Rough plans for Thailand

It’s only 11 days until my partner and I board our Air Asia flight to Bangkok. I’m starting to get excited to be on the move again exploring new places (and foods). This will be my first time in Thailand and my partner’s first time overseas.

We have 26 days in Thailand, which we will be allocating as:

  • 7-10 days in and around Bangkok, which will include hiring a scooter for some trips to Wat Rai Ban (elephant temple) and Wat PA Luang (tiger temple) and the Bridge over the River Kwai
  • 7-8 days around Phuket, which will include a boat trip to Ko Phi Phi and hiring a scooter to travel around exploring some beaches
  • 7-10 days around Chiang Mai, which will include some trekking and maybe hiring a scooter to explore the surrounding countryside before we fly home from Chiang Mai.

We’ll fly between Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai so that we aren’t rushed. This will make the logistics a bit easier with separate scooter hire in each city.

Lessons from the road

They say travel is about more than just seeing the sights and experiencing new things. It’s about growing as a person and discovering who you are. As I take a rest day here in Andong I am reflecting on my first three weeks in Korea and the first six months since ending the life I used to live.

Some things haven’t changed. I still can’t handle stress or pressure. I am still filled with self-doubt and when things go awry I tend to fret. That’s just a part of my make up. Anxiety is a problem I struggle with on an almost daily basis but I just have to work through it.

Other good things haven’t changed either. I love having adventures in the outdoors. I love cycling long distances to see what’s around the next corner. I enjoy hiking through the woods. I love pitching my tent in a beautiful location to listen to the night close in. And I love the smell of nature, even when the smell isn’t so great.

I have discovered that I like having a place to call home and that I miss the familiarity of the place I have lived my whole life. When I left I thought I was looking for a new place to settle but already I know that Brisbane is my home town and it’s the place I will return to. I may live elsewhere for months or even years at various points in the future but I am no expat. Expats seem to all have something I don’t. It’s not necessarily better or worse. It’s just different from me. It’s an ability to call somewhere new home and adapt.

I have also discovered that I don’t quite fit in with the long-term travelers I meet in hostels and campgrounds. I don’t know what it is. Perhaps time will make me one of them but I doubt it. Truth be told, I am not a big fan of the hostel scene. I like that it’s cheap accommodation and don’t mind sharing a room to save on costs. I enjoy a few nights out on the town with random strangers from time to time but only as something different, not the rule.

I want to see the world but on my own terms. I think that will be a month of travel followed by a month at home. Sometimes I will go overseas with my bicycle or to hike. Sometimes I will travel with my friend when we’ll explore new places together. And other times still I will use this flexible lifestyle I am creating to do some of the long walks and cycle tours in Australia and New Zealand that I have been eyeing off for years.

Oh and I have learned that clip in pedals are a nightmare. Much better to have a pair of hiking boots and flat pedals on my bike. That’s what I will save up for …

A change in style

My trip home taught me something important: I don’t want to be away from my loved ones for months at a time. I don’t want to miss months and years of birthdays or dinners. I want our relationships to be more than quick coffees squeezed into tight schedules. I enjoy my own company but still get lonely being an outsider just passing through. I thought I didn’t mind but then I returned home and wanted to see everyone (hence my getting caught up in the hustle).

When I first told my parents I wanted to go away and cycle the world for a few years my dad told me that he could see me starting out that way but backing off later to travel six to nine months of the year and live somewhere for the other three to six months. I told him that he was mistaken; but parents rarely are. I have since learned that my family had made bets between themselves about how long it would take me to come home. The timeframes varied from one to three months. It seems they were all correct.

After much thought, I have today changed my return flight from Korea so that I will now be returning on 27 October, rather than 24 November. But I do not intend to travel less; just differently. I’ll be home for about three weeks before I head over to Indonesia (probably Java) for a month. I will probably leave my bicycle at home while in Indonesia because I want to indulge in my other passion: motorcycle touring on small cc bikes. My mother, aunt and grandmother will all be in Indonesia at that time so that was the clincher for me changing my plans. I will catch up with them all while I am there.

I feel good about this change in direction. I like having a home again and knowing that I will be able to be part of my loved ones’ lives.

Ski trip booked

Those who know me well will know that I am a bit impulsive and tend to change my plans frequently. Those who don’t know me so well will learn this about me in due course 🙂

I have just booked a four-day ski trip to Mount Baw Baw for next week from Tuesday to Friday. I haven’t been skiing since 1997 though I have seen snow twice in the intervening years. So the next two days will see me try to cover the 170km from here to the nearest train station at Swan Hill. I have booked a storage locker in Melbourne where I can secure my bike near the airport for the entire period before I leave for Korea and also still have access to it if i decide to do another short tour before I leave. (I am not adventurous enough to cycle up to the snow – that’s what trains and buses are for).

Don’t worry … there will still be plenty of stories and adventures. After-all, I am going to the snow. But first, I have 170km to knock over to make this all happen.

Booked some flights – Asia

People often ask me where I am headed and I always just tell them that I’m slowly making my way to Melbourne at the moment. Btu that’s not the complete picture. I have now booked pretty much all my flights for the next 9 months of travel. Here’s where I’ll be going:

  • 21 September 2014 – 25 November 2014: Korea (cycle touring)
  • 13 January 2015 – 10 February 2014: Thailand (backpacking)
  • 8 March 2015 – 12 May 2015: Japan (cycle touring).

I might do a bit of domestic travel here in Australia over the summer between Korea and Thailand. But the international flights above have been booked.

It’s actually happening …

I can’t believe this is actually happening. Today I am flying from Brisbane to Adelaide with my touring bicycle and kit. I have dreamed of setting off to explore the world as long as I can remember and it seems totally surreal that it is actually going to happen.

I have until 21 September to make my way from Adelaide to Melbourne. The direct route is just 761km (472 miles) but I have no intention of taking the direct route. I will probably be in South Australia until about 12 August before I start making my way eastwards in ernest. I have to be in Anglesea for a 100km trail run on 13 September, so that commits me to the Great Ocean Road, which is an amazing part of the world.

On 21 September, I will fly to Seoul, South Korea. I have been given/loaned a set of guides for the Four Rivers Cycle Routes, which lead from Seoul in the north to Busan in the south and some areas in Korea’s west. I have heard great things about cycle touring in Korea so am excited to go explore that country. I love Korean food (or at least the food you find in Korean restaurants in Australia) but know nothing else about what to expect other than what I’ve read  on other cycle touring and walking blogs. However, I do have a learn Korean app on my phone so hopefully I’ll be able to speak a few basic phrases once I’m there. I will return to Brisbane on 25 November for about 6 weeks for work, Christmas and to arrange a visa for Myanmar.

I will book the Myanmar and Hong Kong travels (January – February 2015) once my visa for Myanmar has been issued.

But I have committed to Japan. I just booked return flights from the Brisbane to Tokyo for 8 March 2015 – 12 May 2015. Cherry blossoms here I come. I have been fascinated by Japan since taking Japanese language classes for two years in high school. I can’t remember anything but am sure some things will come back to me once I am there.

From Japan I will return to Brisbane for 2-6 weeks for work and family time before I take off to Europe.