Nine Months of Travel: Summary and review

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My ninth month of travel was mostly spent in Australia, I place I have mixed feelings about. I don’t think that I ever really got over my reverse culture shock whilst I was there.

 

 

After a few days in the chilled out town of Coolangatta which is right on the border of New South Wales, it was time to head to the cool alternative town of Nimbin!

 

 

If only travel was as easy as that! When I arrived in Byron Bay, fully expecting there to be transport to Nimbin I was told that there was only ONE bus a day travelling to Nimbin and that I was an hour too late!

Initially I panicked, big time. I had arranged to stay in Nimbin because there was no accommodation in Byron Bay due to it being a busy weekend. I started thinking rationally about how I could sleep on the streets that night and how I would hide my valuables when a helpful woman at the information centre interrupted my train of thought and handed me a list of hostels in Byron bay.

I rang about 6 hostels, saddened to hear that there was no room at the inn, then I found one! I was so happy I accepted the bed without even enquiring how much it was. Luckily it was the cheapest hostel bed that I payed for in Australia.

I stayed the night in Byron bay, made some great friends and went on a fun night out. I was on a high and really enjoying New South Wales. The next day I got the bus to Nimbin,  but all was not what it seemed…

 

 

 

The bus to Nimbin is sold as a kind of hippy bus. Basically people go to Nimbin for the day to gawp at aging hippies, buy a few space cakes then hop back on the bus to civilised Byron Bay. I wanted to explore deeper than that and I ended up staying 2 nights in Nimbin (Sleeping in a teepee!) and 1 night in nearby Jiggy staying with a guy called ‘Dave Cannabis’ and riding ‘Hippy horses’. I had the true Nimbin experience!

 

 

 

In hindsight I should have stayed in Nimbin for longer, I loved the laid back attitude of the town and the beauty of it’s natural surroundings. There’s nothing nicer than falling asleep to the sound of wallabies, exotic birds and badicoots outside!

But no, the adventurer in me wanted to see more of this massive country so after a few more days in Brron bay I spent 2 nights in Coffs harbour. One of the most boring places in the world. The beach was beautiful and I enjoyed some delicious fish and chips there but the whole town was very residential and ‘vanilla’. Not my cup of tea.

 

Coffs harbour. This is the best bit about the town.

 

Bellingen was supposedly another alternative town like Nimbin and I was very excited to visit. If alternative means middle class ladies who lunch dressed in hippy pants this is the town for you. It was not an alternative town by any means. It was very chilled out and a nice place to spend a few days though. I will never tire of seeing ‘old’ heritage buildings that were built in 1921 though!

 

 

 

 

It was time to get back on the Greyhound bus and head to Port Maquarie, a place I chose to go because I found a flyer for a hostel that had floral bedding, a swimming pool and free WIFI! Did I mention the FREE WIFI?!

When I got there I was told that there was no free breakfast and WIFI like the leaflet promised. The bedding was a manly gemoetric style too. Noooo! Port Maquarie was another ‘vanilla’ town. Probably a nice place to live but a boring place to visit.

I’d had enough of small town living and needed to spend time in a metropolitan city, boy did Sydney deliver!

Sydney ended up being one of my favorite cities of all time. I stayed in a quirky train carriage right on the tracks of central station and I set my alarm for 7am everyday because there was so much to see and do. I loved how historical Sydney is, something that the rest of Australia lacks.

 

 

 

 

 

I spent my days wandering around the city, exploring every museum and art gallery within walking distance, sipping Lindt hot chocolate and attending every free walking tour available.

I was in love!

 

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In love with a city in Australia? I could barely believe it! It felt good though so I extended my stay for 5 more days.

Melbourne. Oh Melbourne. It’s the city I had highest hopes for in the world and the city that disappointing me a bit. I absolutely loved the city but it was not the ‘alternative city’ that people had been promising me. No one dressed individual or arty like I was expecting, just ‘charity shop chic’ and I was the most ‘vintage girl’ around apart from a beautiful 50’s girl in an alternative shop.

It was quirky but nothing like what I had expected. I don’t think the freezing cold temperatures helped either. I had to buy tights, cardigans and a skirt because it was so cold and rainy. The cold and rain also limited what I could do.

I loved the quirky laneways in Melbourne and the diverse little districts like St Kilda, Fitzroy and Brunswick. Melbourne is also home to one of the  best museums in Australia: Melbourne museum and the most useless museum in the world: The Hellenic museum (Greeks settled in Melbourne. The end).

 

The South Bank at night.

The street art is very cool though!

 

Australia tired me out mentally and physically. It was not what I had been expecting and in a way that was quite liberating.

Part of me was expecting to fall in love with Australia, I thought I would love the sun, nature and the laid back lifestyle. I found out that it just wasn’t for me and that was ok.

I still think that you are either an Asia lover or and Australia lover.

I’m certainly an Asia lover!

 

Which one are you?

You can keep up to date with my adventures by following my Facebook page. I update it daily and it’s an easy way to contact me.

https://www.facebook.com/PearlsandPassports

 

Choosing happiness: I’m coming home!

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As I write this i’m sat in a library in New Brighton near Christchurch in New Zealand. As I look outside the window I can  see waves crashing on a beautiful pristine beach and see the sunlight reflecting off the azure water.

It’s hard to believe that nearly ten months has passed since I started my semi RTW trip to Asia and Oceania.

As I sit here I’m trying to make sense of my feelings. I am so excited to go home. To see my friends and family and celebrate Christmas with my loved ones will be the perfect end to my trip. Unsurprisingly I am also starting to mourn my freedom, before my trip has ended.

This past ten months has gone so fast and yet so slow. I have done so many things that are out of character and developed as a person more than I can ever imagine.

I have battled a tropical disease on my own, resisting the lure of comfort and home and instead choosing freedom and travel. I have faced my fears, experiencedbeing groped and scammed,  talked to people from all around the world, experienced intense loneliness and reverse culture shock and seen extreme poverty and disability.

I am a changed person.

The one thing that I want when I get back is to be happy, life is too short to waste doing things that you don’t love. I want to wake up every morning and literally seize the day! I’m excited to see how the new me acts in the ‘real world’.

I will do everything in my power to be happy in life. I have changed and my life back at home will inevitably change too.

I never want to be unhappy ever again.

In the future I’m going to choose happiness, everyday.

 

You can keep up to date with my adventures by following my Facebook page. I update it daily and it’s an easy way to contact me.

https://www.facebook.com/PearlsandPassports

 

 

 

Coping with reverse culture shock in Australia

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I was always a little skeptical of reverse culture shock. I experienced slight culture shock when I arrived in Sri Lanka, a crazy country for my first visit to Asia but I never thought that I would experience culture shock when going to a Western country like Australia!

Why was I feeling like this?

I was excited to arrive in Australia, Asia had been my home for over 7 months but the constant bartering and language barriers can make travelling there tiring. I was looking forward to travelling in a country with set prices where everyone spoke English!

As soon as the plane landed and I traipsed through security it hit me that I was not in Asia anymore. The extreme price of things first shocked me. It cost $20 to get from the airport to the city centre. That would have bought a bus ticket to a place miles away in Asia.

I was certainly not in Asia anymore!

As I looked out of the bus window the landscape of buildings and shops looked so familiar that I half expected to see sights and people from home.

I was really confused.

I felt like I was back home but everything was different. I told myself to get a grip and checked in to the hostel. As I chose my bed in the darkness and tried to find my wash bag in the dark I unexpectedly collapsed in a heap and started to cry.

Being in such familiar surroundings made me extremely homesick.

I longed to be back home and questioned my reasons for coming to Australia. It seemed so similar to the UK that in the back of my mind I wondered why I had bothered to come to the other side of the world to a place that reminded me of home.

I felt so alone.

The next morning I decided to explore the city and try to see the city in a more positive light! I hadn’t even left the hostel and already I was harboring negative thoughts about the city. I had to give it a chance.

 

 

 

 

At first I felt quite disorientated, It was such a peculiar feeling. Little things that you don’t even think about perplexed me. Waiting to cross the road was a new phenomenon and I started to feel impatient. All around me were people dressed normally and I started to feel scruffy in my travel clothes.

I headed in to a pub for lunch and was startled to hear words in English. I had got used to the sing song hum of a foreign language in the background and hearing all of these English speaking voices was sensory overload.

Despite enjoying my first few days in Brisbane I spent most days fighting back tears. I felt like booking a ticket back to Thailand, a place where I knew and understood.  I felt guilty for not appreciating this beautiful city. I was used to the lack of rules and order and sensible Australia was certainly a culture shock. I got asked ID in a pub and the tears streamed down my face as I walked away. I had not been asked for ID in over 7 months. In Asia it’s normal to see children riding motorbikes to school so they certainly don’t bother asking for ID. I felt confused and ashamed at how I was thinking and reacting.

Luckily I got used to Australia after about a week when I went to Noosa. The small town suited me better and I started to appreciate the uniqueness of Australia and the laid back lifestyle.

 

Have you ever experienced culture shock or reverse culture shock? If so was it expected or unexpected like mine?