Six Months Down

A few weeks ago I hit the six month mark on this trip, and what an incredible six months it’s been. Originally I was going to use this post reflect on all of the amazing things I’ve seen and done, however that felt too self indulgent and kind of like a filler episode. Instead, because my sixth months of traveling align nicely with the middle of the calendar year, I’ve decided to reflect on a certain list I made in a little black book I was given before I went walkabout. I’ve written briefly about goals and resolutions so at the end of last year I made up a list of goals for 2011 and so far, I think I’m doing ok.

Topping the list: Grow a cool beard. I’m all for measurably so the term ‘cool’ was to be determined by my friends’ opinions, not my own. I gave it a month of growth before discovering that I’m still a few years off ever being able to grow a ‘cool’ beard, much to my dismay. But hey, Movember is only a few months away and I’m sure I’ll be able to improve on last years’ efforts. Or at least, I’m sure it can’t be any worse.

Two days before shaving in Chiang Mai - Thailand
The seedy end to Movember 2010

 

Second up was learning how to dance. A few years ago, my girlfriend at the time and myself did six weeks of lessons and in hindsight, it was great. At the time, it may have been a different story. I think I was pretty frustrated with my level of uncoordination, however I still feel that it would be a skill worth having. I’ve often heard from friends of my parent’s that my Dad is a good dancer and is always out dancing at the various balls they attend. Being able to do that sounds appealing to me, especially after not having the confidence to partake in the cha-cha that was going on at the high-school formal/prom. I plan on going to Cuba in the coming months which, being the home of Salsa I should be able to learn at least a few moves.

One of the major goals I did achieve was learning a martial art. I’d never made any real attempt at a martial art except for a few boxing classes here and there so getting the opportunity to tick this one off in Thailand was fantastic. The six weeks at 301 has definitely been one of the best parts of the year and I’m still planning on getting back into Muay Thai training when I get home. Although I don’t see myself in a real fight anytime soon.

The trainers and I at 301

Another goal, at the other end of the spectrum to fighting that I wrote down was to have sex. Before you judge, or, if you’re my grandparents, throw up a little bit (sorry) – it had been a while, so I wanted to add it to the list. In a story which I’m not yet willing or happy enough about to share online, I can safely move this to the ‘accomplished’ column. Better and more unexpected than that however, I did manage to meet someone in an unlikely place – a lookout over some beautiful rice terraces on the way to Batad (Philippines). We spent the day hiking in stunning scenery and our itineraries aligned to allow for a few more days in different towns/cities before a marathon date in Manila, which ended with her in a taxi to fly back to the US. When I was in the US, we got to spend two fantastic weeks traveling together. She’s smart, cute, has a wonderfully dry sense of humour and hopefully, I’ll get to spend a bit more time with her in LA before I make the journey home.

At a lookout in Canada

The final component of the list which I can confidently say I’ve achieved is to make a measurable attempt with both writing and the blog. I found myself in a dialogue with a writer for Men’s Health magazine who had inspired me to climb Mt Kinabalu. Throughout our email exchanges he gave me some great advice, which I put to use in trying to get an article published. That effort came to fruition a few months ago when I had a two-page article published in the The Cairns Post’s weekend edition.

There are only a few things that remain to be ticked off of the list and sadly, the one I’m least confident about is in regards to alcohol. I wanted to try and achieve 1 month of sobriety and so far, it’s not looking good. In the past 40 days, there have only been three or four of which I haven’t had something to drink. The best I’ve done so far is 21 days at 301 before we all went to Bangkok for the weekend. I think I’ll have to wait until I get home to have a shot at that one as the cost vs benefit isn’t high enough at the moment. The final goal on the list to achieve is learning how to speed read; another one of those skills I think would be great to have. However, it may be put on hold and re-prioritized when I start learning Spanish at a school in Guanajuato next week.

Tasting tequila out of a horn at a distillery in Tequila, Mexico

As I wrote in the opening, it’s been an incredible six months; I’ve seen parts of the world and cultures I never knew existed and met some amazing people along the way. I’ve eaten weird and wonderful food, snorkeled with whale sharks, stood on top of mountains, and at the end of it all, I haven’t spent much more than I would have living in Australia. It’s strange to notice that great experiences like the New Years Eve week in Koh Samui seem so long ago and begin to fade in memory. This alone makes me all the more grateful that I’ve kept this blog to not only share stories with family and friends back home, but for my own reflection and memories.

Green papaya salad and rice crackers in Hoi An, Vietnam

With six months behind me, there is a slightly sad feeling that the trip is winding up. Fortunately, there is still a few months left to learn salsa and Spanish, eat more great food and have experiences that I currently don’t even know exist before making the journey home – probably in September or October.

A lot has happend since the seven of us started out in Thailand!
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3 thoughts on “Six Months Down

  1. i think that you’ve been so diligent in keeping this blog is one of your bigger accomplishments. Your writing has improved so much – i dare you to go back and read your first entry. If you keep developing that plus your photography skills, you might end up being able to do something wonderfully creative and personally-determined. i think that might even be the direction you’re heading. i feel like you’ve made a writer out of yourself without even realising. You won’t be able to stop now 🙂

    Another thing, with regards to alcohol and sobriety. One thing i noticed as my time away got towards the end, if we don’t count LA and San Diego, was that my whole attitude towards alcohol and sobriety changed. When i was in Montreal and the sun was finally out and the snow was all gone, after years of not being able to stop at tipsy (because once you’re there you may as well get drunk, right?) i started to just enjoy a couple of drinks (it started with cider towards the end of winter) and some food and the atmosphere. i had my beer and grilled cheese in Portland, and it was wonderful. And my beer sitting on the pier in Santa Cruz while the sun set over the ocean and the sea lions barked. i think when we talk about sobriety we talk in such extremes. A month without a drop of alcohol sort of just sets you up to get as drunk as anything once you’ve made it, because you proved that you could do it. A month of not getting drunk but being cool with a beer with lunch or a shot of rum to taste it, or relaxing and having a cocktail, i think, would sort of change the way you feel about alcohol. i don’t know how i feel about getting drunk these days. It doesn’t really appeal to me any more. But that isn’t to say i wouldn’t mind sharing a bottle of wine with a friend over dinner and having a bit of a giggle and gossip together. If you’re going to challenge yourself to a month of sobriety, then perhaps you might want to consider that alcohol in itself isn’t what you’re really aiming to abstain from, but that getting drunk is. Thinking of it with two polar opposites of sober and drunk just emphasises the idea and attitude that there’s no genuine happy medium.

    Does six months feel like a long time to you right now?
    x

    1. Thanks for the reply – and the complement! I went back and had a look at the first post and, well, I’m definitely glad it’s improved since then. I think you’re right about not being able to stop as well. It’s morphed into a bit of a hobby and I quite enjoy spending an afternoon by myself sitting back and writing, the challenge will be keeping the content interesting once I get home…

      As for the alcohol: I didn’t mean for it to come across as though I’m writing myself off every night because I’m not (often just tipsy). However, the two weeks I spent road tripping through the US and the Tequila tour are notable exceptions. I’m wholeheartedly a supporter of ‘having one or two’ and I remember debating the reasons for/against the “if I’m already tipsy, why not just keep going?” mindset with Mitchy in Thailand a couple of times.

      The primary reason for wanting to abstain a month from alcohol is mainly just an exercise in self control, to prove to myself I can do it. I think that’s also why I like to have a few written goals down and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when I tick it off. Last year I gave myself six weeks to do 100 consecutive push-ups which was fun.

      I’m becoming more attached to do things either intensely or for blocks of time just to see how I come out the other side. The Muay Thai was one instance, Spanish and hopefully salsa lessons will be another. Once I do the alcohol-free-month I want to give going vegetarian a go for a month, to see if I can.

      As for how six months feels – you’re right, it does feel like a long time. I’m just glad it’s been an enjoyable long time!

      Also, you were spot on about the cider in the north west and Canada. We brought five different types across the boarder when we came back from Canada!

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