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Goodbye New Jersey. Hello World! A record of my journey as I give up my job, my possessions, and life as I know it to go off and see the world!

A Reminder to Keep My Guard Up

AUSTRALIA | Tuesday, 23 November 2010 | Views [2161] | Comments [5]

I haven’t written in awhile.  To be honest it’s because I don’t have much to say.  Australia is beautiful.  The beaches are lovely, sand is white, the ocean is deep blue.  Being here has been a great holiday and incredibly relaxing.  In terms of interesting things to see….I can’t say much that hasn’t already been said.  My weeks here have been relatively tame.  I’ve seen some sights, done some hiking, some yoga, interacted with lots of Europeans and witnessed massive amounts of young adults attempt to live hippie lives.  Life is a bit simpler for the backpacker here.  You lounge around, read your book, drink and talk with some fellow travelers, cook your meals, and drink boxed wine (called “goon”) to save money.  It hasn’t been a bad life. 

But something a bit disturbing did happen to me yesterday and now I am inclined to write again.  Yesterday was the first time during my traveling that I felt a bit scared and vulnerable as a girl on her own. 

I’m currently in Coff’s Harbour, which is a lovely small town on the coast, a few hours south of Byron Bay.  The ocean is beautiful, particularly because pretty polished pebbles line the shore.  I decided yesterday to take a walk along the jetty to one of the small islands that I heard had a nice path to climb.  The weather was a bit cool, rain was threatening from above, and I was a bit tired from all the walking I had done but I pressed on anyways.  Along the way I stopped to enjoy the views and found myself in a conversation with an older man.  We talked a bit about the area and he seemed genuinely nice.  He then offered to buy me a cup of coffee.  Now if I was at home I would probably have immediately declined because (a) he’s a stranger and (b) I had a mission to climb that island and I was going to do it, dammit.  However I have learned from traveling that it is always good to stop and talk with the locals.  You can learn something and it is often more interesting than doing the touristy stuff.  And in the past talking with locals had lead to some exciting situations.  So I agreed, although I did look him in the eye and said “just a coffee and conversation, right?” which he, of course, nodded his head to. 

So, I had coffee with this man whose name I learned to be Stuart.  And I did learn a lot from him.  He told me about some of the wildlife that lived in this area, what the weather was like this time of the year and some sights I should check out before we left.  He seemed to be very nice, although my instincts did tell me I should keep my distance a bit.  I am glad that I listened to them.  He then suggested we take a walk on the beach, which I was okay with since there were lots of people around.  Again, this was very nice and I enjoyed the company.  When our walk ended, however, things became a bit weird.  I mentioned that it was time to go back to my hostel and waved in the general direction where it was.  I did not tell him the actual place where I was staying, of course.  I can be naïve but I’m not stupid.  He said “that’s a long way, let me drive you”.  I politely declined. He then said “you looking to get some boyfriends during your travels?” this is when my chest started to tighten and my radar went up.  I firmly shook my head no and insisted I best be going.  He then said “well can I at least get a kiss?”.  Again I said no and started walking away.  I wasn’t concerned for my safety at this point since we were still in an area with lots of people around.  I walked the long way back constantly looking over my shoulder.  I was becoming paranoid that this creep was following me and yelling at myself on the inside for agreeing to coffee with him in the first place.  But I made it home okay and I relaxed. 

3 hours later I am sitting at the bar at the hostel with some friends.  My phone rings and I notice that it’s the hostel calling me.  Strange…I pick up and am told by reception that there was a man named Stuart here who was looking for me.  Now I am upset.  I quickly tell reception to relay that I am not here which thankfully he did.  But this meant that either Stuart followed me, or he went from hostel to hostel looking for me.  The hostel employees told me that if he came back they would remove him but I couldn’t help but feel paranoid the rest of the night.  And now I still feel paranoid.  I want to walk into town today but am afraid that he is lurking, waiting for me.  I know that I am safe at the hostel, there are people around and I am sharing a room with 3 other girls. But I can’t wait to get out of Coff’s Harbour. I just hope Stuart doesn’t follow me to the next place.  Am I worrying too much?  Perhaps, but wouldn‘t you? 

What lesson have I learned here?  I really began to trust people during my travels.  I think I might have become a bit too relaxed about it.  There are times when I really wished I was a guy and wouldn’t have to deal with issues like this.  I went through Russia and China on my own and had no problems.  I think it’s crazy that it was Australia that was the first country where I felt threatened.  I’m just thankful this was a minor event.  It could have been a lot worse. 

Do you believe in fate?  That there is some greater power out there guiding us?  In the past I have been a believer.  I have had quite a lot of bad luck since coming to Australia and I am starting to wonder if it is a sign that I am not meant to be here.  Or perhaps I need to harden up and get over it.  I guess I just need to make myself more aware again. 

To my family I say don’t worry.  I promise to try not to make such stupid mistakes in the future.  To my fellow single female travelers I say try never to let your guard down.  Even in a county that seems like it should be safe.   

Tags: australia, coffs harbour, women solo traveling

Comments

1

Oi, you, you're from Jersey, man up! You're staying there and you're gonna have a great time ok missy. Don't make me fly out there and erm, make you, er, stay?

Anyway, you kinda get what I'm saying. Everywhere has it dangers, we just forget about them as we're in a new place. Australia is no safer than Europe or Asia or back home, you just ran in to a bad egg and let your guard down. Sometimes that's a good thing to do as you end up in great situations, sometimes you end up in the one you did. You learned your lesson. Learn from it. He won't follow you to the next town but please get on the bus with a few other backpackers.....and grab one to climb that little island too....if you're lucky you can see whales from it. ....just don't go see the big banana.
x

  Kem Nov 23, 2010 9:43 AM

2

Ha ha too late I saw the banana and I loved every cheesy minute of it!

  lauren_watson Nov 23, 2010 9:56 AM

3

I loved your story, but you can't let one person ruin any experiences you might be able live. I know that whenever I travel I have never stayed in a hotel room because one, I usually have a friend there, but also hope that someone is willing to open their lives up to someone they don't know. Yes this could be dangerous, but I have trained myself in many different versions of self defense and am a professional fighter so my advice is to learn to defend yourself against those that wish to take advantage of the weak and live life to the fullest without thoughts of the outcomes.

  Skipper Jack Nov 23, 2010 1:21 PM

4

See it from the positive sight, you know you can trust your intuition.It usually gives you the right information. When something feel bad or wrong get away from it, your intuition will guide you, through good and bad. It's a part of life, people with bad intentions can be everywhere, at home or in a country on the other side of the world. Don't make it loose your confidence, you are a strong and smart girl. You'll be allright!

  Chantal Nov 24, 2010 7:06 AM

5

I'm sorry to hear about that creep. That's so weird that he came to your hostel. There are people like that in every country though, just use your common sense and you will lessen any threats.

On a lighter note - so you've been introduced to goon? Hahahaha.

  Grace Jun 12, 2012 9:10 PM

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