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Five Years In Travel

Five Years In Travel

Five years ago, I was travelling through South America for the first time. My plan was to spend three months doing volunteer work and three months backpacking. Up until that point, I’d only really spent time in the Asia-Pacific – primarily Australia, Hong Kong and Japan. Bruno and I had done some hiking around Tokyo during our student days and we’d also road-tripped Tasmania with some friends, but I was eager to try backpacking somewhere new and different.

By late August, we’d visited the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, crossed the salt flats to Uyuni in Bolivia, had an emergency evacuation back to Santiago due to altitude sickness (that was just me), and continued on to Brazil after my recovery. Our bucket list was constantly growing, and the world felt so vast and exciting. I wanted to do everything!

Bolivia, 2009

Two months later, during a spontaneous weekend trip to the Chilean Patagonia, we found ourselves caught in some heavy snow after hiking to the base of Torres del Paine. We ducked under some rocks for shelter and, as Bruno tried not-very-successfully to keep me warm, he took the opportunity to ask me out. I said “yes” and we celebrated that night with pisco sours over dinner.


Torres del Paine NP, Chile, 2009

By the time 2010 rolled around, our lives had moved on and we were on different sides of the world again. Bruno was in Hong Kong for postgraduate studies, and I was about to kick-start my corporate working life in Australia. I visited him once and he flew over twice, and during those trips, we had a blast trying multi-day hikes, jetskiing and getting our PADI open water certificates during a cyclone. I even learned to swim along the way! (Yes, I’d been a bit of a failed Aussie up until that point…)


Great Barrier Reef, Australia, 2010

That set the scene for the next few years, during which we either travelled between our respective locations or – more frequently – met up in various countries in the area. We spent a month in New Zealand one year, a month in Tibet, Nepal and Thailand the year after, and some time revisiting old haunts in Japan at the start of the year after that. There were adventures and hikes a-plenty, and we eventually started a travelog just to keep records of them all.

Fox Glacier, New Zealand

Fox Glacier, New Zealand, 2011

Much as I’d been leery of long-distance relationships, there was actually no sense of awkwardness or pressure during those years. It was quite surprising, at least to me. We simply met up, picked up where we left off and enjoyed ourselves somewhere in the world, without the forced formality of labels or Facebook relationship statuses. I was often surprised at how easy it all was. That’s not to say I particularly enjoyed the airport goodbyes multiple times a year – they were never easy or fun – but we did create some fantastic memories along the way.


Everest from Pang La Pass, Tibet, 2012

Then Bruno finally moved to Australia. And it was awesome. For the first time in years, we were able to take last-minute trips on weekends, and we no longer had to check every possession during the last night of each journey to make sure it ended up in the right person’s luggage. Better still, I could take advantage of his light packing and spare luggage capacity again! It made such an indescribable difference to be able to travel together without the inevitable goodbyes at the end. For the first time, travel wasn’t bittersweet – it was simply sweet.

Acropolis - the climb

The Acropolis, Australia, 2012

We also started training for and tackling more extended hikes, commencing with the Overland Track in Tasmania followed by a week in the ruggedly scenic Northern Alps of Japan. Both of those were plagued by crazy weather at the beginning – sleet and hail in the case of the former, and a typhoon in the case of the latter – but the skies eventually cleared up in both cases, and the views were unforgettable. Bruno also popped the question while we were away and suddenly, we were engaged.


Towards Yakushidake, Japan, 2013

Although he’d been in Australia for a little while by that point, the bulk of our years together had been spent stealing face time through travel. That was partly why we had a destination wedding – it fit our relationship. The mountain location didn’t come as a surprise to most of the people around us, least of all our immediate families and a couple of close friends who flew to New Zealand for a multi-day trip from Lake Tekapo to Mt Cook. The scenery was spectacular and the weather was perfect. We were both glad to be able to share our travels and wedding day with some special people in our lives. 

2nd July, 2014! Credit goes to Heather & Doug Records (

And now, we’re about to jet off again! There’s a one-year honeymoon waiting for us, and a home for us to return to afterwards. We have plenty of family and friends to visit, which is fantastic, but we’ll also be able to spend plenty of time by ourselves in the wilderness, which is perhaps even more so. The mountains are calling us. They have been for the past five years.

I have no words to describe how lucky I feel right now – and how much I’m looking forward to expanding my horizons again, both physically and metaphorically. We really have no idea how the year will evolve or where we will end up, but that’s part of the charm (and partly why we’ve taken out decent travel insurance). It will be an amazing adventure.

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