Have books, will travel

Hey cHEwY gums gums

On Sunday, I came back from another cHEwY tour, this time to India for the NEEV festival in Bangalore, you can check last week’s blog on that hehe. After the festival, I took a detour to the Taj Mahal, before going back home via Sri Lanka. Why? Because I love exploring new places, and also it had a McDonalds. Is it weird to start my holiday research by googling ‘Is there a McDonalds there?’For those who wanted to know, it was my 26th country on my McDonalds tally.

 

As I sit here at home, getting back into writing mode, it’s just hit me with how much international travelling I’ve been doing in 2018. No seriously, I’ve spent 2 months out of Australia so far and I’m still going to Thailand in November for 3 weeks, visiting international schools.  Ever since I’ve become an author, my cHEwY journey has taken me to all kinds of wonderful places. I spend more than half the year, visiting schools, and while it’s usually around Australia, I get a chance to visit parts of Asia too.

Yeah, it can be tiring and sometimes saying yes to everything months in advance can end up with clogged weeks of non-stop travelling. But I honestly love it. I may not be an author superstar, but I’ve managed to rack up some Frequent Flyers points doing the circuit of schools and festivals.

Ever since I became an author, I’ve been bitten by the travel bug (and a few mozzies too haha, don’t worry I have taken my shots). I get a buzz when I’m going to a new destination, whether it’s Dubbo or Shanghai. Everyone’s got a different reason to travel. Some go for work, food experiences or they just want to relax. Others want that instagramable sunset. So what do I want to experience when I go somewhere new?

Firstly, it’s about seeing familiar things in different places. You’ll find me taking photos of stores and franchises, from Starbucks to McDonalds. I popped into supermarkets in India and Sri Lanka, finding my beloved brands like Coca Cola, just to see their different packaging. Deep down, I am an urban explorer at heart. I love mapping out main streets, shopping centres and markets. There’s no greater thrill than venturing out to a fancy new shopping centre, not to shop, but to soak up the atmosphere.

Travelling also gives me a legit excuse to play games and read. My Nintendo 3DS, Switch and Kindle is just as important as my passport, because there’s plenty of downtime. Don’t worry, I look up sometimes to glance at the scenery passing by. I took a train to Kandy from Colombo in Sri Lanka, which was quite scenic. The return trip in the afternoon took longer, and it got dark pretty quick, so I whipped out my 3DS and the four hour journey flew by. I was happy to return with a ton of progress on adventure games like Octopath Traveller on my Nintendo Switch.

I have no shame in checking out famous tourist spots like the Taj Mahal because it’s fun being that awkward and bumbling tourist. I don’t bring many toys with me, but I carry Donburi, my Donatello Ninja Turtle plushie in my backpack. Sorry Grumpy Bear (he doesn’t read my blog anyway haha). Donburi’s been everywhere man, from The Great Wall to Machu Pichu. Sadly, I couldn’t bring Donburi with me to the Taj Mahal because only cameras and water bottles were allowed.

Believe it or not, I don’t try to engage in random conversations with any locals, unless they approach me first. I tend to go into my shell when I’m overseas. Outside of formal events like festival dinners and parties, I am happy to be walking on my own. I don’t use a guide or go on a tour unless it’s necessary. There’s an advantage of travelling solo in those huge tourist spots, without a guide. I can cut through lines and sneak around quicker too. I am just snapping photos, absorbing the vibes and thinking about characters.

Then there’s the writing part. My notebook is always close by, because just as I mentioned in my previous blog, those daydreams and thoughts come much more freely when I switch into tourist mode. When I was in Europe on holidays, I formed parts of a story that would end up being The Other Christy. So there was lots of reflection time as I ponder the next cHEwY creation.

I’m always fascinated with what people bring back from a trip too. I’m happy to declare here, I’ve got a whole bunch of souvenirs like tacky fridge magnets and shirts. But I also had a brochure for the NEEV festival for my scrapbook journal. I got a tray paper from McDonalds, along with a map that’s been folded too many times. Though some souvenirs can’t be held or seen by anyone else. They’re my memories and experiences, seeds of a story just waiting to sprout inside my head. No matter where I go and what I do, I always have plenty to write about.

O.W

About the author

I'm an author, stand-up comedian and teacher. My books include Thai-riffic!, Con-nerd, Punchlines and The Other Christy. I'm a massive Nintendo fan and love eating burgers. Follow me on Twitter or Instagram @oliverwinfree