Sleeping For England

In August 1993, frustrated with a lack of opportunities to get a career of some kind up and running in London, I did the only sensible thing possible…and ran away.

Backpacking has long been a rite of passage for many graduates although even then I was a bit tardy. I was already twenty-five by the time I found my way overseas. But I then managed to blunder my way through Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, spend a year in Australia, and two months in New Zealand, before I washed up on Hong Kong’s pre-handover shores, there to remain.

Today’s traveller has never been so connected. There are innumerable travel sites, forums and blogs through which to share information, news and videos. There’s Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat. There’s WhatsApp, Skype and FaceTime. No parent need ever worry about keeping abreast of their little angel’s travels in those foreign lands.

In 1993 it was all so different. There was no internet. There were no mobile phones. No laptops or tablets. I went off to the airport and didn’t phone home for six weeks. We kept in touch with our families via Poste Restante, using actual letters, parcels and post offices. We kept in touch with our fellow travellers via notice-boards in hostels. If we made plans to meet someone in a certain place at a certain date, we turned up. We found our way around using battered and often second-hand copies of the Lonely Planet.

And we scribbled things down in notebooks and diaries. And every backpacker kept a diary – for a few weeks at least.

These then are those diaries, so inevitably kept, but then not so inevitably, revisited.