5 YEARS OF TAKE A WALK ON THE WILDSIDE!
GIVEAWAY FOR THIS BLOG BIRTHDAY AT THE END OF THIS POST!
This blog, my blog, is already 5 years old. I posted my first article on June 10th 2015 and it was about the Working Holiday Visa. This one is still not translated in English since it’s about the French Working Holiday Visa and therefore wouldn’t be of great interest to any foreigner. 11 days later, I was landing at Tokyo Haneda Airport in the middle of the night. And followed one of the most unlikely nights of my life.
Here I was on the road. The adventure had just started.
I had spent many months to prepare it all. Dithering at first, then stopping to breath while I was filling my application form for the New Zealand Working Holiday Visa. Exhaling again. Then I panicked while thinking about all the tons of things I had left to do.
I had to sell my belongings, leave my studio apartment in Strasbourg, get vaccinated. Buy travelling gear, then paperwork, paperwork, more paperwork, book my plane tickets. I had to study the subway map of Tokyo not to get lost, study the New Zealand map to figure out where to go, send Couchsurfing requests, create an account on HelpX.net. I had to book a hostel in Auckland, my tickets for the Ghibli Museum. I had to call for someone to pick up the furniture I didn’t manage to sell so they could be donated. I had to move the little I had left of my things, mostly books, and my bed, to a storage facility in Mulhouse.
I had to say goodbye. Tons of goodbyes. I think I spent an entire month saying goodbye. Partying, celebrating, living stronger than before; dancing, laughing, singing, having sex, eating tartes flambées, as if springtime had contaminated me and life was finally coming back to my cheeks. As if I wasn’t about to disappear from the landscape… Or maybe exactly as if I was about to disappear completely, and I wanted to leave a bright trace behind, and absorb deeply the things I would miss once I’d be gone.
Japan, New-Zealand, Indonesia, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong-Kong, Vietnam, Ecuador, Mexico. Punctuated with travels in Europe, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Czech Republic, Great Britain. For 5 years, I lived according to the law of motion.
I wrote here about my first steps in Japan and New-Zealand like I was writing in my diary. I also wrote more useful and practical posts where I introduced you to those places I loved, and then, step by step, I opened my chest and put bits of my heart and guts in my writings. I wrote about relationships with people, encounters that lights and lasts a lifetime, ephemeral loves, doubts, cries, happiness, freedom, screams of joy. I spread here and there my love for Taiwan, I let you read between the lines the heartbreaks that crashed me down. I dared to talk about depression, this unexpected travel buddy which gives you big hugs even if you’re a world away from your fears.
I wrote. Even though I still don’t think I’m good at it. I’m still struggling to find my “voice”, this unique voice, that thing that gives you some literary style. I’m way more comfortable reading, a bit passive, I’d rather let myself embark in other people’s stories.
And yet, I’m still writing! Even since I came back to France more than a year and a half ago, I never stopped writing! Between my touring my home region of Alsace with my second-hand bicycle (I’m still writing it – I actually have dozen of drafts about things I want to tell…) and my epic hikes with the local hiking club, Alsace has provided me with a playground nearby my home. I’m still carrying notebooks around, where I’m writing down about my days, about my feeling catching fire, and sometimes poems, names, and drawing of flowers and maps. So I can remember it all.
Writing is my memory safekeeper.
And then October 2019 happened as well as my journey with the Cultures Sauvages radio show. My voice, my stories would be literally on air! It was such a challenge for me because I was struggling to finish my posts and turn my drafts into something I’d like since I came back from Mexico… I had to come up with a new chronicle each month. And I refined them so much: I had to embark the audience in my travels without exceeding 5 minutes. It took this challenge and restraint to get back to writing, to find again what makes my heart sing when writing, editing, translating, retouching pictures… Each post has a lot of work behind the scenes, it’s very time consuming and sometimes very nerve-racking.
But during those months, I managed to take you with me to learn Spanish in Ecuador, I opened the doors of the Napier Prison for you, I made your heartbeat to the sound of a beautiful love story which made me renounce to the Transsiberian journey, we celebrated together Chinese New Year in Taiwan, admired the momijigari in Kyoto, we quarantined together asking ourselves what it’s like to have a home, until we took a boat to Isla de la Plata and its Blue Footed Boobies, and rode together on the Forgotten World Highway in New-Zealand.
5 years of blogging, 5 years of little and big trips, 5 years of this desire to make you discover new places, to initiate you to a more sustainable and responsible way of travelling as I did with those workshops I animated with Emilie from the organization L’Essence du voyage since January 2019. I also wanted to share a glimpse of another way of living, because we have the right to live freer, to be more creative, to dare. Being a novice adventurer won’t prevent you to hike summits, to swim with turtles, to hitch-hike or to build strong ties with perfect strangers. During those past 5 years, I wanted those strangers to become your friends, that we become more humble, more grateful, more benevolent towards each other, and most of all that we throw to the trash our stereotypes, misconceptions and preconceived ideas about others… and mostly about ourselves.
Despite some problems, doubts, depressions, I’m still a privileged French girl who was travelling the world. I’m always well welcomed wherever I go, my passport allows me to go almost everywhere, my money is a strong one which allows me to travel comfortably in most of the world, and my skin colour is never ever a problem. I’m seen as an expat, never an immigrant. In this context, it’s important to keep the eyes wide open, to question these privileges, and to learn about the problems of populations which are more vulnerable, silenced, invisible. Their stories are worth being listening to. Their stories need to be told.
When I look back, and I witness my own anxiety and fear getting a grip on my stomach while I was about to choose to change my life path, I’m smiling. The beautiful decisions are the hardest ones. I have no regrets. And this feeling of extreme freedom and lightness that possessed me so often on my adventures is now inscribed in my flesh.
My 1001 lives on the roads feel so far away sometimes like they belong to someone else. They’re hiding? They’re vibrating, subterranean, on hold. Until that first pedal kick, until that first slope, until that first kiss, until that first dance move, until the first notes of Nara thrill in my ears on a rainy night. And then, those stories are filling me in, pushing me forward, cheering me up to never forget (myself on) the road.
GIVEAWAY FOR THE 5 YEARS BLOG BIRTHDAY! YOU CAN WIN TWO WATERCOLOURS PAINTED BY ME!
[GIVEAWAY CLOSED! THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR PARTICIPATION AND CHEERS TO LAURE AND JULIEN WHO WON A WATERCOLOUR PAINTING!]
- How to participate?
Nothing easier! You just need to comment this post by telling me which is your favourite post on the blog (or your favourites if you enjoyed more than one in particular) and tell me why. Don’t forget to write your e-mail address in the comment so I’ll be able to contact you if you win!
In your comment, you can also precise which country you’d like me to paint amongst the followings: Japan, New-Zealand, Indonesia, Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam, Hong-Kong, Ecuador or Mexico.
The giveaway is open from July 17th to August 17th 2020 – 23:59 Paris time.
- How’s the draw is going to take place?
Depending on the number of participants, I’ll either write down the names/pseudo on little pieces of paper and draw two of them out of a box, either use an app to draw the two winners out.
- Is it possible to participate from anywhere in the world?
Yes! I just hope that the Covid-19 pandemic won’t restrain or prevent the mail to arrive to your home! The watercolours will be framed and sent in thick envelopes.
- What do the watercolours look like?
All my chronicles from the Cultures Sauvages radio show had been illustrated by me, you can have a look at those posts to get an idea. Below, some other examples of places I enjoyed painting:
GOOD LUCK! I CAN’T WAIT TO PAINT SOMETHING FOR YOU GUYS!