Travelling; Fear Verses Excitement

A cracking lady by the name of Lailah Gifty Akita, founder of the Smart Youth Volunteers Foundation in Ghana once very eloquently said; “Do not fear the unknown, dare to be adventurous in life.” I like that quote because it’s simple. It doesn’t sound like it’s trying to confuse or talk down to anybody and it carries a strong message. Approximately 4 months ago I took this philosophy quite literally when (after doing a fair bit of research and quote comparing don’t get me wrong!) I picked up the phone and booked a ticket for a trip to the other side of the planet.

Even at the time one of many things going through my head was a quote of my own that I’ve used several times in the last 7 years; “Anthony what the f*ck are you doing!?”. Alas the ticket has been bought, the travel friendly bank account has been setup, I know some basic Thai phrases, travel insurance is locked in, I’ve done more reading up on travel visas than most government officials, I have a certificate that says I’m a qualified English Language teacher and I’ve been jabbed with so many needles in the last 3 months that Hepatitis is scared to catch me! The excitement and anticipation is intense, even in North Wales’ frigid temperatures I’m breaking out in sweats. The unknown is exciting, its mysterious, its wondrous, its… f*cking terrifying!

I’m sorry if the sheer amount of shameless comma splicing above reads like a rant from the late-great George Carlin but I’m hoping it can give an insight into my mind-set. I have genuinely never felt a more intense combination of excitement and fear at the same time since the night I lost my ‘V’ and I’m a lot more sober right now than I was then. The feeling itself is immense and I’ve genuinely not felt so unmistakably alive probably since the night just mentioned and I haven’t smoked anything in ages.

However I’d be lying if I said my feet weren’t colder than a barefooted eskimo’s right now and I’d like to draw on yet another quote to help illustrate this fear from the equally brilliant H.P. Lovecraft who said; “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” I think he hit the nail on the head right there. I’ve never been to Fiji, I’ve never even met a Fijian I hear there great for the most part but I don’t know for sure.

Fear and anxiety are things that have always fascinated me as I’ve had my share of both and have found over time that a lot of both can be bought on unnecessarily. This is particularly the case for people such as myself that suffer from an overly active imagination. The hamster on the wheel controlling my imagination would lap Usain Bolt so bad that he’d be slapping him on the back on his way back round. Everything from missing flights, getting my ass kicked because I exist all the way to close encounters of the vestite kind have entered this loaf of bread and what’s even stranger is that a lot of the time I know it’s irrational.

Two of my best friends have been on very similar conquests and have both ensured me that such feelings are perfectly natural and that, frankly, they’d be more worried about me if I wasn’t feeling anything. So I guess I should not fear being fearful of fearing the fear that I’m fearing? Try that one after 8 pints.

What I’m trying to do though is separate the fears that are perfectly rational from the ones that just simply aren’t. Things like getting pick-pocketed, getting scammed, getting lost, maybe a touch of Bangkok Tummy, jet-lag, heat stroke, dengue, sea sickness, not finding work, checking into a hostel that looks like something out of, well….Hostel. All of those things seem like rational fears to me and they’ll quite possibly happen at least once but are they really the end of the world if they do? I think not, I’m a grown man and I’m not mentally made of glass. The point is as humans we can and will survive such things and undoubtedly have fun and tell stories about them afterwards.

Then we move onto the irrational fears and by-God I have to warn you writing these things out even makes me feel a little queasy. We’ve got not making any friends (not one!), all the locals wanting to kick my ass, all the travellers wanting to kick my ass, not being able to eat anything, not being able to drink anything, getting turned down for my Visa even though I’ve done everything to the letter, saying the wrong thing, angering the Thai Mafia, angering the Kiwi Mafia, angering the Fijian Mafia and catching one of the diseases that I’ve been protected against by the fore-mentioned needle invasion.

The above felt just as preposterous to write as it likely does to read and really illustrates how an imagination can run away with itself when giving the necessary stimulants. I love foreign food, I’ve done my research, I’m not a trouble maker and the vast majority of people in these countries aren’t either. Yes Thai people can be troublesome, so can Kiwi’s and so can Fijians but not because their Thai, Kiwi or Fijian but because there bloody PEOPLE! Such dangers exist wherever you go; if you dropped a 20-something year old Thai with basic English skills in the middle of London for the first time in his life in the middle of a cold January and told him to find his hostel he’d be s*itting bricks like I am because he’s a human being!…They don’t all know Muay Thai either!

Its okay for me to fear the unknown, it’s scary because it’s unknown. I’ve never felt heat like I’ll feel in Fiji, New Zealand looks like a maze and not a cheap one and I’ll never understand why in Thailand foreigners are expected to pay more for some things than locals (economically the country is actually doing very well). However, I feel like my biggest task is keeping the fear to a healthy and realistic level because despite it I am so damn excited to start this adventure and feel truly privileged to have the means to be able to do so. There’s good and there’s bad everywhere and with a cautious eye, a polite attitude and a smidgen of common sense I can’t wait to get out there and find the good stuff.

I’m Tha Bozz and that’s my opinion.

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. ressivocmer says:

    No worries Anthony, you’ll be fine. Thailand is very foreigner friendly country. When I moved out of the house I moved from Amsterdam to Bangkok. I was all alone and on the other side of the world. But the very day I arrived I ended up playing drinking games with a group of locals. It was that easy to make friends. And if you are a teacher (or Ajarn in Thai) you will enjoy an incredible amount of respect. I even had a run in with The Reds (one of the violent protesting groups) and the Thai Maffia, but as long as you do not act like an idiot they will leave you be.

    New Zealand is expensive, but not as expensive as I thought. It is actually very easy to travel around provided you have a driver’s license.

    Anyway, I could make a huge post but my point is that you will find out that these countries are friendly and accessible as long as you are friendly and respective of their customs. And if you have any burning questions I would be happy to help you out.

    1. That sounds like the perfect scenario! Thai people are renowned for being very friendly and tolerant but such a culture shock is daunting and I’m really doing my best to try and get as clued up as I can on the etic it (heads, feet, ‘keeping face’ etc lol!) as I really want to not be seen as a pain in the a** over there.

      I can already tell I’m going to end up in NZ longer than I originally planned for, soooo many things I want to do on both islands! I don’t drive personally but others do and there’s plenty of transport options from what I’ve read.

      Thanks for the comment buddy and I’ll keep that in mind and its very reassuring to read.

  2. Lukraakvars says:

    Truly enjoyed reading that post, dude (Do you mind being called dude??), you are funny as f*ck. You’ll be fine. I am from SA and I moved to the UK for a year and a bit and I survived. I don’t know how the Brits handled it but hey. I realise the language barrier is there but luckily an English speaking person will always be found. Are you going as a English teacher? Big bucks to be made. I wanted to go to Korea to do TEFL, never got to it. Enjoy 😀

    1. Thanks so much dude-ete! How old were you when you ended up in Blighty? I’m sure they loved you and were sad to see you go, where about did you stay? Yeah apparently English is on the rise in Thailand like in a lot of parts of Asia and I am hoping to get a teaching gig out there but one step at a time 😀 .

      1. Lukraakvars says:

        I was 18 when I moved to Guernsey, that little channel island close to France. I was sure sad to leave and had made some fantastic friends, most of whom I have lost contact with but some who, through the power of Facebook, I still get to stalk. We have a saying in Afrikaans “Hoe eet n mens n oliefant? Stukkie vir stukkie” Translated it says ” How do you eat an elephant? Piece by piece. Basically just saying that when a task looks to big to tackle, just take it bit by bit. (you probably figured that out for yourself, being a teacher and all haha) 😀

  3. mgherber33 says:

    Thanks for talking about all the scary parts of traveling, it’s easy to forget that there’s things to be nervous about. Like the other commenters said, you’ll be fine, most people mean well and hopefully the folks you meet will know that you mean well, too!

    1. Oh yeah the fear is very understandable which makes it a little easier to bear and comprehend.
      Thanks very much for reading!

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