Me

at the office!

 

Short Version:

Hi, I’m Roy.

On May 15th, 2004, I left NZ for three months to go work at a special needs summer camp in USA. I’ve been a nomad ever since.

 

Medium Version:

Hi, I’m Roy.

On May 15th, 2004, I left NZ for three months to go work at a special needs summer camp in USA. I got kinda hooked on travel after that and since then, I’ve had working holiday visas for UK, Czech Republic, Canada. In that time I’ve been an IT slave, EFL Teacher, Camp Counselor, Movie Extra and Technical Trainer. Anyway, now I find myself working on cruise ships. This blog is mainly to remember the places I’ve visited, the things I’ve done and to document any PG-13 adventures I get up to.

 

Ridiculously Long Version:

Hi, I’m Roy.

Let’s start this story in February 2003 in New Zealand. I had just won a radio contest with The Edge FM, where I had to hitch-hike naked from Pukekohe to Auckland, and was now $1500 richer. So I decided to book a vacation to Club Med in Maldives (yes I went to an all-inclusive resort, it was my first time traveling ok?). It was awesome and fun, and in a way that planted the first seeds for my travel bug.

Fast forward to October 2003. I had just landed a sales job with Vodafone New Zealand but I had two weeks to kill before starting there. So I thought, why not visit the South Island?

I booked a flight to Christchurch and took the Kiwi Experience tour bus for 2 weeks. Most of the passengers were from UK, Canada and Europe. It was awesome and fun too.

Fast forward again to early January 2004. I wasn’t doing very well at Vodafone, I was overweight, I was crazy over a girl who wasn’t crazy over me and pretty much stuck in a rut. I was watching TV one night and saw a Tony Robbin’s Get The Edge infomercial. Wow, that looked amazing. And a 30 day money back guarantee? Risk free! (Yes, I bought something off an informercial. At least it wasn’t as laughable as the “Kitty Cafe” which is supposed to dispense nibbles for your cat but DOES NOT WORK. Especially when your cat pushes it over.)

Get The Edge worked out really well actually. I also bought the Body For Life book, went to the gym 6 days a week and was soon in the best shape of my life. Meanwhile, my job performance had excelled. In fact, there were two consecutive months where I was in the top 5 in sales in the country. Yes, I know New Zealand is a small country, but still. I now had got the edge!

Wait, I think I’ve gotten a bit ahead of myself here. In February 2004, I gave a lift to a friend’s sister to a Camp America open-house as a favour. Summer camps for bratty kids didn’t appeal to me at all. But while I was waiting, someone walked up to me and started chatting about their special-needs adult camp. I had nothing better to do, so I thought I’d be polite and have a chat. She told me all about Camp Jened, in upstate New York. To be honest, I’d hardly been exposed to special-needs people before that, so it all sounded a bit strange. But at the same time, I somehow felt myself thinking that I needed to do this. Even though I was starting to do very well at my job, I wasn’t fulfilled. And I was going through a phase where I said “yes” to pretty much everything. So I said yes!

The next three months were hectic. I decided to sell everything I owned on Trademe.co.nz, NZ’s version of eBay. (I managed to sell everything except my bed. I left my record player and PC with a friend, thinking I’d be back soon for it.) And I thought that since I was going all that way to the Northern Hemisphere for the summer, I’d swing by London, England after that for a few months. So I got a UK Working Holiday Visa as well. I left Auckland on May 15th 2004. I haven’t been back yet!

Camp Jened (aka Magic Camp) was probably the best summer of my life. I know it’s cheesy to say this, but it changed me and made me really appreciate what I have so much more. I met some of the most challenged people there but they were also some of the happiest. And the friendships I made there were simply unforgetable. After Camp Jened, I did a cross USA trip for a month which was super fun, and then headed to UK in October 2004.

My two years in London was indescribable. I used it as my launchpad for travel and was going away at least once a month, on cheap Ryanair, EasyJet and WizzAir flights. It was on one of those trips, Pampolona Running of the Bulls July 2005, where I had a chance encounter with an American traveler who briefly mentioned something about “couchsurfing”. It sounded bizarre that strangers would let you sleep in their house for free and I dismissed the idea quickly.

When I returned to London a few days later, it was the aftermath of the 7/7 tube bombings. The mood was simply miserable. I wanted to get away from all of it. I remembered that chance encounter in Spain and struggled to recall the website address. Finally, it came to me: Couchsurfing.com. The moment I saw that website, I knew it was going to take my life to the next level!

When my 2-year UK Working Holiday Visa expired, I didn’t feel like going home just yet. So I returned to Camp Jened in June 2006 for the summer. And after that was up, I got a Working Holiday Visa for Czech Republic. (I had never been before and chose it simply because someone told me beer was cheap there.) I arrived in Prague in September 2006 where I completed a TEFL course, then taught English, worked at a summer camp and was the webmaster for a gay porn-site (long story) among other things. It was in Prague where I started getting heavily involved in CouchSurfing. I was hosting, surfing and organizing meet-ups, along with volunteering online/offline for the organization. I eventually became the “Czech Republic Country Ambassador for CouchSurfing“, which is just a fancy way of saying I was spending far too much time online.

After that 1-year Czech visa was up, I moved to Toronto, Canada in August 2007 with a Canadian girl I was seeing at the time.

That didn’t work out so well in the end and in 2009 I found myself in a rut again. Coincidentally, Tony Robbins was coming to Toronto to do a 3-day event (I’m not a groupie, honest!). I couldn’t afford the entry fee but as luck would have it, I ended up hosting a Couchsurfer from UK who was volunteering at that very same event. He somehow managed to get me a volunteer job there as well, even though they only take past event attendees. It was an amazing experience and it refuelled my passion for life again. Two months later, I was on a cross-Canada trip in an RV with some friends. And when I got back, I realized rather than moving every few years, all I needed was a job that moved for me. So I decided to go work on cruise ships. Which brings us to this blog which started in January 2010.

I now work 6 months at a time on cruise ships and then take 3 months off to travel. It’s pretty sweet 🙂

Let’s connect on { facebook }, { twitter }, { couchsurfing } and { email }.