As I was randomly browsing online about backpacking nowadays, I chanced upon a horrific news from 2016 about a young British backpacker girl who was traveling all over Asia and Australia named Mia Ayliffe-Chung. She was brutally murdered at the hostel she was staying at in Queensland. Her male hostel room mate had an extreme paranoia and schizophrenic attack and went on a stabbing frenzy having her as his first victim. I got so drawn that I read more about her case. She was only 21.
As I learned her story and looked at her lovely photos, my heart grieved for her mother and the beautiful life she could've lived. I took the path she was going for during the time of her death because I was that girl back in my 20s... young, adventurous, carefree, curious, light-hearted and excited to see what the world had to offer. I, too, was living on the edge with my EXPLORE button on so I know the excitement she was looking for so well.
Just like her, I travelled all over Asia in a backpack, stayed at hostels, made friends with fellow travelers, and also did bartending and served at tables while living in Australia. Yup, we shared the same travel style and itinerary. So I understood why Mia wanted to experience that. Because it was amazing!
Me back in 2010 bartending in Sydney, Australia.
Seeing her story gave me a wake up call that not everyone is given the privilege to live the life we desire in the moment... that it is truly a blessing to be able to experience a well lived youth. Mia wanted the nomad backpacker lifestyle I had for almost a decade and here I am catching myself complaining from time to time for not having the life I imagined at 40.
So today, I am so humbled by learning about Mia and Tom Jackson, the male British backpacker staying in the same hostel as her who got killed trying to save her. I am so grateful that during the time I was living that lifestyle, I was protected from danger and made it through alive. I am so blessed that her story came to me at the time I needed to be reminded of how lucky I am to still be here at 40 despite going through a cancer diagnosis.
Hence, I'm here writing about her in my blog because I know that I came across her story for a reason. And that is to remind the world of how precious the gift of life is and that we should never, ever take it for granted. People like her weren't given a chance to live long and although she didn't deserve the early boot, I guess life's never really fair but we just have to live it the best way we can anyway.
My heart goes out to Rosie Ayliffe, Mia's mother, for the loss of her sweet angel and her efforts to ensure that the European backpackers in Australia who want to do farm work to extend their working holiday visa are safe after what happened to her daughter.
Rest in paradise, dear Mia. Or better yet, keep exploring the heavens! A stranger here on Earth is rooting for you and have lived the life you have imagined for yourself. Young hearts will always, always run free so fly high, beautiful angel! Your spirit lives on in every backpacker thirsty to explore the world.