My Journey | Two Years of Travelstoke

John Loo

Any and every form of travel opens our eyes to new cultures, new environments and aspects of our earth to which we are unfamiliar. Since waving goodbye to a mundane existence we’ve been on a journey of self discovery, understanding and acceptance.

We’ve reached into ourselves and pushed buttons, fiddled with the configuration of our minds and pushed ourselves to limits we thought would break us.

On 2nd June we celebrated two years of perpetual travel. Two years of exploration and adventure. Two years of life lessons and experiences.

Amidst the celebrations and the sense of achievement I reflected on my personal journey and the snap shots of time that have brought me to the moment in which I find myself.

This moment right now.



The wind whips around my legs forcing me to cling to the hem of my skirt. I’m walking down an unfamiliar street in an unfamiliar city.

It’s the first day of the rest of my life and although I’m desperately trying to appear care free there is a panic tightening its grip around my chest.

I take another swig of my beer, I have never been able to stomach the taste. The smell reminds me of nights out at university, of boys with beer breath and bad chat up lines.

A gin and tonic girl at heart but one who’s now on a budget, sampling the bitter sweet taste of a new life she has chosen for herself.



I grip the metal clamp, terrified that I’ll mess up.

In one hand a clamp attached to the fallopian tubes of a small kitten, in the other a scalpel. Calypso music pumps from the speakers aside the vet, his feet tapping in time under the table.

Every once in a while he sings his directions to me in fast paced Spanish, a melodic instruction which I must follow.

I inhale sharply as water rushes toward my face, I blink a few times as my eyes become accustom to the salt water surrounding them. My vision is blurred and I can no longer see the ocean floor.

Stretching the neoprene strap over my head I secure the mask in place and exhale to clear the void.

The exercise is complete.



Pain sears through my skull as my head hits the roof rack above me, almost instantly a similar sensation ripples through my arse as my body slams back into the seat.

Why did I not pay the extra $50 and get the ‘Gringo’ bus? The one with air conditioning, comfy seats and seat belts.

I’m sat next to a sack of corn and there’s a man stood with his crotch uncomfortably close to my face. At the front of the bus a preacher is spreading the word of God, loudly and with little regard for his own safety.

If the bus stops abruptly I’m sure he will be thrown through the front windscreen.

I jump tucking my feet beneath me in the hope that I’ll reach the railings. I’m surrounded by a sea of bodies, hot and sweaty, adrenaline fuelled and alcohol filled. The first hour or so brought waves of screaming Nicaraguans running down the main street, but little else.

‘Toro, Toro’ they yelled, but no Toro came. Now it was here, dazed and confused. Running for its life, just like the crowd.

A young boy grabs hold of my ankle, he is still at ground level. I can feel the beat of his heart pulsating through his palm.

I reach down and he takes my hand.



My thighs are burning and my knees are about to give way. I’m half way down the slope and attempting another turn. I shift my weight as directed my instructor.

‘Shit. Was it front toe up or down?’

I fall flat on my face, my nose deep in the white powder. Apparently I’ve forgotten I have the use of my arms and go down like a solid plank of wood.

Green conifers line the highway, their boughs laden with snow.

It’s -4 degrees outside but I’ve got the windows down and the radio is pumping out familiar beats.

Life is good.

The sun is high in the sky and I’m cruising along the Trans Canadian highway, not a care in the world. Up ahead the traffic is at a standstill. A heavy goods truck is laid across the road, black skid marks leading towards it.

Sirens scream past, then silence. Snow begins to fall.



I feel as though I might burst.

I’ve arrived in paradise and although it’s almost midnight I’m contemplating heading out to the beach, just to dip my toes in the water, to walk along the sands.

‘Lay down on your boards and paddle like a mother fucker until I shout stand’

I’m attempting to rock the surfer chick look and was doing quite well until I swallowed my weight in sea water and had to retreat to the beach to regurgitate the salty brew from my stomach.

Now I’m exhausted, but not yet defeated.

I manage to balance for what feels like just a single second before the wave takes my board from beneath me and I hit the water again.

Lesson over I sit on the beach and watch as the pros glide over the surf with ease, their arms propelling them to the crest of each wave and their enviable physiques lifting them from their board.



My heart is pounding in my chest. Beneath me I can see their dark shadows circling, waiting, and hoping.

Descending to a coral ledge I watch as the tuna heads are released and their jaws rip the flesh from their skulls. I’m mesmerised, any sense of fear left my body the moment the feed began. There must be at least fifty forms now all entwined, a pulsating ball of dorsal fins and forked tails.

The desert stretches as far as I can see, the tarmac road laid out before me poker straight and with no apparent end. I check the map and then my fuel gauge. Pulling into the road house my stomach groans.

‘How about a kanger banger?’ the toothless attendant enquires, ‘they are fresh!’

‘Erm, no thanks, I already ate’ I lie through a polite smile.

I know they are considered pests here but I just couldn’t bring myself to eat the animal whose stuffed, fluffy compadre I grew up cuddling on a night. Deep down I knew my childhood teddy Winne The Pooh really wouldn’t approve.

The sails fill and the yacht jumps into action.

We’re making pretty good time and are scheduled to be in Gove in just a few days. I’m on the night watch, its 1am and I’ve another 3 hours on deck before I can sleep. I check the plotter, the sonar and the radar.

No sign of life so I return to my cushion by the guard rails and stare into the darkness.



The smell of sulphur sickly sweet lingers think in the back of my throat. I tug my gas mask over my face and press down around the seal.

My hard hat feels heavy on my head and the ground crunches with each step I take. The earth rumbles beneath my feet and a pressure mound erupts in plumes of white steam.

I stick out my tongue and lick the frigid glacier.

The ice melts with the heat and water thousands of years old trickles down my chin. All around me gargantuan chunks of ice lay dormant in the water, harbouring a dark secret beneath the milky waterline.

A section of ice breaks from the main glacier and falls into the lake, the boat is swept back by the force of the waves.

The clock strikes midnight and I smile. Two years have passed since I waved Adios to my 9 to 5, Ciao to city living and goodbye to those I love. Two years, 730 days and 1 epic adventure later I find myself half way around the world and with no plans to return to the place I once called home.

✈ ✈ ✈

Have you been on your own epic #travelstoke journey? Share your comments with me below.