Blog Carnival: Travel Companions

Today’s article is written for the Reach To Teach Teach Abroad Blog Carnival, a monthly series that focuses on providing helpful tips and advice to ESL teachers around the globe. The host for this month is Jamie Phillips, here you can find other similar articles. I’ll be posting a new ESL related article to this blog on the 5th of every month. Check back for more articles, and if you’d like to contribute to next month’s Blog Carnival, please get in touch with me at dean@reachtoteachrecruiting.com, and I’ll let you know how you can start participating!

Taiwan Shrimp FishingOne of my favorite things about travelling or even living abroad is that it takes you out of the regular, everyday 9-5 bubble you are confined to at home and throws you into a fast paced arena of new faces, new names, new cultures, new people and new experiences.

When travelling, meeting new people becomes commonplace, and it opens you up to the world around you as you are forced to brave the first ‘hello’  or be the one to whack a smile on your face to engage somebody in conversation.  It changes you and makes you even more of a people person.

During my travels I have met a lot of great people just teeming with positivity, interesting views and different ways of looking at things. There are, of course, the idiots you meet, they are everywhere but for the most part I have found that long term travelers/expats tend to be pretty decent people.

However, this carnival post will not focus on the people I met along the way, as much as the past few paragraphs may have you think. Instead I shall be focusing on the person that was there with me for the most part of my travels. She has been my best friend for a very long time and it has been a roller-coaster of a time travelling with her, she is my very good friend, Hannah.

So to give you some background, we both set out on our adventure to teach English in Bali, an absolutely amazing experience but one that didn’t quite work out for me. Whilst I went home to figure things out, Hannah stayed and then we met up again teaching English in Taiwan where we spent just over a year together. And what a year that was.

I try to imagine what it would have been like if I had come out to these places alone, although I am certain I would have had an equally amazing time, it just wouldn’t have been the same. In a lot of aspects travelling with a friend can make the experience easier. When life gets a little crazy and the constant stimulus being Taiwan based, you can often find yourself in search of something familiar, something that feels like home, an anchor. Hannah was my anchor.

I found that it didn’t matter how much of a bad day I’d had, how much of a blunder I’d made trying to speak Chinese, how much I craved British food or tried to adhere to Taiwan’s culture and customs that are so far removed from my own, and more often than not failing. Because at the end of the day I would meet with Hannah and we would talk it out and laugh about it all.

She was an integral part of my experience.

But it doesn’t end there, another reason I have selected Hannah to be center stage for this article is because I feel we are both 2 halves of the same whole, the yin to my yang, the laurel to my Hardy, the Pats to my Eddy. Basically, I am known as being a bit of an air head when travelling, and Hannah is not. Whereas I wonder around with my head in the clouds not paying any attention to where I am going or have just been, Hannah is the one with the plan.

Let me give you an example.

We took a weekend trip to Hong Kong just the two of us; it was great, full of shopping and sightseeing. Of course I only had internet in a WiFi area and one of the things we were told we must definitely do is to have high tea at the Peninsular Hotel. So I took a screenshot of the Google maps route from the hostel to the peninsular, it wasn’t far.

It all sounds so simple, I had taken charge of the journey to the Peninsular and so we left. Now after around a good 20 minutes of going around in a circle, tensions between us growing, I started to think that something had gone wrong here. The map said it was close but we were going in a circle. It was at that point that my stomach dropped as I came to the realization that I, self-appointed Google maps leader Dean, had been trying to find the blue dot, and not the ‘A’ pin. That’s right; I had been trying to find our starting point, hence walking around our hostel for 20 minutes.  In fact, you could see the peninsular at the end of the road that our hostel was on.

Of course, I was crest fallen. I had finally taken it upon myself to take charge of the travels (a job Hannah is more than qualified to do) and I don’t think I could have messed it up any worse. There was a very awkward silence between us for a while, but later we were laughing, and I mean uncontrollable-tears-can’t-breath-or-talk kind of laughing.

The above anecdote is one of many that we often bring up with each other, and it will forever result in us not being able to finish the story because we are laughing too hard. I giggled whilst writing it. In my eyes, this memory I have is precious, it is something that has brought us even closer together and seasoned my travels with a warm sweet fragrance which I may never have gained if travelling alone.

So there it is, my ode to a best friend and travel buddy. I hope you have all enjoyed the read; the only downside will be that when Hannah reads this her head will swell. Have you ever traveled with a friend/partner? Do you have any funny tales for us? Please let us know in a comment below. 

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