Faces From the Road: From Librarian to Volcano Hunter
I don’t remember exactly when I decided to quit my job, get rid of most of my possessions, and head off to travel the world and write about it. It was an idea I’d thrown around for a while, something that I was going to do “one day”. I’ve always been interested in our planet, but for many years I believed that travelling wasn’t for people like me. Maybe there came a point where I realized that my lifelong fascination with volcanoes wasn’t going to be sated just by reading books about them or seeing them on the television. Or maybe it was when I realized that the combination of good job, nice apartment and busy social life, the things that society tells us we are supposed to aspire to, just wasn’t making me happy. Whatever led me to that point, in January of this year I swapped the office and classrooms of my old job as a librarian working in universities in the UK, for the nomadic lifestyle of a travel blogger, heading off to Tokyo to begin my trip through Asia.
So far I’ve been through Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. The high points have been numerous. I fell in love with Indonesia, where I was in my volcano-chasing element, visiting mountain after mountain to see the blue flame of Ijen, to get covered in hot, wet ash as Bromo roared, to stand on the edge of the danger zone at Mount Sinabung at dawn, catching tiny glimpses of orange, molten lava, or to climb a peak in the early hours just to watch the sun rise over several others. I’ve seen orangutans in the wild, swam in turquoise island waters, been buried up to my neck in hot volcanic sand, wandered illuminated cities by night, learnt a whole new way of living through ten days of silent, intense meditation, and met many interesting and wonderful people, some of whom have become friends I will always want to hold onto. There have been low points too of course – spending the very first day of my trip in hospital in Tokyo was not in my original plans – but the good outweighs the bad by far, and I have no regrets about leaving my old life behind.
I travel alone, and often have people telling me how brave I am. I don’t think I’m brave; I just want to see the world. That’s why I started The Imagination Trail; to show that solo travel, especially as a woman, is just as fun, rewarding and safe (if not more so!) as travelling in a group. I love the freedom of being able to decide where to go, when to go, and what to do, without having to compromise. Nothing compares to that buzz of being alone in a foreign country, with no real plans and time to play with.
The people I meet along the way often ask me how much longer I am going to travel. The answer is simply that I don’t know! There are still many things I want to do – and many more volcanoes to conquer – so I have no intention of ceasing my wandering and blogging any time soon.