Welcome to my part of the web......

A few more grey hairs.....

Most people prior to 1995 know me as the "quiet" guy. Not generally outspoken, not politically motivated, law-abiding, not given to making friends easily, a non-smoker who didn't really enjoy going to nightclubs or getting blind drunk, somebody who liked sport but, didn't excel at it, acheiving acceptable but, unspectacular academic qualifications. For 28 years I lived what would be considered a fairly "normal" life (amongst my peers) living in the Kent commuter belt and then working in and around London from 1983 to 1995. In my mid-twenties I had felt that I wanted a different life but, how do you break out when all those around you are basically in the same boat. I didn't know how it was to be done but, I knew that something had to be done. When I was 28, seemingly unrelated incidents combined with one particular seemingly unimportant conversation with a work colleague who was trying to sell me on the "Amway - acheive your dream" concept. I'm a practical person and not given to the whole "dream" thing so I read some books and listened to some tapes so that I was sure that this was NOT the direction for me but, there was one thing I took away from the experience. One of their phrases caught hold of me and wouldn't let go. That phrase was "if you want to change your life then, change your life". It appears to have been the catalyst for the most dramatic change in my personal direction since I started school. I wanted a different life so, I changed my life and in May 1995 I resigned from a good job and went to China. I have worked as an independent cellular engineering consultant travelling worldwide ever since. This has many pros and some cons.

The biggest advantage is that I get paid to work in foreign countries and experience local cultures. I generally get to work with good local people who put themselves out to make my life a little easier. If I'm lucky, I'll find a nice bar or somewhere that I'll go to often enough to be recognised by the staff.

There are other advantages i.e. I have extensive knowledge of many national cuisines and I can eat, drink and ask for directions in English, French, Spanish, Czech, German and Mandarin. I also know how to order a beer in Swahili but, I don't know how to get directions.

Many people have asked me how to get a job like mine and follow it successfully. I've always thought that you need the following;

  • Skills that can be used in other countries.
  • Be reliable and accurate in the job that you do.
  • Fluent in English.
  • Like to travel a lot.
  • Like Hotels.
  • Patience, Tolerance and Understanding.
  • Teaching skills.
  • Natural good health.
  • Cast-iron stomach.
For that last one, my experience has shown me that I am lucky enough to be able to sit down in a restaurant and eat anything. The worst thing I could do is say to my host that I don't like the food. From chickens' feet in China to fried grasshoppers in Mexico I've never said no. The trick to this is ignorance. Don't ask for any details, just eat and don't look in the kitchen. In the past I've just picked something at random or else I have no problem in looking around at what others are eating and showing the waiter what I want.

A colleague in Portugal once said that I "find pleasure in small things". Perhaps this is the most important requirement for this job as usually more than half of any day is spent outside of work so there must be able to "live" in the environment. I've always taken the same approach to any place that I have visited. I do not buy a guidebook and I do not find out much about the destination before I arrive (this is the privilege of being able to spend more than two weeks in a place) and on arrival I do not use a map as I prefer to wander around and "discover".

Whether it is Beijing, Hong Kong, Berlin, Madrid, Lisbon, Paris or Munich etc I really enjoy arriving in a place where I already know places or people. It doesn't happen often but, when it does, it's normally special. Lately I have found myself working with the same people in different countries so there has been a mix of discovery and familiarity.

Fellow travellers may like to see the photos in the travelogues section. And for anybody even contemplating doing the same thing as me then that phrase keeps coming back "if you want to change your life then, change your life" and good luck.