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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.