I’m delighted to present the final exclusive sneak peek book excerpt for my new travel memoir ‘Backpacker to Nomad’
What’s Backpacker to Nomad? It’s my new travel memoir, chronicling the evolution from naive newbie to full-time traveller through my adventure & misadventures.
What readers are saying about ‘Backpacker to Nomad’
★★★★★ “The writing is excellent, and the author’s descriptions are so vivid” — Amazon Review
★★★★★ “You’ll get lost in Amit’s adventures and laugh along the way (mostly AT him)” — Amazon review
★★★★★ “I thought the way the book weaved between adventure and mental self-discovery was very smart. — Amazon Review
if you love travel adventures, discovery, escaping reality to drift off to lands far and wide this is the book you need to pick up.
Book Launched: July 27th 2022
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Sit back, grab a snack and enjoy …..
Traveling life travel story overview
It was like looking in the mirror when old friends arrived to spend Christmas & New years eve with Amit. This would be his 5th away from England. Life had taken Amit in a new direction and for the first time in his life, he was flush with cash ‘ghetto snobbing’ as he puts it and was keen to show off to his friends and show he had conquered his biggest fear much to their surprise.
Traveling life turns into ghetto snobbing
It had been like looking in the mirror. Every action, reaction, behaviour, and mood was virtually identical. Step by step, from landing into the chaos to the tension visibly lifting, aided by a tranquil tropical island. Just as I had felt when arriving in Bangkok to feeling the soft sand of Ko Phi Phi Don, Tom and Vicky had felt the same from arriving into the chaos of Bali, Indonesia, to sitting on beanbags on the tropical Island of Gili Air.
It was the quietest of the three Gili Islands. These smaller islands lay just off the coast of the bigger island of Lombok, which was largely untouched by tourism, unlike its much more famous neighbour, Bali.
The ironic thing was, Bali was known to be the tranquil island, full of spiritualists, yoga lovers, and peace. In recent years, though, it was the latest Southeast Asian island to feel a surge of tourism, partly due to the famous book and movie, Eat Pray Love, and various digital nomads and expats settling there. The influx of travellers and Western expats to the southern part of the island had turned it into a mini Bangkok. The southern popular tourist spots of Legian, Seminyak, and especially Kuta were a barrage of traffic, mopeds, taxis, hawkers, scammers, and had become non-stop chaos.
Embraced the fear
The little, long wooden fishing boat rocked from side to side as Locks, the local we had got to know over the past few days, stopped the motor. He stood at the front, both bare feet on either side of the boat and thick locks flowing behind like a cape. His name wasn’t actually Locks, we just called him that because of his thick dreadlocks. The three of us sat in the middle under a makeshift wooden roof.
“This is a great spot—we will see lots of them here. Away from the tourist boats. Out here nobody comes,” announced Locks while studying the ocean.
We couldn’t even see land anymore, none of the three Gili Islands, the larger island of Lombok, or Bali. We were just floating somewhere in the Bali sea with just a few gulls flying around and the giant ball of fire blazing down as it did every day. From the day Tom and Vicky had arrived, this was the number-one activity they wanted to do—so did I up until about an hour before I was sitting on the wooden slats of this boat.
Since Thailand, I had been pushing myself and learning to stop fearing the ocean. I’d been in the sea more than I ever had in Australia or New Zealand. But that was getting in neck-deep, with the safety of the ocean bed at my feet and the shoreline in sight. This was like the Great Barrier Reef all over again. Out in the middle of the ocean and the seabed wasn’t there as an immediate safety net.
Seeing is believing
Tom and Vicky had already wet their gear and put their flippers on, ready and eager. Tom laughed his head off at my expense, remembering how I struggled and was nearly dragged under the boat in the Great Barrier Reef. As I reached for my gear, fighting through the thoughts, one of my inner voices popped up. Fear and anxiety started to build.
Nah, fuck this, I don’t wanna do it. Just say the seafood last night was dodgy and you can’t do it.
No, fuck off, we’re doing this. We have been doing great, this is just the next step. Think about how incredible it’s going to be seeing them.
Both started going back and forth as my feet pushed into the flippers and I grabbed and wet my snorkelling gear. We were not just snorkelling in the shallow waters or on the surface… we were going under.
The wall of fear needed to be bulldozed down, it was not going to win today. Southeast Asia had all been about facing, embracing, and dealing with demons, fears, and insecurities. If that didn’t work, it resorted to sticking a middle finger up and just doing it without overthinking. This latest one wasn’t going to be any different.
“You’re actually going to do it? You know you’ve already made me lose a bet.” Tom smirked, looking back.
“Yup, he bet me you would already chicken out, make some excuse this morning, and even on the boat.” Vicky nodded with glee.
“Drinks are on you later then? I ain’t gonna lie, I did think about it, but I’m gonna do it. Not going to miss out on this. It’s happening, let’s get in there.” I shrugged back as the little boat rocked a little.
Beating down fear
The wall was getting knocked down until there was just a little fear left. It was good to have a little fear, it kept my alert levels high enough not to make mistakes. It was something that I’d learnt in Bali. There was a time I let go of all fear, and as a consequence, over-confidence took over and I took my eye off the ball. But that lesson had been learned. Not to have so much fear that it takes over, but not to get rid of it completely. The sea lapped around the boat—we were the only ones out here. It helps when you get to know locals. Locks had all his gear on, as did we all, and he jumped in first.
Don’t do it, just sit back in the boat, say you got a stomach ache or something—the flipper was still the in the air. Fuck this!
Don’t listen, don’t overthink it, just do it. No thinking. Just do it—jump!
To Tom and Vicky’s surprise, I followed them in. Coldness took over as if breaking through ice, my whole body submerged before I bobbed back up. My lips were welded to the snorkel mouthpiece, remembering to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth. It took a few seconds to get my breathing to calm down and let my body temperature regulate to the water.
Locks had already started swimming around, diving under, and erupting out of the water like a shark. The three of us waded around waiting for Locks to re-emerge from under the surface once more.
That’s it, control the breathing… the water isn’t cold, it’s warm, you are one with the sea, same temperature, and relaxed like the fishes down there. In through the nose, out through the mouth. That’s it.
It was working, I could feel the heart slowing down—there wasn’t any panic. Locks had appeared once more.
“Down here, spotted one but it’s gone, but there will be more.”
a new dimension
The surface had become the ceiling as we entered another world, a new dimension. The others had already started to swim away. Sea life approached—the smallest fishes curious to know what this brown object in their world was, it felt like a repeat of the Great Barrier Reef all those years ago, but today, there was no getting scared. It didn’t take long to catch up to them, feeling like a fish for the first time in my life while swimming among them.
The sun shone through, creating vivid and bright colours from the corals and multi-coloured fishes. Unlike the Great Barrier Reef, there were no sudden flinches or panic at every slight touch. It was a proud moment, a sense of accomplishment. I faced, embraced, and defeated another mental barrier and fear.
Just like with my second skydive in New Zealand, where I’d been told that because my adrenaline wasn’t as high, more was being processed, it was the same here. The colours seemed much more vibrant—blue, red, orange corals and multi-coloured fishes stood out the deeper we sank. It was like watching in Ultra HD 4K high resolution. It was beautiful and so relaxing. More fishes approached calmly, none were panicked, some were a little more inquisitive while others carried on with their day like they were too busy to nose around.
A soft undercurrent started to separate us, but all were in eyeshot. It didn’t take much effort to float through, and the underwater calmness had slowed everything inside me down to nearly to a complete stop. While in the Great Barrier Reef, it felt like my heart would explode, but it couldn’t be heard here.
Read full story in travel memoir
This was just the start of the ancient Cambodia story, nothing is ever how it seems, adventures can easily turn into misadventures on the drop of the hat and not revealed itself yet.
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