But I hadn't quite realised until recently, looking back, how desperate I was to leave, because I tried all kinds of ways to do so!
Heading north to Newman in the PilbaraMy first try was to follow a (then new) boyfriend when he got transferred for work up to the Pilbara region of Western Australia. I have to say that living in Newman wasn't quite the leave-Perth-adventure I had in mind but it was still a great experience and we made the most of travelling around the Pilbara region to amazing places like the Karajini National Park and towns like Karratha and Tom Price. Just as I was settling in (I think six or eight weeks in?) his company abruptly sent him back to Perth. That was the end of the Pilbara escape attempt!
|Hamersley Gorge in Karajini National Park, not too far from Newman in the Pilbara|
Heading east to Adelaide, South AustraliaThe same boyfriend soon took a transfer to Adelaide and I spent a month there when he first started work - I was writing my Honours thesis and walking on the beach at Glenelg. (More beach walking than thesis writing, I think). Adelaide also wasn't the place I'd imagined escaping to - bigger than Newman, but still smaller than Perth, and only slightly closer to anything - but I genuinely enjoyed it. But what do you know - his company retrenched him after a month because he was the newest employee and they were cutting back at every state office. Another failed attempt and I was back in Perth!
|Glenelg Beach in Adelaide, South Australia|
Trying to volunteer in the Solomon IslandsI guess this was enough for me to take things into my own hands. I found out about a volunteer program run by the Australian government which actually still exists, the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development (AYAD). This, I decided, could be my way to get out of Perth! At the time I had been working as a research assistant mathematics education and there was a need for someone with this skill set in the Solomon Islands. I was accepted into the program but after some time, for some reason which is lost to the channels of history, the organisation in the Solomons stopped accepting volunteers and I never got there.
|Honiara, capital of the Solomon Islands, and a place I nearly moved to for a while|
And almost volunteering in CambodiaBut never fear, of course I had another plan. This time I persuaded my boyfriend at the time to apply for AYAD with me and we found a Cambodian organisation which was looking for two volunteers (although they were in towns a couple of hours apart, if I remember correctly). The organisation must have been quite religious and I remember that we agreed we'd get married before we left (oh yes ... did I mention I was desperate to leave Perth - I was probably only 23 and would have got married way younger than I'd planned just so that I had a way to move abroad!). But I think that was the start of feeling uneasy about the arrangement. And then ... well, this is how I remembered this whole story, recently I was reading a piece by Walter Mason about his new book Destination Cambodia: Adventures in the Kingdom when a short paragraph really hit me.
Cambodia is a country that has enchanted and fascinated me since I was a young man. I first travelled there in 1996, for the express reason that my mother had begged me not to go there. It had seemed like the ultimate dangerous destination, but after a few days there I discovered that, like anywhere else, it was filled with complex, moderately happy people seeking to lead lives of quiet comfort and occasional joy.This was nearly me, except I decided not to go to live in Cambodia for a year, partly because I was kind of nervous about the whole deal and partly because my well-travelled mother had also expressed her concerns that it could be dangerous to move there! We backtracked out before we committed to any volunteering and although now I wouldn't have a problem with volunteering in Cambodia, I think that courage has only come about thanks to all my other travel experiences.
And finally, I moved to JapanYou probably know the end of the story. In 2001 I finally got a job teaching English in Japan and moved there, beginning the exciting phase of living abroad in three different countries. I finally escaped Perth! And of course, I returned too, proving that it always was a great place to live - but I still want to keep travelling.
If you could leave your hometown now ...What about you? If you could easily leave your hometown now to live somewhere else for a while, where would you go? And why?
Or have you had failed attempts like I have?