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Storytelling Travel

Travel Like It’s 1999

Carefree beach days, planning my tan lines and next snack. No thoughts for carbon emissions or the climate warming 7°C during the lifetime of my future grandkids.

If there were worries, they were about the wrong things. Applying anti-aging cream at 25. Pointless! Who has wrinkles at 25?!?

Collecting frequent flyer points. Also quite pointless now!

In an old post (this was brewing in my drafts for a while – okay, years), my lovely blogger friend Tanja asked what her readers’ travel dreams were. She dreamt of London, always. Mine are not of a place, but rather of the idea of simply going back to those carefree days… before all this.

It’s hard for me to now revive that glamour that travel once had for me. Even without Covid, there’s climate change.

After having kids, I’ve changed into a different person. My blog has been by my side through this change, and if you were to dig up posts from the good old days of 2015, you’d hardly recognize me as the same author.

I remember back in 1999 when people were talking of the big crossover to the year 2000, what might happen. The feared – and yet somehow rather eagerly awaited – Y2K. There was talk of computers everywhere going berserk, causing utter and total chaos. And also talk of how that New Year’s Eve should be the most amazing spectacle ever.

But nothing happened. I spent New Year’s Eve in Brisbane and it was just a night amongst others, except for the fact that I was in the company of my childhood best friend who I hadn’t seen in 12 years.

12 years felt like a long time then, but now I think: it was only 12 years?! Eons have passed since. It’s now been over 30 years since we moved from Brisbane.

At some point, don’t ask when (though it was closer to now than “back then”), I read another blog post which started something like, “Time was invented by man, but measuring time is something we couldn’t do without.”

That makes me wonder: what if our ancestors had never invented the concept of time? Could that even be possible?

Was the concept of time something undeniably unavoidable for humans? What would happen differently if we didn’t track time? Is time manmade or is it something that was discovered?

And what about hours, minutes, seconds? Would they exist without us?

Another article I read (years ago) said the Great Barrier Reef had lost half of its corals in the past 25 years.

In 1999, I scuba dived there, amongst pink corals, colourful fish curious enough to approach us, and an unforgettable giant clam. Sometimes, when really I search my memory, I have a feeling there was a giant pearl inside the giant clam, but I’m pretty sure my mind is just colouring that in. That enormous clam sitting amongst corals, observant and alive, seems so magical the way my mind remembers it, and a pearl would suit it perfectly.

I had no scuba diving training, but in 1999 that wasn’t a problem. The instructor simply took my hand underwater and guided me, separate from the group. I could hear my own breathing in an eery way, and it sounded like Darth Vader was lurking behind me. I had a sensation of drowning, of it being unnatural to be so far underwater like that, and I was scared – but also in awe. Afterwards, we all had prawn dinner in the sunset on the deck of a sailing boat, and watched dolphins jump by in the gorgeous turquoise water. The sand on the bottom of the sea was white and the water so clear you could see everything. Almost each individual grain.

The next day, I snorkeled and saw a reef shark underneath me, and I’m still quite unsure how far down it was. The water blurred distances. But its sharklike shape was instantly recognizable.

Right now, travel and holidays feel distant. Like a plot in a movie, it couldn’t happen to me.

Back when I lived in Paris, a Finnish girl there said, “Finland’s such a bird’s nest”; a safe little haven where people are cozy and sheltered and nothing ever happens. I shook my head, sighing: it was a boring place, I wholeheartedly agreed.

Now, I embrace boringness. I’ve even elevated it to the next level, close to an art form. This suddenly feels like a good place to shelter through the storm.

Time, manmade or not, has a funny way of twisting a person’s perspective.

64 replies on “Travel Like It’s 1999”

Ah, Y2K! At work, I was the person responsible for making sure all our equipment was Y2K ready. Boring and pointless, but at least I got paid for all those wasted hours.
Time is a human word, but the concept of time would have been almost impossible for humans to avoid I think. The daily change from light to dark to light again. The changing of the seasons and the availability of food or the need for shelter. And the visible evidence of humans growing older, changing appearance. So much is related to the passage of time. In some ways, time is less relevant these days, certainly from a survival point of view, though it dominates our lives in ways our ancestors would never have imagined!

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Somehow I don’t wonder at all that you were the Y2K guy! I don’t know why, but it just seems to fit 🙂 You seem so calm and collected, the guy everyone would ask for help with their IT.

And true, I guess time is very visible in the ways you described. It would have been interesting to have become an anthropologist and spend my work days studying things like how ancient cultures perceived time. Maybe next lifetime.

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I think I was just the schmuck who would do the Y2K stuff. Knowledge and qualifications were optional! I think there’s an evolutionary element to time. Those who figured out food could be collected at this time and used later when little was available would have a big advantage over those living from day to day. They’d be, ‘Well we’re out of food. That’s us done for.’

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I think we needed time when we started associating together in groups and society. When we got organized. Being organized is closely allied with the concept of time. But it is an interesting subject, as I once read a novel by a Danish author around the concept of becoming so acutely aware of everything could actually slow down our concept of time passing. Quite a fascinating concept.
Having said that, I find it so hard to remember the time when the children were little. Photos and videos help but that time slips through the fingers even though I tried hard to be aware of it. The distractions of life don’t allow us to consciously note so much time passing. Our minds are occupied elsewhere. Noting the passage of time requires concentration. I think time would exist without us, but it becomes meaningless without us.
You were in Brisbane on Y2K eve! Now that is amazing. I was pregnant that NYE and I remember spending it at the radiologist having some intensive tests and then celebrating with friends in a park festival very close to where I now live. (I lived far away from here at that time).
Thanks for jogging the memory. You know that if you are ever in Brisbane again……

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Oh what a memorable time to be pregnant, the turn of the millenium! If I ever get to visit Australia again, I’ll be sure to let you know! Hopefully I can show my kids were my earliest memories are from – those experiences shaped me.
Time really is fascinating. I read somewhere that time seems to go faster as we age because we have already experiences everything before, days and events repeat themselves – whereas for kids, the novelty of experiences makes them seem bigger and last longer 🤷‍♀️

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There could be something with kids and the novelty of the experience and why visiting Nepal is so steadfast in my memory. It was a new experience being my first overseas trip.
As for my millennium child, it is easy to remember how old she is!

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A thought provoking post! You are right that the glamour of travel is wearing off, all these darn tests and COVID forms, and of course the climate crisis. I agree with Graeme re time, humans like animals have always followed the rhythms of the day and seasons, and the cycle of the moon – but this was a more natural time-keeping than the slavish, artificial schedule of the factory floor and of the office. I think it makes people unhappy when they can’t follow the natural rhythms.

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I’ve thought of that too: office work, for one, isn’t natural for us. Sitting cooped up in front of a screen all day, we feel the need to run on a treadmill afterwards, like hamsters in a cage, only being able to run on a wheel. The concept of minutes and hours makes me wonder more than the passage of seasons or years. It seems more artificial somehow, though it’s also a part of the whole

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Working from home these past almost 2 years has made me happier. The office as an environment is not my scene! But my own sofa, with a laptop: completely fine! None of my co-workers agree though, I think we are in the minority! Most people just like the safety of an office: it’s like school. Regulated, supervised, organized.

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I know, some people do find those things reassuring I suppose. Makes me want to run a mile! I was talking to a friend who said she was horrified at the prospect of Covid rules changing and going back to home working. She is more sociable than I am so that could have something to do with it too 😉

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Y2K , I´ve heard about this bug !! ohh ages. Am I that old already??
since I moved to Germany, I never saw New Year´s celebration as an spectacle.
We fire some fireworks for a few minutes, have a drink and roll down the rollershutters, then go back to sleep.Now it´s totally forbidden to do some. Even more boring.

It´s a great time to look back at those times.

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Interesting post, Snow! Just the other day my husband and I were talking about time and the boringness that we have come to surround us with, intentionally perhaps! I sometimes don’t like ‘tracking time’ but I guess this thing called time is almost inherent… it is there with us from our birth. In a way, babies cry when it’s time to eat or when it’s time to sleep…loosely speaking. And that starts taking on intricate and often complicated patterns as we get older…time to jog, time to meditate, time to schedule that appointment…everything is dictated by that time! But we do slow down time, or perhaps harbor that illusion, when perhaps we are on a vacation? When we get lost in the pages of a book? When we are in a library? But I also think that time would be lost without us…we give it meaning by filling it up with a gazillion things. Who knows! It was lovely going through your post, as always! ‘Good old days’…maybe that’s why the phrase…when life was a little more carefree, when compared to the current. War wishes to you:)

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Interesting to read these thoughts, Moon! Thank you. It also occurred to me: perhaps time behaved differently with different people? Ambitious people or social butterflies or working mommies have their days filled up, holidays too. While laid-back, not-so-ambitious people or the single, wild and free type perhaps feel they had more time to kill? During the first half year of the opandemic, I remember people saying ”I suddenly had so much time on my hands I learned to bake/finally tidied the garage/created a whole new garden for myself. And I was thinking, what the heck?!? I was busier than ever. Working from home, life’s bustle went on just as it did before.
Have a nice evening!

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I remember 1999 – half of the programmers I worked with thought it would be the end of the world! I thought there was something magical about Finland. I loved the emphasis on fairies and elves! I remember a church in Helsinki that was very magical indeed. Can’t remember the name of it.

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A thought provoking post Snow. I emphathize all your points … except the part about scuba diving. I tried scuba diving but could never get beyond the fear of drowning to appreciate the underwater sights.

My observation is that people have always appreciated tha passage of time but it’s relative passage & the markers that measure it, changes. Do you remember the internet minute? It was a meme (at least for techies) in the early 2000s. It referred to the rate of change in the internet age, esp. compared to the 1900s.

But it’s all relative isn’t it. When I’m in the city surrounded by people & urgent stuff to do, time moves quickly. When I’m in the country with no deadlines or urgency, it moves slowly.

I found having kids was a big marker of time for me … suddenly, time’s passage wasn’t marked by calendars & schedules, it was marked by their growth. I remember it being slow when living it, but on reflection, after they’ve grown, it was all too fast.

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Oh, scuba diving was so scary! I’m amazed I went through it! It must be one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. Only one other scary thing comes to mind instantly: when I was being prepped for a C-section! I suddenly thought, yikes, I don’t want to do this operation after all! Can we just skip to the cuddling cute babies part?! Sure enough, it went pretty quickly. A short moment that I’ll always remember.
Memory and time are also very tightly knit, aren’t they? Without time, there would be no memories. Without memories, we wouldn’t notice time.

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Yes, it was forever ago!! It really seems like another lifetime, another person, another world.
The Great Barrier Reef today isn’t the same as it was when I last saw it. I always thought I’d go again, for sure, but now I’m thinking it would just be sad. Destroyed by tourists like me – we didn’t know any better. Though it also makes me think: didn’t we? On some level? I can’t remember.

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Love the opening photo ~ a feeling of freedom and so much to see and experience, a feeling of the past and youth. The current situation of the world has made me feel restricted and old… and had to cancel my trip next week to Lisbon because of new restrictions and overall mood. But there is also a comfort we find in this new world, and like you it is not too bad 🙂 Wishing you a great holiday season!

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I see in your latest post (which was a very enjoyable read!), you were writing about time, too, and about heartbeats. I often regret all this time I spend with my computer – work and hobby – and feel like I was freer in the 90’s when I wasn’t always available to chat or post.
I’ve been feeling a bit old too – as in, not fulfilling my dreams and desires as quickly and wholeheartedly as I did when I was younger. I’ve lost adventure and gained boredom. But… part of me loves this newfound staying-at-home boredom…
I wish you a lovely holiday season, too! Thanks for dropping by!

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My first solo trip was 2002… so, pretty close to yours! I was scared at first, but then I just loved it!! I traveled solo a lot, after that. Probably half my travels. My first “grown up” trip without parents/supervising adults was in 1996 though, just me and a friend. I was just turning 18.
I agree with you: the 90’s were less complicated and, like you put it, more sane. Development isn’t always a good thing, perhaps!

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What I know is when I am doing something fun or passionate about, I lose track of time. I guess that is the benefit of ‘no sense of time’. Time makes people hurry, also brings order and measurement.

Oh you scuba dive, sweet memory! The underwater world is so alien yet so gorgeous!

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Yes lucky you!! I have not gone that far to Great Barrier Reef to dive yet. I could imagine how pretty it is! I’d got my advance diving license after I graduated and started working. Went to few places like Thailand and Indonesia to dive. Malaysias has got some very nice dive sites like Sipadan island in Sabah. Wall dive, wreck dive, schools of baraccudas that spiral up… Sarawak on the other hand don’t really have good dive sites and I haven’t dive for 5 years since I came home. Haha.

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Time is different to me now, too. Of course I’m an older wiser [?] woman. I remember all the worry about Y2K and how the computers would stop working, the world as we knew it would stop. It seems naive in retrospect. I’m with you: “Now, I embrace boringness.” ‘Tis the best way to stay sane & healthy anymore.

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I have often posed the same questions about time and its mysteries. I don’t think there are any clear answers. And, like you, I have also resigned myself that I will never get to visit certain places because of climate change. It’s sad, but it’s a small sacrifice we can make.

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This was so interesting, to read your interpretation of 1999. I was born in 1999, so to hear how people were spending their time, and where they were is so fascinating. This really gave me a look into what you were experiencing during your moments of travel. Great Post!

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Time has been measured very differently in different places. The Mayans lived by seven (!) different calendars, all of them incredibly accurate, the very simplest of which almost boggled my mind!

Pacific Islanders, on the other end of the spectrum, have often not considered time as something which moves forward in any linear fashion whatsoever, but is entirely cyclic.

There’s a whole movement of people presently who feel that, were we to move away from the sterile daily Sameness of our present solar based calendar, returning to a lunar base, we would from that change see great benefit to ourselves.

Mystics tell us that neither time nor space as we know them exist outside this third dimension ~ and, as well, that we as a planet and species are due to evolve upward from that dimension. “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth, as it is in Heaven.” (It’s not only crackpots and Loonies who think so) 😊

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Thanks you Ana for such an interesting viewpoint! I would like to try what the lunar calendar could do, this sameness isn’t really making life a grand voyage! 😆 I think people are very much creatures of their habits. Someone once declared this is the calendar we’ll use, and voilà, here we are.

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