Paying Attention

From May to August 2010 I travelled to Malaysia, South Africa, Malawi, Thailand and Vietnam on a journey that would change the course of my life.  The first piece of advice offered by my travel companion/guide/friend, Jem, was to keep a journal.  “Paying Attention” is the travel narrative born from the pages of 3 originally blank note books, that now contain the ramblings of a lost soul through the adventure of a life time.  Slowly I will be adding snippets of “Paying Attention” on this site, but it is a long process to relive that journey and document it in it’s entirety…


“What time is your flight?” Mum asked.

“I have to leave in an hour, but my flights not til 11.30.” I said.

“Only you would not have packed yet.”

I could tell Mum was starting to get anxious.  She was listing off on her fingers all the things I would need in my pack and rummaging through her draws and cupboards for last minute emergency items.

“I fly into KL and anything I don’t have, I’ll just buy real cheap.” I said, not caring very much what I threw into the bag.  It was a lousy effort at packing and she was right to be fretting, for when we tipped the pack upside down to repack it, a cacophony of seemingly useless items fell from the bag.

“Emma Makepeace, you have six, seven, eight, nine, you have nine books packed in here, what about practical things like first aid?  Where are all your antibiotics and medicines just in case?  What about warmer clothes?  There are only singlets in here.” Mum said between pulling bits and pieces out of the pile and spreading them on the couch.

“I need all those books.  One is for writing about my trip, I’m going to try to keep a journal the whole time I’m away.  Jeremy keeps telling me I have to write about my travels, so I need something to write in.  The other one, is my book I write stuff in that I see or read that I like.  I’ll have read these three by the time I get to KL and this one,” I said holding up my copy of Dan Millman’s ‘Way of the Peaceful Warrior’, “was a last minute addition.  I wasn’t going to bring it, but when I was putting everything in storage, something made me keep it out.  So now it is coming on the trip too.  That leaves me with three spares, which I’ll have read by the time I’ve finished Malaysia.”

She shook her head and sighed.  “I’ve got some good insect repellent that you can take you’re going to need it.”

It had been eight months since we had gone to Peru together on holidays.  Eight months since the seed had been planted to take off and see the world.  Eight months since I’d met Jem on the Inca Trail and he’d said it was easy to travel, you just have to do it.  I’d spent two weeks on a full pre-planned trip in Peru only to come back to my pre-planned life in Australia.  Within two days of being home I’d started turning everything in my life upside down and inside out.  In less than four hours I would be on a plane and starting the next chapter of my life.  I’d leave everything I knew behind and with only plane tickets booked for the next four months, see what the world had in store for me.



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