Wow, 2011, what a year. It started with me wrapping up my comfortable city life in Sydney. I was preparing to venture into rural Tasmania to start 88 days agricultural work in an attempt to qualify for a second years working holiday visa for Australia. That’s exactly what I did. I battled with snakes, spiders and heaps of leeches, worked outside every single day and lived in a hut (more like a garden shed) in the woods. This experience was a life changer. Living off the land put me back in touch with nature and being away from services like the internet/mobile reception and any town for a continued period of time has made me much more grateful and enlightened me to an enjoyable lifestyle free from the 5-9 city grind. Although I won’t be rushing back to the extremity of that environment too quickly.
I completed my 88 days one day before my visa expired and hopped on a plane to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia leaving my girlfriend on the farm for two weeks on the promise I’d meet her at the airport in Bangkok. This is how the next three months backpacking around South East Asia started.
Between May-August I started a whirlwind trip overland (and water) through Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Time was spread very thinly, about two weeks in each country except Thailand which was 4 weeks and Cambodia which I loved so much I spent 3 weeks there. I’ve never had so many crazy unexpected experiences in my life. My highlights included: Scootering through the Bolivian Plateau in Laos, Living life on Otres Beach beach in Cambodia (Eat, Drink, Swim, Repeat), Eating everything in Malaysia, Cycling around the Don Dhet (4,000 islands, Laos) and drinking plenty of $1 beers with all of the fantastic travelers I met on the way.
Financially I lived on approximately $5,000 (AUD) between February-September. This is big for me and quite liberating. After September I had a job again and I have no idea of expenses when I’m getting a regular pay check, as long as I’m contributing to my savings plan.
I’ve read few books this year, notably Lonely Planet’s Short Travel Stories, Fortune Hotel: Twisted Travel Stories, Mr Nice and Bangkok Freefall. I started reading Perfume and Shantaram but haven’t found the time or been motivated enough to pick either of them back up. Something I plan to fix in 2012.
I’ve been back in Sydney since the end of August on my second year’s working holiday visa. I’ve settled in to city life again, and based myself back in Newtown and working at my old job at the University of New South Wales. The end of the year was full of celebrations, with a morning swim on Bronte beach for Christmas day and new years sat in a park on Sydney’s harbour side watching the iconic fireworks.
I’m continuing to working for the next 3 months, enjoying the summer, the beaches and the typical laid back aussie lifestyle that I’m already preparing myself to miss. I’m leaving Australia (probably for good) in June. In April I’m heading back up the east coast this time with my girlfriend, over the top and then driving from Darwin down to Perth where we will fly out to Asia for a two week holiday en-route to England. We then have a flight booked in September to Montreal in Canada where I hope to spend 2013 (As long as my visa paperwork goes through). That’s the plan anyway, as with most plans, they usually change 🙂
Here’s to another fun packed adventurous year. I can’t wait.
I’m going to write a separate post on my photography in 2011 and what plans I have for 2012. So stay tuned.