The Day I…Met My Ex-Girlfriend in Antarctica

“We got a love that ain’t got no name. We kiss our love with lips like pain. I said Oh Ho” – Brett Anderson (Suede).

the day i met my girlfriend in Antarctica

The Day I Met My Ex-Girlfriend in Antarctica

OK so…on my travels I often told this story to people who were somehow fascinated. But now, almost 8 years on, it’s not such a fantasy or a dream any more. That’s all been and gone. But, yes, I met my ex-girlfriend, Panny Yu, the travelling Hong Kong girl in Antarctica back in 2010.

You met your ex-girlfriend in Antarctica?

Yes, and we even met the very night we first stepped on Antarctic land. Whether it was love over staring at penguins or at being so far away from the busy boring office world or whatever, we met each other in Antarctica. We both boarded a boat to Antarctica in November 2010 and had never met before or had any idea where life was taking us. On the first night after landing in Antarctica for the first time, we were sitting at the same table together over dinner and got talking and introduced. She was travelling alone and I was too. As fate would have it we were both heading to Montevideo in Uruguay where we met up later. That was November 2010. Only the Gods know how this all came together.

“There’s four and twenty million doors on life’s endless corridor” – Noel Gallagher.

Touring Barrientos in Antarctica in 2010

barrientos antarctica jonny blair

Yeah baby – arrival in Antarctica at Barrientos in 2010. One of my best travel moments from a decade of nomadery.

It’s thanks to my ex-girlfriend also that I brought you the story on how to get to Antarctica on the cheap, as she did it on the cheap. I wasn’t jealous that she had got the trip for $2,000 US dollars less than me, I was just happy for her. After all I had paid extra for the comfort and advantage of knowing I was definitely going. I booked my trip 6 months in advance from cash gained while harvesting broccoli 12 hours a day for over a month.

backpacking in antarctica

The beach and landscape at Barrientos Island, Antarctica

Looking back, the memories of the night I met Panny Yu are distant and hazy but the date was clear. The date we first met and spoke was November 8th 2010. In fact, I officially saw Panny on the 6th November 2010 but only on the boat as she walked past me with a green jumper, and later was in my drilling club for life jacket safety as we were leaving behind the port of Ushuaia. At the time, I had recently turned 30 and was about to live out a dream of having visiting 50 countries and all 7 continents by the age of 30 (though Africa had to wait 3 more months – it was actually my final continent). I was single and I was still torn by the Hungarian dancer Noemi, who rarely ever leaves my mind in a day, and probably never will. I had no plans for new love and certainly hadn’t been kissing or flirting with girls. I was into backpacking and football and trying to meet honest and nice people. I was eager to visit Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay and Uruguay on that trip. I had no plans but I was blogging almost every day.

Arrival in Antarctica at Barrientos. Panny Yu, unmet.

Arrival in Antarctica at Barrientos. Panny Yu, unmet.

Then she came along…Panny Yu.

How to travel Antarctica for cheap by Panny Yu

Panny Yu, The travelling Hong Kong girl I met in Antarctica and dated for 5 years

After our first ever landing on Barrientos, Antarctica the whole boat was buzzing. We had lived out that dream and could now concentrate on enjoying the rest of the trip knowing we had stepped on Antarctic land. The $5000 US I spent on it had been worth it – money I worked hard to earn on the broccoli fields of Tasmania. It was dinner time on board our ship, the MS Expedition. One table had an empty seat. So…I sat in it. And this was the table and the night when I first met Panny Yu. Just before that we had a champagne reception to celebrate our landing. I wasn’t dressed up for this. As ever, I wore my Northern Ireland football shirt.

“Don’t ever change” – Ian Brodie.

The champagne dinner on board the boat, the night I met Panny Yu

The champagne dinner on board the board, the night I met Panny Yu

The champagne dinner on board the boat, the night I met Panny Yu

I had been drinking champagne with tour mates Scott and Suman just minutes before I met Panny Yu.

The champagne dinner on board the boat, the night I met Panny Yu

And so I walked over to this table…

The table where I met Panny Yu in Antarctica

The table where I met Panny Yu in Antarctica

and this is the table where Panny Yu and I first chatted, first exchanged eye contact, first looked at each other, first laughed together.

Also on the table was John, our excellent guide and Paul Gray, who was to become a friend who I also met later in Poland and England on my journeys.

“Funny how it always goes in love, when you don’t look, you find” – Rita Coolidge.

The champagne dinner on board the board, the night I met Panny Yu

The Captain’s champagne dinner on board the boat, the night I met Panny Yu

Here’s what Panny Yu and I ate that night…

Dinner the night I met Panny Yu in Antarctica

Dinner the night I met Panny Yu in Antarctica

Dinner the night I met Panny Yu in Antarctica

Dinner the night I met Panny Yu in Antarctica

The comedy?

There was a funny moment though – at first I thought Panny’s name was Penny!! Yes, really! But later that night, I had a cocktail and a beer and it was now Panny, it was clear I had misheard her. I had a new friend, from Hong Kong. I didn’t know that then we would end up living together, getting engaged, and visiting EVERY continent together and 44 countries. But that’s what later happened. Just look at what we did together – mind blowing

– hiked the highest peak of Central America
– did our diving certificates in Honduras
– got engaged in Sai Kung, Hong Kong
– watched the Mass Games in North Korea
– hiked the world’s 20th highest mountain, Mount Kinabalu
– visited all 7 continents together (we finished with Africa in March 2015 – we had both finished all continents separately by 2010-2011)
– visited 44 countries (the last of these, was to be Tunisia, in fact…)

Panny and I hiking in Georgia

Panny and I at a marvellous viewpoint in Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia

Panny and I mutually split in 2015, around 5 years to the day that we got together. I had lived in Hong Kong and Asia for so long and was glad to be back in Europe. I needed to be in Europe and she needed to be in Asia. Our relationship filtered out and we stayed friends for the first 13 months after the split. Then she decided to block me, so I blocked her contact back and decided never to see her again.

Sad the way it ended but this is life.

When I look back on all these pivotal moments since leaving Northern Ireland back in September 2003 (15 years ago), there are always weird coincidences.

November was the month where I met 5 of my ex-girlfriends and lovers. It was always November and I remembered the dates when I met these five girls – Lauren, Noemi, Panny, Ola, Monika.

Weirdly that night, in November 2010 at the captain’s dinner, we found out that the captain was Bulgarian and my drinking buddy that night, was Lukasz who was Polish.

Four years later, while I was backpacking in Romania (and still in a strong relationship with Panny Yu) I was to meet a Bulgarian based Polish girl who somehow worked her way into my life, later ruining this blog and my story with her lies. Of course at the time, that girl would only be a travel friend and to clear up any situation on here, I had no interest of dating anyone else or splitting from Panny Yu until November 2015. She didn’t either. I don’t even remember the date we agreed to split, but it was mutual and both of us were single and would remain single and dateless for at least 7 months.

We cannot rewind time.

Panny and I parted ways, but we stayed honest and true. That’s all I ever want in life from people – honesty.

Perhaps one day, the liar that later ruined my life will come clean and admit her lies and apologise. That’s all I live for.

Love with Panny has been and gone…thanks Panny!

Panny trying Semla in Stockholm, Sweden

Panny and I meet Mr. Pat Tayto himself.

Panny Yu and I deep sea diving off the coast of Honduras.

Just Panny and I in Belize

kayaking lago atitlan

Panny and I in our kayaks ready to sail on Lago Atitlan, Guatemala.

Panny delivers the perfect Guinness in Dublin!

jonny blair flag

Panny Yu and my travelling Northern Ireland flag in Azerbaijan watching Northern Ireland in 2013

kaluts desert iran

Panny and I relaxing enjoying the Kaluts desert in Iran.

hong kong panny yu

Panny Yu and I in Delaney’s Hong Kong

how much does it cost to book hiking up mount kinabalu

All ready to go at the National Park entrance – Panny Yu (Travelling Hong Kong girl) and I!

Jonny and Panny living a lifestyle of travel in Shuhe Old Town China

Caught on camera – myself and Panny Yu photographed in the main square in Shuhe Old Town by a passer by!

First proper date with Panny in Montevideo, Uruguay (November 2010)

Panny in the front row for the parade in Pyongyang, North Korea

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