*Written after leaving Thailand to head back to Sydney, Feb 2016.
Stepping off a plane does something to a person.
It’s 10am, I just landed in Sydney. The only word I can use to just about describe how I feel about my feet being firmly back on the grounds of this city is ‘ecstatic’. I slept for most of the flight from Western Australia, waking up just as we were descending over the New South Wales countryside.
I wasn’t meant to be here. I’m supposed to be in Koh Phi Phi, Thailand ‘until April’ … But I left Thailand 10 days ago, since spending a night in Singapore – then time in Bali, Indonesia with a dear friend from my time in Phi Phi. This followed up just now with a few days in sunny Perth.
In Perth I left behind Chantelle and her family in their lovely home. I grew up with Chantelle in little old Pembroke, West Wales. We hadn’t seen each-other in nearly 3 years. The journey from hers to the airport this morning had been easy but inside I felt tense. The all-to-familiar feeling of anxiety rose in my chest; I didn’t like the fact that I was leaving friendship and home comforts in my wake. Spending time with my childhood friend and her children all the way Down Under (pretty much as far as we could get away from our days growing up in the UK) had been nothing short of brilliant.
Chantelle looked after me like a sister, we laughed constantly and often talked of days gone by at home. In two years of travel this is the only time I’ve been with someone I grew up with. It has been a completely different experience to any others I’ve shared with friends on the road. We both agreed that we could understand how easy it is for people to go travelling with their friends and to never return home – there would be little/ no room for being homesick or having down days with us together. As a pair we were a ‘home way from home’.
As I waited in Perth airport to depart for my eagerly anticipated return to Sydney, I sat down to write and pretty much finished a lengthy blog post. Not quite having time to publish it I boarded my flight and now here I am again; writing from an airport coffee shop.
Am I same person I was a few hours ago? Yes and no. My perspective has completely changed. My words now are a world apart from what I wrote before I stepped foot on the Sydney bound flight. Gone is the tense feeling I expressed whilst typing from Perth. I had talked of why I left Koh Phi Phi. Then of my amazing journey through Bali and the feeling of tension that enveloped me in the taxi as I left Bambie behind in the dark in Indonesia.
Essentially when you travel all it takes to regain your sense of self is to keep going. You can’t like suffocating feelings of doubt take over your frame of mind. Once you start the next part of your journey, get where you are going to go and run with it you feel instant relief. You allow yourself to remember what you’re doing again. You are looking forwards, onwards, upwards.
Leaving Perth I wasn’t upset but I was unsettled. I knew this ‘second chance’ at Sydney was, however which way I looked at it, my last. If I don’t secure the sponsorship I need to stay in the country within the next year then making this city my home like I wish to do won’t be possible. But as with everything in my life, once I set my mind to it I do it, failure is (hopefully) not an option.
3 confirmed learnings from the last 10 days:
- If you know it’s time to leave; leave. Fly out on a high. (Koh Phi Phi).
- If you get the chance to travel with a close friend from home or indeed, family; DO IT! It is a completely different experience to solo travel / spending time with others you meet on the road.
- If you know you’re meant to be somewhere; get there!
I left Sydney in April 2015 on a mission to work in New Zealand. I stayed there for 6 months, went home for a few weeks and then went onwards to Koh Phi Phi. Instead of staying on to do my second year straight up in Sydney, I left on purpose. I loved Sydney so much I wanted to wait it out until the time was right to fully commit to living in the city long term.
Flying in today, looking out the window, searching the shoreline for Bondi, my favourite place, I had an overwhelming sense of ‘YES!’. This is where I am meant to be. Moving around so much since I left last year, to come back and feel like this instantly says it all.
Today this new chapter starts with two of my closest friends from the road. We met during my months in Queenstown, New Zealand. One is here already, working until we meet as a tripod later. The other is in the air right now, flying in from New Zealand. I’ve secured us a room in the house next door to where I lived last time in Sydney. Some friends I lived there with first time around have questioned my ‘madness’. But I don’t see it as a bad choice. I loved where we lived, across the road from beautiful Centennial Park and a short run to Bondi Beach. It will be completely different – I would never hope it to be like it was before. But for now, it’s a home in the best location, an easy option. Freedom from the get go, all being well we move in this afternoon.
If it’s possible I am more excited for ‘Sydney Take 2’, than I was when I first arrived in May 2014. This time I know what to expect of this wonderful place. I am familiar with how the city works, where to go, what places I loved best to make the most of again. My work/ life balance will be more work-balanced this time as I do my best to lay my roots for the future here. So many friends are still here that I can’t wait have in my life again.
Knowing you are in the right place, where you should be, without a shadow of doubt in your mind has to be one of the best feelings ever. This is the first time I’ve really felt this way during my 2 years away from home … Sydney it’s time to stay put with you. Roll on the next 12 months and whatever may unfold.