I no longer felt the rush of travel in South East Asia … so I left
I nearly feel like putting up several big disclaimers with this post. So to thwart a wave of hatred and misunderstanding, take this as a personal journal entry; rather than a reflection on tourism and people.
Like many, I always have a hidden depth of expectation when being in a new location. Malaysia and Thailand were certainly no exceptions. Lands of must do adventure activities and travel culture etc. The rest of the generic blurb can be found on any tourist brochure.
Why then was I finding myself so frustratingly bored there?
Travel is what you make it?
Ah, the same age-old argument. Of course it’s true.
I can jump on a plane tomorrow, stop off in ten airports, and tell everyone I’ve traveled around the world. Maybe even broken a record or two – Just nod at these people, and possibly turn the other cheek.
I found myself trying to make up ways to create more adventure for myself in South East Asia. Random town visit with no guidebook. Trek off into a random bit of jungle in the mild hope of discovery. Urban exploration and city archaeology. All these things rang a very familiar bell. Isn’t this what people do at home in one form or another?
I sometimes think I’ve tapped into why the noose of familiarity tightens with all forms of lifestyle . Other times not.
Personal boredom, or something else?
In a hotel I see swathes of lazy( sorry – “designer”) backpackers out “adventure traveling”. Sitting back in wait for their tour pick-ups to arrive. Is it me, or is that just a charlatan affair? (source)
Or, if you are reading this, is this really adventure touring? Really?
Maybe it’s a case of an old school honorable term that’s been commercialized?
Or maybe it’s me who has missed a beat here.
I know there’s a problem when I feel this way. It’s easy to be disliked when you start to say these things like this.
So the answer is to find out why, and do something about it.
Add in the personal ingredient
We all have our own likes and dislikes. We have our issues, problems and personalities that effect many things we do. Travel is included. This year has been … well, as I wrote in my members newsletter a “Annus Horribilis”. For me at least.
On the road to recovery I thought about traveling back to Brunei, which I really enjoyed on a previous short break. Or even travel through Sarawak and down into Kalimantan. But, it just didn’t have the thrill in it for me. Moreover, there was no desire to even contemplate living in these places.
All I could think of was rice, sweat, humidity and more designer tourists. Something was very wrong indeed. Maybe being sick in this place has left a chip on my shoulder. Or a lingering extra burden to carry. Bitterness can eat you up, so it’s best to hit it straight on.
How to get the adrenaline pumping again
What was missing? Was it really just the recent dark burden of illness. Or was something else lacking?
I would lie in bed at night thinking about what would really get me feeling the wilds of life and travel again?
Sarawak, caving and jungle … hmm, no this is what I don’t want right now.
Head into Burma / Myanmar … No, the thought of more monks, crammed buses and rice didn’t appeal.
Look further … Vietnam … maybe … it’s cold, and I do miss that.
Australia? No, I still don’t get a feeling for the place. But the desert at night could be cold.
Then I felt a little surge in my blood. The cold … it brought back memories … Good ones. I was on to something.
And then I found myself smiling …
How to get up and go …
I booked a flight to Kuala Lumpur on Air Asia. Not a bad price but still. Then overland from Malaysia to Bangkok, the city with a big international airport.
My plan, walk into a travel agent and ask for the next flight out.
It was easier than I thought. I went straight into an airline office in Bangkok. Barring some obscure security rule I found two lovely ladies.
When can I fly next?
“Yes, it’s off season. Plenty of seats.”
Of course this all took me by surprise, and the reality was I didn’t want to leave that quickly. I had to write this post for one! And, more importantly I had my heart beating with excitement for the first time in a long time.
When such things happen, I’ve learned to savor the moment.
So, I booked for four days later. Got a paper print out. Went back the next day. Paid. Got a real paper ticket complete with tiny ink stamp. Return date … one year.
To feel good again
I was smiling for most of the next day. I emailed friends and let them know I was on the way back! I was going back to the first place I’ve ever mentioned here that really, truly gave me the feeling of home.
How much would have changed … I knew, as equally as my expectations were running high, that they could be shattered in an instant. But I didn’t care. I felt so good. My palms were sweating with excitement, and I was walking with a tall confidence that’s been lacking for a while.
I was going back to a place I once really never wanted to write about. The kind of place you don’t want anyone to really know is so great. Yes, I once thought like that. But things have changed. It’s no longer 2008. It’s the end of 2011.
The Mayan’s say this is it. No more after 2012. I say … just bring it!
One giant leap …
I want to meet some real travelers again. I want to meet the crazies I met before. The people who take up challenges and thrive on them. I want to hear real travel stories that campfires are still lit for. I want to take up my own challenge and make a place to live. I want to throw caution to the wind and join the elements for an adventure to the edge of the world.
I want to push my limits as a man again. I want to put out challenges and accomplish them or fall to a knee whilst trying my utmost.
I want old school travel. I want to see the worst on offer and the very best there is in the world.
I know there is something lying in wait. I came close to discovering it before. I will unearth it this time.
If we are but single grains in the sands of time. I will take my grain and make it shine in the clearest of skies. Hold it up for all to see. Standing proud in what I have and will accomplish.
This is one small step for me, but a giant stride for one man on a global quest!
I am still up a mountain … A scheduled article or two, as I make my way …
P.S. Apologies in advance for the lack of replies to comments. I will reply once I’m back online. But for the first time in while I am off the grid, and probably up a very cold mountain … and I must say it’s a rather refreshing way to start 2012 … enjoy!