- Countries Visited: 22
- Travel Wishlist: Bali, Universal Super Nintendo Land, Not fussed about flying to Space with Elon Musk
- Locked down in: Edinburgh (things could be much worse)
“Maybe I’m getting old ‘n’ grumpy, but I prefer a world that wasn’t so ‘smart’.”
If 9/11 was the birth of the War on Terror, then 2020 has gotta be the War on Freedom.
Throughout this unprecedented time of restricted living, it’s given me time to reflect on when I felt the most free… back when I travelled the world…
In 2006, I was downloading my travelling soundtrack onto this state-of-the-art badboy:
I had a bucket list of audio experiences:
· Pure Shores – All Saints for the perfect beaches.
· Cloudwalking – Tiesto Magik Six for my Himalaya adventure.
· Mory Kante – YekeYeke (hardfloor mix) for the Thailand full moon parties.
· Jungle Book – I wanna be like you for the Gibbon Experience.
Let me tell you a bit more about the Gibbon Experience. It’s a playground for adults with childhood dreams… a bunch of treehouse linked together with ziplines in the middle of a jungle in Laos. Here’s a blog from back in the day.
In 2006, it was common behaviour for backpackers to be lugging around heavy books like this:
Smart phones didn’t exist and I’m glad to have travelled the world where Wi-Fi wasn’t a requirement. Getting lost was OK. Chatting to other travellers over an exotic beer rather than scrolling through websites was how you learnt about the latest craze like tubing:
It was a random conversation that led to my greatest discovery. The book/film The Beach was a massive inspiration to me so when I heard about a village built for travellers on a remote island in Fiji I knew it was my final destination. I found my beach.
It was here that the local Fijian Chief, Tui Mali, fulfilled a prophesy that the world would come to Vorovoro Island. A couple of young English entrepreneurial chaps approached him with an idea to build a traditional village, designed by an online community of eco enthusiasts called tribewanted.com. When I rocked up the project had already been going a year, most of the island infrastructure had already been built with Grand Bure being the centrepiece:
There was a solar panel for a bit of electricity and some composting toilets to manage the number ones and twos. What really hooked me though was the warmth of the Fijian community, they had an amazing capacity to make you feel at home immediately. There was a weekly traditional ceremony where new arrivals presented their Sevesevu (offering of kava roots used for drinking) to Tui Mali. He then spoke to the spirits of the ancestors, asking to grant you safe passage on this sacred land. You could feel you were part of something special.
This was the only time my adult life where waking up each morning felt like a kid on Christmas Day. As soon as my eyes opened, I was racing to the sea with my snorkel gear, exploring the coral reef, finding Nemo happened in seconds. At the end of the island was a waterfall to wash away the salty swim. And then I would chill in the hammocks, waiting for the sound of the kitchen bell that would signal tropical breakfast was ready. Ahhhhh, I was in heaven. Believe.
The project was ahead of its time, in the sense that technology wasn’t quite in place for there to be daily uploads from the island. In fact, connectivity in that part of the world was an issue. You had to travel by boat to the mainland for a semi-decent connection at the local internet cafe. It was there I uploaded my application to become the monthly island chief.
The main perk of chiefdom was that it was a free month in paradise, and I was skint. My traveling fund was running on fumes and after this I was heading home, back to the rat race. There were only two candidates running for this hotspot. The tribewanted.com community were only a couple of hundred members strong, it was no Facebook operation. Sixty people voted with a landslide towards me, mainly because I was already on the island and the other person wasn’t. Right place, right time. That feeling of ‘travelling extension’ was better than any ecstasy pill underneath a laser system. I was buzzing o-nat-u-ral.
After an amazing month, my travel plans were extended again. Booyaka! I was asked to become part of the Island Team. This was the best job in the world. I got paid twenty quid a week but would have happily done it for free. I ended up staying/working on the island for two years. During that time, I declared myself President of the Hammock Society and published a book chronicling my adventures in paradise. The first one was from an original Hammock Society member, a Fijian lad called Sosi:
As I take this trip down memory lane so many flashbacks take me to a place where I reached a peak state of happiness, right up there with Buddha level. It was on Vorovoro Island that I met my wife, Lisa. Loads of people who crossed paths there ended up married and many lifelong friendships were made – it’s how I met James, the founder of this website. Check it:
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Travelling was the best life decision I ever made. It’s left me with a powerful feeling that if my life were to end, I’ve lived a good one. I got to see the world before everything became accessible on the internet. Now you can book, plan and document everything from your smart phone, it’s incredible but something has been lost along the way. I took a sabbatical in 2015 and returned to Vorovoro Island. From the comfort of the hammocks, you could now access Facebook on your iPhone and I felt kinda sad. My paradise had been invaded by the tech-tentacles of the modern world. I’m worried that these remote communities now have access to pornsites and how it will affect their culture. Maybe I’m getting old ‘n’ grumpy, but I prefer a world that wasn’t so ‘smart’.
At the beginning of 2020 I married Lisa. Travelling brought us together and we thought it would be cool to spend our honeymoon doing just that. She’s a primary school teacher so the plan was to spend the duration of her summer holidays exploring Bali. Six glorious weeks. COVID fucked that up. Fucked it up good ‘n’ proper. Travel plans scuppered. Artificial house arrest to help halt the spread of the virus. I can’t see us getting to Bali this year… or next… maybe never. If you’re familiar with conspiracy theories, the NWO agenda is in full effect.
Life in lockdown had its silver linings though, I was already set-up to work remotely as a freelance designer. Now agencies were forced to work this way which meant I didn’t have to go to them. I think a world where remote working becomes commonplace provides more exciting opportunities for nomadic souls.
However, what’s been a slight concern is city living. It doesn’t matter if you’re vegan, vegetarian or a flesh eater… we’re all reliant on food trucks supplying us. When the supermarkets were experiencing shortages, I felt very vulnerable. I was no longer living a sustainable life on a remote island, I was stuck in a capitalistic web what seemed to be unravelling at an alarming rate. There’s an urban myth circulating that each city has enough food for two weeks without supplies, after that you’re a few days away from total breakdown.
I’m not sure what the future holds but I do know this:
Travelling is a state of mind.
Maybe I can’t go to a new place physically, but mentally… now I’ve got options.
From the comfort of my sofa, I can appreciate fellow modern-day adventurers vlogging about their escapades. These lads are doing it proper:
Bald and Bankrupt:
Travels to unusual places, speaks decent Hindi/Russian
Cheeky chappy always on the blag
If you ask me what I’ve been up to recently… I’ve been travelling during lockdown. Where? Ancient Greece. How? Assassins Creed Odyssey PS4.
For me, gaming is a great form of escapism… a way for the mind and imagination to travel. I’ve been exploring temples and sailing the Aegean Sea. Admittedly, I may not get the Vitamin D but I do get immense amounts of joy ‘n’ wonder.
If you’ve read this far, thank you. And to COVID and the government: Fuck You.