The past month has been insanely busy and plagued with Internet so slow you start to remember the days of dial-up Internet with fondness or no internet. But above all else, the last month has been filled with change and hard decisions. Overall it’s just been hard and a lot of the time I just haven’t known what to write.
Three weeks ago we let our house in Penang saying goodbye to great friends in the process. Saying goodbye to great friends is never easy, especially not friends who have touched our lives as much as these friends have. The weeks of packing that went into leaving were also hard. Thankfully a friend decided to essentially take over our whole house so we didn’t need to sell off all of our large furniture but there were still a lot of decisions to be made and lots of packing.
A lot people talk about how liberating packing, selling and leaving your whole house behind is. If I’m being totally honest, I personally didn’t find it to be that way. We achieved the liberating part in a different way several years ago. We didn’t physically rid of our stuff but we detached ourselves from it by putting it into storage while we travelled for the first 18 months. Even when we moved it to Penang we spent long periods of time away from it all. During that time we realised we didn’t need to a new couch and three sets of cutlery to be happy.
Because we’d already done that part, the only part left of leaving Penang were the less fun parts. Selling your car, culling crap and deciding out of an entire life what small amount of stuff you can hold onto when you are limited to just suitcases and shipping a couple of boxes. And even if you do hold onto those things, what do you actually do with them when you don’t have a home? Where do you store them if you don’t know what country you might end up choosing to eventually live in? Any option we choose will probably result in us having to ship them somewhere else again.
We decided to ship a number of small boxes to New Zealand and a couple of boxes of photos back to family in Australia. When we came up with that idea Malaysia had one of the cheapest postal rates in the world. A 15kg box was only $20 to ship by sea. Fantastic!
A few days before we left we headed to the post office. On the Tuesday we sent six boxes for the total sum of $100!
We went back on Thursday to discover postal rates in Malaysia had gone up for the first time in 18 years. By an astronomical amount. This time four boxes was going to cost $600. And these boxes were all lighter.
I felt physically ill. We’d have to significantly cull what we were sending. Friends had been offering to look after some of our things and all our my books under the premise that if we found where we wanted to stop in the next few years they would ship it to us. With the new postage rates I actually felt that dream burst right there in front of me.
The final few days where my personal possessions like my books left the house to go to my friends and I sat there looking at the house were they used to be realising that now thanks to new cost of postage they really really were gone not just being looked after throwing out the kids first drawings and my painting that I did when I was 15 that I’ve always loved … I felt completely broken. In a way that I haven’t felt since I had my first broken heart.
All in all, walking away from everything has been a learning experience for me. Colin found it easy. The kids have struggled less than we thought they would but I suspect Noah wouldn’t volunteer to do it again easily. But it’s shown me that while I’m love travel and this lifestyle, I would never choose to ship everything overseas again unless it was a permanent move. We should have kept a tiny storage unit back in Australia right at the start with a small amount of personal stuff in it to hold onto because I now realise I’m the type of person that likes keeping physical objects from the past as memories. I want to be able to pass on my grandmothers blanket to my kids and look at my art diaries in my old age. I like picking up a book that I bought when I was 16 because I can remember the store I bought it from where I was friends with the staff and where I was working at the time to earn the money that paid for it and who I discussed the book with. Yes the actual books can be replaced but I want the old copies for the memories they hold. I can let go of the whole house but I want those other things. Clearly this has been the driving force behind why we haven’t ditched everything before now.
Unfortunately it’s been a hard lesson to learn because we already shipped everything overseas. I’ve had to let the majority of it go now as it’s simply to expensive to ship it a second time back to Australia where we may never settle again and have to ship it elsewhere anyway. But at least now I know. And it’s nothing I can’t move past and I’m trying to be positive – rather than being sad I’m picturing the day that we stop and how I’ll start rebuilding and replacing those things with better and brighter memories because of all the experiences we’ve had. And because I now know how important those physical reminders of memories are to me!
Wait? When was our flight to Laos?
We’ve had a friend join us for the next few weeks and she’s never been to Asia so after Penang we headed to Kuala Lumpur on a bus (an Aerolines bus in case you are curious as to what bus offers those amazing seats!) to sight-see. On May 24th we were due to fly out to Laos.
Or so we thought.
At 10pm on the 23rd, Colin realised our flight to Laos was actually for the 21st not the 24th. We still have no clue how we made that error. We’ve been saying the 24th the whole time. At least we realised the night before and not on the way to the airport at 4.30am. That’s a silver lining right?
With a week to fill in we quickly came up with a new plan – Cambodia.
(What was hard about missing the flight? Nothing at all. I just thought the last part of the post got a little deep and we could all do with a laugh at our expense!)
Alone in Asia
Late last year we organised with an old friend of Colin’s that she would come over and join us for several weeks of travel. At that point we thought we would be in South East Asia for all of 2013. Her tickets were already booked when we decided to change our plans and go to New Zealand. Rather than all of us stay in Asia for another month, when Colin has a lot of work on and the kids honestly have hit the point where they just want to stop and have school and friends, we made the decision that I would stay behind and travel for two weeks with her while Colin and the kids went to New Zealand.
So here I am in Bangkok 5 days into a two week girls adventure. It’s a lot of fun to explore at a faster pace, do adult sightseeing and get through two books in a day thanks to long bus trips rather than sit through rewatching Iron Man and Barbie for the 77th time …
But I’m still reeling a little from leaving behind all my things in Penang. So to be away from my family for so long on top of that … every moment is bitter sweet. I knew this would be hard but it’s a lot harder than I realised. There’s been too much change all at once. A month ago I was sitting in my house surrounded by my family. Today I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Bangkok with no house and my family is sitting in an airport in Australia waiting for a flight to New Zealand more miles away than I can seem to calculate in my head. I used to be able to derive complex equations in my head but figuring out these numbers seem to baffle me.
I’m not normally a tearful, emotional, girly-girl but I swear this past 5 days I’ve done nothing but tear up the instant no one is looking. One minute I’m excitedly exploring a temple or gazing out the window of a bus enjoying watching all the scenery unfold and two seconds later I see something that makes me wish the rest of the family were here with me.