Today’s article is an unusual one. I have given the reins of RexyEdventures to a very good travel blogging friend of mine who wishes to express his thoughts on the best days of our lives coming to a startling conclusion. As he boards the plane bound to Melbourne, this is his farewell note to the UK. Hankies at the ready people!
Hello. Please allow me to introduce myself for my name is Brendan. I have been living in the great city of London for nearly two years and in just a mere few weeks, I’ll be leaving to return home to Melbourne, Australia as my current Tier 5 Youth Mobility Working Holiday visa expires.
A very small percentage of you will know me as the man behind The Travel Pop. I could write the following piece on my own blog but that just wouldn’t be appropriate content. Personal experiences are much too trivial for The Travel Pop and the bizarre world for all its strange beauty that we inhabit is a much bigger subject (and infinitively more fascinating) than the life I live. This is where my guest post for RexyEdventures comes into play.
Have you read his New Year piece? The outpour of emotions that are evident on this piece will surely cause you to shed a tear or two! Ed is a blogger who expresses his emotions into his writing, bravely placing himself out in the open to share some of his own personal intimate experiences to you -the faceless readers of the internet. Inspired by Ed’s personability and writing, I hope you’ll allow me to take the reins for today and share with you my personal soliloquy.
Background Information: Travelling is in the Gene
Travelling is inherit in the family gene. Both sides of my family belong to a Chinese ethnic group called The Hakka – a nomadic ethnic Chinese group that travelled from the north to the south of China. My mother was born and raised in Liquica, East Timor and moved to Australia not by choice but by necessity, escaping the oncoming invasion of the Indonesian army in the early 1970s. She left her homeland to seek asylum in Australia only bringing with her nothing but $100AUS. My father, on the other hand, was born and raised in Bandung, Indonesia and also left his home country by necessity rather than choice. My grandparents sent my father, at the young age of 15, to live in Hong Kong via Macau to escape the racial rioting Indonesia had suffered during President Suharto’s regime. My father along with my aunt and uncle, made the move and lived their twenties in a country that has grown to become an urban jungle that never stops sleeping. It was in fact my father’s time in Hong Kong that has left a lasting impact on me and my travels. The sepia faded photos of his time in Hong Kong portrayed a young man at the prime of his youth. Here was my father who was at one of the greatest modern cities, living carelessly and free. I yearned for live the life my father had lived before me, and it was through travel that I discovered I could make such a life a reality!
The decision to move to London was at the time one of the most spontaneous decisions I had to make in my life. I had previously lived in three other countries before London so one would think I’d be adaptable to change. But unlike the last few times, this move to London was different. You see, I had previously lived in Japan and Taiwan, also with a brief stint in France. Each country where I lived abroad had a single purpose. I lived in Japan for a year as a part of my study abroad during university. I went on to study Chinese in Taiwan because I was fresh out of university and wasn’t prepared to enter the workforce (come to think of it, I’m still not ready to enter the workforce). My short 3-month stint in France was to be with my ex-girlfriend whom I had met in Taiwan was in a committed long distance relationship at the time. As you can read, for each country I inhabited, there was purpose.
The move to London, however, served no real purpose. It was simply a matter of getting on a plane, arrive into the country and see what would happen next. Before arriving, my life in Melbourne had hit a wall of mundaneness – I had a steady job with a reasonable income, hanging out with my oldest and closest friends and living in the city where I was born and raised. To quote Pink Floyd, I had become comfortably numb. Alternatively, as most modern psychologist describe these days, I was experiencing the first-world problem that is the quarter-life crisis…
In the Beginning…
Entering Her Majesty’s Land on May 2012 on a drizzling Thursday afternoon, I vividly remember being on board the Piccadilly tube, looking out into the distance and watching the gentle drops of water fall so gracefully on top of those classic English rooftops. The UK is possibly the only country in the world that I have visited that can somehow make rain in the scenery seem so poetic.
My 3 month adjustment period to London life was not the easiest period in my life. I basically arrived into the UK without much financial preparation. After securing a place to live in my first week, I managed to secure minimum wage work that barely paid for my living expenses in only my second week. During this period of London life, I either worked to survive or stayed in at home to search for a better paying job. In short, London was shit.
It was also during this period; I had doubts and constantly pondered whether or not the move to London was a mistake. I didn’t know how long I would last in London and at this point, I was fairly certain that I would abandon my London plans and return to Melbourne.
Eventually I stuck it out and went with the flow of the universe managing to find a new job as a humble office manager. The work was neither satisfying nor difficult, but it did pay the London standard living wage; allowing me to finally experience London as I should see it. My improvement in the London happiness scale directly correlates to the improvement of income. Looking back, I can say that this concludes my theory that London is the perfect city for the young working professional. You won’t save much money but you’ll have a great time spending your money!
The Random Bits in the Middle
When you live abroad, you always vividly remember the beginning and the end of your adventure. Anything in between are just random spots of memories that one suddenly remembers from time to time. The middle section of a living abroad adventure is always a hazy one because a majority of that time is filled with dull Tuesday mornings or lazy Sunday evenings. But my god, don’t those random spots of memories just make it all?!
Hailing from a massive and isolated country such as Australia, Europe never ceases to amaze me. I still can’t believe the fact that I can simply hop on a train in London and get off where they speak another language. The opportunities for travel are endless, and it is with this convenience where I feel my regrets. Oh how I wished I could have taken advantage of my environment to travel more, but alas with anything in my life, finances dictated the possibility for travel. Though I regret my lack of travel, I do take solace in the fact that I truly experienced London as a local. Through my life living here, I have managed to make great lasting friendships. I’ll admit that the first 6 months of my life in London was a very lonely period for me. I arrived knowing no one, but eventually over time, opening myself up to situations, meeting new people and somehow gaining great friends, it was all worth it. When we leave a place, it’s not the place that you miss the most but the precious friends you have leave behind. Social gatherings, random conversations about the most insignificant topics or alcohol-fuelled weekend escapades are what complete my London experience. I am grateful to have met an amazing bunch of people who I proudly call my friends, and I do sincerely wish that our paths will intertwine again. I guess, to sound rather corny, travelling is the perfect metaphor for life itself in a way: The beginning and the end tied together by random events, both significant and insignificant.
“I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but almost always end up where I need to be.” – Douglas Adams
And so comes the time where I will eventually need to leave behind the life I had built in London and return back to my homeland. My working holiday visa comes to an abrupt end and this gives cause for the British government to deport me out of the country. I have had the past few weeks of funemployment to analyse my time and life in the UK and I’ve come to the conclusion my oncoming departure is what I’d imagine the Doctor’s regeneration to feel like.
Every country I had inhabited, I was at a different stage of my life. In Japan, I was a young wide-eyed 19 year old experiencing the world for the first time. In Taiwan, I was the graduate who was stuck in the limbo state between university life and career life. In France, I was the boyfriend travelling half-way across the world to visit the girl he had fallen in love with. And now in London, what kind of Brendan do we have? It’s funny when you actually stop to look back at your life. I came to London with nothing but a desire to escape the dullness of home and vague aspirations of creative success. I admit that my aspiration of becoming a successful writer was one goal that has not fully been accomplished. However, I have created the strong foundations I needed that will allow me to build upon.
I have managed to live an exceptional life here in the UK. A few weeks ago, I made an impulsive decision to take the train from London to Brighton to visit Mr. Ed Rex for a few drinks. One drink led to another and eventually I was well on my way to experience a Brighton night-out. Eventually, I found myself stumbling out of a club in Brighton, walking 20 minutes to my friend’s place at 3am in the morning on a school night with work waiting for me in London in mere hours. In this idiotic drunken state, I realised that at that at this moment in life, we truly are living the best days of our lives.
London, you’ve been good to me and I thank thee for the good times I’ve been fortunate enough to experience in your magnificent city. I will be leaving with the uncertainty of returning in the future to your glorious and majestic city. Take these words as my farewell, but really, it never truly is farewell is it? More of a ‘See you later’. If there is anything that my travels have taught me, it is that the adventure never truly stops.