“It’s many hundred miles and it won’t be long”.

I wonder who/what took the first step.

 

Like, literally, the very first step.

 

That one singular motion which moved said ‘thing’ from one place, to another. Was it aware of movement, of space, of time, of anything? From that movement though, the travel bug was born. A wide spreading contagion lasting the millennia’s, it has lead to such diseases as civilization, human development, and travel agencies.

 

Why do I travel?

 

I was a very lucky kid; infected early at the age of ten my family and I went to the magical land of Australia for a holiday (thanks Nan). After that initial dose, I then scratched the bug, and nine other countries off my list, to now count (in travel order) –

 

New Zealand (North and South)

Australia

Singapore

England

Ireland

France

Canada

United States of America

China

Thailand

 

Nowadays I travel because I grew up in a small area. Small cities had their benefits when I was growing up, they were clean, concentrated in friends and family, and you got to know your surroundings very intimately.

 

Now that I am 22, small areas don’t cut it for me. Small areas represent a lull in development. If I don’t see the landscape changing, then I don’t see myself changing either. So I itch for big places, big ideas, the ‘bigness’ in people. There is too much of the world to see for me to justify staying in one place. No job, no house, no possession, is worth missing these moments.

 

And it saddens me that I will never see everything. No matter how much effort I make, their will always be something I miss. Something I will never see. Something I will never taste. Someone I will never know. This fear grips me and drives me to insane things, like going out of my comfort zone a lot. And the bug knows this. The bug thrives off this. The bug will eat at my heartstrings, my sanity, until only death can cure me. So before I meet this decidedly unfortunate end, I will feed the bug until it cannot consume me anymore. A bittersweet cure, no?

 

I thank the bug though, without it I would never feel like I will someday contribute to history.  The bug has taught me how diverse the world is. The bug has taught me how diverse I am. The bug is responsible for a lot, but above all it is responsible for my world-view, a view that sees far beyond the horizon line.

 

Where do you want to go?

 

 

 

 

E.

 

 

Title is from this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0AGD78mWcss

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The day I became an illegal alien.

Some lessons I learnt about the trials of coming home.

  • Check your visa status. My visa for legally being in China expired June 24. My ticket home was split across two journeys, one from Beijing to Guangzhou at 1730 – 2045 on June 24, and one from Guangzhou to Auckland at 0030 – 1600 (+1) on June 25. Already Chinese Customs saw a slight mathematical problem. I was going to be an illegal alien for half an hour.  I was warned to go through Guangzhou Customs very quickly, as once you’re in no-mans-land you’re technically out of such jurisdictions.
  • 7kgs overweight check-in baggage equals NZD $200 fine. I wish suitcases came with a built in scale in the handle to show you how much it weighs as you pack.
  • Travel pillows are the difference between passing out on a plane and genuinely sleeping for at least two hours. Beer also aids the sleep process. Abuse the free alcohol.
  • Free wireless in airports is great, but don’t mess with the password system or it will lock you out and you will be forced to people watch in airports. TIL: people in airports are the epitome of weirdly dressed individuals.
  • Pack your carry-on with laptop accessibility in mind. You will feel like you are the one individual who holds up the entire security line if you don’t. Tip: cameras are also another tech accessory that need special security scanning. (Why you would make a camera shaped bomb is another question entirely).
  • Chinese security are genuinely very nice and don’t make you feel like a hindrance.
  • Unless you have scissors in your bag. In which case they become very protective.
  • Always clean out backpacks you use on a daily basis before packing. There could be a sneaky pair of scissors. Or eighteen (inside joke).
  • Chinese do not understand space. We were herded onto a bus that connected us to our place (BJ-GZ flight) and naturally they all head for the first of three doors. I walked to the end door of the bus and stood in the back as I watched the first third of the bus become more and more like a sardine can. Finally the driver said something in Mandarin I can only think is the equivalent to ‘you idiotic morons, move down to the very back!’ And finally all was well.
  • Delayed planes can really mess up an already sticky visa situation. The first plane was grounded for as long as the film ‘Great Expectations’, the one starring Helena Bonham Carter, takes to screen, which was almost three hours (terrible choice China Southern, terrible). Finally after four hours from original take-off time it finally taxied onto the runway and took off.
  • Chinese kids are too damn smart. One six year old wunderkind whooped his mum in xiangqi (a chinese variation of chess that has cannons!) and was always five moves ahead of her.
  • It is totally acceptable to stand and watch people play cards/chess/any game on any Chinese domestic flight.
  • Four hour flight delays means you definitely miss your connecting flight.
  • All English supplied in China is purely courteous. To my knowledge (and from my limited Google searches) English is not a registered official language of Greater China. So for all you foreigners (I’m looking at you large obnoxious Danish man I encountered), who complain about the service provided (which I thought was exceptional given it was 1am and hotels are hard to access at this time), remember what country you are complaining in and that there is no one language to rule them all.
  • Being a solo white female traveller has its perks – you are the only one allowed a room to yourself in the hotel the airline provides you with when you overstay your welcome (silly weather).
  • A good way to kill time in a hotel – slow mo videos.
  • Smiles are a universal currency, and also a good way to score free breakfast lunch and dinner courtesy of the friend I made at the front desk.
  • Sometimes being a solo white female traveller sucks, I’m looking at you random Nigerian guy who approached me asking what flight I was on. ‘Err, I’m from Paris’ (bolt).
  • China is a stickler for the details, almost detained because of visa, finally allowed to board the plane I PAID FOR TO GO HOME because the manager actually thought it was a good idea.
  • China doesn’t believe in duty-free alcohol. Much sadness was felt.
  • Airbuses don’t always come with in-flight entertainment.
  • If you are on a Chinese airline and can speak some Mandarin, use it to talk to the flight attendants (for food, drinks etc). They genuinely get a real kick out of it.