One Year on The Road – The Loneliest, Happiest and Most Exciting Year of My Life Anthony Middleton November 13, 2012 Travel Thoughts 47 Comments On November 20th, 2010 – Man took on a clock counting down from one year – with the aim to leave England, debt-free of £16, 000 and to fly on a one-way ticket to an indefinite adventure around the world, before the clock ticked down to zero. On November 13th, 2011 – Man beat the clock by a week… Exactly one year ago today; I wiped the tears from my face after the most painful goodbye to my family, picked up my backpack with my worldly possessions and walked to Durham train station. Next stop Newcastle, then London, then Kuala Lumpur (just a small case of 6, 570 miles). I purposefully asked everyone to respect my wishes and not to wave me off in some Coronation Street type of farewell at the train station or airport. On face value, I looked like I had it all worked out, but beneath the surface – I was absolutely petrified. The day I left with my family: Smiling on the outside – sad, scared and very confused on the inside. Don’t be fooled. Saying an indefinite goodbye to the people you love the most is absolutely gut-wrenching. I had built up an impressive comfort zone around me for 28 years that most people would envy – a close-knit circle of friends just a stone’s throw away, a family who loved me for who I was and didn’t need to be told I loathe onions and would not finish a meal if they invaded my food. Regular visits to watch my football team play, girlfriend, Tesco online shopping – what more could a boy dream of? Alas, I suspect the “Rington’s Tea” man is on suicide watch/bankrupt since my departure. So, how do I wrap up a whole year in a blog post? The answer is I can’t, and I won’t even try to. I’ll try my best to highlight the most poignant bits though, whilst aiming to inspire anyone who wants to do a similar thing to me, by confirming a personally validated travel truism: The Hardest Part is Stepping On the Plane. The Last Time I Cried – Exactly a Year Ago Today I purposefully had a few hours to kill so I took a U-turn past my Nana’s old house and stood looking at it for a while, like some sort of crazed psycho-stalker. I hope I didn’t scare the new old lady living there too much. I just wanted to soak up every part of the city before I left it forever – the good, the bad and the ugly. She was my world, my rock, the calming presence in my life and my endless source of crab sticks and random facts about the multiple uses of vinegar. I had only beautiful memories as I stared at my old dears old place and as I let the nostalgia flow through my mind, the tears fell from my face like raindrops – which proved to be symbolic in my departure. It had been a few years since she died, but I don’t think I really ‘got over it’ until that moment. Do we ever really get over someone we love, not being a physical presence in our life anymore? Do we actually ever stop wishing we could have them back for one more hug? One more shared joke? One more moment to tell them what they mean to us? Will we ever let go of the romantic subconscious part of our minds that ignores all logic, the part which craves for them to walk through our door and tell us about their day, like they had never left our world? I think no, we just find better ways of coping with it, which helps us accept things are the way they are – otherwise we’d just curl into a ball and die, but we’re not designed to do that. We’re designed to survive. I finally felt ready to say “farewell and thank you” to Shirley – and “hello and bring it on” to the next chapter of my life. Wor Shirls molesting some unsuspecting Mediterranean dude on her last ever holiday in Ibiza. She tortured my fellow female cousins by calling them every night and singing the song “I Wanna have sex on the beach.” Brilliant. This was the last time I cried proper tears. I don’t know if that is a good, or a bad thing. Half of me is scared that I’ve become too thick-skinned to be moved on an emotional level, the other half thinks it’s just because I feel stronger and happier. I’m torn, needless to say when I cry next – you’ll know about it. I cried a thousand rivers every time I said goodbye that week and I’ve had no problems letting it all out in when necessary in the past. The jury is still out on this one and it interests me – I guess time will tell. Anti-Climax So I rocked up to Malaysia and had the time of my life, skipped into the sunset with nymphomaniac triplets and lived happily ever after, right? Wrong. I spent the first few months pretty depressed and lost and thinking ‘it wasn’t supposed to be like this.’ My bank balance was dwindling, my income was zero and I was drinking myself into an oblivion. What’s a boy to do in such a situation? Look in that mirror, be 100% honest with yourself, man the fuck up and take some big action. So I decided to eradicate alcohol for at least half a year, move to Chiang Mai, Thailand and work on building a stream of constant online income. Things got a lot worse before they got better and at one point I had only $29 left in the bank – on and the small case of a cancer scare! I was lost, scared, sad, confused and so incredibly lonely. The shit had hit the fan, so to speak. And as odd as it sounds – it was the making of me! Fast forward to a month later and I had the all-clear, made $5, 000 in one month and I started attracting the most amazing, interesting, cool and inspiring people into my life. We have so much control over our life – we’re just not aware of it. Chiang Mai will always have a very special place in my heart – not for it’s temples, it’s gorgeous mountains, or its mouth-watering street food. Not even for the fact that Thai women made me feel as attractive as Brad Pitt with a chocolate flavoured love-muscle. It will be significant to me because I feel that in that city – I was personally tested and the end result made me grow as an individual. Least Favourite Destination – Kuala Lumpur Where the journey began… Funnily enough, my least favourite destination – was my first! I have been back to Kuala Lumpur a few times and had some amazing times and met some friends who I reckon will be friends for life. But I just bloody hate the place. It has a nasty vibe and I feel suffocated every time I go. The hookers scare the living shit out of me, the taxi drivers are fucking ignorant and the smog is vile. It makes London look like a friendly paradise! Favourite Destination - Burma/Myanmar I bloody love Burma! Burma was on my top 5 places I ever wanted to visit – and it didn’t let me down. I had it very easy before Burma with regards to travel comfort and I went there for some chaos – and I got more than I bargained for. I really want to go back for second helpings and the country still fascinates me – I am looking at my arms as I type this and I seriously have goose-pimples thinking about the place. Ignore what the media says – they don’t even get to see it! I did, and it’s a riot. It will break your heart and capture it at the same time. Go to Burma and thank me later. Disclaimer; the food is shit though Best Travelly Thing? SONGKRAAAAAAAAAN! Regrets? Taking my bad mood and issues out on a friend and being a bit of an arsehole when travelling with him, even though he is a proper top bloke. Ignoring my intuition which resulted in me hurting a person I really care for. Eating ‘dancing shrimps’ (very disappointed in myself). Giving one friend more chances than they deserve and continuously allowing them to piss me off and hurt my feelings without even calling them out on any occasion. Not eating enough Massaman. Missing out on the present, because of dwelling too much on the past (do you see the irony here? ) Random Things I Have Learnt After Leaving England and a Year on the Road . We don’t smile enough. . We don’t hug enough. . We often confuse comfort with happiness. . There are a lot of good people in the world. . Alcohol can be used as a cop-out and should NEVER be consumed when an individual is on a downer. . If you argue with an idiot, you are actually worse than the idiot. . Thai women have amazing hair. . It’s easier to locate and cut poisonous people out of your life, when you’ve grown as a person. . It’s not a myth about Swedes being generally good-looking – even the dudes are hot. . Most Brits are Knob-heads when they are drunk. . We’re stronger than we think we are – we just talk ourselves out of good shit. . Anything still sounds sexy in French. . It’s not the President, or the Prime Minister’s fault why you’re unhappy. It’s yours. . Bullet points make a very boring blog post. Entrepreneurial Bipolar Monday 12:03 pm: “I am sooo PUMPED UP about my new idea/project/bestest idea everrrr since wet t-shirt competitions, and I’m going to take over the world and be in ‘Forbes’ magazine and date Anne Hathaway….and save Africa with my own wallet. Watch out world – I’m a-coming and there’s no stopping meeeee!!!” Monday 02:17 pm: “I caaaaan’t do it. I’m sorry Africa, I let you down. I suck and I’m going to go back to working for Tesco and give up this shit. Don’t look at me, I’m the WORST ” Monday 03:11 pm: “JUST Africa!? Player, please – I’l be on Oprah’s couch by Saturday. I may as well sort out the problem at the Gaza Strip at the same time – all while making millions with this super-duper idea that I never ever should have doubted – silly me, tehehehehe – what a silly goose I am.” Some early hours of the morning later in the that day/night: *falls asleep with head on desk and mouse arrow on “accept” button on Paypal with a Satanic grin – process repeats in the morning* Entrepreneurialism – the word conjures up some rather seductive images. Reality kick in the balls/foof time; it. is. fucking. hard. However, I would rather swim through an ocean of elephant poo than work for a boss ever again. Most Beautiful Moment “I can take you to the touristic places in Myanmar, or I can take you to the REAL Myanmar, if you like,” said my Burmese friend. I was feeling adventurous and I took the latter option. Hours later and I am captivated by a gorgeous little girl playing in a hut, in the darkest, most poverty-stricken areas of Mandalay. It was a proper shit-hole and she had no shoes for her feet – yet she seemed the most content person I have ever met. Befriended by a white dog, she jumped about and splashed in the mud and giggled as the scruffy mixed-breed followed her around. It was the sound of life. Suddenly, a violent rain storm began and I started to get completely soaked in my ‘dressed for summer’ clothes. The little girl ran over to me, looked up at me with her beautiful hazlenut brown eyes, beaming smile and offered me a home-made poncho – my Burmese friend confirmed that it was her only poncho. I politely declined and came to the conclusion that life is bloody beautiful, at times. What’s Next? I-really-need-to-start-remembering-the-name-of-places-I-climb-bare-footed. It seems that my first year on the road has seen me transform from a traveller to an expat of a few countries. The reason for this is because I keep getting distracted by my projects and I prefer to live in an apartment than a hostel when I’m working. I do this for a bigger, deep-seated reason – to keep my eyes on the prize and I’m also extremely proud to finally be kicking the arse out of my lifelong battle with money and I don’t want that to change. I want to get my life to a level of James Bond excitement. I want to be able to fly from Thailand to Brazil at last-minute – without worrying about denting my bank balance at all. If a friend at the other side of the world wants me to come and visit for a cool festival/sporting event – I want to be able to say “yeah – see you tomorrow!” The James Bond life that I have always dreamed of is within touching distance and I know I have to work harder to get it to that level. The start of the year will see me working my little arse off in Bangkok – starting a business with two friends. After that, I plan to travel and live like a man who only has a day left to live – every single day. That is after I’ve worked on my guns, of course This year has been the, loneliest, happiest and most exciting year of my life – it’s been a roller-coaster of emotions – and I wouldn’t have changed one second of it. The lonely part was only very short-lived. I’ve found that once you’re truly happy with the person you are inside – it’s impossible to feel lonely for too long. I can’t possibly sum up one year in a post and there are so many other things I’d like to share, but I’ll leave the uninspired with a few pearls of wisdom after my 365 delicious days on the road… …A few years ago I felt like an absolute failure. Last year I took big action and I was the most frightened I have ever been in my life. This year I am the happiest I have ever been in my life and I’m sure it’s nothing to do with external influences (travelling, money etc etc). I believe I am happy because after years of feeling sorry for myself – I took action and accountability for my life – and that is key. Stop waiting for a knight in shining armour to come and rescue you – grab your own horse and go wherever the hell you want. Realise that every time you say “I would love to do this, BUT…” – that you are just justifying your fear with excuses and building up your own barriers. Stop asking too many people for advice. As cheesy as it sounds – you really must follow your heart. It’s perfectly ok to want something, but to not know how to get it, or even get started – just get fucking started, man! Locate the bad apples in your life – the people who leave your energy levels lower when you’ve left them? Locate and terminate. Awaken that sleeping giant that lies within you – you are stronger and more capable than you think you are. I’m serious. Thank You Special thanks and love to my family and friends who have supported me in my massive lifestyle change – it can’t have been so easy letting me out of your grasp Thank you to all of the friends I have met on the road, online or in person – especially the ones who have been inspiring, helped me to grow, or called me out on my own bullshit. Thanks to all the smug shits back in England who said it would never last and I’d be home in months – thank you more than anyone, actually And a big sea of gratitude to the lady-boy who chose not to rape me on that secluded island in Langkawi. Was it something I said? What did I do wrong? Am I not pretty enough? I kind of feel like you gave me mixed signals. Did I miss anything out? Anything you’d like to know about my first of many years on the road? 47 Responses H November 13, 2012 Amazing! Seems like yesterday I watched your video about travelling to SEA.. Time flies…fast. I am glad to be part of your journey ( i think), and get the chance to read whatever you wrote here. Very inspiring to see someone chasing some dreams and kinda encourage me to do the same. I hope you continue writing. And keep doing whatever things that makes you happy. p/s: dun forget to watch premier league Reply Anthony November 27, 2012 Cheers, Hayadeen And no way can I pull myself away from the EPL Reply lola November 13, 2012 proud of you & all you’ve accomplished. happy travels ahead!! lola xx lola recently posted..Lola & Leah Eurotour commences – we want your photo dares! Reply Anthony November 27, 2012 Thanks Reply The Velour Fog November 13, 2012 Nice post. Sad as it is to say… I liked seeing the bullet points. It’s helps with my short attention span. Bullet points make me happy. Good work, but it only took me 20 minutes to read you post so that wasn’t so bad. I really don’t know where I’m going with this comment, I’m a little drunk right now. Reply Anthony November 27, 2012 They told me a Velour Frog would come into my life and say that! Reply Linda November 13, 2012 I confess to having lost track of you over the last few months, though I avidly followed your initial excitment! However, today you popped up on my FB feed (though goodness knows why not before now), and I was enthralled to read this. So glad it’s working out in the long run! And lots of luck in the next year – I will make sure to read more often now! Reply Anthony November 27, 2012 How daaaaare you Haha I’m only joking – see you can’t get away from me. I’m a social media parasite Thanks, Linda Reply Tom @ Waegook Tom November 13, 2012 Aww I love this post! Even if the bit about your nan got me a bit weepy – it made me think of my own Nana who was gone way too soon. It’s been ten years since she passed away (a few weeks before I got my GCSE results) and the pain doesn’t ever go away fully. Onto happier things though…chocolate love muscle? What ARE you hiding in your pants? And I can’t believe that you hate KL! I love that city! Seriously, I thought it was fabulous, even though my hostel wreaked of chlorine and I was dripping with sweat for the entirety of my stay in the city. Hopefully I can have that James Bond-esque lifestyle someday, but my aim is to be a homebody of sorts some day. But without a boss. I HATE MY BOSS. For Man Vs Clock 2013, my challenge to you, sir, is a speedo shot on a beach OUTSIDE of Asia. Also, a homosexual sex tape with Zain of One Direction, but you can just send that to me. Tom @ Waegook Tom recently posted..The Best Festival in Korea?: The Jinju Lantern Festival Reply Anthony November 27, 2012 Tom matey, Yeah them holes in our lives are had to fill, but the real tragedy would be if they were never in our lives to miss in the first place Hahaha I responded to my choccy love-muscle on the wrong comment it seems Just replied on the last one haha, Stupid Akismet getting me all confused! Speedo shot – I’m in! Beacuse I’ll have a better body. Homo sex with a celeb – I’ll do anything for a bit of coverage on MVC!!! Reply Adventurous Kate November 13, 2012 I’m very proud of my favourite Geordie. Well done. And I’ll send you some Ringtin’s if I can find some! Adventurous Kate recently posted..South Africa: More Than I Ever Imagined Reply Anthony November 27, 2012 Thankssssssssss Reply Christine November 13, 2012 Super super super proud of everything you’ve accomplished and all the happiness you’ve been able to find and success you’ve achieved, despite some serious obstacles. Can’t wait until our paths cross again for some spicy curry and in-depth chats about dating. Keep living the dream Reply Anthony November 27, 2012 Thank you, petal – super proud of you too Yes, YES! My favourite subject Always – can’t wait. Reply Hogga November 13, 2012 And this coming year is going to be… wait for it… LEGEN-DARY. Hogga recently posted..Too Sexy To Travel: The New Face of The Traveller Reply Cat November 14, 2012 I agree with Hogga!!! We all are very happy for this anniversary but what about the amazing future ahead?? As we sing in one of our many versions of the Happy Birthday… “y que cumplas muchos mas” ask Will to sing it to you (is the “Miliki” version) but if he is not in the mood… the translation would be: And may you celebrate many more Cat recently posted..The bad weather in Scotland is a myth Reply Anthony November 27, 2012 Cat, I’m too scared at how turned on I’d get of Will sang to me in Spanish, so I’ll have to opt out. Anthony November 27, 2012 (poolparty) Reply Financial Samurai November 13, 2012 Absolutely fantastic Anthony! Congrats on staying sobering and experiencing all those moments! I’d love to hear more about why you hate KL. I lived there for years and loved it and was planning to go back. But, I’ve never been to Burma, so perhaps I’ll just go there instead!! So invigorating to read your post! Whatcha up to for income nowadays? Cheers, Sam Financial Samurai recently posted..How Does It Feel To Be Financially Independent? Reply Anthony November 27, 2012 Hey Sam/Financial Samuri How’s it going? I keep meaning to check up on what you’re up to nowadays. My main income is in advertising with my network of sites, but I’m hoping to seriously diversify and currently excited about an ebook product I’m working on for a COMPLETELY different genre. Currently travelling in Vietnam for a few weeks, mate Hope you’re well. Reply Matt Horwitz November 14, 2012 This is amazing man! Really enjoy your writing style as well. Authentic, thoughtful, and thought-provoking. “I believe I am happy because after years of feeling sorry for myself – I took action and accountability for my life – and that is key.” Keep rockin’ my man! Onwards & upwards.. Matt Horwitz recently posted..Keys to Stepping onto the Path of Mastery – Inspired by Robert Greene’s New Book [Podcast] Reply Anthony November 27, 2012 Glad you liked, mate! How’s the no-frap challenge going? Wanting to murder/dry-hump people in the streets yet? Reply Matt Horwitz November 27, 2012 Hey Anthony! Overall, it’s going well. 5 days left to the 60-day challenge. I jerked off 3 times during the challenge (once with a personal porn video, the other 2 times with no visual stimulation).. ended paying my accountability partner $100 each time. I wouldn’t call it a success, and I wouldn’t call it a failure. I learned many things throughout this challenge, and coming to a close, I have very little desire to watch internet porn. I am looking forward to being able to “release” though from time to time. I did have sex here and there throughout the challenge and that helped a lot. I should have the followup/results post ready in a week or so. Hope you’re well mate! Keep rockin’ ! Matt Horwitz recently posted..How to Talk to Anyone Without Fear of Rejection Anthony December 3, 2012 Matt, I’d say that is a grade A victory! I don’t jerk off to porn anymore and I’m looking to write about that in the future. As for your PERSONAL videos – that doesn’t count as a no-no Al least you know it’s real what you’re seeing! I’ll have a mooch over your site – can’t comments as Akismet have wrongly banned me Geordiekev November 14, 2012 Congratulations matey and can relate to a lot of your experiences (some with tear formation too!). Met you on-line, met you Chiang Mai and will meet you again somewhere along the road. Let’s do the man hug thing next year, April, Chiang Mai or wherever. Love you mate and love your work!! P.S. Don’t sweat the small stuff over that ladyboy……he did the same to me! Stay safe!!! Reply Anthony November 27, 2012 HAHAHAH what an absolute bar-steward “he” is!!! Reply Roy @ Thaizer November 14, 2012 *applauds* very loudly. Anthony, next time you are in Chiang Mai, let me know. Beers are on me. Could not have put this better myself: “Thanks to all the smug shits back in England who said it would never last and I’d be home in months – thank you more than anyone, actually . . .” Brilliant, brilliant stuff. I’m going out to the Night Bazaar tomorrow just so I can buy a hat and take it off to you. Well done that man. Carry on. Reply Anthony November 27, 2012 Hey Roy, Why thank you! I’m all about the green tea right now, but one won’t harm eh There is some good hats at the NB, mate!!! Reply Kim November 15, 2012 Congrats Anthony! You’re so funny and I loved the post. You should be proud of one year on the road. I’m six months in and have already learned so much (especially about that bi-polar condition called working for yourself). Kim recently posted..Six months on the road and thoughts on homesickness Reply Anthony November 27, 2012 Thanks Kim, Hahah and I’m glad you related to the BP condition – makes me feel less alone! Where are you guys now? Reply TinTin November 15, 2012 Totally loving this post Anthony! I’m very happy I met you early this year! All the best and soon, you’ll be a ‘James Bond’! Reply Anthony November 27, 2012 Thanks Tin Tin Reply macca November 15, 2012 You left the country???? when the fook did this happen? Another great post mate, up there in my favorite 3. It must have been difficult to condense a year of adventure into one post, but you’ve managed to present something bare & honest & from the heart. Thats why you’re my best mate… heart on your sleeve & hope in your heart. Remember me when you make you first million. I’ll be submitting a claim shortly after for emotional damage caused by you deleting 8 seasons of LMA manager! I got Bolton to win the Champions League FFS!!! That’s gotta be atleast 250k ! Love you mate, keep following your dreams x Reply Anthony November 27, 2012 Cheers, Macca, When I make my first million – the only thing I’ll remember about you, is you taking the piss out of a girl on the 64 bus, ducking below the seat – and getting me the blame – resulting in her deciding to get fit, date me and seek her revenge by being a complete pain in the arse. THAT IS WHAT I WILL REMEMBER Love you too, mate x Reply George November 16, 2012 Congrats man! If I had found myself with no money and incredibly sad after a month or so I don’t know what would make me stay. Good on you for powering through it was obviously worth it because you are here now. Well done you are strong! George recently posted..A Letter to my Friends Reply Anthony November 27, 2012 Thanks George – I think you might just surprise yourself if that ever happened Reply Susan From Travel Universally November 22, 2012 That’s like a whole sum up for me. Thanks for letting us feel your situations when you were leaving your family(seriously that’s a tough situation). Honk Kong is good place but when it comes about people, its mixed. I was much scared at the time of Thai- message event. Reply Anthony November 27, 2012 Cheers Susan, hope you’re still loving HK Reply Financial Samurai November 22, 2012 BTW, where are you now mate? Financial Samurai recently posted..How Does It Feel To Be Financially Independent? Reply Nico November 24, 2012 Great article. Living in Jakarta I actually think that KL is a nice place, but it could just be the lack of traffic and relative cleanliness. I completely missed the fact there’s smog, which tells you something about where I live. Nico recently posted..The Best Little Village in Uruguay Reply Jo November 27, 2012 Very open and honest, can’t believe you managed to condense a year into one post yet still capture it all. Proud of all you’ve done, stay strong and stay happy. Love ya Jx Reply Anthony December 3, 2012 Thank Jo Love you too xx Reply Martin February 15, 2013 Good reading man, thanks. Planning to leave to SE Asia for one year as well. Can’t wait. Yeah, it is hard to leave everything but the best things you get by making hard decisions! Will continue reading your blog, like it. If you are interested in my story just visit http://www.searchingparadise.blogspot.com I made a Robinson-Crusoe-style camping on one of The Philippines’ deserted island for two weeks only on water and rice. Good memories All best mate Martin Martin recently posted..Finally Part two of the video… Reply Curious Nomad February 24, 2013 Enjoyed reading your story. Congrats on overcoming the challenges on your journey. The lessons you share from being on the road are invaluable. We should smile more often. The entrepreneur pic you posted was hilarious! We should all start young! 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