Happy birthday to me…
Happy birthday to me…
Happy birthday dear Aussie on the Road…
Happy birthday to me!
It’s hard to believe that it’s been a shade over two years now since I sat down in my apartment in St Leonards, Australia and started work on this humble little blogging project in an effort to kill some time and find a common interest with a now ex-girlfriend.
Two years, six countries, three relationships, four jobs, five apartments, and countless beers later – the site isn’t only still kicking, but it’s actually helping to fund my travels now. Hell, about 60% of my recent US trip was funded by advertising, media trips, or sweet deals that I discovered through contacts in the industry.
This entire journey has been enlightening, humbling, frustrating, entertaining, and utterly life changing. I’ve met countless wonderful people through the blog – both readers and fellow bloggers. I’ve learned about places I never knew existed and I like to think I’ve helped a few people find their own love of travel whether it was through advice or a little vicarious living.
Another blogger recently said to me: “I’m glad to hear you’re involved in the Travel Blogging Calendar project. Now I know it’s legit”.
I’m not sure when I became ‘legit’, but I’m flattered to be a part of such a warm and vibrant blogging community. Here’s hoping I’m still traveling and sharing my tales after two more years.
It’s a Celebration, Bitches!
In the words of Dave Chapelle playing Rick James: It’s a celebration, bitches. I’d love nothing more than to get everybody together for some beers, some KTV/noraebang/karaoke, and a bit of debauchery – but that’s not really possible unless ya’ll feel up to a short jaunt to China.
Instead, I’ve decided to reflect a little on the past two years and share a few of the posts that I feel have defined or best exemplified this crazy, wonderful life I’ve been blessed enough to share with all of you. Bon appetit!
In the Beginning…
It all started, as so many things in a man’s life are wont to do, with a girl. My girlfriend at the time had been working on a healthy living blog and watching her wrangle with CSS, headers, and SEO intrigued me enough to consider launching my own website. While my original plan had been to launch an ill-fated Dungeons & Dragons website, it soon became clear to me that travel was my real passion.
So while DM Downunder never really did manage to get off the ground, Aussie on the Road was born.
Early Trips (and a wee bit of heartbreak)
After spending the first month or so of the site’s life recounting my old adventures in the United States, October through January saw me actually on the road again. A weekend spent learning to scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef and exploring Kuranda in north Queensland in October was followed by a ten day whirlwind tour of New Zealand before heading to celebrate New Year’s in Fiji.
It wasn’t all zorbing, drinking kava with the natives, and climbing glaciers though. The trip ended with my girlfriend of two years and I breaking up on the road, and while we remain friends and we’ve both found other people – it’s fair to say that the break-up had a huge effect in shaping the next few months of my traveling life.
Back to Korea
In the wake of the break-up, I decided the best thing for me would be to return to teaching ESL in South Korea and the lifestyle of drinking, partying, and doing precious little else that had made my two years in Gwangju so much fun. But you know what they say – you can never recreate a good time in your life. My five months living in Busan were not as awesome as I had hoped they would be.
While I had some good times attending a cherry blossom festival, exploring the many things to do in Busan, and falling in and out of lust in record time – it’s safe to say that returning to Korea had been a terrible idea. I returned home with my tail between my legs and no real idea what lay ahead of me.
The remainder of 2011 was a period of transition and self discovery for me. Cheesy as it sounds, being back home forced me to confront the elephant in the room – my lifelong battle with depression. While it would be another year before I would share my story in the entry linked to above, my time back in Australia showed me the importance of family as well as confirming for me that I just don’t ‘fit’ in Australia.
In spite of all of my wonderful friends and my undying love for the country – I just wasn’t made for the 9 to 5 lifestyle. A week spent on picturesque Tangalooma in QLD wasn’t enough to satiate my desire to get on the road again and that lead to…
…a return to ESL teaching in an entirely new country. While I had visited Hainan back in 2008, 2012 saw me adjusting to life abroad all over again as I tackled the language gap and a whole new kind of culture shock here in China. Over the past six months I’ve fallen in love with Nanjing, volunteered in rural China, been shipped out to Lianyungang to represent my school, taken part in a Nanjing Olympics, explored distant Xinjiang province, and found time to spend five weeks in the United States.
Oh, and I somehow convinced a pretty American girl to move to China too. But I’ll have to write about that later.
What Does the Future Hold?
As I mentioned, I’ve just been joined here in Nanjing by my girlfriend, Heather. With this being her first real experience abroad – I’m hoping we can fit in as much travel as humanly possible over the next nine months. There’s huge chunks of China still begging to be explored, and I’d personally love to visit a lot more of China before it’s time to find a new stomping grounds.
There’s also rumblings of a month long trip to Europe for next year’s Spring Festival/Chinese New Year, and I’m hoping to finally get my ass to South-East Asia at some point in 2013 as well.
For the site? Hopefully more of the same! The past six months have been the most profitable and the most visited in the site’s history, but I’m aware that there’s more hard work ahead of me. Between helping promote the Travel Blogging Calendar project, working to find the best travel deals I can, and trying to cut down on those nasty guest posts I know you all hate – I’ve got my work cut out for me!
A Quick Top 20
In case you didn’t feel like clicking on all of those shiny, in-text links above – I’ve gone ahead and put together my top 20 favorite/most popular posts for your reading pleasure. I hope you get a kick out of them!
- Travel with the Black Dog: My Battle with Depression
- Hot Sexy Sex in South Korea
- 10 Different Places to Visit in China
- 10 People You Should Never Travel With
- The Road to Teaching ESL in South Korea
- My Top 15 Travel Blogging Crushes
- My Five Favorite Places to Take Photos
- 200 Things to Do Before I Die
- Relationships on the Road: How to Meet Girls
- How to Speak Aussie: A Guide to Australian Slang
- I Quit My Job to Travel
- Australia’s Strangest Theme Park
- Surviving Christmas Away from Home
- Five Reasons Why Queensland is Better Than NSW
- I’m Not Racist, But…
- Writing a Chinese Sitcom
- 10 Reasons to Visit Australia’s New England
- Near Death on the Silk Road
- 10 Essential iPad Apps for Travel Bloggers
A big part of the reason I keep coming back to this blog is because of all of you. I know it’s sounds horrendously cheesy (and I promised myself I wouldn’t cry), but the comments, Tweets, Facebook likes, and shares are a big part of why I still enjoy sharing my adventures now as much as I did two years ago.
What kind of things would you like to see more (or less) of? More test drives? More photography? Top 10s? Let me know what you want to read so I can make it happen.
Last, but certainly not least, thank you to all of the people who keep coming back. I kind of dig being famous, haha. This one ought to help with the coming cold winter nights…