I’m Tommy from Derby – a town smack bang in the centre of England. In January 2016 I’m jetting off to Thailand with my fiance Hollie. We’re going away for four months to see a bit of the world, avoid the worst half of the winter and “find ourselves” in beautiful and exotic locations.
If you’ve travelled the world before or have plans to then you’ll instinctively know what I’m on about, and why we’re making this trip. If you haven’t been and don’t intend to then maybe I’ll try to explain why we’re going, and how it feels to me to have “itchy feet”.
As I said I’m born and bred in Derbyshire, the most landlocked county in the British Isles. Living on this comparatively tiny speck of land in the Atlantic Ocean means that the sea is never far away, but it’s far enough away from Derby to make it an effort to go there as often as I’d like. When my brother, sister and me were growing up all of our holidays involved heading to the seaside – whether it was in Wales where my Uncle and Aunt live, or Wells-Next-The-Sea where we used to rent a caravan off an old lady. We’d do the usual British holiday activities like eat fish and chips, fish for crabs off the harbour wall and argue over a game of monopoly in the caravan as it chucked it down outside.
Although these holidays were brilliant experiences in their own way, I’ve always dreamt of going further afield. My Dad has always been into his outdoorsy type activities and got me reading books about the great explorers and adventurers of the past from an early age. I’d consume book after book on Scott, Shackleton and Mallory. I’d read survival stories about some old Etonian that managed to escape from a Japanese POW camp using only a pen-knife and a can of sardines. Michael Palin’s pole to pole programs interested me when I was way younger than the average viewer. It’s stuff like this that sticks with you and shapes your imagination – you long to be old enough to clear off and have all these adventures for yourself.
Then you grow up and awful things like responsibility and bills and careers beckon you towards a lifetime of fulfilling obligations that you wouldn’t pick for yourself. Some people fight it, some people shoulder all of these burdens and still manage to live exactly how they want to, and some people become consumed by it. My mate Will just upped and left when he was eighteen, travelling India and New Zealand on his own – I remember wishing I was brave enough to follow him. Instead I went off to uni then started work and apart from a month pottering about Europe on the train I left my travelling ambitions behind.
The other major obstacle to my adventuring is something that I’ve so far neglected to mention – I have a dreadful fear of flying. As you’ll probably come to discover over the next few months, I, dear readers, am a coward. I overthink things and this unfortunate trait has lead me to having a distrust of – well – just about everything really. Flying, rollercoasters, fairground rides, and driving around the outskirts of Birmingham are all included in my collection of irrational fears. The only thing I can think of that I’m not afraid of is wasps. Whilst millions of people panic and flap about at the sight of one, I come into my own. Give me a rolled up newspaper and five minutes in a locked room with one of the little bastards and I’ll achieve the required results. Unfortunately my wasp-slaying abilities are only of use to me in domestic situations and have never helped me with my ambitions to travel. My fear of flying is a tale in itself, as the situation surrounding it is probably the craziest thing that’s ever happened to me. It is so Krazy with a capital K that I have decided to give the story it’s own page. You can read about my fear here.
Sometimes the whole universe is telling you something and you need to listen to what it says. Both of us are in our late twenties, commited to each other, and might end up having kids within the next few years, limiting our opportunities and budget for going away. I’m at a bit of a crossroads career-wise where I’m not really sure exactly what I want to do next. Thanks to Hollie and various other means I finally have the bottle to get on a long haul flight – travelling to the extent that we are going to be would have been impossible without boarding a few planes.
I realise that all of the above are very “first world” reasons for wanting to travel. More important than any of the reasons I gave above is the question “Why not now?” or “What are you waiting for?” I’m sure by the time we’re back in Blighty this kind of live-in the-moment mantra is something that you’re going to be sick of reading about, but over the last year or so I’ve been learning an important lesson that I should have learned years ago: The world doesn’t wait for you.
I’m a sentimental soul and tend to spend most of my life thinking about the future, reminiscing about the past and generally dreaming – when I could be doing. We have family and friends who haven’t been having the best of times lately and the temptation to stay at home was almost as strong as the pull of going away. It makes me feel so guilty even writing it – and to an extent I’m writing this sentence more for the benefit of myself than for anybody reading this – but I think it’s important to realise that you’re not letting anybody down, and that there will never be a “perfect time” to leave all of the people that you know and love behind.
So, with all of these considerations behind us, let us progress to the nitty-gritty…
If I wrote the last bit for the benefit of myself, I’m writing this bit for the benefit of Hollie and I’s respective parents, who will worry terribly and will want to know that we are 100% prepared for the trip! They needn’t worry – Hollie has compiled three successive lists over the past few months – each one more comprehensive than the last. Last week we packed our backpacks and went for a wander round Belper at half nine at night – we were both knackered and couldn’t really be arsed but the logic behind this was that if we can carry them whilst tired without suffering a physical or mental breakdown, we should be okay. Belper is not renowned for it’s backpacking scene and I imagine drivers passing us by thought that we’d escaped from the funny farm.
The main piece of advice that we’ve tried to take on board when planning the journey is that we should travel light, taking only the bare essentials, as most of the things that we need can be bought anywhere – often at a fraction of the price that we’d be paying here. Having said that it has to be recognised that this is much easier for a bloke such as me, who would be content to wander round Asia in my underpants if it didn’t frighten all of the locals, than it is for a beautiful, sophisticated young lady such as Hollie. I fully expect Hollie to take more items, but we will share these out equally between the two bags, putting some of our clothes in each other’s bags. This is for two reasons – 1. If one of the bags gets nicked, we will at least have an outfit each available in the other pack. 2. If I get a taste for the lifestyle of the ladyboys of Bangkok, I can wait until Hollie is sleeping, take one of her outfits out of my pack, don it and parade the streets of Bangkok in my beautiful new dress, returning it stretched and sweaty before sunrise.
HAVE I GONE ON A BIT?
Sorry, I’ve just flicked back through what I’ve written and realised it’s a bloody essay! There’s nothing more to be said. I promise I’ll keep you posted and carry the story to you as often as possible. Keep checking back regularly for more blog posts and please, please share this blog as far and wide as you possibly can. Thanks for reading and we hope you enjoy.
Farewell for now!
Tommy and Hollie x