If you haven’t read my ‘About me’ page, let me introduce myself quickly.
I’m Ilja – the active introvert.
As an introvert I was (am) labelled shy, quiet, anti-social, HSP even autistic. Luckily my nephew lived close by and was (still is) my best friend. He once told me whilst we were playing FIFA on the old red-ring-Xbox, that he appreciated and understood our silences. Other people call these silences awkward, but if you’re close those moments become comfortable. I do see him as a person who has it all. Life works for him, he’s witty, clever, very funny and sociable. Everything I’m not. We dreamt about living in Australia, we were tired of the Belgian weather. On a non-remarkable year his parents decided to rent a mobile home for a month and drive around Australia. Of course he grabbed this opportunity. Unluckily for me, this meant I had to go alone. And just like many other, I said ‘One day I will do it’. But many never get around to do it. I met a lot of people telling me they wanted to do a big trip like mine, but there always was something. You need to plan and take action regardless of the current obstructions. There will always be something! Want it? Do it! It took me a while to get it…but then I had a moment.
Two years later. (I told you it would take a while)
After my first job I was bored and to be honest tired of my status ‘introvert’. In the final month of my two-year contract I quickly booked a flight to Auckland surprising everybody and I do mean everybody. Friends, colleagues, family and even myself. I had never really travelled before this major daunting journey. Nobody understood where this idea came from. You’re going to backpack New Zealand and Australia? Alone? But that’s so far away, are you sure it’s safe? I replied that I booked, I’ll figure it out, these countries are very western and I speak the language. Keep in mind I never flew before and only travelled as a little kid with my parents. This adventure was a major step for me. Exactly the change and adventure I needed.
Change of plans.
The first thing I learned was ‘plans change’. My plan to travel Australia with a Working Holiday Visa changed even before I got on the plane. The Working Holiday Visa option, was quickly dropped as I found it was not worth it. It was too expensive (180 AUD for the visa), you needed to open a bank account, taxes and sometimes even mandatory courses. But mostly I didn’t feel like working 8 hours a day and not travelling and exploring Australia. Not my idea of an adventure.
When you embark on a journey like this you ask yourself, why? Why do I go there? My mission – if I choose to accept it – is to see what the Earth looks like. I’m not very interested in man build items, besides ancients ones, wonders of the world. Visiting cities just doesn’t do it for me. I went to Paris, France multiple times with school but never liked it. I like to discover what the universe and mother Earth made. But researching Australia I feared that the lack of tropical forest and the popular East Coast would get boring fast and eventually my researching brought me to New Zealand – stunning. Beautiful bays, lush green forest, Lord of the Rings, The Maori and the Haka. So I quickly decided I would split up my travel time between both countries.
First on the list New Zealand, I couldn’t be much farther for home.