It was 6pm at our hostel in Brisbane and I had just got back from work to a few people happily lounging around in our outdoor hippie shed.
“Man, I really wanted to go to AC/DC tonight,” someone piped up. I turned around. “ME TOO! And how awesome would it be to see them in Australia?”
I wandered inside to change my work clothes, opened my laptop, and had a look just in case there were any tickets left. I couldn’t believe that there were! But I still wasn’t convinced – concert tickets in Australia are expeeeeeensive, and AC/DC are one of the most famous bands on the planet, playing a stadium world tour. I expected to see $300 tickets and that would be that.
So imagine my surprise when, moments later, tickets were coming up at $99 a pop. Excitedly, I ran outside. “Do you WANT to go and see AC/DC?!?”
A few discussions later, four of us were on our way. It was so last minute that we actually arrived half way through Back In Black, their third song of the set.
But it came to be one of my fondest memories of Australia – turning up at a show for a band I’d wanted to see for at least half of my life, with a bunch of people who just a couple of weeks before had been complete strangers.
It’s moments like that that really make travel worth it. The breathtaking moments are why we travel of course, but it’s the small moments, whether they were with strangers or friends, that we think back on and smile to ourselves.
I often wonder what those people are doing now. Everything that happened in Australia seems like a lifetime ago already (I think they call it the backpacker bubble or something), and although I have them on Facebook just a message away, it feels like we are living such different lives now. Do they even have the same memories I do?
Never underestimate the importance of taking photos
I have no photos from the AC/DC gig, because it was so spontaneous that I had been about to charge my phone when we left, so it died on the way to the venue. I hadn’t wanted to take my camera for fear of it getting crushed, but I needn’t have worried where we were standing.
But going through photos now evokes memories of moments I’d forgotten all about. Ones where you’d tell friends about “that time” something ridiculous happened.
Like the time our van battery died and we had to be rescued by a German guy in a Jurassic Park jeep.
The time we had to stop our scooter to let a family of monkeys cross the road on Koh Lanta.
The time a monitor lizard strolled on by our barbecue in Noosa.
The time we all dressed in bin bags and partied on a ranch in Utah.
The time I broke the work truck in the middle of the Australian bush.
Hiking in Zion Canyon and thinking your friend has fallen off the edge of the cliff when she screams – but it turns out she’s seen a FRICKING TARANTULA.
Sitting somewhere in Boston listening to your work friend sing and play guitar to a homeless man.
Taking a road trip with strangers in New Zealand and almost breaking down on the way back while being driven by a crazy Hungarian guy along winding mountain roads. At least we went to an awesome place!
The time we went to a really dodgy Texan ranch and rode rogue horses in our tourist cowboy hats (which I still own).
But there are plenty of little memories I have that never got caught on camera.
Like when we walked through Krabi town in Thailand and a little Thai girl followed us and held my hand and melted my heart.
The time an ape in Gibraltar had a fight with me because I wouldn’t give him my purse.
The time I went to Tiger Temple with a new-found friend and afterwards we ended up sitting in a dodgy policeman’s office waiting for a songthaew to turn up, while he offered us unidentified leaves to eat. (That was one of my weirder moments in Asia.)
Riding on top of a full corn truck through the countryside in Thailand.
Driving back to an outback Australian farmer’s house at 4am and laying outside on the grass just staring at the clearest sky full of stars that you’ve ever seen in your life.
Running through Gatwick Airport and pleading to be let on the plane to Munich, then turning round and seeing your partner waddling towards you in his socks, with one hand on his trousers and the other holding his belt and shoes, because he was stopped in security.
Bumping into familiar faces around Asia and acting like old friends. Finding old friends on the other side of the world – seriously, I found a childhood friend in Brisbane!
It’s these little feelings you forget all about, because when someone asks you, “what was your favourite part of travelling?”, these aren’t the moments you talk about. But they are the ones you suddenly remember, and you stop what you’re doing and smile.