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Great Plans

2008 January 27
by rob

So on Friday I quit my job. I shouldn’t say that I’m unemployed now, that would be inaccurate. Technically, people that are unemployed are looking for new employment. That’s not the case for me. I’ve decided to remove myself from the job market for the time being.

It’s not because I disliked my job. In fact, I liked it a lot. I loved my coworkers. Leaving was actually a very difficult thing to do. I can only hope that someday, in the future, I can work with people as intelligent, capable, and just plain awesome again.

Instead, I’m taking a break from the rat race and the whole 9-to-5 thing (though for me, it was usually more like the 10-to-6 thing). It’s time to do some traveling.

Yes! The real reason I quit my job is because I wanted to do some traveling. Actually, not just some traveling, but a lot of traveling. I know some of you have asked where exactly I wanted to end up going. I do have great plans indeed.

I have a Working Holiday Visa (WHV) for Australia. This visa allows me to stay in Australia for twelve months (normal tourist visas only allow a ninety day stay). I can work at any job there for up to six months. I can enter and leave the country as many times as I’d like during those six months. The visa is designed for backpackers, not for people to want to go immigrate to Australia, or go there to work crazy lots and make mad moneys. It’s for backpackers! And that’s what I’m going to be!

However, even though I intend to spend most of my time in Australia, I have a lot of side trips planned as well. So, I’ll tell you about my intended itinerary now.

On February 1 my dad, my sister, and I are boarding a plane in Toronto and flying out. On February 3 we are landing in Sydney. What happens on February 2, you say? Nothing. we don’t get that day. It doesn’t happen. It gets sucked up by the International Date Line. Slurrrp!

We’re going to spend two days in Sydney, four days in Airlie Beach (near the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef), and seven days in Noosa (on the Sunshine Coast). During this time, we hope to go snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, visit the Australia Zoo, biking around Noosa, and driving around in four-wheel-drives on Fraser Island.

On February 16 my dad and my sister are flying back to Canada and I’m on my own. From there I’m heading straight to Byron Bay where I want to stay for a week. I want to take a surfing course there. Maybe I’ll try skydiving.

February 19 is my birthday. It’s actually my thirtieth birthday. I’m not worried. Everyone knows that the Thirties are actually the new Upper Teens. You’re all invited to my birthday party in Byron Bay that day. I don’t really expect anyone to make it. But you are invited!

For a couple weeks, I’ll be kicking around the east coast. On March 1 I want to see the St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival in Brisbane. Some of my favourite bands in the whole world are playing there: Broken Social Scene, Stars, and Feist (sigh!). With those three bands in one place, I’ll be sure to see some wicked on-stage collaborations.

After that, I’ll head down to Melbourne. I’ll go visit Joe Clancy and Natalie Thompson there. I’ve never met Joe, but I’ve met Natalie once, a long time ago. Rumour has it that Joe’s birthday is on March 8. I’ll make sure to buy him a beer.

Pretty quickly after that, I’m going to fly to Bangkok, Thailand. In Thailand, I hope to meet up with a few friends: Adam Freed, Michelle Gauthier, and Nick Taylor.

From Thailand, I hope to branch out into Laos, Cambodia, back to Thailand, then down to Malaysia and Singapore. I may or may not end up going to Vietnam (it depends on how much of my time gets sucked up by Laos and Cambodia — both places with a reputation of being so great that they suck you in and make it hard to leave). My goal is to see Singapore by the end of May. I know I’m glossing over this part of the trip pretty briefly, but the plans are not that well nailed down yet. I’ll figure things out when I get closer!

At the end of May, I want to fly to Hong Kong from Singapore. My friend Will Chau is supposed to be there. I went to Japan with Will, and we had a great time there. I’m sure we’ll have a blast there, too!

So, sometime in June I should make my way back to Australia. If there’s anytime I’m going to work, its going to be then. I don’t really know what kind of work I’ll do when I get there. Nothing too strenuous, I hope.

That part of the year is the winter in Australia. One of my goals for my trip is to avoid cold weather. Australia doesn’t really get very cold, but the big cities in the south can get down to 10 or 15 degrees. That’s much too cold for me! I’ll have to stick to Queensland and enjoy the tropics. I’ll probably take a few little trips around the country at this time. Being that it’s winter, it will be a good time to check out Ayers Rock, which is in the centre of the desert.

At some point during the frigid, frigid Australia winter (tee hee!), I’m going to exercise my respectable collection Aeroplan miles and take a free flight to someplace in the South Pacific. My options are Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga, the Cook Islands, Vanuatu, and Fiji. I’m not sure exactly which one I’ll go to yet. Right now I’m pushing for Tonga… but that could change. Any suggestions anyone?

On September 14 I’m flying to the most unlikely place that you can think of — back to CANADA! I’ve got a couple weddings to go to back in the Great White North. I’ll attend Thanksgiving and probably Oktoberfest in Waterloo, too. All told, I’ll probably be back for a month. I’ll definitely have a lot of people to visit while I’m there!

By the middle of October, the cold Canadian climate will start to remind me why I left in the first place. It will be time to get going again. My goal is to go back to Australia, of course, by I’d like to stop off at a couple places on the way. I’ve heard good things about Portland, Oregon, and I’d like to see it for a few days. Maybe I’ll head down to San Francisco for a few days, too, and visit some of my former coworkers from NeoEdge. It’s also a good launch-off point for Hawaii… which I extremely need to see. I want to go there for a couple weeks and do some hiking, biking, and swimming.

I guess by the first part of November I’ll be back in Australia. I’ll have almost three more months to spend there. Maybe I will get a job again. I definitely want to spend New Years in Sydney and see the fireworks from the Harbour Bridge.

By the end of January, my time in Australia will also have to come to an end. My one year visa will expire on February 2, 2009. I will have to move on. However, there are still places that I want to go after that. Since the northern hemisphere will still be in the grips of winter, I’ll have to stick to the southern hemisphere.

New Zealand is high on my priority list. I’d like to backpack there for a couple of months if I could.

The ultimate goal for the trip is to get to Poland in the spring of 2009. It’s my homeland — the land of my ancestors. I’ve never really had the opportunity to explore it on my own terms before. But for this year I decided to book my spring break through, they have amazing deals. I’d like to stay there for a few months if I can. There’s a wedding in my family there in June 2009. Polish weddings are often two days long and consist of a non-stop party: drinking, eating, dancing the whole time. I’ve never been to one of these extravaganzas, and I look forward to going.

Those, in short, are my plans. I know they extend far into the future. A million and one things could happen before the end. I’ll certainly try to stay flexible to take advantage of other travel opportunities. Maybe I will run out of money and have to abort early. Maybe I’ll get so homesick I won’t bear being able to go longer. Perhaps I will get so fed up with the hassles and nuisances associated with travel that I’ll just give up.

The only way to find out is to try…

Rob Szumlakowski
Toronto, Canada

One Response leave one →
  1. Sundarraj Jayaraj permalink
    March 2, 2008

    After finished my schooling. I decide to continue my higher education Australia .that’s my childhood dream. Can any one let me know about visas information and clearing at all.

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