We are back from our Christmas break and it is 2018 – I can barely contain my excitement for the year ahead! The road here has been long and windy for us, and I still choose to look forward to the year with optimism and hope that it will be a better year than the ones that have passed.

How was our 2017?

This is a bit of a loaded question, and it’s funny to read back on the article I wrote a year ago welcoming 2017, and to be honest not too much has changed. Sydney really wore us down, so much in fact that we ended up packing up and leaving that city many months earlier than we had originally planned.

Our work life was not getting any easier for either of us, and our non work life was not enjoyable or relaxing. We found that we were stagnating in our creative endeavours, and our financials goals were not improving much either. Instead we choose to cut our losses and leave, but to make a trip out of it as we always do! So mid year we packed up and left Sydney for an epic road trip to Uluru and back through outback Queensland over three weeks.

For two months over the winter Siu On and I did a lot of driving through the middle of nowhere to discover amazing parts of Australia that we didn’t know existed. We stopped by Melbourne to visit old friends on our way to Adelaide, then headed north to explore the opal fields of South Australia. We walked amongst the myths and mystical aura of Australia’s sacred heart of Uluru, we swam in the healing waters of Mataranka’s thermal springs, and took the dusty outback road to dinosaur country in Queensland. We even made a trip back to Perth to show Siu On’s parents around, and we did another epic drive with Siu On’s friend from the States through Queensland’s tropical north where we dived the Great Barrier Reef and got lost in the jurassic rainforests of the Daintree.

Then we settled in Brisbane where Siu On was able to pick up work easily in his industry (Rope Access) whilst I have been struggling to find work in mine (Government Policy). Fortunately, the cost of living in Brisbane is much lower and we are able to survive here on a single wage, though I have high hopes that I will find work in the new year and we will be able to meet out goals for 2018.

Our biggest 2017 lessons

Looking back on 2017 there are a few things that stick out and will stay with us always:

  1. If something isn’t right then change it. Our friend Magda would always say this to me when I’d tell her about how unhappy I was in Sydney, with her polish accent that line is seared on a loop in my psyche every time I felt miserable about something. Sometimes you just have to do something or change something, just don’t remain miserable and expect the outcome to be different.
  2. A new hobby is as good as a holiday. In an attempt to make life bearable in Sydney, Siu On and I took up a lot of new hobbies to meet more people and to get out of the city. In 2017 we learned to sail, which helped give us something to look forward to on the weekends, and was cheaper than a holiday. I did a lot of craft workshops such as pottery and indigo dyeing to tap into my creative passions and help relieve a lot of stress. All these hobbies did help us a little to get through the hum-drum of city life when we couldn’t afford to get away very far.
  3. People are important. More than anything, I felt incredibly lonely in Sydney and I struggled to make new friends and found many of my interactions superficial at best. I’m not someone that has heaps of friends, preferring a small handful of close and trusted people to share life with. Sure I knew a few people, but people who lived far away or were busy with their own social calendars to have the time to spend with me regularly. It reminds me to put more effort into keeping in contact with the friends that I have back home, but also to encourage me to keep trying in Brisbane… where to date, I have yet to make any friends – but I will keep trying!

What will 2018 bring?

I already sense that this year will be about hard work, the last few years have felt like we were starting from scratch and relearning how to live on our own, but this year I feel like we have completed those lessons and now have to put them into practice and build a more settled life.

This year travel will take a backseat for us, as so far we have only a few short trips planned (one back to Hong Kong) and probably a trip back to Perth at some stage. Depending on how our finances go, we’d love to go overseas to Canada or New Zealand or visit friends, and also tick off the last remaining Australian State that we haven’t yet visited, Tasmania.

As for The Travelleur, there will be plenty of local content coming up this year as we explore what Queensland has to offer a budget traveller. Thank you again for visiting our little slice of the internet, and we look forward to sharing more of our adventures with you!

Happy 2018 everyone!

Jelena & Siu On

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