As mentioned in my last post Matt is currently completing his PADI qualification, leaving me to my own devices for three whole days. In normal everyday non-travelling life I wouldn’t have an issue with this – see some friends, spend time with family, go on a dog walk; you know get on with normal life. However when I’m backpacking three days to myself feels like a lifetime of loneliness. Yes I may sound pathetic but when all your friends are asleep until 3pm in your time, you end up having a lot of time to yourself and your own thoughts.
I therefore feel like I need to get something off my chest, and talk about this thing which has happened multiple times since I have been away. A misunderstanding maybe or an inability to relate; who knows? But something which has been niggling at me. This overarching view that I should be ecstatically happy for 7 months straight.
I am travelling with just my boyfriend, to 9 countries across 2 continents. Yes this is a trip of a lifetime and I am loving every second, but it is also hard. We are not on a week long holiday where you arrive at your hotel, dump your luggage and let out a collective sigh of relief as you kick back and relax until your departure. This is moving almost everyday, living out of a now damp and ripped backpack, trying desperately to work out where we’re heading to next and how the ‘f’ we’re going to get there. This is trying to tell a taxi driver where you want to go, only to be dropped on the opposite side of the city in the middle of the night with all your stuff. This is enduring 18 hour bus journeys crammed into a sleeper seat which is too small for you and a blanket with bogies on it, and ALWAYS panicking that there is something you need to do but not quite remembering what that thing is.
Bottom line is that backpacking is amazing and you make memories for life, but it is not easy and it is not a holiday.
Secondly not everywhere you go when backpacking is nice. There have been places which I can’t wait to leave because I hated them so much. For example I am currently in Koh Tao, an idyllic Thai island which should be paradise. It just happens that the dive school Matt is at is situated right next to the main pier, which means there are boats descending onto the beach every 5 seconds and both the sea and beach leave a lot to be desired. There is also not much else to do but scubadive. Right now Koh Tao isn’t my favourite place and that’s OK.
For the next 5 months this is my everyday life and like everyday life in the UK, not everyday is going to be great. Sometimes I just want a good moan, or I’m homesick and would give anything to be tucked up in my bed with cheese on toast and my dog; instead of sleeping in a potentially bug infested bed. For anyone who has backpacked for a relative duration, I am sure you can understand everything I am saying but I often get told things like ‘you’re so lucky, you’re living the dream’, ‘I am sure whatever you’re doing is better than us working’ or ‘stop moaning and find a good book’.
It’s a hard line because if I go on about how great everything is people think I’m showing off and that my life is perfect, and if I’m having a down day it’s seen by some as ungrateful. No, I’m just a normal person with ups and downs and something as simple as your location does not change that. I am not lucky to be here. I worked two jobs, sometimes 80 hour weeks with less than 6 hours sleep many nights. For 18 months I saved and scrimped for every penny I could and hell, if I want to spend the whole time locked in a dark room I will; I earned it!
Just because I’m travelling does not mean I am not a normal person. Just like you have a crappy day at work, I have crappy days too!
Just because you are in a different place to people (educationally, economically, emotionally or geographically), we are all entitled to be a) happy and b) not so happy and that’s completely OK.
Rant over. Pinky promise that my next post will be A LOT more positive :).