Stage two, oh yeahhh…

After an unexpectedly lengthened stay at home, today I booked my flight to Thailand. I fly out from London on May 8th, stop over briefly in Delhi, and then finally touch down in Bangkok the day after. Woo.

I anticipate this part of the trip being more difficult for a variety of reasons.

For a start, I wasn’t too intimidated by Europe or (obviously) America and the potential language barriers because English is pretty prevalent in Europe wherever you go, and somewhat prevalent depending on where you go in the US… Anyway. This is not the case in SE Asia so much. I can point and, you know, speak loudly and stuff, but that’ll only get you so far.

Secondly, this is a much more alien and less developed part of the world than Europe and the US, for the most part. Now that doesn’t really bother me, as such, but it adds to the intimidation when being thrown into that alone. I actually knew an acquaintance who’s been out there for a little while who I was going to meet up with for a day or two to act as a buffer, kinda, but that’s fallen through as they have to move on elsewhere. A friend from school who I previously travelled the US with was gonna be coming out on holiday and meeting up for a brief amount of time too, but other commitments have led that to fall through also. Neither of these were remotely solid plans, outlines and sketches of ideas at best, and I wasn’t relying on them, so it looks like I’ll be travelling alone again. Cool.

And C, I actually have people (other than family) at home that I’m going to be sad to leave behind and miss an awful lot this time.

I repacked my backpack today, and managed to cut out a whole load of stuff from the packing list that I took last time. The benefit of experience and being able to confidently say “I never used that!” while throwing a roll of duct tape over my shoulder (though I’m actually still taking that because, well, you never know.) My pack can now be comfortably lifted with one arm, rather than being the two-hand-requiring monstrosity that it was before. I am aiming to get it down to airport carry-on luggage size if I can, but I reckon I’m aiming a bit off the mark with that, sadly.

There are no solid plans other than “land in Bangkok” so far. There are lots of interesting little counties sprinkled around Thailand in easy reach, so I’m going to try and add to my collection of one-for-each-country bracelets (left to right: Croatia, Italy, Greece, Bosnia, Tunisia, France, Slovenia, and America).

And on that note, I’m going to head to bed. Expect more updates soon. Oh, and I’ll still be keeping up with my duties over at Two Photos a Day, so do keep checking for awesome pictures every day!

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What’s going on?

I’m really not the person to ask.

I jest, I jest. People’ve been asking what’s going on and where I’m at/going and so on and so forth. So I’m here to update I guess.

The next few days will not be the most comfortable, or a lot of fun. Tomorrow morning I get up at 7am to catch a bus to hang out at Kos airport for between two and three hours before my flight to Athens. Kos airport is not a big airport. Once I arrive in Athens at 12:40, my next flight is at 7am… the next day. Count it. That’s 17 hours to kill in Athens airport. I’ve slept in Athens airport before, you’ll recall, and it’s not that exciting. I’m going to read, a lot.

After my second night sleeping in Athens airport (which is kinda handy, ’cause last time I scoped out some decent places to sleep) I catch a flight to Chicago, via Madrid. I’m not staying in Madrid, to clarify, it’s just a connection, but it totally counts as another country I’ve visited!

Yep, Chicago in the United States. I decided to take the ‘go to the US for a few months’ path. I have a couple of excellent friends there who’ve kindly offered to let me stay with them in their respective places for a while, offering various standards of accommodation up to, and including, an awesome sounding couch-fort-tent-base-pillow-thing. Oh yes.

There you go, you’re all caught up. Wish me luck in the airports.

Intentions part deux…

Hello there, my American readers. You know who you are, I know who you are, and I know you read this, at least four of you, if not five or six (Jesus, what happened with all the commas there?).

In the past while we’ve been talking and things like “sure, you can come visit for a while if you’re ever in the area” have been said, were they just platitudes, or did you mean them? Because I’m strongly considering the couchsurfing America for a few months idea, and as far as I know, y’all have couches, or chairs, or floors. Y’all’re also clever enough to work out where I’m going with this.

So, dear friends of mine, can I come crash with you for a bit, if I happen to be in the area? Answers on a postcard, and by postcard I mean Facebook, email, or comment here as you wish.

 

Oh, oh, and. Another intention is to add some more images to the random headers that the blog displays, so keep an eye out!

Intentions…

This post is called intentions for several reasons.

First, my intentions RE this blog’s immediate future. I intend to write up a post about people. Not anyone specific, but rather a post detailing thus far my experiences with people and groups of people, what I enjoy and do not enjoy, and my personal findings. There may be graphs. This might take me a while and I’ve not had a period of time in which to do it yet, but I do want to. I have a night to spend in an airport soon, so that may help with motivation. I also need to update on my general activities.

Second, I need to update the Photodump with a whole load of pictures. I need to wait, however, until I’m somewhere with a decent enough ‘net connection that I can do so. I also need to master those pictures first. Along the same lines, I need to update Pictures of the Long Road to Nowhere with a few images I’ve got in mind. This may take time, but it’s coming, so don’t worry.

Thirdly, my intentions for the continuation of my trip. I have, so far, four ideas. One has already been ruled out, so really three I guess. I’m detailing the forth just so y’all know where my head’s at. I emailed the hostel I stayed at in Dubrovnik to see if I could go work there for a few weeks once I get off the yacht, in exchange for room and board, but since it’s coming into off-season now, they don’t need the help. Alas. Second idea – do some WWOOFing somewhere in Greece for a little while giving me time to work out what to actually do. Third line of thinking – find the cheapest possible flight to the US that I can get, and couchsurf my way through America for a few months, maybe as far as Christmas. Forth idea, I guess, is fly to SE Asia somewhere – this one is well outside my comfort zone, and thus I am putting it off ’cause I’m all scared an’ shit. I also contemplated flying home for a week or so, but I don’t think I’m going to do that.

So… yeah. That’s what I’ve got in mind. Coming soon…

Lucky…

Aside

This post is gonna colour me in an unpleasant light, but never mind – I want to get something off my chest.

My being able to go on this trip that I’m planning and starting next week is not lucky. I am not so lucky for being able to go.

Now that that’s said, allow me to elaborate. I appreciate the sentiment when you say I’m lucky, and that really you just mean that I’m gonna have an awesome time and probably that you’re envious of my ability to go. But I am not lucky.

I have no mortgage. No debts to pay. No girlfriend/wife/children to consider. I had a decent job that paid well that I could leave and potentially return to a few years later. I have enough money to reasonably finance a trip like this with no financial hardship being necessary.

None of that is by luck – it’s all by design.

I could have bought a house years ago, taken out a loan for that nice car, found myself a girlfriend and settled down, but I did none of those things. I’ve had to save 50% of my salary every month for the last few years to be able to afford this trip. That isn’t luck, it’s discipline not to spend all my money on things I want, or need. It’s sacrificing a swinging social life and not spending loads on meals out and shows every weekend.

I resent being told I’m lucky being able to do something like this when it’s taken literally years of effort to not only earn the money it’s going to cost, but to then save it and budget my life around not spending it as well. If I’d won the lottery and thus was able to afford it, then I’d be lucky. But I didn’t. I know that’s going to make me sound somewhat indignant, but fuck it.

I’m not lucky. Call it… fortunate, certainly, but not lucky.

Finally Moving…

…is an excellent song by a group called Pretty Lights which I highly suggest you check out. The song is unrelated to the post, but the title is most definitely applicable.

So I’ve finally booked my first couple of journeys out of the country – the trip is finally beginning (see the link now?) I know so far I really haven’t explained exactly what I’m kinda intending to do, so this seems like a decent place to explain. Take a seat and lend me your ears… erm… eyes.

I’ll go into my background and why I do so love to travel another time and in another place, ’cause it’s kind of irrelevant right now. For the last two years ever since I returned home from an epic road trip around the western US I have had an unending wanderlust to travel again, and for a much less limited time. I started saving money every month to fund a much more elaborate trip, which is now upon me.

Initially I was just planning on flying straight into Australia on a working visa, staying there for the 12 months while working, and then figuring out what to do after that at the time. Looking into prices of flying straight to Australia, coupled with the prospect of going from one full time job back home straight into a different one in another country changed my mind on that plan somewhat. I’ve visited parts of Europe in the past, but only on occasional weeks here and there. The idea struck to make my way through Europe for a month or two, always heading eastwards towards an eventual end location in Aus.

Thus began furious reading of Lonely Planet guides as well as the always incredibly helpful Wikitravel. I came up with an approximate list of places I’d like to visit, and started to research the practicalities and costs of getting to, between, and staying in such places. Long story short, I came up with the itinerary here. I wanted to head over to Poland, Romania and a few other eastern European places, too, but the travel over there worked out to be far too awkward or expensive. Alas.

Now, if you look at that map and wonder just what the crap I’m thinking working my way around Italy rather than just going straight down the country… well. I’m meeting a friend in Naples for a few days, then we’re moving on to Rome for another couple of days. I have from the 19th of July when I leave until 29th August to get from home to Naples. I wanted to see Dubrovnik ’cause I’ve heard wonderful things about the place, as well as some of the other slightly lesser known European countries because they’ll be a) a lot more interesting than metropolitan western European cities, and b) a damn lot cheaper, and so the strange circling route was born.

During my research into what to do around Europe I checked out Float Plan which is a website that lists crewing opportunities aboard private vessels for anywhere from a few days to months at a time. Crewing a yacht is something I’ve always wanted to do as I love being on the water and learning to sail strikes me as an incredibly useful and interesting skill to have. Having read nearly all the listings on the site I emailed one of them and (again) long story short, once I’m done in Rome I fly to Samos to board a yacht for two weeks sailing around the Greek islands and the Turkish coast.

And… this is where I run a little vague. After leaving the yacht I fly to Athens because it’s a main hub, but from there, who knows? The only real rough idea I have in mind is to fly into SE Asia (Bangkok probably) and then visit a few countries out there before joining another friend of mine who lives on one of the Indonesian islands for a while. When I get bored of that, I’ll make my way over to Australia.

So. Now you have a little more of an idea about what I’m hoping to do.

Planning and the problems therewith…

Because therewith is totally a word. Shut up.

So it was a few days ago, and approaching the time I’d need to start booking my transport between places and the accommodations while I’m there. This, of course, is the time that the workmen doing some improvements to the street outside decide that it’s a great idea to cut through the cable that supplies internet and phone services to the entire area. This leaves me, helpfully, without internet access over the next three (so far and counting) days. I was told by the ironically named tech support that it’d take 24-48 hours to fix. 72 hours later it remains unfixed.

Now, I realise that people survived quite well in the days before internet access in every home, but I’m not living in those days, damn it, and thus this lack of basic communicational access crippled my being able to book hostels and transport as needed. In a desperate attempt to regain some kind of connection I went to a Subway to borrow their free Wi-Fi while I ate a lunch I didn’t need. Turns out several of the trains I needed to get have, in the time since the home connection was brutally severed, become fully booked and are no longer available, along with a fair few of the hostels I was intending to stay at (at least, at reasonable prices).

Well, shit. What do?

Well, what do is revise original plan and scrap a vast portion of it. So we’ll say goodbye to Bruges (this actually makes me rather sad), goodbye to Paris, Dijon, Geneva, and Zurich. I’m sure you’d have been lovely and changed my life in many and varied ways, but our relationship just wasn’t destined to work, so I’ll bid you adieu. However, instead we’ll welcome on to our little journey some slightly smaller places instead, so I’ll now be visiting Lyon (still), Clermont-Ferrand, Grenoble, Turin and I have decided to stop off in Bologna on my way to Venice, as well.

My trip now looks something LIKE THIS. The European leg of it, anyway, before I get onto the yacht in Samos, Greece.