Saxon Yuen is currently in Penang, Malaysia. 6 months ago, he gave up a job he loved on the STA Travel UK marketing team to follow his dream of making a living travelling and making films about travelling. He’s here to tell us how he made it happen, and why he has no regrets.

Leaving your job, home and life as you know it could turn out to be either an inspired jump into the unknown that really pays off or completely insane (or maybe a bit of both). I’ve just done it, and right now, I couldn’t really tell you which it is. Maybe after reading this, you can decide for yourself and let me know.

Saxon_Ferry_620Image courtesy of Rat & Dragon

Giving everything up to the live dream

You see, as far as desk jobs go, working in marketing for STA Travel’s UK division in London was awesome. Ever since my first travel experience knocked my socks off, I’ve loved telling enthusiastic stories of amazing destinations – always with the genuine conviction that you should go there, because it might just blow your mind. A job inspiring people to travel was a perfect fit for me.

My other love of film making and photography seemed to go hand in hand with my passion for travel. I did a few film courses, worked on a couple of indie films in London and built my own projects on the side. I often dealt with video and photography in my job with STA Travel too, and was really progressing in my career. Great opportunities came up, and yet bigger career moves in marketing seemed on the horizon. Overall, I was loving my job and my life in London.

Saxon_Bushes_620Image courtesy of Rat & Dragon

When the idea came up with a film producer friend of mine to start a small film production company together, it struck me that we could take it on the road and specialise in travel content. We had a good look at our combined equipment and skill sets and sounded out the demand for content. We discovered that, with a lot of hard work, a few tricks learned at STA Travel, and just a tiny bit of luck, we might be on to something. With a brand name inspired by our respective Chinese zodiac signs, Rat & Dragon was born.

We built a website and declared that Rat & Dragon’s mission would be the hunt for travel content to knock your socks off. Naturally, this hunt would require some hefty travel, so we conceived a plan of an Epic Journey which would take us from Hyde Park in London to Hyde Park in Sydney – without flying. At. All.

Saxon_TransSib_620Image courtesy of Rat & Dragon

And so the dream was born. A challenging, 35,000 km adventure through Eastern Europe and Russia, across the seas to Korea, Japan and China, then by trains, buses, ferries and tuk tuks through Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and eventually to Australia, capturing beautiful images as we went, creating films, every day a fresh experience, and living from a backpack. Living the dream.

Just one thing…

Sure, it meant giving up a great job and a life I’d painstakingly put together over quite a few years. yes, it involved saying a sad “so long” to friends and putting an enjoyable and promising career on the line and facing serious financial instability, with no guarantees – there was that.

But, no matter what your boss, your friends or your mum thinks, the only thing that truly counts is what you think. I knew I had to ask myself if I had what it takes – would I sacrifice to save every penny, would I study filmmaking and photography? Was I passionate enough, and dedicated enough, to this dream to see it through? When things go belly-up, (and have done many times) would I have the conviction to keep going and put things right, to force it to work? Did I have my whole heart in it?

I dug deep and decided the answer was yes and I could see that my now-business partner had done the same.

Saxon_Penang_620Image courtesy of Rat & Dragon

I took the leap about 6 months ago now. Currently, as part of Rat & Dragon, I’m putting the final touches on some amazing films for some really cool travel companies. I’ve jumped off waterfalls, ridden the Trans-Siberian Railway, bathed with snow monkeys and chased an elephant through a lake, all to get a shot that will knock your socks off. In fact, right now, I’m writing this blog post in a guesthouse in the old colonial quarter of Penang, Malaysia, after a sensational Laksa and a cold Tiger beer.

So was leaving my job, home, and life as I knew it, inspired or insane? I guess that remains to be seen. But what I can say with absolute certainty is that, even if I’m not yet exactly “living the dream”, then I am doing everything in my power to chase it down, and in that chase, I’m building a life for myself that my heart can be proud of and seeing the world in the process. What do you think? What’s your dream?

 

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