I don’t believe in living in the past but there can be such value in looking back and reflecting on what has been. As I reflect now, I can truly see how 2009 has been such an amazing year for me. I am truly blessed.
In January, I procrastinated a lot. I tried to plan my journey and I changed my mind a lot until I finally booked my one way flight to Phuket. I moved out of my beloved Elwood to house-sit my sister’s place in Glen Waverley, a lovely change of pace from inner city chic to suburban tranquility. I rocked along to Neil Young and trained as hard as I ever had.
In February, I battled the heat of Melbourne’s hot, hot hot summer and sweated it out working in an old building with a barely functioning air conditioner. Like most other Australians, I was inspired and touched by the generosity and compassion my fellow Australians showed to the bushfire victims. I stopped working full-time so I could pack up my belongings and head to Asia, indefinitely. I celebrated my dear friend, Barb’s final period of singledom in true Aussie girl style, lots of drinks, dancing and singing.
In March, I enjoyed 5 day weekends only working 2 days per week until I finally became unemployed. I shopped for the perfect dress to wear to Barb and Marc’s wedding and helped them celebrate the beginning of their new life together.
In April I prepared to leave. I trained, cooked, cleaned and packed. I rode an amazing emotional roller coaster as I prepared to leave my loved ones and the life I knew behind. I cried a lot. And then once I was packed, I became excited. Then on the 16th April, I left Melbourne, headed for Phuket. I settled into my new home, Southern Fried Rice guesthouse and explored Kata. I contemplated renting a motorbike but was too scared after seeing too many accidents. I started training in Muay Thai in the scorching heat, my clothes soaked and dripping with my own sweat. I became an Emergency First Responder and a Rescue Diver and I started my Divemaster training. And I started to learn that "the Universe only provides what you CAN handle, nothing more and nothing less."
In May I learned to never, ever disrespect the (muay thai) teacher, unless of course you enjoy additional push-ups. I trained hard and graduated to Intermediate Muay Thai. Training in the heat made me so tired “my feet don’t touch the ground”. I finally broke my turtle drought, my first turtle sighting in more than 50 dives. And I enjoyed watching Thai soap operas with the thai ladies at my guesthouse even if I had no idea what was going on.
In June I celebrated my birthday diving King Cruise Wreck, Shark Point and Koh Dok Mai. My first birthday spent diving and my first birthday overseas. I swam 2 kilometres underwater so I could map a dive site as part of my divemaster course. I continued my Muay Thai training with my fragile, constantly bruised shins and then I was promoted to the Advanced class, a reluctant graduate. The madness of Bangla Road and Patong beckoned and I answered. I read and loved Shantaram. I finally learned to ride a motorbike thanks to Ina’s patient tuition and felt a freedom I hadn’t known existed. I ate the best mango icecream in the world but then for a change of pace I prepared to detox, giving up coffee, sugar, alcohol. I became a PADI Divemaster and then I packed up my things and went to Koh Phagnan, not for a full moon party but to fast and detox.
In July I went back to Phuket, detoxed and better than ever! Then I prepared said good-bye Phuket, hello Malaysia! I hung out in the Perhentians with my der friend Viv, diving and enjoying the beautiful, clear, turquoise waters of 32 degrees. I logged dive number 100 in the Perhentians, not naked but I did it in a yellow power rangers costume. I went to Sabah where I cruised the Kinabatangan river to watch Orangutans, Macaques, Proboscis monkey and birdlife galore. And I found my diving heaven. I was stunned by Sipadan. It surpassed anything I could have imagined. 3 days, 9 dives, more than 90 reef sharks and 70 turtles.
Then I went back to Thailand, but this time Bangkok. I caught up with my work friend, Jarrod and then met up with Viv for what I thought was one last time. I loved the bustling, beauty of Bangkok so much I stayed for another week. I walked with Tigers and bathed an elephant in Kanchanaburi and was so very blessed that the universe brought Viv back into my life. We hung out in Chiang Mai and together got pummelled at the Chiang Mai women’s prison, laughing all the while. Together we went to Pretty Pai and for the first time in my adult life I started to wear pink.
"Its time to taste what you most fear. Right guard will not help you here. Brace yourself, my dear...Its a holiday in Cambodia". I loved Cambodia, especially Siem Reap. I was amazed by the crumbling ruins of the temples of Angkor and did my best Lara Croft impersonation. Then I headed to Bali, looking forward to getting back into the ocean and catching up with my dear friends Ina and Arndt. It didn’t start well. I attempted to break my nose by swimming into a brick wall nose first. We went to Lembongan where I was horrified by the sights and sounds of Cock Fighting but also amazed by the beauty of the underwater world. Shivering in cold water, I saw my first ever Mola Mola, 4 of them in one dive. And my heart leapt with joy as I watched my first ever Manta Rays dance and glide before me. We travelled Bali by car and survived our little mishap. We dived Liberty Wreck and marvelled at the tiny pygmy seahorses. And spent some time chilling out in Padangbai.
I jumped from Bali to Java by bus and ferry. I got up at 2am to see a volcano at sunrise....Gunung Bromo...the most beautiful but surreal landscape I have everseen in my life!!! I visited Yogyakarta’s crazy bird market, drank Bintang by the pool, watched the passing clouds and ate lots and lots of gado gado.
I came full circle.....back to where it all began, Phuket. I enjoyed eating mango and sticky rice once again, the endless summer and beer o’clock. I was reminded how "the fabric of our daily world is so amazing....don't get so caught up doing stuff that you lose contact with the miracle and how mind-blowing it really is"
I swam in a sea of indecision and discovered that swimming in the sea helps with indecision :) I spent a wonderful 10 days with dearest Diana, beaches, food, diving and Phi Phi.
I did the longest and worst trip of my life, a visa run to Kota Bharu. I moved home on the back of a motorbike. I spent two glorious days with my dear friends Barb and Marc in Koh Lanta. I started to miss working. I enjoyed more beer o’clocks at sunset. I screamed in excitement when I saw my first ever whale shark at Shark Point. I finally made the decision to do my IDC and tried to study but was so very distracted by gorgeous weather and the beach. I was (and am) blessed to spend a lot of time with a very hot Italian man.
I started my IDC and prayed for time to go very slowly. I delighted as I scored some perfect 5.0’s during my course. I studied and practiced exams. I discovered I was knot-lexic and was relieved to overcome my knot-lexia. Then I faced the IE and won. I became a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor. I was so excited to speak to all my family together at the same time, in the same place at Christmas, one big chaotic conversation. I started writing again after a period of silence. I became the snorkelling queen and even a baby-sitter but with a gentle push of encouragement from my friend Ina, taught my first scuba students. And now I’m about to end this year by making some bubbles with an 8 year old girl before welcoming in the new year with friends, drinks, fireworks and hopefully lots of fun.