Sunday’s Inspiration: Reality Reflection, A Kaleidoscope of Chaos, It’s A Long, Long Way From Here To There

“Realise how lonely this is. Self-defeating, oh, fuck, yeah.
Drowned in love and false kisses; a gathering of no meaning” – Richey James Edwards.

Realise how lonely this is. Self-defeating, oh, fuck, yeah.

The sparkle has gone. There is no denying it. A serious of events in my life have just given me a three-year and counting crisis. It’s inexplicable, it’s unexplainable, it’s non-explanationistic. Where did it all go pear shaped? I really don’t know…I’m so confused. And I won’t apologise for being selfish, outspoken, blunt or ruthless. I’ll expose those who lied, this is MY blog, I don’t care about any other people’s blogs or opinions any more. Those ships have sailed out of Strangford Lough already…

“A kaleidoscope of chaos” – Paul Van Dyk.

The shadow is the cross okay.

Factually from the outside, and the inside, for years of my travelling and blogging, it seemed the following:

  • I had a good life. (your lies/expectations)
  • I had a great blog. (my truth/selfishness)
  • I had a smile. (genuine)

Happiness in Freetown Christiania

  • I could go anywhere I wanted.
  • I did go anywhere I wanted.
  • I had the freedom, the blog was a success and my spin-off projects were earning me money.

Travel interview for Sputnik while based in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Yes but I was more Northern Irish than you. I’m a Northern Irish nationalist, unashamedly.

Back in my birth town- NEWTOWNARDS, Northern Ireland.

Back in my birth town- NEWTOWNARDS, Northern Ireland.

But life isn’t money. Who cares?

(capitalists)

There's a world outsider yer windy (in English "your window")

There’s a world outside yer windy (in English “your window”)

This period of gold for me, would be, say November 2012 to June 2016. I was really working hard on professionally travel blogging for that time and I made a lot of money, and travelled virtually full time – ridiculous now I think of it.

Right – next point on the agenda…

Looking back it was magical. I worked also for Internations Events and as a professional teacher in the Kong. But my focus from 2012 – 2016 was on monetising this blog – imagine the adventures I had and the people I met (of which, one was Ola Mueller…). Imagine what I could do. A life with no limits, apparently…

Down by the waterfront in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei.

Here are just a few of the things I did in that magic time:

  • In that time, I went from having visited about 70 countries, to having visited around 120 countries. I still eat porridge or Weetabix for breakfast (where I can get it).
  • I had so many new, happy, sad, emotional, exciting experiences.
  • I attended weddings in 5 countries (Northern Ireland, England, Hong Kong, Poland, Israel).

My first ever Polish wedding in Pomlewo

A beer in Xanadu resort in Belize. Paradise by the Caribbean Sea. Madonna’s Town

“Last night I dreamt of San Pedro” – Madonna Ciccone.

  • I was being paid to travel, or to write or to just be a blogger, by companies like Expedia, Money Supermarket, Culture Trip, Hipmunk.
  • I was attending travel blogger events (and didn’t fall asleep in many of them, though met some assholes!).
  • I celebrated visiting my 99th country (Norway) with double “every country in the world” visitor Gunnar Garfors.

Gunnar Garfors and I celebrate my 99th country in Oslo, Norway in 2015.

  • I celebrated my 100th country (Tunisia) just before my 35th birthday, at the same time Panny Yu and I had now visited 44 countries and all 7 continents together (it was to be the end of that but nobody knew it then).
  • I returned to my beloved Kilmaine Primary School in the Northern Irish seaside town of Bangor to help Mum sell Christmas gifts at an event in 2015. (arguably the highlight of my entire travels). I loved my Primary School. This was a high.

“Although loneliness has always been a friend of mine, I’m leaving my life in your hands” – Backstreet Boys.

Working Wednesdays: Helping my Mum Sell Hand Crafted Gifts at Kilmaine Primary School, Bangor, Northern Ireland

Working Wednesdays: Helping my Mum Sell Hand Crafted Gifts at Kilmaine Primary School, Bangor, Northern Ireland

But there was something new in the air as I walked with my brother Marko to Windsor Park that night to watch Northern Ireland v. Latvia…this smile at 1-0 (Steve Davis) hides a bizarre truth…

My brother Marko and I at the Northern Ireland v. Latvia match in 2015

  • I had split with my long term girlfriend and wife-to-be Panny Yu. I felt lonely and lost. She gave me a purpose in life again. Without her, I was nothing…

Give me some coins and notes, I’m going somewhere…

  • But unfortunately, after Panny, I saw that there was now no shortage of new girls to date, sadly travel blogging had opened up such new doors to me. I replied to every message, no matter how innocent they seemed. 🙁
  • But with these girls, I didn’t want any of them, nor (presumably) them me. How about a sexbomb model? Would I message her back or not?
  • So after backpacking Poland (again) and Ukraine, everything was fine and I relocated by mistake to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan…for 5 months.

I had the time of my life in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. I was single, happy, free, it was a city I thought I would stay longer in. I LOVED it. I helped organise the city’s first ever real pub crawl, I had bars staying open to show AFC Bournemouth matches (just for me) until dusk, life was good in Bishkek.

Watching AFC Bournemouth in Greenwich Pub, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

I arrived in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in December 2015, but by April 2016, I had finally left Asia…as I had pre-arranged some things which couldn’t wait (explained below), after some great photos from one of my all time favourite cities…

Bishkek!!!!

Sentimental Saturday Sun in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Sentimental Saturday Sun in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Central Mosqu, Gogol Street, Bishkek

Central Mosqu, Gogol Street, Bishkek

Playing Kyrgyz komuz instrument in Bishkek

Osh Bazaar: backpacking in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Backpacking in Bishkek

Backpacking in Kyrgyzstan: My Top 20 Sights in Bishkek

Happy times at the inaugural Bishkek Pub Crawl

Thirsty Thursdays: Bishkek's First Ever Pub Crawl, Kyrgyzstan

On a huge night out – Bishkek’s First Ever Pub Crawl, Kyrgyzstan

Friday’s Featured Food: Beshbarmak (Horse Meat Noodles) and Bozo in Jalalabad Restaurant, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Travel interview while based in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Dining out in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

But also at the time, I thought it was the way it would always be. I thought happiness was back. I was wrong. Why did I ever leave Bishkek? Three reasons…

1.SV Grodig Baby (Lee Adams and I agreed to watch SV Grodig in Austria at the end of April 2016). This was set in stone. Lee is one of the best guys you will EVER meet on life’s corridor. I was just so lucky that I met him. Top man.

With long term fellow football nomad Lock in Lee watching the famous SV Grodig BABY!

2.Euro 2016 (Every buck eejit knows I had waited since 1986 to see Northern Ireland at a proper tournament, so I needed to be in France in June 2016). I went to all 4 games and was even still proud on exit by a cruel Gareth McAuley own goal v. Wales. We had beaten the Ukraine and only lost 1-0 in our other games. For a country of 1.6 million buck eejits, this was fucking brilliant. I have never ever been so proud to be Northern Irish as that final whistle v. Germany when we lost 1-0 and cut them out from a rout, singing loudly and then the nervous wait to see if we would be one of the third placed teams to make it. A zero goal difference was dreamland. Gareth McAuley remains my player of the tournament and I’ve never met him!!!

I meet Daniel Lafferty (of Rotherham United) and Jonny Evans (of Manchester United, now Leicester City) and Northern Ireland in Adana, Turkey.

3.Asia Was Done
The telling continent shift. The split with Panny had me decided – I was done with Asia now. Given, yes I was only 35 when we split but I’d had my fun in Oceania, Australia and South America. Those continents felt like closed doors. I wanted to be back in Europe and now the truth – my first choice was MOLDOVA. It was never Northern Ireland, England or Poland. Those were a backstage hat-trick.

Incidentally, this is I think the last photo of me “living” in Oceania and Asia…

Was this the last photo taken of me in Australia? I’ll never know…

Last photo of me (without Panny) in Hong Kong before I left in 2015. With Chris and Alison. Chris, is Northern Irish and a lifetime friend.

Last photo of me (without Panny) in Hong Kong before I left in 2015. With Chris and Alison. Chris, is Northern Irish and a lifetime friend.

And within days of that photo, I was back in Europe.

“I’ve had too many dreams today that I can’t get to sleep. In Spanish towns I don’t belong, I look so out of place” – Jonny Blair.

Is this article 3 years old? But posted too late?

Maybe.

But I found my home now in Poland. Yes, Poland. Some of my best friends live here.

Lipnica Murowana, POLAND

Backpacking in Lipnica Murowana, POLAND

Backpacking in Poland: Staying at the famous Pink Panther's Hostel in Kraków

Backpacking in Poland: Kraków

My first time in Poland – Northern Ireland lost 1-0.

Man of men – Kowalczyk – Warsaw, Poland 2007

“Don’t stop living” – Jonny Blair, stolen from a High School wall in Toronto, Canada (nothing else fits)

Join 15,017 Monthly Readers! If you enjoyed this article and LOVE travel and SAVING money, get e-mail updates from Don’t Stop Living – a lifestyle of travel! (It’s Free) 😉 Jonny

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