And Then There Was One
Trip Start Jun 01, 2006
124Trip End Ongoing
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-- Star Wars
Two years is an awfully long time. It's longer than I've ever held down the same job for (although admittedly that probably says more about me). It's also longer than my longest relationship with a lady (again....).
Today is the two year anniversary of the day Vinny and I began this endeavour of ours by catching the local bus from our home village in Tollerton to Nottingham, and from there another bus to Amsterdam... And the rest is history. True, history that was well documented right here on the fantastic Interweb, and started off rather entertaining and then became more dull as money ran out and we became people with jobs and bills and rent to pay who just happened to be doing it all in another country.
There have been casualties along the way. Vinny took long term leave from the endeavour a few months back, taking with him the group's ability to read a map, respect other cultures and live by some kind of sense of morality. Fortunately we still have our looks.
Then there came the move to New Zealand, with new travelling partner Irish Jon.
This worked out great until a rather sad death in the family caused Ireland's favourite son to return last week.
So now I am, to all extents and purposes, on my lonesome. This isn't, actually, as sad and pathetic as it sounds. I have three jobs again, and the various friends, acquaintances and cheering sections that you acquire from such things. Also that other aspect - the one I don't talk about - is taken care of too. So it's not all bad.
That said, I find myself in rather a void. Now I've finally got a little money trickling in I have one or two options, which is nice. Remember that the move to New Zealand was one of necessity rather than choice - my working visa had (long) run out in Australia and I was in need of making an honest living for a while.
I would very much like to keep my head down for a few months and then finish this journey, dominating the challenge of travelling around the entire world without flying. The feeling that if I don't finish it now I never will hangs heavy on my shoulders.
Trouble is, New Zealand doesn't exactly encourage saving money. Not only do they have a flat tax rate of 20%, with no benefit for low earners, but they charge 46% on anything you earn over $38,000, which is only about 14 grand in the old money. And as if those things weren't enough to get your blood boiling, they reward those people like me willing to work more than one job to make ends meet with a standard policy of taxing you 46% on any job hat isn't your main one, making it in many cases counter-productive to bother going to work.
There is another issue that is going to have a bearing on any decision I make. You see, Travelpod Several, my Hetero Life Partner Karim was supped to be getting married in a few months, so when I returned to Australia after my brother's wedding (what is it with all these selfish people getting married? I'm trying to travel the world here!) I bought a one year return flight so I wouldn't miss the boy's big day.
Then, just like that, Karim and Polly decided not to bother getting married and spend the cash on travelling the world. Don't get me wrong, I applaud the gesture... But the flight was already paid for! And when I demanded some kind of fiscal recompense from them, they assumed I was being funny!
So I have a flight home form Melbourne that leaves in a couple of months, and although I can put it back a few more weeks, after that it's gone. And it's not cheap getting home from over here. Especially when you're paying half your earnings to a government that charges you $350 dollars to prove to them you're not carrying TB.
Oh, check this out, I just remembered. If you work longer than three months in New Zealand you become a tax resident for the entire financial year. This means, in theory, that if I return home after, say, six months and get a job in England, or anywhere else for that matter, they consider themselves entitled to tax me on my earnings. Honestly, you can't make this shit up.
Anyway, enough about that.
The point of the story is that I have no idea what I'm going to do, which puts me in a position that I am completely fine with.
Everything I've ever done that worked out, I did on a whim. This trip, the idea, the way we did it, was one random decision followed by another.
And I wouldn't have changed a thing.
Well. There was that time in St Petersburg, but it's a learning curve so don't write in Bruce Campbell.