on the road then these concerns wouldn’t of been there but merely replaced by mundane ones regarding daily life. I have learnt whilst being on the road that you have to hear these concerns or worries out. Previously I’d bury them deep down hoping that would sort them out but the problem is these concerns or worries they just grow roots but hearing them out that cuts the spouting stem off because there is nowhere else for them to grow.

At my current work place I have a colleague who thinks I am nothing but a walking cliché and maybe I am but it is in moments like these away from routine life, we hear ourselves, we are not surrounded by familiarities, taking part day to day jobs in our lives and homes that are full of visual noise and distraction. We are our two feet with minimal belongs and the open road or in my case the open ocean.

Africa

As I make my way around this wonderful world of ours people keep asking me, where’s your favourite place? My reply “I can’t tell you my favourite place but I can tell you my favourite continent is Africa”, for those of you that don’t know I have been to 5 out of the 7 continents so far. Once you have been to Africa you’ll understand that Africa isn’t actually a place it’s a feeling, it gets under your skin, it becomes a part you, you adjust to Africa she never adjust to you. 

This magical continent is full of vibrancy, soul, heart and above all courage. It is no secret that she has had her troubles with corruption, cruel dictatorship, civil unrest and has been stripped of her riches. What does Africa do, she regenerates, growing back stronger through the grit and determination of those who call her home, Africa picks herself up and brushes herself off.

When you hear a song and you find yourself moving your hips to the rhythm and the beat moves through you, that’s what Africa does to you.

I’d like to share with you a story from my time in Namibia, now I know what you’re thinking, Namibia it’s just a desert right? Erm no. This magnificent nation has a wide array of landscapes, some look like the surface of the moon. This country is enormous with a tiny population of only 2.6 million and that is where the magic begins, the landscapes and wildlife flourishes Mother Nature is ever present in this land.

Namibia looks like how a child would draw a picture, bright yellow sun, clear blue sky and the sand oh yeah the sand from Namibia gets everywhere and I mean everywhere, I’m still finding sand in my backpack 7 months after visiting this wonderful land.  

The mountainous shifting sands of the dunes had me flabbergasted by the contrast, the sun so bright, the sky so blue and the sand so orange, Namibia is just brightness every colour as it is meant to be. Time is none existent in Namibia just daylight and night, the heat is unforgiving but you are rewarded by its wonders.

My story starts in a campsite in the middle of Namibia, it’s 40 degrees, how do I know this I hear you ask, we’d previously pulled up at a petrol station the thermometer outside said it was 40 degrees. I was melting, I just thought it was because I hadn’t acclimatised to the heat yet, honestly I was roasting then I saw the thermometer like a beacon of hope and I thought “oh now I know why I’m feeling so hot it’s because it’s hot.” I have a thing about voicing negative thoughts, I just don’t like to I’d rather keep them to myself, moaning internally rather then externally anyway it was a relief that my internal whining was justified. We were all grateful for the pitstop at the petrol station we were like children when the ice cream van comes round, ice lollies in hand or as my Australian travellers call them icy poles.

My tastebuds and internal thermostat had had some relief from the ice lolly/icy pole, it’s the small things that makes life marvellous I can tell you. 

So we pulled up to our campsite, it looked like a film set out of a Clint Eastwood western, a wide open plain with an endless horizon. We unpacked and put our campsite together, there was a sea of green tents (this is relevant for later on in the story). 

The early mornings, heat, lack of sleep and little to no personal space had taken it’s toll on me so I decided to skip the bushman’s walk in the afternoon and spend it on a Clint Eastwood’s movie set with a good book, a vodka and coke and a cactus garden…….. Bliss. 

I didn’t realise but two other people had also decided not to go on the bushman’s walk so they joined me as the evening came by. The three of us chatted about our lives back home and what were our reasons for being on the road.

As time gentle rolled on I got up to get another vodka and coke (I’d had a few by this point) as I turned I see a herd of zebras no more then 200 meters away from us. Wow. I stood in complete shock that these beautiful creatures choose to share their world with ours. The zebras take it in turns at the watering hole quenching their thirst, sharing with others in the herd as they know that their individual survival depends on one another.

Sitting watching these majestic creatures go about their business in their environment was a memory I hope stays with me forever. The noises they make their funny characteristics and being in their presence was just mind blowing.

As evening came the rest of the group joined us one by one so what was an intimate moment became a group moment. 

Night fell and stars shine bright in Namibia as there’s little to no light pollution so shooting stars were easy to see. 

During my Namibian adventure I made a friend someone who is now very dear to me, Ellie, our friendship was started when I lost my tent. As you have read I had had a few alcoholic beverages and as the night continued hanging out with the zebras and stargazing well I was rather……..tipsy. 

We had an early start the following morning so I thought I’d better go to bed, I had left my phone in my tent so I had no light and Ellie, well she’s Swiss so of course she had a head torch with her, she kindly offered to walk me back to my tent. 

As we made our way back to camp it suddenly occurred to me “Ellie, I don’t know where I’ve parked my tent?” 

Ellie laughed (she’s far more experienced at camping then me) “Amy, you don’t park a tent you erect it.” With that I fell about laughing, Ellie quickly joined in with the hysterics and I said whilst crying “I don’t know which ones mine they’re all green!”

It is in this moment that a new friendship was born between a Yorkshire lass and a Swiss girl. It is safe to say my time in Africa would not of been the same without her although we are new friends to me Ellie feels like someone I’ve known forever. It’s like when you pull on your favourite jumper it gives you comfort, still loving you after knowing all of your lumps and bumps and bringing you warmth when you need it.

Ellie was like my favourite jumper whilst I was in Africa, comfortable, loving and accepted me regardless of my flaws.

The East

Hi,

this week I’d like to share a story from my Indian adventure, India is a nation that hits your senses full on, every single one of them. In truth the moment I booked my Indian adventure I dreaded it, it was and remains a country that both fascinates and upset me.  I was completely out of my comfort zone, India had been a travel itch I had wanted to scratch for sometime and by the time I had arrived I had no idea what I was letting myself in for.

India is a hard type of travel, full throttle 24 hours a day 7 days a week. I don’t know who said New York never sleeps but I can guarantee you they’ve never been to India or landed in New Delhi or in Mumbai for that matter. This nation is colossal on so many levels, 24 million people in India use the railways each day, the railway network is the same one that was built whilst India was under British rule (fact of the day). It’s almost impossible to escape the noise in India it’s everywhere.

During my Indian adventure I managed to escape the hustle and bustle by visiting a village. The village was nestled in the Indian countryside, the traditional houses, so quint like english cottages beside them stood the newer concrete ones. The new builds had a 1970’s industrial feel to them and looked more like dilapidated ruins rather then new builds. The men of the village sitting in groups discussing recent events over chai (tea) whilst the children ran around laughing and playing cricket. You’d be forgiven for thinking that India’s national sport is cricket but it’s actually field hockey (another fact of the day).

Whilst my group rushed to take pictures of the locals, I decided just to sit taking it all in. The lack of noise was wonderful I had forgotten what it was like to have peace and calm in my life. No honking of horns, no playing chicken with the tuktuk drivers, my senses were no longer overloaded, I am just watching the world go by, watching people live their day to day lives. A woman approached me, her sari was the first thing I noticed about her, it’s bright vibrant colours of orange, yellow and black, how do they keep the colours so bright? That question is still left unanswered. She quietly says “hello” moving her head scarf ever so slightly over her face whilst talking to me. I say “hello” and put my hand out to shake hers, she smiles and we introduce ourselves to one another. Within moments a child comes bouncing up to me and proudly announces that he is five years old whilst sticking his palm in my face, his hand showing all 5 digits, the woman rolls her eyes and tell me that he is her son. He acts as translator as I am informed that she has two children, her first child a girl is 7 years old, she tells me that she likes school and is very good at it. He is the youngest and the cheekiest out of two, this comment sends him into a fit of giggles resulting in us all laughing with this cheeky little fella.

As I walk through the village I am amazed at the sheer physicality of these women, they are so petite but yet they can carry such heavy objects often balancing them on their heads. Similarly to African women who are also petite yet so physical strong balancing objects on their heads whilst walking miles. I am in awe of my fellow womankind, I am ridiculous I struggles to carry my weekly shop from the car, these women are what make the female kind such a force.

I notice a young woman in her yard and I cautiously approach hoping not to intrude, she smiles at me, welcoming me into her front yard. She is young, 15 she tells me and with babe in her arms. I notice that her baby has eyeliner on and with the help of our groups translator I am told that the eyeliner protects the child from evil spirits and my instant thought is “well of course a mother would want to protect her child from evil”. Now I have a confession before my travels I would of told you that I am an open minded person but I don’t think I was as open minded as I thought. If you’d of told me that in some cultures they put eyeliner on children to warn off evil spirits, I’d of probably said “why would anyone think eyeliner can warn off evil spirits”. Now things are different, I am different, I immediately accepted that a mother would do whatever she could to keep her child safe.

The baby girl reaches both arms out to me and I quickly look at her mum to confirm that it’s okay for me to take the child in my arms, mum unconcerned has no problems with this. The baby girl has beautiful big brown eyes highlighted by the eyeliner, wispy jet black curly hair and shows off the most splendid dimples as she flashes a gummy smile. It’s official I was infatuated and smitten whatever you wanna call it, I loved her in that moment. I told mum via the translator that she was a wonderful mother because her baby was so happy. “You are doing such a good job raising your baby” I said. The translator speaks as he speaks the woman bobs her head side to side whilst waging her finger, oh dear I thought, wagging a finger is an international sign for you are in trouble. The woman turns to face me and says “we raise her”, I say “sorry, we?” The young mother looks at me and says in Hindi “the village raises her, it takes a village to raise her, we all contribute to the person she becomes”.

I was dumbfounded, lost for words, I looked at this mother and I thought “well you certainly get it”. In the west there is a sense of arrogance, we’ve been through multiple revolutions; industrial, economical, digital and the swinging sixties to name a few and we think we know best and yet a young mother in a village in India blows the west’s ideologies out of the water. Yes it does take more then mum and dad to raise a baby, in fact that benefits all those involved including the child.  Through all our revolutions I cannot help but feel that the term family has been defined by the west and it takes a young mother from India to remind me that family is a feeling not a definition, family is those who add to your growth and development.

Introducing myself

Hi,

My name is Amy and I thought I knew what I wanted in life until I got it, turns out that it was never mine too have. I had built such expectations, wasting pointless energy, stressing about getting what I thought I wanted and trying desperately to fit in this box that was never meant for me, my box is not a box but a backpack. For the first time in my life I was going to be brave and say F**k it! I packed my bag and went, not to find myself as I know who I am but to remember who I’ve always been, without the constraints of my own expectations and society’s beady-eyes glaring down on me. This was not how I expected my 30s to be but there’s no time like the present to reclaim your life back and give yourself a lifestyle.

I was given this blog as a birthday gift by a dear friend of mine as she seems to think my travel stories are worth reading. I’ll be sharing with you stories from my journal, short ones, serious ones and hopefully funny ones, along with my thoughts, feelings and passions.

In 8 months I have travelled 11 countries, my current location is New Zealand where I am on a working holiday visa in an attempt to save some money to travel further and for longer. This last 8 months have certainly been varied that’s for sure. I have travelled in small groups, large groups, solo, on a tight budget on a big budget, to cheap destinations and expensive ones.

Today’s story I share with you is about a monk, Dr Seuss and me.

I was in Yangon airport in Myanmar waiting for my flight check-in desk to open, a monk on the next bench approached me asking if I could help him to read a book. I jumped at the opportunity to help someone that was until he pulled out a Dr Seuss book, have you ever tried to read Dr Seuss books out loud? It’s really difficult especially if your dyslexic like me. I am full of admiration for people who can read these books out loud.

As it turns out he really wanted to practice his English by having a conversation with me and with a sigh of relief I obliged. He seemed very impressed when I told him I was from England, telling me with absolutely certainty that “England was very far away”, he then asked me what I was doing in Myanmar and I told him that I was travelling, a concept that he did not grasp so I said “a holiday” he said “oh nice, you like Myanmar” “very much” was my immediate reply.  Looking around as though he misplaced something he then said “Where is your husband” I thought oh dear here goes, like a lead ballon this is going to go down really well. To say he was astounded is an understatement “no husband, how old are you?” He said shell shocked “31” was my reply “and no husband” his mouth actually fell open and it took every ounce of me not to fall about laughing at the baby-faced monk.

I swiftly asked him questions in order to distract from the awkwardness. It turned out he was 15 years old orphan which is why he is a monk, the monastery took him in after his parents died, cared and look after him, teaching him the Buddhist way of life. I asked him if he liked the teachings of Buddhism, his reply was “yes, in Buddhism everything is a cycle, it makes sense”. He went on to tell me that he hoped to become a teacher and his favourite football teams were Manchester United and Real Madrid and of course his favourite footballer was Cristiano Ronaldo. “Who is your team?” He asked eyes lit up with intrigue. I’m still not sure if he was more dismayed by the fact I was in my 30’s and unmarried or by the fact I am Liverpool fan. We said our goodbye as his flight checked in before mine and even to this day I find myself thinking and hoping for him, that one day his dreams come true. During my travels I have learnt that people genuinely have a impact on you, even if you’ve only spent minutes with them, some of them will have a lifelong impact on you, remarkable.

First things first; who is Amy?

BFA17FCE-0486-4F16-AD4E-5B4A23919B64Where to start, Amy is Yorkshire born and bred. She’s your typical Yorkshire lass…likes a cup of tea and a chin wag!

Earlier this year, she decided to take herself off around the world and explore new places and meet new people – something that really makes her heart smile. Her enthusiasm for travelling is inherent and her gift of the gab makes her a very interesting and loveable character.

Shes funny and witty and makes everyone around her laugh. Most of all, she’s a friend, who no matter where she is in the world, has inspiring things to say and support to offer.

The way she describes life and her journey is phenomenal and honest. She makes me want to be where she is with every letter she writes.

Read her blog, check her out. I guarantee you’ll love her as much as I do, her thirst for life and new experiences, is contagious,

 

Hardy xx