Today I find myself curled up on a sofa, sipping hot black tea, peeking out the window at some spectacular Bangkok skyscrapers from the 26th floor of our very plush central Bangkok hotel. The fella is making the most of the massive luxury bed and whilst he snoozes I’m thinking of our to do list for today; book flights to Indonesia, find accommodation in Bali, buy some new underwear. Ok so its not going to be the most challenging of days but hey, that’s the life I’m leading at the moment. Not that I’m counting, but it just so happens that today is day 82 of 135 travelling around south East Asia, so we’re two thirds of our way through our wanderings. A little luxury in the form of a super slick hotel is a nice treat to end our 30 days in Thailand. Yesterday we were in a wooden bungalow in a beachside location in Ko Phangan, today we’re in a crisp, cool, city apartment, looking out at shiny office blocks and one massive high end shopping mall. Wonder if I could get my multipack of undies from Prada ? Would probably blow the entire remaining budget for shelter and food…perhaps there’s a Primark…sigh.
Luckily our time has ticked along nice and slowly, and I feel I’ve been away from home for an eternity. Before we left the UK I worried that our 4.5 month trip would whiz past at such a rate that I’d just be getting into the relaxed, chilled out mind set I was after by the end of the trip. I was sure I’d be desperate for an extension. Thoughts about the email I’d need to send to my boss, requesting another month or so, formulating my case, choosing the most persuasive argument I could, went round in my head before I’d even left Heathrow. Looking back at that person now, I see that she worried a lot. Like all the time ! Always trying to look ahead to every possible scenario, and work out a solution or a range of possibilities to ensure all eventualities were covered and dealt with. Exhausting !
So far we’ve visited Hong Kong, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand.
Our general approach has been to book a few days at each place, if we like it stay longer, if we don’t, move on. Knowing that we’re yet to book a flight and somewhere to stay for tomorrow, I recognize in myself a new person emerging; someone who is happier to take things as they come, worry less, accept ‘the now’ more. Relinquish a little of the control. True, when put under slightly more challenging circumstances and with more serious consequences to deal with than “Bugger, the awesome beach bungalow that was free yesterday is fully booked today, we’ll have to find another, dang!” this new chilled out person may revert back to old habits of worry and panic, but its good to know I’m beginning to learn that there doesn’t need to be a plan for everything all the time. Things work out just fine; we haven’t had to sleep on the beach yet.
Having Indonesia and The Philippines left on the hit list means we’ve got some serious prioritising to do over the next few weeks. The vast sprawl of Indonesia offers endless possibilities of adventuring and exploration, but we can’t do it all, and we have a prearranged diving commitment in West Papua and the Raja Ampat marine park for Christmas and New year which means for the first time in our wanderings, we have rigid dates and a deadline. Once my man is up and we’ve both luxuriated in the most amazing bathroom we’ve experienced on the entire trip, we’ll put our minds to what’s on and what’s off the agenda for the next week at least. Leaving some of the next 53 days to fate is exactly what make this wandering malarkey so much fun. I have a small wish list; some hiking, maybe a volcano, hopefully some amazing marine and forest wildlife. If some of it happens, wonderful, but if not, I’m sure something equally as fantastic will have taken it’s place, something that I don’t even know exists yet. The alluring appeal of the unplanned unknown, who knew !!
With the end of our trip beginning to glimmer on the distant horizon our remaining time seems even more precious and important into me. I’m determined to enjoy every second. So far my wanderings have helped me learn about myself; control less, change priorities, love and laugh more, have wishes for the future, dream big. I’ve learnt about different cultures, different people, foods and religions. I’ve seen poverty, excess, happiness, hopefulness, ambition and contentment. Not bad for 82 days away from the rat race. So bring on Indonesia, adventure is on the agenda ! I wonder what’s round the corner, let’s go see.