New Beginnings

Sign saying this way with an arrow

“What would you like?” the lady asks me in her English accent.

“Iced green tea,” I reply, unfazed by her accent, she unfazed by mine.

We may be foreigners to each other, but nothing feels really foreign about us.

I grab my drink and head out the door, making my way back into the busy streets of London.

I’m a little lost but not worried. I am, after all, in the country that invented my language.

I look at a few road signs, ask some directions, and I’m on my way.

There’s no real confusion. There’s no sense of being truly lost.

I make my way into the London tube, where I sit silently, looking at the stoic faces in front of me.

You don’t speak on the London tube.

Today is my last day in London, and I’m speaking at World Travel Mart about travel blogging.

Twenty-four hours from now, I’ll be touching down in Hong Kong.

The familiar will be replaced by the unfamiliar.

After six months in Europe, I’m finally leaving.

It’s gotten too easy to be here. Too natural.

I move almost too effortlessly between countries.

I know how to make myself understood, even to those who speak little English.

I debate the Greek bailouts like they affect me directly.

I get Europe.

It gets me.

I look at those faces on the tube again.

Soon they’ll be gone. Replaced by a culture I don’t know. A people I’ve never experienced.

Soon I’ll be back wandering unknown streets, trying to figure out an unknown language and bargaining in unknown markets.

I’ll meander down dim alleys lined with street vendors as I take in the smell of new spices, soups, and dishes.

My stomach will pull me in different directions.

I’ll wonder if that taxi driver is really giving me a good price.

I’ll marvel at the unknown.

Hong Kong may not be an undiscovered place.

It may not even be semi-undiscovered.

Its roads have been traversed by thousands of travelers before me.

It’s been written about by hundreds of writers better than me.

But it will be different.

And it will be new.

And it will be exactly what I need.

37 Comments
  1. I had no issues with our kiwi accent all throughout Europe, the only time we had issues was when we meet a Russian in London, she could not understand a word we were saying even tho she spoke english!

  2. You have conquered Europe, Matt! You’re greater than the Roman Empire, hahaha. Is it even possible to read this post title without conjuring images of Will Ferrell from Old School? Is it?!

  3. Nice post Matt. When everything becomes too familiar I like to move on as well. Something new, something exciting and some place else to conquer.

    Have a great time in Hong Kong and let me know if you need any help or information about the city. :)

  4. Will

    Nobody speaks on the London tube you’re damn right about that. You debate the Greek bailouts in London? I’m amazed! And I just thought we were a nation with only celebrity gossip at the fore of our zeitgeist.

  5. Alex

    Nice post… I have a question though. I know you said your only regret while traveling was not doing a study abroad in university, but this post makes me wonder if any part of you wishes you didn’t travel Europe so much and so you wouldn’t have gotten to the point where you sound almost bored of it? Do you wish you’d branched out a little further to more countries in Latin America or in Africa instead of going to Europe so many times? (Perhaps you have but I haven’t seen posts on them). Just curious.

    • NomadicMatt

      I stayed in Europe so long because there was a conference I had to attend in London. Otherwise, I would have left a few weeks ago.

  6. I’ve also felt the need for something completely new after travelling a lot around Europe and becoming a bit too ‘settled.’

    For me, it was Tokyo that brought a totally fresh travel experience.

    Enjoy your next stop!

  7. Beautiful post! I guess many of us know the feeling of “being done” with a place – sometimes after months, sometimes after a mere couple of hours. Some places you’ll never be done with. Safe travels to your new destination! I hope you never lose the excitement of travelling!

    Best regards from Vienna,

    Alice

  8. Hey Matt, I love your posts, I lived in London for somethimes and in the tube, no one talk, only maybe after 23 PM when we were all extremely drunk :-)

  9. Hey Matt! You’ve touched on a real important part to travel there; always challenge yourself. Don’t know exactly where you’ve been, but I’ve always find doing something different or hard for me when I travel spices things up, but when nothing does I believe it is usually time to move one. Good Luck in Hong Kong! Cheers to something different!

  10. I like your perspective on not wanting to be too familiar. It’s that yearning to be constantly challenged.
    Btw, first time I was in London I said “hi” to someone on the tube who had accidentally looked at me. he looked mortified and got off at the next stop!

  11. Kira

    Hi Matt, I know this post is quite old, but I have been following your blog recently and working my way backwards through the posts…I just wanted to say that this is my absolute favorite so far.

    It captures the essence of travel well, and it’s the reason I’d like to be more of a traveler someday.

    Thank you for this!

  12. Matt,

    I love the old website design!! :-) Its nice to know where you came from and now you have one of the most popular travel blogs going..

    If you want to make the transition into full time blogging, what would be your top tips for getting your site out there?

    Thanks

    Duncan

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