Sunday, March 18, 2012

Whoa-oah, we're halfway... where?

Every time I update this map, it feels like I'm dissing those countries in the middle.
Sorry Sri Lanka, maybe some day

When I left Scotland 18 months ago today, I'd only planned out about three weeks' worth of trips. I assumed I'd make the rest up as I went along. It was an ambitious, optimistic and possibly foolish level of trust to place in myself, but I'm pleased to say I didn't let me down. This is starting to sound a bit schizophrenic - I'd like to clarify there are definitely no psychological side-effects of travelling alone for a year and a half.

People have sometimes asked me how long I'm thinking of keeping this up, and occasionally I've suggested three years as a rough figure. This is based on previous phases in my life cycle that saw me spend three years studying in Lancaster followed by three years working in Edinburgh (prior to University I was in my larval stage and it doesn't really count as life). But really, it just depends if I get bored or find somewhere I want to settle down. These things haven't happened yet.

Only one thing is certain: I'm not going back there.

I don't hate the UK, OK?

I'm just done with it for a long time. There are loads of places I'd like to visit there some day - that I never bothered, didn't have time or couldn't afford to visit when I lived there (Stonehenge always leaps to mind, I'm such a daft tourist). But going back to my home country would feel like stepping backwards.

I have a recurring dream of finding myself back in Edinburgh without knowing how I got there, and things being exactly the same as they were, like there was no point in me ever going away or having new experiences. The dream always ends with me heading to an airport and buying an expensive ticket to an unspecified far-off destination. I haven't dwelt on it too much, but it's pretty clear that I'd be happier staying the heck away for a while.

N Seoul Tower, South Korea.
What, you didn't have enough window space for 'Edinburgh?'

I've missed being in the UK exactly five times in the last 18 months, or rather there are five events / series of events I would have loved to attend (so don't get all offended, I miss you too). These were:

  • Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People shows in London (December 2010 and December 2011)
  • Edinburgh Fringe Festival (August 2011)
  • Alan Partridge book signing at Norwich Waterstones (October 2011)
  • Red Dwarf X studio recordings in London (December 2011 - January 2012)

While I do miss many things from the UK, particularly Edinburgh (the first place I ever actively chose to live when I became an 'adult'), I enjoy the feeling of missing them. It's much better than risking the feeling of being sick of the place, which I think I got out just in time to avoid.

I usually speak pretty disparagingly of England to foreign people, but Edinburgh (and Scotland in general) always come recommended. It's a shame more people haven't heard of it and just assume I come from London, when chances are they've spent more time in that city than I have.

So what's next?

Seoraksan: because I needed a pleasant, random image

Half-way through this travelling part of my life doesn't mean I've seen half the world (if I am even half-way through and this doesn't end up going on forever - come on, I needed some angle to justify this gratuitous celebratory milestone blog).

You can see from the map that I've stuck around the same bit of the planet for most of this time (East and South-East Asia is a pretty big 'bit,' to be fair), and my goal isn't to colour that whole thing in any time soon.

I don't really have any goals, apart from continuing to satisfy my desires to see some new things and go to new places, because who knows how long this freedom or patience will last? It's not like I'm in a perpetual state of bliss and don't have any problems, but stopping travelling would only make these things worse rather than better. Anyway, happiness isn't everything, and I have a lot of time for mild sorrow and the satisfaction of complaining. Without some kind of medical disaster or change in circumstances (bloody women and their lovely hair), I don't see any reason why there won't be at least another 18 months in this.

It's also only just started to feel like I've been going for a long time. I'm the sort of self-obsessed guy who regularly reads his old blog posts anyway, but it's only recently that I've looked at some of them and thought - shit, I've done some good shit! As well as wondering why I wasted everyone's time with a lot of them, but that just makes the good shit better. I hope you keep enjoying my good shit and tolerating my actual shit - I like you very much.


  1. Edinburgh won't be the same when/if you come back, we'll have trams! Really, we will. Stop laughing! >:(

    Also you didn't miss much; Fringe '11 was a bit rubbish compared to Fringe '10.

    1. I really didn't bother keeping up with tram news, but back when my daily commute was nicely disrupted by those roadworks every day I remember loads of banners promising '2011.' Which seemed unreasonably long term even then.

      I think they were even supposed to have completed the more obscure routes by now, like a line through Granton. It's such a mistake to give Granton access to the world.

    2. I remember when Glasgow won the contract to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games and I was like "eurgh, I'll be 28 by then!" and it seemed like a lifetime away.


  2. I just dreamed I was back in Edinburgh for the festival and was planning the next few weeks of travels in Scotland and England, only feeling slight regret that I was back but not making a dash for the airport this time. Another milestone.