I can hardly believe that these next words are about to be typed by the fingers attached to my not-Donald-Trump-small-but-still-surprisingly-small hands but here goes; tomorrow afternoon I will be leaving New Zealand. For good, or at least for the foreseeable. Even more unbelievable is what comes next; give or take a week or 2 I have been travelling this side of the world for a year. Between Fiji and New Zealand its been about a year and a major chapter in my metaphorical book (maybe one day but don’t pressure me!) is coming to an end and I guess a new one is about to begin.
Where to next you may ask, well not home that’s for sure. I miss the people I left behind and I even miss Britain itself for everything wrong with it its still bloody good but I’m not ready to see it again yet and having just had my Working Holiday Visa for Australia signed off on I now have a perfect excuse not to. However, before heading down under there’s a certain other part of the world that I’ve had my apprehensive but still excited eye on for some time; South-East Asia.
I know, I know:
“Its the typical ‘Backpacker’ route, its sooooo clique and spoilt now not like it was 20 years ago…..”.
Well I was watching Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, sleeping with Pooki The Teddy Bear and believing that every 24th December a fat guy slid down the chimney of my house (that actually didn’t have a fireplace or a chimney now that I think about it) to deliver me and my older brother presidents if we behaved 20 years ago. So you can see why boozing on Khao San Road in Bangkok, Scuba Diving in Ko Tao and Tubing in Vang Vieng weren’t on the cards. Also, you try going to these places after almost a year in a country where they ID bearded 30-somethings for cigarettes, the police voluntarily walk you back to your accommodation when you’ve had a skin-full, neighbourhood watches are a thing and the most dangerous creature in the forest is a Possum and telling me that its not a change of pace or a shock to the system!
Alas though its happening. Tomorrow afternoon I will board a plane from Christchurch to Bangkok and feelings that I haven’t quite felt for, funnily enough, about a year are creeping back in. Excitement, confusion, intrigue and if I’m being totally honest fear. Luckily a friend of the family has agreed to put me up for a few days whilst I find my feet (metaphorically not literally; I know where my feet are and I can hardly stand them) which will hopefully take the initial sting off a little bit but still, s*its getting real.
As jittery and anxious as I may come across in this post its actually nothing compared to how I was this time last year. In fact at this precise moment I’m sat back in a comfy chair in a hostel lounge, sipping my drink and listening to Oasis, perhaps its partly down to so much time in such relaxed countries as Fiji and indeed New Zealand or just that I now actually have some travel experience, limited as it is.
On that subject though I feel I need to say something in this post; New Zealand, I am going to miss the hell out of you! I have had my loves and my hates and my ups and my downs with this place like I would have in any place that I called home for almost a year but by God NZ you varied, laid-back, easy-to-travel, over-priced, lazy, beautiful, friendly, pedantic, ridiculously safe, nanny-stated, surprisingly historical, boring, proud, exciting, multi-cultural, fun and loveable pair of rocks in the middle of the water I’m going to miss the f*ck out of you and everything you do!
Since getting here I’ve practically top-to-bottomed both islands, been hundreds of feet in the air and several feet under the water, been in boiling and freezing temperatures and been on-top of a mountain of snow and a mountain of sand (traversing both with an equal lack of grace). I’ve met people that I absolutely adore and would love to see again outside of my travels and I’ve met people that I absolutely despise and would also love to see again with matches. I’ve worked as everything from a Salesman at a crappy Call Centre selling online diplomas because why not? All the way to a Kitchen Hand at an Indian Restaurant and a Scaffold Assistant on a building site; both are positions that I was fortunate to walk away from with my limbs not to mention dignity intact.
I have also learnt what we all secretly have always known but occasionally forget until we get lovingly reminded and that’s that the best things that usually happen are unplanned. Just recently I hit Paihia intending to stay for 3 days and low and behold after 6 I was still there. Long story but an awesome hostel, an out of the blue road trip to Cape Reinga (one of my favourite spots in the country) an excessive amount of beer and some wonderful humans and hot girls played a massive part. The amount of times that one has checked into hostels with an early night on the cards and ended up steaming at 4am, stumbling through clubs, house parties and karaoke bars with people who 7 hours earlier were complete strangers is overwhelming. The hangovers were to.
The levels of kindness and generosity displayed by the people that I’ve met has been overwhelming as well. I’ve had everything from beer and homemade pizza all the way to rides and floors and couches to crash on offered to me and its my full intention to pay these warm souls back whenever I can.
Its funny, I’ve just read those last paragraphs back and they’re written as if its all coming to an end when its not. I can do all the research, ask all the forum members and friends in the world but truth is I don’t know what to expect from SE Asia, Australia or anywhere else this wily-Welshman, with a bit of Italian, may end up. All I know is there will be other people and although this can sometimes be a f*cking nightmare it does also ensure that similar good times are eventually certain to role.
Going from a place like New Zealand to a place like Thailand is like going into a fight with Anthony Joshua when your last opponent was Audley Harrison (Google him if you need to.) and Fiji wasn’t exactly the most intimidating environment you’ll ever see either. We have to step up one day though and part of the travel experience, as they say, is about stepping out of the comfort zone so that’s exactly what I’m doing. So next on the cards is hot food, hot weather, hot water, hot women (hopefully) and a lot of time spent feeling like the tallest man in the room.
NZ I love you, I’m going to miss you and I’m going to see you again I’d wager. So its haere rā New Zealand and Kia Ora SE Asia. Be safe!
I’m Tha Bozz and that’s my opinion.