This trip has gone so fast, but it will be etched on the memory for a very long time. It is not for everyone, but it is definitely for us. I would urge anyone to consider doing this. We have had an absolute ball, met some truly wonderful forward thinking and genuinely interesting, sometimes awe inspiring people from all walks of life.
We have made a lot of friends, while sharing the experience of seeing some of the most famous and truly breathtaking ancient historical sites and structures, all the while wandering or trekking through some pretty spectacular rural and urban scenery. In the main, this has been in glorious technicoloured sunshine. Not forgetting the most important thing, the mostly remarkable, hardworking, and happy indigenous people of South East Asia.
I can understand the pressure you would feel when contemplating doing something like this, especially if you are in that age group with maybe a career to think about or other responsibilities, such as young kids or family to look after. But even without those considerations, it is still a pretty daunting decision to contemplate and eventually make. The costs are not really that prohibitive, not if you consider what most folk would pay for an annual blowout 2 week vacation. But in order to do this within a reasonable budget, you do have to exercise some restraint, live frugally, and eat and travel as much as possible just as the local people do. This is quite a rewarding experience as it is, and you will certainly get more of a feel for how these locals live and work, eat and socialize, and generally live their lives. I will put up some indicative costs up later, but in the main, apart from your flights over there, your jabs and insurance, you can easily get around on as little as $20/day including accommodation, food, and a few beers.
You can’t live like a monk forever however, and you need to be reasonable and honest with yourself. If you like a beer(s), a smoke (I know !), require superior accommodation like Air Con and Ensuite Bathrooms, or just like to indulge in a large food banquet every now and again, you will need to make allowances accordingly.
The biggest thing that stops most folk doing this however is probably that uncertainty of returning to real life and getting back into work on their return, especially more so in these trying times of global financial problems and austerity measures. Not just finding work, but also the thought of having to start afresh in a new job, probably in a less senior position, and maybe that feeling of having to start from the bottom again – so to speak. All I can say to that personally is – you are a long time dead. I recall that great line from the now classic movie, in my opinion anyway, The Shawshank Redemption.
“You have a choice – you can either get busy dying …. or get busy Living”
You just have to have the confidence within yourself, or the complete belief that things will fall into place for you on your return. On the other hand you can just be like me, and just decide it is something you need to get it out of your system and to hell with the consequences. I just felt life was going to fast for me and I really wanted to do this now. Luckily, Michelle was up for it too. So it was now, or never. If you really are that worried, do more saving and planning, and at least have an emergency fund or a fall back plan. Just do not let it paralyze your decision making, have no regrets in life, and live that dream.
The thought of the journey itself can maybe feel a little daunting, and a year or however long you plan, will always sound like a very long time. You are venturing into unknown territory with unfamiliar surroundings, cultures and customs, living out of backpacks miles and miles from your closest friends and family. You will have none of your home comforts and very little in the way of luxury, let alone privacy, while living on a modest budget and trying to get around these foreign countries while trying to overcome any language barriers. I can assure you it is easier than it sounds, and with a little time you will suddenly be accustomed to the lifestyle of the traveller, becoming so streetwise that nothing will faze you.
Once you make that initial leap of faith however – there is no turning back, and you will have jumped straight in the deep end. You have given up the “secure” job, the steady income, the familiar surroundings of home – said “Goodbye” to all your best friends and family, and turned your back on everything you know that makes you feel safe and secure.
On landing, once you feel the heat on your feet from the tarmac, the warm humidity, the sun penetrating your marabone, you will know you are in the right place. A million miles away, and a new beginning.
You are now an Adventurer. A proper Traveller, about to engage in a period of aestheticism, with the future before you laid out on a path completely unknown.
Prior to that, on leaving your home country and as you enter the airport, check-in your outsize luggage, and make your way to the departure gate, you will be lost in your own thoughts pondering what kind of life affirming adventures you are going to have, what great people you will meet and what great stories and tales they will have to tell. You will wonder what, if any, great stories you will similarly have to tell when it’s all over.
In the meantime, that last thought can be put on hold. That future point in time will feel a million miles away, because right now, you are taking the first few steps on a big long adventure. All the negative thoughts you had will be cast aside, all the worry and anxiety long forgotten. You will feel completely overwhelmed emotionally at the thought of all the possibilities in front of you.
You will, without doubt, get this overriding sensation of complete and utter freedom.
If you are anything like me, you will feel completely alive. You will feel like a kid again during the School Summer Holidays.
Just sit back and enjoy the ride!
The plan is …. there is No Plan!
In the meantime, just try to Keep The Sun On Your Back
Pete & Michelle xx.