The 20-something Brit who escaped to China

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risk takers


Jordan Hammond is a 20-something Brit who decided to leave the rat race behind and chase a life full of travel and adventure instead. Learn about how he manages to travel the world and what keeps him inspired in this Risk Takers interview. 

What made you want to “escape” from the UK to China, and how has the experience impacted you?
The fear of being stuck behind a desk for 10-11 hours a day for the next 40 years of my life didn’t appeal to me. This, coupled with an eagerness to explore areas I didn’t last time, meant I was left with only one logical answer – to work abroad and travel.

In the summer of 2014, two friends and I travelled to Southeast Asia for 3 months. Albeit I spent the majority of the trip intoxicated, I found myself in awe of the places I visited and people I met and decided I’d make it my top priority to return. Fast forward a year, and I’ve broken free of the 9-5 chains and booked a one-way flight to Chongqing, China, where I’m currently in my 10th month of work here as a teacher. Since then, I’ve seen parts of Asia I never knew existed, saved enough money to travel long term when my year-long contract expires and developed a passion for photography. I can say with confidence that I made the right decision in moving here and would urge anyone thinking similarly to follow through.

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How the heck does one afford to travel as much as you do?
To travel so often is much simpler than people perceive it to be. First of all, I’d recommend basing yourself in a country with a lower cost of living. This inevitably means you’re left with more disposable income to spend on the next flight, hostel or train ticket.

Secondly, don’t waste your money. I have many friends in China who, because they can afford it, choose a life of luxury. While this is appealing to some, the same friends are often in disbelief at my travel-focused lifestyle and want to be able to do the same. I can afford to travel because I’m careful with my finances; I eat local food until it breaks me, I take public transport even when it involves me playing the part of a tinned sardine, and I have eliminated my desire for all things materialistic.

Lastly, unlike home, there appears to be countless opportunities to work in China, often presenting themselves to you in the least expected places. So, what are you waiting for?

Have you ever broken the law while traveling?
I’m sure I’m not the first to have broken the law abroad, and certainly not the last. While it’s not recommended, my desire to capture different perspectives with my camera often leads me astray. I wont bore you with the details, but my most recent escapade involved climbing one of Chongqing’s many bridge. Once I reached the top, I realised a police convoy was waiting for me at the bottom. All you need to know is that the evening ended abruptly, leaving the officers in my dust whilst howling “foreigner!”, and me with a sweaty brow.

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What inspires you to keep travelling, do you ever get discouraged? 
I never get discouraged from travelling. I am inspired to travel by the need to discover, as cliché as it sounds. I love to immerse myself in different cultures, experiencing first hand the beautiful places our Earth has to offer and meeting like-minded people.

Furthermore, photography inspires me. Since I developed an enthusiasm for photography, I feel as though I’ve become more observant of my surroundings. In turn, I’m always looking at how I can forge my own interpretation of the beauty I see for those who have yet to experience it. The feedback I receive on Instagram (@jordhammond) inspires me more than I could have ever contemplated. I’ve had some incredible support over the last 6 months and find it humbling that people from all corners of the globe are able to find inspiration in the content I produce.

Should young people take more risks? Do you think our society encourages it enough?
Everyone has a choice, and I decided that as London wouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon, I could return if things didn’t work out for me abroad. I think the “Western world” has an overriding focus on the systematic lifestyle: graduating, job, house, family… If you choose to travel or work abroad, you’re often deemed a time wasting hippie who’s scared of the ‘real world’ – what exactly is that? If, like I was once, you’re finding yourself day-dreaming of faraway lands and drooling on your screen as you traverse your Instagram feed, do something about it.

I couldn’t imagine a better time for people to take greater risks than when they are young. Most of my friends from the UK left university to find themselves in risk-free, moderately paid office jobs in central London, frequently working 10-11 hours a day, thus leaving them little time to pursue interests outside of work. In China I work a maximum of 25 hours a week and can travel every week if I choose to. Anyone can make this happen for themselves too.

If now isn’t a good time to take the risk, when is?

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What do you always have with you? Particular product or keepsake you can’t travel without? 
I always have my camera with me when travelling. I started to enjoy taking photos at the end of last year, when I took a trip to Chengdu to visit the Giant Pandas.

Since then, I’ve taken some incredible trips to some beautiful places, including having my family visit me for a 2 week trip to Western China. I’ve been sharing my work on Instagram, and this in turn motivates me to travel more. I’m leaving China in 2 months time to travel through Asia indefinitely, so this time around I’m really looking forward to exploring some new places with my camera in hand instead of a bucket of moonshine.

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Biggest advice to young folks on how to make travel a reality.
Teaching abroad has really opened up a door for me in terms of travel. If I could only give one piece of advice, it would be to Google ‘Work abroad teaching English’. Try out a few of the suggested searches, find a job you think you’d enjoy, and apply. What’s to lose? If all goes well, you could find yourself on the other side of the world in no time.

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