It is 5.45 am and I just woke up. November 8, 2016. A big day, not only in the United States of America, but also on a Malesian island called Pangkor.
It is my 27th birthday.
These days it is not uncommon to hear people talk about having an age crisis. I recently met a girl who said she’s going to cry when she turns 25, and for some reason most of us don’t want to turn 30, as if life would be over by then.
I’m happy to say I’m not one of those. Today marks my 27th birthday, and I feel more alive than ever. You know that quote ”We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us”? Well, it might sound crazy but in some way I feel like I’ve only just come alive. My life has only just started, and I can’t wait to see what the coming year(s) has (/have) in store for me.
Year 27 has been a big one, a tough one, far from a happy dance on fluffy pink clouds. I graduated, which brought an end to my 6 years of studies. The carefree days of studying, working part time in a job that I knew wasn’t for me, socializing and having fun were over, and I started in my first real job. I’d signed a one year contract that would give me 12 months to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.
Did I want to go abroad? So I’d said, always, however without having done much about it. To be completely honest, I hadn’t done anything about it. Where did I want to go? I had no idea. It was a tough decision, that to leave, but there’s no doubt about it being the best decision I’ve ever made. No doubts, none.
I am super happy and grateful for having had the courage to leave. It wasn’t easy, though; in fact, it was everything but. Nevertheless I’m glad I leaped, because the net did appear, and I’m alive and well.
The first month in Indonesia was clearly about getting settled into a new way of living. When I first arrived in Bali I had no clue of what to expect from it. I’d done no research, I had no plans, so when people talked about doing stuff I went along, ”Sure, I’ll join!”. I ended up traveling through Bali, Lombok, and the Gili Islands, and it was good, but after 30 days when having to leave the country I was surprised of how neutral I felt about it. No big emotions, no ”I don’t want to leave this place!”.
Four days ago when leaving Thailand it was a whole different story. I would not have wanted to leave. One night in Bangkok was followed by two days of camping in Pai, which, to be honest, was not the best, but I was in good company, with Lauren, so it was still good. Chiang Mai I loved, there was so much to see and do and I loved that feeling of freedom when biking through the city at 11 pm after having spent the whole day in a café and then gone to the movies and met up for a beer with a friend, just like a local. That feeling is something I was lacking in Indonesia, so I ended up staying for over a week. Koh Tao was amazing, simply amazing: I felt like a fish in the water and had so much fun; not only when diving. Lastly, despite all the chaos in my head, Koh Yao Noi was beautiful: quiet, peaceful, wondrous, almost. Again, on the day that I had to leave I would much rather have stayed.
My last night in Thailand I spent in Phuket, where I met up with Lara. Arriving in Patong I found myself thinking that I’d much rather be somewhere authentic, somewhere real. It felt like quite the tourist trap, but as Lara was already there I had no choice but to go. Well, now that can be checked off of my list of places I’ve visited.
I am super happy that I decided to go to Thailand although it was in the wrong direction from where I’m heading (Australia). I only visited a few places, but for every day that went by I could tell that I was getting more and more comfortable. Comfortable not only with traveling alone, being all by myself, but with having no plan, too. Now that I think of it it’s funny to see how stressed I was in the beginning for not knowing where I was going or what I was going to do, whereas now I feel like I have way too many plans.
So now I am missing my freedom. I’d much rather be free as a bird, I miss having the option to stay in a place for as long as I want, as long as I feel like. That doesn’t mean I have any doubts about Australia being just as awesome as everyone says, but still. I loved Thailand, and will go back for sure.
I am now in Malaysia, and on Sunday I’ll fly to Perth. This is where my ‘short pitstop in South-East Asia’ comes to an end and the real adventure starts. I’m excited to meet up with Dylan and Rob, my friends from exchange, and am looking forward to staying in one place for some time.
Come December I’ll fly to Melbourne to meet up with my dad, with whom we’re going to travel through Melbourne, Ayers Rock and Sydney. He flies out right before Christmas, when Marlene, a friend of mine from Germany, arrives with some friends of hers. We’ll spend Christmas and New Year’s in Sydney, after which I’ll meet up with my host family from Dallas, Texas, who, turns out, randomly happens to be going on vacation to Sydney and Port Douglas at the beginning of the year. When booking their trip they did know that I was going to be there, too, so when I first heard about their plans I was convinced that this is meant to be. I am actually meant to do this; travel.
Not bad, not bad at all. In fact, life is pretty darn good right now.
So, happy birthday to me and my fellow birthday-ers Anna and Asha. We rock!