Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

A world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts.

Mines vs. Luna Park vs. Blasting On

This entry is open for viewing but is not consciously written as a blog entry. It is me thinking in writing. I’d basically be having this one-sided conversation at those would talk to me to figure things out. It is the way I think and make decisions, and I’m trying to do it in this more self-reliant manner.

So what do I do from here? I’m 7 months down out of the year. I have 5 left. Almost exactly.

First, focus on the positive. I’ve seen the tourist bits of Sydney. And the Blue Mountains. I’ve seen Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road and the Grampains. That isn’t the extent of Victoria, but if I don’t get to see more of it I can still say I’ve checked the state off the list. I’ve seen Tasmania, or at least Hobart and the Overland Track and a select few tourist bits. Not everything, but like Victoria, check. I’ve seen Adelaide and some of the surrounding area, though I won’t pretend to say I’ve seen South Australia. Flinders Ranges and Coober Pedy are still open, as is the Barossa Valley. But I can hit those when I’m driving across the Outback to see Ularu. And I’ve seen Cairns / the Great Barrier Reef / the Daintree Rainforest.

So where does that leave me? Well, with 5 months to go I still have the New South Wales countryside, Canberra, Queensland (Brisbane, Whitsundays, Magnetic Island), Northern Territory (Ularu, Darwin, Kakadu), and Western Australia (Perth, the coast, Broome, the Nulaboor Plain, and Esperance). How much driving is all of that? 15,000 km just getting between those major places, not to mention side trips and wandering. Assuming country roads, that is 150 hours. So nearly 7 days of just driving. Jeebus.

And where am I financially? I’m not broke, but I’m certainly less than I used to be. About $6000 less, after taking into account the work I’ve done and paychecks I’ve received.

So what is the plan?

Well, that is the question. And the way I see it, I’ve got a few answers and possible paths they point to.

1 – Get a job in the mines. Throw the rest of the trip away as far as a “trip” to make money. Build the coffers and leave here with cash in hand. Pros – I have money. More than when I started. (Rough calculations put this work at $12,000 after taxes and expenses.) And then I don’t stress about doing things that look fun just because they cost money. And depending on where my future travels take me, that money could stretch for a couple years. Years where I won’t have to worry about working, where I can just travel, live, and work on me rather than work on surviving. The pay here is better than I can expect in most other places. As an unskilled temp laborer I’m not making quite what I was before per hour. But at the mines I am not paying for rent and food, so in a way I am. Also, I’m working 70 hours a week, so I double am. And that is without even using my degree or experience. Indifference – I would have to come back to Australia to finish seeing it. It would pretty much be my next trip after coming home for a while. I already own a car here, so might as well. Cons – I had a job. I had a steady paycheck. And I grew to resent it. I didn’t come here because my job ended. It lined up that way. I was ready to end working life and travel. This would be putting that on hold. And I’ve already done mine work, so this wouldn’t be a new story or new experience. Then there is the fact that if I’m going to put my trip on hold and work a job to make money, do I want to do it such that I’m making the best money in the shortest time, or do it such that I’m enjoying work and around those I care about? If I work in the mines I will make the money quicker, but I’m isolated and all I’m doing is working. I have no family and friends around.

2 – Stick it out here in Sydney for a bit. Or at least in NSW. I’ve got the job at Luna Park now, and that looks pretty awesome. I’m legitimately excited for work. It is only weekends for a couple weeks, and then I could get full time for the first couple weeks of July while schools are on holiday. Pros – New experience for sure. Looks fun. I already have the job so I don’t need to stress about either the impermanence of getting placed at the mines through my agency or the stress of getting a job in the mines through one of the companies directly. Indifference – Nothing really? Cons – I’ve seen Sydney. All the tourist sights I want to see are checked off. Staying here is just biding my time between shifts. I could fill that with writing and photo stuff and working out and generally sorting out myself. Or I could use the time to strike out into the NSW countryside and see the rest of the state, since I want to do that anyway. But I would have to keep coming back to base to work for a day or two. And so far I’ve not found a good place to stay. The best options I’ve come up with are a relatively cheap hostel that is overcrowded, dirty, loud, and where my clothes come out of the room smelling like cigarettes from the lack of insulation between the room and the patio and a hostel that is near the cool suburb, is spacious and clean, and feels like a really cool hotel more than a hostel, but costs about $30 a night. That equates to a rent of $900 a month. I could always leave town and sleep in my car but that is pretty dodgy in the largest city in the country. Meh. Either way, to work to the end of my stint at LP leaves me striking out to see Queensland, NT, WA, and whatever else with 4 months to do 15,000km and 7 days of driving. Doable, but the more I stay in one place, the more condensed my “seeing everything in a year” becomes.

3 – Put foot to pedal, put match to fuse, and blast out of town. Even as I start to write this I’m already aware this isn’t an option I’m going to take. This is my “I don’t want to be tied to an area” self coming out so I can feel more like a traveler. But it is a dumb option. It is basically option 2 with no need to come back to Sydney, and two weeks of wages gone. Given my situation, that is just flat out not an option unless I cannot stand the job, which is not the case here. Pros – I feel adventurous and reckless. (The con being that it is reckless and stupid.) I get to maximize the time I have left to travel and see the things I want to see. I won’t necessarily have the money to see them. Well, flat out I won’t. And rent is cheaper just about anywhere else. And while I like Sydney a lot more than I did before, I still don’t like it enough to call this a home. I get to see new places. And it is winter here. It is cold, rainy, sucks, and I am just not feeling this weather. Getting up to the tropics sounds pretty damn nice right now. Cons – I lose wages from a job I already have. I delay the inevitable need for work, so I’m not really gaining much on the distance / time equation.

Option 1 points to putting travel on hold and working for 5 months. I could still travel in my weeks off, but let’s largely say that won’t happen. So yeah, 5 months of work. I hit home for a few months. Then back on the road. Unpause the trip, hit Australia again, and then on from there.

Options 2 and 3 point to travel continuing but me coming out the end of this trip much closer to broke than when I started. For some reason I had thought I could avoid that while still traveling as much as I have and working as little as I have. Quite honestly, from an objective standpoint, I’m doing phenomenally well on my time here / lack of hours worked / abundance of awesome experiences equation. Way better than can reasonably be expected. I should be pleased. I am. Anyway…

Options 2 and 3 point to me being more broke. Which means I can either go into traveling the world and working my way through, which while an interesting experience, is one I could voluntarily do quite happily rather than finding myself broke and starving in Malaysia and unable to find work. And unless I am doing the working my way around the world, I’m going to have to stop travel and get a job at some point. And if I don’t do option 1, then it would be either working long term in another foreign country for likely less than I can make here. Or it would be working back in the states, living near those I care about. The pros there are pretty obvious. People I care about! I could live near DC and have friends and family around. Or I could live near Durham and have Alyssa and friends around. But then I go back to having to figure out rent. And I have to find a job. And I know I haven’t seen it in 7 months, and I am told it is getting better, but I really just don’t have faith in the US economy right now. I’d love to be wrong. But I honestly think I could more easily find a job in Australia that doesn’t require training or skill than I could in the states that puts to good use my Top 10 University education or my years of training and experience. And that they would pay about the same.

If I had someone who wanted to join me for a leg of travels over here, it would help push towards Option 2. The distances are huge here and the second I get off the beaten path I have trouble finding people to split the cost of petrol. And with 15,000 km to drive, I’m quite reasonably looking at 1200L of fuel (8L/100km), which costs about $2000. Having someone to share portions of that makes places accessible.

If a mining job fell in my lap and paid even better, Option 1 pulls ahead. That won’t happen though.

And there is an Option 1.2, where I substitute “Mining” with “Island Resort.” The pay is about the same, and the deal is similar. The benefits of that over mining is that the experience is a new one.

And there is an Option 1.5, where I go through the agency a few more times to get out to the mines for a week here and there, make a big dent in my losses, but still get to travel. It is a pretty good option, and likely one I will use to amend Option 2 if I go that route.

But yeah, that is about where things stand.

And now that this is all out there I will be more able to mull it over. Hopefully even come to an answer. But I’m certainly open to hearing suggestions or commentary, either in public comments on the blog or in private messages to me. Consider this the part where I stop rambling about my current concern in life and you get to give me advice and calm my overthinking things.

 

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This entry was posted on June 13, 2012 by in Australia.

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