Now I could give some mushy fluffed up lie as to how it all began but as you will quickly learn I don’t mince my words so here it is…
My mum had me unplanned and when I came in to the world she thought ‘sod this, a child isn’t going to stop me travelling’ so she decided to take me with her on her travels.
I started at 3 years old with a trip to France to see family, followed by another family visiting holiday in France shortly after. A ‘one last holiday with both parents’ trip to Tunisia happened at 6 years old.
However, my biggest travel adventures as a child was my one month in Madagascar visiting my Dad’s side of the family and a 6 month stint living in Yemen whilst my mum was doing her Arabic degree.
The Madagascar trip was lots of fun, but I don’t want to dwell on it too much due to the massive amount of family politics that took place on that trip. So let’s talk about Yemen…
It is one of the most dangerous countries in the world currently but back in 1997/1998 it was just another normal looking Middle Eastern country. We lived in the capital city of Sanaa which was big and noisy and had quite a lot of poverty. Yes, even to this day I still have mental images of the beggars holding out their hands for money and appearing to have just finger nails growing out of their hands without any fingers. It didn’t phase me from what I can remember but some might see it as a pretty traumatic thing for a child of 9 years old to witness. On the upside though, there was a really nice outdoor kebab stand at the end of our road, I adopted a cat that I named Felix who used to come in to our garden(I say ‘adopted’ in the loosest sense as it would never let me touch it) and I used to go to the local shop for kinder eggs on my own saying ‘bi’cam hatha’ meaning ‘how much is that?’ every time I went.
My mum couldn’t afford to send me to the local English School(being a single parent and all) so I ended up going to the Indian School. I’m not going to lie, I gave my mum a hard time for it and I didn’t appreciate it at the time but looking back I think it was an amazing, unique experience. The children in my class were so hard working and dedicated compared to myself and my class mates back home. I’m 100% sure that my class mates from the Indian school will all be high flying businessmen/businesswomen, doctors, lawyers or in some other high up position in whatever field they work in whilst I’m over here being a support worker(look who’s laughing now, cue certainly not me). I wish I’d valued my education as much as much as those children in my class did. I was fortunate enough(in a slightly ironic way) to get to celebrate Indian Independence Day whilst at the Indian School. I even sang a song with my class in Hindi at the Independence Day party. My favourite part of the night was watching some of the older kids in my school who were far cooler than us sing and dance to a song that went “go East or West, India’s the best”. It was so catchy and colourful.
Another amazing part of my Yemen experience was visiting a beautiful little tropical beach town called Al’Khokha. According to google maps this place no longer exists(not going to lie, I’m having a bit of a smug traveller moment as I write this round about now). It was like I’d entered another world. I mean for starters the sea was blue. My most prominent experience of sea at that age was the mucky black sea of Hartlepool. We stayed in little wooden huts with beds made out of woven palm trees. Yes, it sounds cool but the reality was that it made for a very uncomfortable nights sleep. We spent our few days there swimming in the sea and soaking up paradise. Now me and my mother are very close, so I know she has a different take on this trip to Al’Khokha along with a story that’s not quite PG but that is her story to tell and maybe one day I can twist her arm in to writing a guest blog post on her experiences of Yemen.
Apart from the ‘not quite PG’ story, my mum has some pretty wild stories to tell from her time in Yemen. Sadly though whilst these crazy wild things were happening 9 year old me could only focus(and remember) laughing hysterically whilst my mum had to eat eggs(that she hates) whilst hiding out in a house in northern Yemen, but more on that later.
Following Yemen I went on a series of mediocre school trips around Europe. Why I insisted on going on them in my half terms despite getting badly bullied at school is beyond me but this is all stuff to talk about in therapy not on this blog so we’ll nicely skip over these trips.
After that my real travelling started when I went to South East Asia for my 18th birthday. My mum gave me the choice of driving lessons or a trip to South East Asia. Me being me of course chose the travel which has led to a adulthood of choosing travel over what others would perceive as the ‘more grown up option’ but I’ve got to the age where I don’t care and I will continue choosing travel over the ‘grown up option’ every time.
So this is an introduction to my travels. I realise that there’s still 10 years’ worth of travelling to fill you in on. I have a few ideas up my sleeve on how I’m going to do that so as the American’s would say, stay tuned for the next instalment.