For years I had wanted to go to Australia. Twice I planned to fly into Sydney for New Years Eve, and twice those plans fell through. When I started this trip, I knew there was always a possibility that I’d end up in Australia, but I knew there were so many reasons why I shouldn’t go. Who goes to Australia in the winter? Do they even have a winter? Where do you go after flying all the way down there? Eventually I found the answer to all of those questions and more.
In addition to not having a longterm “plan” for what would I would do in Asia, I hadn’t even considered what would happen at the “end” of Thailand. Go home? Keep traveling? But where!? Eventually I decided to hop on a southbound train to Malaysia, although ironically I wasn’t even sure what city that train was taking me to.
As I mentioned in my last post, I had no clear vision for what I would do in South East Asia – or even what the major ‘tourist attractions’ were within each of the countries. I knew Vietnam for its war, Cambodia from a Dead Kennedys song, and Thailand for its world-famous ladyboys. Today? I could tell you the best place to get a Vietnamese visa in under two hours, recommend coffee shops in Phnom Penh, and have seen enough breast implant scars on ladyboys to last a lifetime.
The American Psychological Association’s website indicates that burnout is emotional exhaustion resulting from overwhelming stress at work. It may be caused by a hostile work environment or fears about job security, but it often results from long hours, stressful deadlines, high expectations, worrying about a project, or taking on more work than you can handle—in other words, working too hard. It can lead to serious conditions, such as depression and heart disease, and you should seek professional help if you are experiencing burnout.
Professional help? Haha. I decided to quit. Best. Decision. Ever.
Half a year. Six months. 186 days. Regardless of how you want to define it, this trip has now gone on longer than I ever expected it to. Along the way there have been a number of ridiculous (and potentially previously unmentioned) stories. Today seems like a great day to make a summary of the last 186 days and share some details of the stories that have previously remained secret. Perhaps “summary” isn’t the best way to describe this – there are a lot of pictures, some old stories, some new stories, and then more pictures.
Other potential names for this blog post included:
Typhoon 2: Typhoon Harder
Return of the Typhoon
Once Upon a Time in Taiwan II
Taiwan & Typhoons II: Judgement Day
One week after being unceremoniously dumped in Taipei’s city center an hour after midnight, I’ve felt this massive city shrink in scale as I’ve familiarized myself with its public transportation system and started to explore. I’ve also started to get a feeling for how small Taiwan is itself – taking a 3.5 hour train ride halfway down the eastern coast of the country to visit one of Taiwan’s most scenic destinations …and then a Typhoon crossed my path.
“You’ve got to dive this wreck,” Greg says, gushing enthusiastically about the Yongala, “it’s one of the best wreck sites in the world. Get in touch with YongalaDive and they’ll hook you up with everything you need.” Thus begins the story of the time I went diving around a shipwreck over 100 years old off the east coast of Australia. I met Greg at my hostel in Singapore. He’s from Australia, lives in Indonesia running a dive shop, but happens to be in Singapore on his way to the Philippines where he’s spending a month island hopping and diving. Greg clearly knows his diving – I write down ‘YongalaDive’ in my notebook with the intention of checking into the company once I reach Australia. A few weeks later my teeth are clattering and my body shivering – 25 meters below water in a 5mm wetsuit submerged in 72 degree water and cursing Greg …and myself.
The End. It’s expected yet unexpected. Ultimately everything ends. Mourning.
The Beginning. It’s explained yet unexplained. Initially everything begins. Morning.
I’m wearing a new pair of black boxers at the moment. I’ve been traveling with them for 4.5 months and purposely never worn them. The running plan has been that I would only put them on when I had nothing else that was clean. Today that day has come. As a result – today is laundry day. Fortunately for me, Arlie Beach is a great little town to do laundry in, since I’m not sure what else there is to do here…