TRAVELLING NORTHERN IRELAND FLAG
by Jonny Blair
My journeys around the world have seen me venture to lands I never even knew existed when I was that little boy growing up in Northern Ireland. The journey has been long and winding, whether the Beatles or the Oasis reference, I enjoyed the challenges that I faced along the way. However, it was not an easy ride the whole way. I flew my well documented Northern ireland flag in countries afar. But with long term travel, backpacking, call it what you will, there came many instances of loneliness, boredom, confusion and isolation. In fact, some days felt empty. Sharing my journeys on the travel lifestyle blog "Don't Stop Living" worked as a positive release.
Making friends in lands afar was easy. That's the truth. Every night, being a backpacker in hostels, on buses, in bars I was meeting often 10 new people per day that I actually conversed with. There was no seeming end to such a nomadic travel lifestyle. But when I think back to my first few days in Taiwan, even my travel buddy Natalja and the early Taiwanese girls I met, well they weren't becoming a potential romance for me. I didn't feel the love, I didn't have a girlfriend - I was single most of the time. When we travel and we are single we can fall into the wrong traps, and illegal worlds. That's why I often turned to the traditional method of meeeting a girl down the pub and developing our relationships and friendships from there.
But that also poses problems and isn't easy. The internet revolution did help myself and other travellers to change their outlooks and methods to dating. Traditional methods still applied for sure. I was still meeting girls every night down the pub. But I had absolutely no idea if those girls were actually single, or interested or if anything was ever possible to happen between us. I hate the guessing game, almost as much as I hate playing games. ANd then as I started to research, I found new options.
Single ladies are NOT only those who are not yet married. Remember marriage is a big commitment but it can also lead to an end. This can result in divorce, having kids and parting ways but staying friends, one of the couple dies (sadness but life must go on) or in some cases, what is officially classed as "cheating" due to the marriage contract. However if they are not cohabiting, then it can be anyone's game and the chances of such dating options do arise. You don't believe me? But when the couple are separated but still officially married, there is the clause of married dating and this was interesting for me as it got me thinking outside the box (or even the bed!).
It was well documented that a lot of my long term relationships failed, one such was Panny Yu, the Hong Kong who stole my heart in Antarctica and led me to Hong Kong. But also the Slavic charms of those Ukranian, Polish and Moldovan ladies that I happened to meet. Well I still live in Poland as of today so the Slavic charm really worked. Was it Zuza Baranowska's tantalising Slavic Kiss, Basia Chevenko's mysterious "free shots" in that bar or even deeper than that? Was it pure love?
The truth is that a "No strings attached" dating approach is becoming more and more popular these days as long as there is clarity between both parties. When I first experimented in this process I was quite lucky that the girls I was meeting were in agreement with my outlook. We would often meet in a bar (in downtown Sydney, the suburb of Parramatta or even on a random road trip I was on). Yes, it was lust, sex, nudity, fun. It was short term passion. Nothing much more than that to be honest. We rarely ate out together, we rarely even had beers, you get the picture.
After admitting my online dating strategy (long before Tinder and many sex sites), a lot of my friends got sceptical or worried, or even thought it meant desperation. These are the same friends that were shocked when I was the first man to chat girls up at any given bar, on any given night; without prompt.
Overall though, it has shaped many of our travel lives and continues to provide a safe and happy environment to enjoy the pleasures of life while still backpacking and travelling, and without hurting anyone else.