Chiang Mai, India, work, loss…My highs and Lows of 2014!

Christmas with Jack and Chris in Chatellerault Christmas with Jack and Chris in Chatellerault

2014 has been a pretty big and memorable year for the Applefords. Since selling up everything we owned, quitting our jobs and saying goodbye to our friends and family we have embraced the idea of living a nomadic lifestyle and begun exploring the world. We have had our emotional ups and downs, challenges and of course awesome moments along the way. We have learnt a lot about ourselves and each other, but above all we are doing something we love and are spending a lot more quality time as a family. So here is my recap of our year travelling.


One of our favourite spots to eat in Chiang Mai

One of our favourite spots to eat in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai has by far been one of my favourite places and one I could see myself calling home for an extended period of time. If Chris said let’s make our way back to Melbourne tomorrow and set up camp in Chiang Mai for 6 months on the way, I would jump at the opportunity. Beautiful weather, lovely people, cheap and a relaxed vibe makes this an ideal destination in my mind. It was in Chiang Mai we had some great experiences; I went on an elephant adventure, Jack turned 2 and we spent a few days with my friend and old boss Rick. We ate amazing food and cruised around the streets on pushbikes lapping up the feeling of freedom. Chiang Mai just brings a smile on my face whenever I think about our time there and I can’t wait to go back.


Jack certainly had a good time in India spotting the animals in the streets

Jack certainly had a good time in India spotting the animals in the streets

I had such high expectations of our travels to India and couldn’t wait to get there.  I was hanging to try the food, to see the colour and vibrancy of the streets and to find some unique souvenirs to send home.  India just wasn’t the image I had in my mind.  I missed the magic of the place and felt constantly out of place and under surveillance from mostly men.  I was also sick, which no doubt played a massive part in me not liking India.  A friend told me once it is one of the worst places to be when you are sick and how true that was.  I didn’t get to experience the flavours of the food and instead ate rice and naan bread most of the way.  We were constantly being scammed or asked for money and although I realise that is the life in India, it was hard to adjust to.  I did get a glimpse of the beauty in the place, but possibly not enough of one to go back later in life.


Not a bad spot sitting in the sun of our first French housesitting gig working

Not a bad spot sitting in the sun of our first French housesitting gig working

While twiddling my thumbs in Chiang Mai (I’m not really the one to relax and happily do nothing) and while Chris was off earning an income as an English teacher I began to research the idea of freelancing online.  I set up a profile on the popular freelancing site, oDesk, and started applying for all sorts of writing and editing gigs.  When I landed my first job at a measly $9 per hour I was super excited.  Here I was sitting on our balcony in Chiang Mai lapping up the sun being productive and earning some money.  This became a great way for me to gain an income whilst looking after Jack and having the flexibility to travel. Chris also got on board and now we have constant work with several good clients and have raised our hourly rate to be more respectable as we gained experience.  I discovered I could have an office anywhere in the world, all I need is Wi-Fi and a laptop.


Today would have been my grandfather's 96 birthday.

Today would have been my grandfather’s 96 birthday.

My lowlight would have to be now when my grandfather passed away at the age of 95 just three days before Christmas and 8 days away from his birthday.  It was only five months ago he was living by himself in a unit with his little dog Sally, but it quickly  became time to move him into a nursing home for a little more care and security.  Then sadly his time was up just like that and he peacefully left us.  The last time I saw Jim and received one of his big hugs was the day before we left Melbourne and while I knew there was a high possibility he would be gone before I returned, nothing quiet prepares you for the loss of a loved one.  Due to our circumstances and commitments here, I am unable to go home for the funeral or to support my mum and stepdad during this time.  It eats me up and fills me with guilt that I won’t be able to send him off and hold my mum’s hand as she says goodbye.


2015 is the year for me to put my knowledge I have been gaining from my Health Science degree into practice.  I have spent time over the past 6 months brainstorming, researching, writing and creating and I am now on the verge of being ready to launch a new website.  Without saying too much, this year will be the year I can start making inroads into what I hope will be a flourishing career when we return to Melbourne. So watch this space, fingers crossed it will be a hit.


So 2014 was a pretty good year and although I have had some emotional struggles along the way, I would not take back our decision to leave our life in Melbourne behind and head off on this adventure.  Jack has blossomed and become a real character and I believe we have become a stronger family throughout the journey so far.  Who knows what’s in store for us in 2015, but I can assure you it won’t be an uneventful year!

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