Category Archives: Reflections

Coddiwompling my way through life

Coddiwompling.

I came across this word recently and it perfectly describes me at the moment. I can’t find the etymology of it anywhere except to say that it is slang, but it sounds like a word the BFG would use, it’s so sumptuous and dialectal. Try saying it out loud. Delicious isn’t it? It means ‘travelling purposefully without a clear destination’ and it captures the recent directionless meanderings of my 40s, as I strike out purposefully and enthusiastically without really having any idea of where I am going, relying on my intuition and my feet to get me to wherever I end up.

It is a motion I have come to enjoy. I seize opportunities that arrive without me seeking them, I loose myself in places and feelings and I enjoy the experience. I open myself up to people and ideas like I’ve never done before. I find it invigorating and challenging and it makes me happy.

I don’t know if I ever really want to find out where I’m heading when I’m having so much fun coddiwompling, but I think Tolkien was right when he wrote: ‘not all those who wander are lost’.

 

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Bumpy Roads

For the first time since I left the UK behind I find I am hitting a few road bumps in life. Sure, life in Myanmar was difficult, but I felt like those bumps were an integral part of the journey away from the UK and into International living.

Now I am living in Indonesia I am finding new frustrations that are not simply to be written off as a result of a new culture. In fact, several bumps seem to stem from UK sources and long term issues rather than being  new things I can blame on a different culture. As I head towards my first trip home after 18 months I find myself excited at the prospect of achieving a little ‘normality’ for a while, something I didn’t expect to feel.

My biggest frustration is getting out of Surabaya. I have been thwarted a few times by delayed flights and ticket malfunctions and I’m beginning to imagine it as a black hole that is sucking me in. I don’t hate the place. I’m happier here than I was in Yangon but I do need to get away from its bubble and touch base with other places. I don’t consider it comfortable enough to be my home. Yet despite the best laid plans I’m finding it hard to leave. This has never happened to me before so I am bemused by it and mildly anxious too. Am I getting lazy in my travel planning? Is travel here really that much more difficult? Or has my luck just run out?

Other stresses include a lingering ear infection that I simply can’t shift. Aggressive ear syringing, a range of antibiotics and anti histamine and an allergic reaction to prescribed pain killers have not removed the problem, and being half deaf but not sick enough to stay off work is very tiring when teaching. Especially when, ironically, I am teaching listening skills!

Additionally, trying to resolve UK banking issues when you’re half way round the world is also a mission, especially when your Internet is more unreliable than it was in technologically challenged Myanmar. Despite paying a fortune for premium service I am having a running battle to get any connectivity at all most evenings and several service visits from the provider have done little except prove that doing the same thing over and over again is not going to solve the problem!

Anyway, sometime last year Internet Banking regulations changed, and I missed it. I’d turned paper communications off, or so I thought, and my UK address certainly didn’t get any post regarding the matter and I didn’t receive any emails about it either. So when I tried to log in to transfer money to my friend after our epic Australian adventure I discovered I couldn’t access my own money. Which was weird, because I’d logged in before Christmas with no trouble.

Apparently the bank needs proof of who I am, despite the fact that I’d gone through all the security questions when I rang them to query the situation. Suddenly, I discover I have very few ways of proving who I am. Passport? Yes. Utility bill. No, that’s all managed by my employer in their name. Driving license. Not registered at the UK address I’d provided for my mail. I moved twice in the last four months before I left the UK and it wasn’t a priority to update it in the grander scheme of packing up my life and leaving the country. Stupid? Possibly, and I’d advise anyone preparing to leave the UK for a while to make sure all your documentation matches before you go. I hadn’t realised they didn’t, or that it mattered, but then I was setting out on my own without a clue as to what I was doing!

The solution? A Skype interview where they see me, my passport and a letter from work confirming who I am and where I live which will be photographed during the appointment. (They rejected my offer to scan and send these details, even though that is essentially what they’ll be doing live anyway.) When? February 25th, six weeks after the problem was found. I was advised that I’d get temporary access to my account in between times. I haven’t, and I’ve been too deaf and fed up to try and sort it out. So I’m currently hoping that my hearing clears enough for me to phone and the Internet issues are resolved in time for me to attend the appointment, although I’m not holding my breath for either.

These bumps are a test of my patience; not my courage or skills, and I’m finding it quite wearing. Having done all I can for the time being, I have to put these issues into the lap of the Gods and it seems to me, for the first time in 18 months, that they have deserted me.

Of course, another explanation is that adventure mode is finally being replaced by normal life mode and I am starting to tune into a more settled life style with all its regular, everyday problems.

And that, truthfully, is probably a good sign that I’m on the right road.

In need of a cat

One of the biggest sacrifices I have made, with my decision to pack up and see the world while working abroad, is the loss of having a cat in my life.

Cats are a serious responsibility and a long-term commitment. I should know, having spent nearly eighteen years grounded in the UK because two beautiful cats owned me. While thinking about emigration to Australia I baulked, because my older cat was getting too elderly and cats – let’s be honest – are not very welcome in Australia. I couldn’t see myself putting them through a very gruelling journey and quarantine conditions, only to keep them shut up at the other end. So I stayed put.

That’s not to say I didn’t travel. I spent three months travelling around Australia and made several other long trips whilst a pet owner. But I had a wonderful support system of cat sitters and a comfortable home for the cats to live in. I wasn’t up-rooting them or leaving them uncared for. And truthfully, cats don’t need a great deal of looking after as long as they have food, water and a cat flap. They can almost look after themselves!

But now I’m abroad and I find I can’t, in all conscience, accept responsibility for a cat again. The temporary nature of my position; the school-supplied accommodation on the 19th floor of an apartment building; the fact that I am in a place where I can go out and explore the far reaches of South East Asia with great ease, make that commitment a no-no.

And I miss it. I miss being greeted at the door with an indignant cry of ‘where the hell have you been? Where’s my dinner?’ I long for the additional weight on the pillow that pins me into the same position all night, whilst being lulled to sleep by the comforting purr of loving companions. I miss tripping over furry friends and having someone – who truthfully doesn’t give a damn – to tell my day to, just so that I can get it all off my chest. I miss the affection and rejection a cat gives; their contrary nature; their serenity.

I see the odd cat around the neighbourhood but they are flighty, unfriendly and frankly, not very beautiful. Runny eyes and stubby tails indicate a life away from humans that make any solace from them extremely unlikely. Still, I do the mad cat lady thing and have a chat with them anyway. They just blink at me from a distance, usually in a distrustful crouch, ready to escape if I make any kind of movement.

The next best thing is dogs. My boss has a tiny Yorkie who comes to work with her. I cuddle that dog at every opportunity and will greet her before I talk to anyone else! But I do feel this is slightly disloyal as a lifelong cat fanatic.

So, I rely on social media as a way of enjoying the complex nature of cat ownership, without the commitment. Simon’s Cat animations on Youtube, Buzz-Feed mash-ups, Tom Cox and his SadCat; anything that makes me laugh, cry or nod in understanding, to fill the gnawing absence that I feel every day. But it’s not much of a fix, I can tell you.

I even have a Tigger, velvet soft and the size of a small cat, which accompanies me to sleep at night. It helps, a little, but it’s not quite the same thing. Nothing is.

 

 

Kidulthood

I was recently introduced to a new term that may describe my passion for life: kidulthood. Apparently it refers to the generation of adults who have not given up childish things but embrace their inner kid on an adult level. It does not mean they are Peter Pans who refuse to grow up. Oh no. It covers the generation, my generation, who love Harry Potter, watch every Pixar film without, or with, accompanying children and who aren’t afraid to wear childhood cartoon favourites on their tee-shirts and accessories.

We are (mostly) responsible, intelligent adults, who are still able to see the wonder and beauty of the world with a child’s eyes, and an adult’s intellect. We have not forgotten what it is like to be free to enjoy ourselves and have got beyond caring what anyone else thinks of our childlike ways. We geek-out over stuff (although I prefer to call it fan-girling) and can appreciate things on many different levels.

Take my recent trip to Disneyland Hong Kong as an example. It was my first Disney experience and, at over 40 and with no children in tow, I was slightly worried that there wouldn’t be that much for me to do except enjoy the ‘experience’.  However, having arrived on a train with Micky shaped windows, I was already bouncing with anticipation like an overgrown Tigger before we’d even got through the gate. I Dick Van Dyke danced down the avenue to the various Disney themes that were playing and positively lit-up when I saw the castle at the end of Main Street. I ran between rides and insisted that we did several ‘again, again’. There was no resistance from my accompanying kidult who sported a fetching pair of Minnie ears with princess crown for most of the day.

Space Mountain and the Runaway Mine Cars were good rollercoasters that satisfied the thrill seeker in me while Micky’s PhilharMagic and Mystic Manor left me wide-eyed in wonder at the magic of it all. I was conflicted by It’s a Small World when I couldn’t work out whether it was cute or really, really racist and didn’t rate it as highly as other attractions but the highlight of the day had to be my purchase of cotton candy on a rainbow flashing glow-stick. Apparently, my face was a picture and my tongue was blue!

Yet it wasn’t just about being ‘at play’. I truly appreciated the way Disneyland was presented. It might just be ‘Disney’ to the traditionalists and kill-joys but Disney do Disney really, really well. The combination of traditional fairytale Disney and popular Pixar worked brilliantly, although the adult in both of us missed Oscar winning Up! from the line up, which lead to a very grown-up debate about which films appeal more to adults than children in the Pixar back catalogue. Also, the Lion King show in the theatre-in-the-round was a fantastic piece of performance art, the Paint the Night light parade was better than any other carnival I’ve been to and the Disney in the Stars fireworks were just like the ones in the all the Disney opening credits. As a child I’d be awestruck, as a parent I’d be happy, as a kidult I was both!

To round an exhausting and exciting day off I purchased a Tigger cuddly toy, with additional Roo, to represent the kidult in me and satisfy my growing need to cuddle a cat every now and then. Kidulthood? I think so!

Leaving Yangon

I have waited to write this post because I thought a bit of time and space might help me understand my feelings a little better on the matter of leaving Yangon. I have even started writing this post several times, but what sounds right in my head never comes across clearly on the page. The fact remains that my thoughts and feelings about my time in Myanmar continue to be as contradictory and complicated as the place itself.

Any country that insists on driving on the right hand side of the road, using right wheel drive cars, is bound to be a challenging place to live. Nothing is done easily when it can be done in a more complicated, laborious way. It is done that way because it’s always been done that way, and while change is wanted and needed in the country, it seems a distant hope rather than a present possibility. This could be considered charming, and a characteristic of a country that is determined to maintain its unique identity, or it could be an indication of the very long slog Myanmar still has ahead of it as it makes its place in the world.

My personal experiences were very frustrating. I’m sure much of it stemmed from the transition of living and working in the UK to becoming an expat in a developing country. Things weren’t going to be easy, but I felt I had enough travel and professional experience to adapt. Certainly, my impression of the country as I travelled around left me spellbound with the Golden Land. Ancient pagodas; beautiful landscapes; tropical beaches; charming, funny people who didn’t have much but were willing to do anything to help you and who smiled at the drop of a hat.

But Yangon was a different case altogether. The gateway to Myanmar, but a singularly unattractive one. Dirty, dusty and inconsistent are the adjectives I mostly associate with the place. It could, and did, give with one hand and then take away with the other. It has the Shwedagon Pagoda, which is beautiful, it has Scott Market and pretty much everything you need in some way, shape or form, if you are willing to search it out. It does have what you need. Mostly.

But.

Things are hard to find, both in a retail and geographical sense. Sometimes you can find items that you want, if you are prepared to shop around. Often you cannot. Everything is very spaced out across the city, nothing is in easy reach, and sometimes I couldn’t find places I’d visited many times before, even after 9 months of living there. I can read a map. I have navigated my way around many, many cities using a map, my common sense and visual cues. Yet, I found it impossible to navigate Yangon. My map proved useless, with insufficient detail to pinpoint locations. Taxis never took the same route twice due to severe traffic congestion, so my visual cues never took root, plus, apart from Shwedagon, the city lacks memorable landmarks. My common sense was repeatedly thwarted. It frustrated the hell out of me.

I wanted to like Yangon but it never grew on me. Day to day living was often more complicated than it needed to be. Being white meant hugely inflated taxi fares. A visit to the Post Office could take up half your day. A walk up the road could put your life in your hands when dodging traffic, open drains and crowds who appeared to have no spatial awareness whatsoever. Even the simplest task became hard work when faced with rigid rule followers, inefficiency, or insufficient language to communicate successfully.

I was luckier than some. I had school accommodation, a cleaner and a two minute walk to work. However, my accommodation was dark, uncomfortable, and regularly infested with visitors of a less than welcome kind. My job did not live up to its promise and the place seemed to become a microcosm of the frustrations I encountered in Myanmar society. It became clear to me, fairly early on, that I was not going to stay two years as I had hoped.

However, if I hadn’t gone to Myanmar I would never have had the opportunity to do the travelling I have so recently enjoyed. I wouldn’t have had the time or the money. By ending my contract early, I was ideally placed to visit other countries on a shoestring and scratch the eternal itch of Wanderlust. I spent a very happy summer doing just that and arrived at my new destination eager and ready to go. For that I am eternally grateful.

I am also grateful, that on my last, predictably frustrating, exit from Yangon Airport, (I was prevented from taking an empty water bottle in my hand luggage but the multi-tool, lying forgotten at the bottom, was completely missed. The transfer check-in staff in Thailand however, nearly had a fit!) Yangon chose to show me a sight I had always looked for but never seen. As I flew away to Chiang Mai to start my new adventure I could see the whole city spread out beneath me, with golden Shwedagon sitting proudly on its hill, the towers and grid system of Downtown visible to all; all cradled by the broad arm of the river, separating the emerald rice fields of Dalah from its urban neighbour.

It was beautiful!

It’s been a year already!

As of today (July 11th) I have considered myself an expat for one year. I have not considered England as ‘home’ for 365 days. Not that I’ve considered anywhere else to be home either. Dissatisfied with life in Myanmar I am currently between jobs and between countries, touring my way around SE Asia before making another new start abroad.

Will I ever consider England as my home again? Possibly. Hopefully not. I don’t know. But over the course of a year I have realised there are some things I miss:

1) The people. Not the beer swilling, hooligan, tourist stereotypes obviously. But my people. The people who have filled my life and are important to me. Family. My best friend, who will in fact, be heading out this way for her own new job this summer. (I’ve told her to stop following me but thankfully she doesn’t listen!). My old colleagues, many of whom were setting off on their own adventures at the same time as me. The people who showed me love and support when I couldn’t show it to myself. I’ve been a poor communicator of late but I know they’re there and they’re all greatly missed.

2) Cats. I’ve had more cat action while I’ve been touring than I had in the whole nine months I was in Myanmar. (Clearly a sign I wasn’t meant to stay there). But it still hasn’t been enough. I still feel guilty about giving Shelly away, even though it has afforded me previously unimagined opportunities. I am no longer a mad cat woman, although I do still talk aloud to every cat I see! I miss the weight of a cat on my lap or my pillow; the sense of calm a purr gives me; the amusement and companionship I had as a result of being owned by cats (thank goodness for cats on the Internet!). Most of all I think I miss the responsibility of having to care for someone (my cats were my family too) and being loved for it, albeit conditionally, as every cat lover will appreciate.

3) Pavements. Actually what I really miss is being able to walk without having to watch every. single. step. I. take. Mostly, pavements only seem to exist in more developed countries with some sense of infrastructure. If you do get pavements at all in SE Asia, and you can’t bank on it, they are often irregular, dusty, dirty, broken down and pitted with open drains for you to fall into, leaving you taking your chances in the road with the lovely traffic while watching every step you take. It gets a bit tiresome.

4) Wearing jumpers. I know that sounds odd. Who would want to give up year round warmth in the tropics to return to a climate that requires knitwear? I don’t. But I do miss cuddling up in a chunky jumper. I always had more jumpers than anything else and now I don’t need any. I find myself yearning to buy the sweaters I see in the big city malls I visit, knowing I’ll never wear them while trying to justify the purchase to myself.

5) Baths. Long, indulgent soaks in bubbles with a glass of vino in attendance. Of course baths exist out here (although getting a plug for one is another matter altogether) but putting myself in a tub of hot water that matches the temperature outside is an invitation to blackout and do myself some damage.

6) Pub gardens. Sitting admiring some exotic view on a grubby chair beside a dusty road is great, for a while. But I do hanker for grass beneath my feet, slatted wooden bench tables and the familiar twitter of birds rather than the rush of traffic, as me and my friends chat in the warm sunlight under a tree and enjoy our tipple of choice together, whiling away a lazy summer afternoon.

7) A decent cup of builder’s tea. Lipton Yellow label just doesn’t cut it I’m afraid and while I am developing a taste for all kinds of exotic hot and cold tea beverages what I really want is a huge mug of Yorkshire Gold, stewed to perfection and served with sufficient milk to make it the colour of rich tea biscuits.

While this is by no means a comprehensive list, it does illustrate the things that do, occasionally, catch me unawares and start me reminiscing about life in Blighty. But if they really are the worst of it it can’t be too bad, can it?

From sunrise to sunset

‘It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, … and I’m feeling good’

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As I watched the sunrise behind Angkor Wat to mark the summer solstice of 2015 I got to thinking about the significance of the sun rising and setting and the beautiful versions I had witnessed.

In every culture, the sunrise and sunset holds significance. The dawn is a symbol of new beginnings and something I have become more keenly attuned to in recent years, making sunrise my favourite time of day. The dusk offers us closure, and it can be a fearful time when darkness and trouble closes about us. To my mind, it is an opportunity to reflect, and prepare for the new day.

Unfortunately, the promise of a sunrise or sunset in an exotic place can often be like the promise of the New Year, with all the potential and all the anti-climax that goes with it. I have been fortunate enough to witness some amazing dawns and dusks on my travels. And also, some damp squibs.

My greatest disappointment was probably at Uluru. I’d been aching to visit such a mythical, spiritual place for years and when I finally go there, on a beautiful day, I wasn’t disappointed. However, the beauty of the day didn’t encourage a beautiful sunset and the sun went down without the spectacular show of colour I had dreamt of. Just a slow dimming of the sky from blue to white to black and a greying of the famous Rock. Clearly, the spirits were not looking favourably upon us that evening. ‘Never mind’ I thought, ‘the sunrise will be better’. And it was, as the Rock achieved a warming glow, yet I still felt a little cheated of the colours I had dreamt of.

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A better example was the sunset and sunrise over the Sahara desert in Morocco. Maybe, because it was almost the New Year, the day decided to celebrate with us. Or, more realistically, perhaps there were more molecules in the air, serving to scatter the light and offer us the exotic golds of dusk and vivid pinks and oranges of dawn that sat beautifully above the orange sand.

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My favourite experiences (so far) were probably in Myanmar. Maybe it is the eternal layer of dust in the sky that fractures the light so beautifully but both sunsets I witnessed, in Mandalay and Bagan, were so powerful I could feel the heat of the red sky on my face for sometime afterwards. As for the sun rise over Bagan… words can’t really describe the way the light slowly grew through the mist of the early morning over all those half ruined pagodas. It was breathtaking.

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Sadly, the sunrise and sunset I saw in Cambodia were not really ones to write home about (hence the tangent!) but they were still an opportunity to reflect. Cloudy weather tempered the possibility of spectacular colour and light, yet the stillness of the hour, the gentle murmur of voices and the soft light, seemingly painted by the wings of birds wheeling through the air, still made for a reverential sight. I realised that I really don’t have a worry in the world, the darkness holds no fears for me now, and I appreciate that each day doesn’t have to be spectacular to be worthwhile. They are all a new beginning and a chance to live, full of light and promise.

Reflections on Inle Lake

As my brightly painted long-tail boat sped back across the vast, tranquil waters of Inle Lake, I took a moment to count my blessings. The sun warmed my back as the moon beckoned me on to my hotel in Nyaungshwe and I felt, well, blessed.

According to Timehop exactly one year ago to the day I had spent ten successive days marking and moderating GCSE folders, crunching data, writing reports and filing progress checks, on top of my normal teaching timetable, while frantically searching for new accommodation and a new job! Fast forward 365 days and I was exploring an area of natural beauty by wooden boat, visiting watery villages built on stilts over the lake; watching local fishermen balance, one-legged, on the very tip of their long, low wooden boats, reeling in nets while steering with a pole entwined by their other leg. I was laughing as flocks of black cormorants dispersed before us, taking cartoon runs across the surface of the water before settling down a few yards further on.

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I was realizing how lucky I was to experience this place. Popular, by Myanmar tourist standards, but vast enough not to feel crowded. I could see plenty of other long boats scudding along in the distance and hear the lawn-mower hum of their engines but I was also passing ordinary fishermen, plying their trade, mostly oblivious to us. I felt like I’d gone back in time and I stopped taking photos and just watched what they were doing, drinking in the scene. Having the time, and peace, to be able to do that was a world away from last year. I was in a different world, and I was happy to be there.

So happy, I ordered salad and a virgin mojito for dinner because heavier food would have spoilt the satisfaction I was feeling with the world! The place felt unsullied by modern living. (That is, if you look away from the perennial problem of plastic that litters the sides of the lake quite deeply in places). Simple, peaceful, almost unspoilt. I had to count my lucky stars.

I didn’t think I could like Inle Lake any more after that first day but I fell in love with it all over again the next morning. Scooting back down the canal to the now misty expanse of lake was a chilly experience, but to see fishing boats emerge out of the mist in all their pastoral glory is a sight not to be missed.

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Continuing my exploration of the channels, villages and floating gardens didn’t get old on the second day and, while I was subjected to the tourist sell even Myanmar can’t escape from, I enjoyed learning about the process of weaving lotus silk, the way to test true silver and cheroot making, each illustrating a culture rich in colour, creativity and industry.

I also loved the day market I visited. Once I’d got past the tourist stalls (yes, I did purchase – I can’t even resist the soft sell!) and into the local’s section I lost all sense of time and orientation as I wandered happily, watching cheroot smoking grandmas and a plethora of brightly hatted locals wearing colourful headscarves made from local material, or more often than not, simply colourful towels. I’ve always loved markets but this riverbank rural delight comes close to the top of the list.

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I also loved Shwe Indein Paya, a mad juxtaposition of old, crumbling, brickwork stupas reminiscent of Began, and recently restored white and gold stupas that seemed charmless in comparison. Many of the new stupas were restored with donations and had plaques of dedication on them but I preferred the older, ruinous sections more, with trees growing out of stupas and broken buddhas. Myanmar has many such sites which could be UNESCO Heritage sites but after a long period of isolation from the world the country has been slow to take on the offers of help from outside agencies, leaving beautiful sites to crumble or managing the renovations themselves, resulting in a strange juxtaposition of old and new like at Indein.

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To reach Indein you have to follow a long canal. I say canal because it was vaguely reminiscent of the scrubbier parts of the Grand Union, and it even had locks. Not the locks we know it the UK but man made steps up and down the waterway. Here, they are simply bamboo poles driven into the riverbed leaving a gap wide enough for one boat to pass through at a time. Then sandbags and reeds and debris ‘walls’ stop the water from passing and raise the level of the river behind it a little way. When you ride them in a longboat it is like bumping over the little waves on a water-ride, although the prow of the long boat rises several feet into the air and it makes it look like you are cresting white water!

My third day was very lazy. Nyaungshwe is a typical tourist base these days with little to see or do so I went to the Red Mountain Winery to spend the morning gazing out across the Shan plateau with Inle Lake to my left and rolling vineyards to my right, tasting wine and eating pizza. In spite of everything, Western influence is galloping a pace across the country, but, as yet, it hasn’t spoilt it.

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Again, I got to reflecting on how lucky I am. I was enjoying beautiful scenery less touched by tourism than many places in the world today. I’d met lovely people and seen amazing places that I’d never even heard of twelve months ago. I wasn’t working my arse off for little reward or stressed out beyond all reason. I was enjoying myself. I was content.

Travel Anxiety

Why, oh why, can’t I sleep the night before a trip?

I could put last night’s sleeplessness down to my full bladder, or the tinny music being pumped out around the neighbourhood at 3.30am, but I’d been restless before then. No, it’s something else.

I’m well accustomed to travel, and to travelling on my own, but for some reason sleep always evades me the night before I go. It could be anticipation, the excitement that I will get to do what I love doing with no interference. But I fear it is the eternal worrier that breaks into my subconscious and troubles me. Have I set the alarm? Have I got everything? Where did I put my passport? It has my mother’s voice; which both infuriates and saddens me.

Recently I have worked on getting my travel OCD mostly under control, in daylight hours at least. I only check my bag for the correct documents, camera, phone and purse once (or possibly twice) now, instead of repeatedly. I get to the airport in plenty of time, having shed travelling companions that enjoy the frisson of the last minute dash. I’m content to relax with a coffee and people-watch rather than rush around and begin my adventure grumpy. I’m confident that everything is booked because I have booked it and checked it, and I have a loose plan about what I’m going to do, with plenty of scope for accidental tourism, ONCE I GET THERE!

It is not the act of arriving that troubles me, but the act of going. My subconscious reminds me that I am stepping into the unknown once more; challenging myself further; taking previously undreamt of opportunities. But conversely, I fear it also asks me if I should? If it’s Ok to do these things and enjoy them? If I’m being selfish?

And I do wonder. Am I ready to let it all go?

Not quite. Not yet.

But I’m working on it.

Nobody Told Me

Recently, I’ve found myself reflecting on the same thing over and over again:

‘If someone had told me…’

This is not to cast blame but in a sense of wonder at how times, and I, have changed. Wonder that life holds such amazing surprises, unexpected twists and undreamt of paths, and that I am now able to enjoy them.

If someone had told me ten years ago that I wouldn’t get married to Jaye, I wouldn’t live in England in domesticated bliss and I wouldn’t be a mad cat woman, I would never have believed them.

If someone had told me three years ago that on a future anniversary of the day I got my heart well and truly broken I would be relaxing on a tropical beach having snorkeled all morning from my rented boat, I would have laughed (or more probably sobbed) in their face.

If someone had told me a year ago today (Feb. 2nd) that I’d be sitting in the British Embassy in Yangon waiting to renew my passport because I didn’t have enough pages left to continue my travels, I would first have asked ‘Where?’ then said ‘We’ll see.’

I sometimes wonder where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing in the years ahead as my life continues to be the most amazing journey I have ever made, but actually, it doesn’t really matter. As long as I continue to take the wonderful opportunities that are presented to me and live a useful life, I don’t mind where I am or what I’m doing, as long as I am happy.

And I’m glad I found that out for myself; that nobody told me.