Day 196 - deep and meaningful

Trip Start Jun 29, 2005
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Trip End Nov 30, 2009


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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

In the first couple months of being away I wrote a few deep and meaningful entries about my reasons for heading off on this trip and what I hoped to achieve from it. On the two month anniversary I wrote another regarding what I had learnt about myself on the road. I had hoped to write a more philosophical post every month or so, however the increased intensity of my travels since Malaysia has precluded me from doing that. I've been to so many places in such a short time that I haven't really had the luxury of being able to 'stop and think'.

So here's the next best thing. On a most important and auspicious 157th day of my travels (since June 29, if I can still count correctly) I'll start another one and maybe by the time I reach the end of the Trans Mongolian line in St Pete's around day 200 it might actually be finished. We shall see.

The reasons are still the same so if you want to you can go back here and see why I headed off on this great adventure. What I wanted to, and what I have actually achieved are more important now so here's the list broken down into

Achieved

- see Ayres Rock/Uluru - done
- grow a beard and see if it suits - done twice (needs temperate weather)
- learn to scuba dive and then do it in some interesting places (done but would have liked to do more actual diving. Red Sea shortly)
- visit some Aussie war memorials to pay respects (e.g. Sandakan, Malaya, Thai Burma railway, Tobruk, France etc) - done but missed a few. More effort required.
- climb a volcano (preferably erupting - gently though) - done at Cemoro Lewang, not erupting but that's probably a good thing in hindsight.
- see the Komodo dragons - done, lethargic little buggers
- go to Siberia - done from east to west. Would be interesting to go south to north one day.
- eat a bunch of stuff I haven't eaten before - have done but could do better
- explore Angkor Wat - done and want to do it again
- play a few rounds of golf in exotic places - Malaysia and Cambodia only, very expensive in Asia.
- herd some Yurts (think people in the know call them Gers)
- see the onion domes of Moscow

Missed

- wander along the Great Wall - due to visa problems. Boo.

Still to go

- do a traditional Scandinavian sauna
- marvel at The Pyramids and Petra
- visit the walled city of Dubrovnik
- stay at the Ice Hotel in Sweden
- dawn service at Gallipoli on Anzac day
- do my patron saint's (St Michael) pilgrimage to churches in Italy, France and the UK
- stay in the Star Wars hotel (Tunisia)

Should I add any more? I haven't really had time to think unfortunately so will just go with the flow and see what comes. You do miss the occasional big thing doing it that way but the multitude of spectacular little things seem to make up for it in the end.

More importantly is what I'm learning about myself. Have I noticed anything else or come to any further conclusions? Well, in my two month anniversary 'deep and meaningful' entry I wrote:

"The first thing I've realised is that since my formative years, I've never been passionate about anything, or anything useful at any rate. Nothing that has guided me into a particular field or career like other people seem to."

Sure I've had interests, I know a little about a lot of things, and I seem to help start or latch onto a fad pretty quickly (an early adopter in marketing parlance), but I've never really focused on something, learned it inside out, dedicated lots of spare time to it and become the resident nerd in its regard. Where other people have been inspired by circuit boards and got into computing, or healing people and became doctors, or watched birds and always wanted to fly (so they became pilots) - I flitted from one interest to the next, was a little above average at most things and still have no idea what the hell I'm doing..."

Which is still true, but after thinking more about it, so what if I have a short attention span? I've been interested in a lot of things throughout life and have enjoyed learning about them. I just have to come to the realisation that I'm not some boffin specialist, which is a good thing, and that I can turn being a jack of all trades into an advantage and hopefully a job that I love doing. Whether I'll do that by focussing on one area, or just letting fate decide which industry I move to next will be a more interesting question.

Apple founder, Steve Jobs, said in a recent Stanford University graduation address, 'Your time is limited, don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living by the results of other people's thinking... And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.' If I've learned anything in the past few months, it's that I've actually felt a little guilty about following my heart and intuition and that I shouldn't be so worried about it - or what others think about my choice of path.

Still, that all leads back to what the hell I'm meant to be doing, what is my destiny in life? At the moment that means keep on travelling, meeting new people, and writing about those experiences (and whatever else takes my fancy at the time). Maybe then life will take me to what I'm meant to be doing...

Which means I haven't worked much out at all in this regard, but at least I feel better about it...

I also wrote that I hadn't really extended myself travelling yet, and that overland across Java and through Burma probably would. Well I did do Java and Burma and they were both easier and at times more difficult than I would have thought. Still, from experiences from China to Russia, the difficulties of upcoming journeys through Egypt and the Middle East are starting to weigh heavily on my mind now, and although they will be ultimately rewarding, tough times are ahead at best. Especially since I've been on the road for more than six months which will add to the strain.

You will read all about the resulting shattered mess no doubt.

Another thing that I've known for a long time but has been reinforced on these travels is that I'm absolutely hopeless with women. So much so that friends back in Sydney used to call me Teflon, as most ladies used to slide right by even if the interest was mutual. My tongue ties and I just can't seem to get to a first date. Maybe I just haven't met the right girl, or maybe someone is punishing me for past misdemeanours. Either way or otherwise it's pretty annoying. Any hints or tips greatly appreciated (and yes I have shaved off the beard if you hadn't noticed ;-)

That's not for lack of energy. If these travels have taught me anything it's that I'm still pretty young for my age, pretty fit and can take on the younger generation in the trekking stakes no problem. Combine that with growing patience, experience and maybe a little wisdom and that should be a formidable combination. All hidden behind a cute little beer gut. What more could a girl ask?

One thing that is really annoying me is my lack of knowledge of any other language. I can't be expected to learn some of each language for every country passed through but I've met many people on my travels that know two, three, six or however many languages, which comes in very handy for them. As a new year resolution I vow to start learning a new language in 2006, be it Spanish or Swedish or whatever.

Finally I am still enjoying the writing, despite the self-imposed workload getting heavier as I've whisked through the rest of Asia. I could really handle this type of work - the journalistic, non-fiction side of things anyway. Fiction interests me more however but I just don't know if I have the imagination and the capability to express it on that side of the writing divide. Damn niggling doubts...

Well, better wrap this up and head off to Estonia now. See - another deadline met in the nick of time.
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