This isn’t China

Five months ago, even two weeks ago I expected to be in China, somewhere around Chengdu today. Instead I’m back in Koh Tao and starting a dive master course today.

In the last 5 days I’ve been back to Bangkok to collect the stuff I thought I wouldn’t need for just a week on Koh Tao, made a visa run to Laos and returned to Koh Tao. Expensive and time consuming running around. Last night I arranged some “long term” accommodation, paid a month in advance. This afternoon I’ll shell out at least the deposit for the dive master course. Probably within a couple of days I’ll buy a dive computer. Add in the diving I’ve already done and that’s almost two months budget spent in two weeks. Ouch. On the bright side, I won’t have to spend much on food for the next two months so when I head for China at the end of August I won’t be very much over budget.

I have stolen two months out of the rest of my trip. Two months that I was going to spend dancing tango in Buenos Aires. I figure the potential to earn money from the dive master qualification in the future (perhaps in Cambodia?) is worth delaying my return to the milongas for.

I’m not planning to return to the UK next year when my round-the-world ticket runs out. When I bought it I thought I would stay in Buenos Aires when it ran out. Now I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll stay in Buenos Aires, possibly elsewhere in South America or perhaps in Asia. In the last few years I had quite a lot of freedom to do what I wanted (outside of work) and what I wanted to do was walk, or dance, or fly. Through travelling I’m expanding the palette of things I might want to do and where I might want to do them. I would still like to stay in Buenos Aires and dance tango but there might be something I want to do more. I owe it to myself to find out and I’m having fun doing so.

I haven’t stolen time out of the rest of my trip after all; just reassigned it. That running around may have been time consuming and expensive but it was also enabling.

Nowadays I encourage everyone I meet to reject the conventions of getting a job and settling down. Instead I urge them to find a way to travel, to find and to do the things they truly enjoy. Shift the work/life balance firmly to the life end of the scale. I meet lots of people who have gone travelling. They fall into four main groups:

  1. The ex-pats who have done their travelling and settled into a new routine in a new part of the world.
  2. The (mostly) mid-lifers like me who have quit jobs, sold up and  gone travelling. Some on round-the-world tickets, some on a more casual basis. Most have no real idea of when their journey will end, or where, or what they’ll do when it does.
  3. The late twenty-something/early thirty-somethings on an extended trip who are definitely going home. Maybe to the same job they left, maybe to something new. Perhaps they’ll be starting a family but they’ll almost certainly be settling down.
  4. The gap year brigade. Already at or planning to start university. Few know what they’ll do afterwards.

Curiously I’ve met almost no two week holiday tourists. Perhaps because it’s the wrong time of year for them? To those in the third and fourth groups I say it’s not too late. Go home if you must, but don’t settle down. Reject convention, defy expectations. Explore, make real your dreams.

That was a bit of a ramble. I’m not sorry.

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6 Responses to “This isn’t China”

  1. Julia says:

    Doesn’t surprise me at all that you dont plan to come back and think its fab that you are finding new things to love doing; long may it continue. Good luck with the divemaster course.

    • Mark says:

      Thank you for your support. I’ve come a long way since that day we were out walking and I first voiced the idea of jacking in work and going to Buenos Aires to tango. Tango still beckons but there’s lots of stuff to explore along the way. Cambodia and diving both offer possibilities. Reconciling them all will be a challenge.

  2. Wow! Good luck on doing your Dive Master’s course. Tango will always be around, but the sea is changing so much…..diving will take you much further in your journey than Tango will.

    I am still gearing up to do a rescue course!! I don’t see myself as a divemaster, but I love diving. I am now following my dream as an artist. I never knew it was a dream until I tried it! It can be a bit daunting to try new things and let go of the old, but I think it is worth it ultimately.

    Happy diving and Happy dancing!

    • Mark says:

      Thanks, Arlene. Absolutely do the rescue course; it is *huge, huge* fun.

      I wonder if I should have signed up for videographer rather than dive master but I can always do that next. Dive master is goingto be hard work. It’s all been fun and expense so far (2 days in 🙂 ) but now I’ve got my course materials and studying and homework to do.

      Good luck with your artist dream and making it reality. Oh and have a tango for me please and I’ll wave at a moon wrasse for you.


  3. David Halberstadt says:

    Merry Christmas!
    Really enjoying your blog and the pics.

    Working on item #2…half way there…need to research that RTW ticket apparently. Talked about it many times with my honey…may have to solo it I suspect…but she’ll love the pictures…;)

    All the best, be well, Dave and Jo

    • Mark says:

      Hey Dave,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Good luck persuading Jo that a round the world trip together is the best possible way of spending time together. How’s the gardening going? What else are you doing these days?

      Happy Christmas to you both.

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