The non-plan

Since I made my announcement a lot of people have been asking me where I’m going and what I intend to do when I’m there. The truth is, I really don’t know. I have a few ideas in my head about where I might visit, but nothing is set in stone apart from my first stop.

Yesterday, after a lot of deliberation, I booked a return flight to Bangkok.

Since I started giving my trip some serious thought a few months ago, I’ve considered a range of options which were mainly:

  • Starting off in South America – somewhere I’ve always wanted to go but have never been.
  • Flying straight to New Zealand and finding work. New Zealand is one of my favourite countries and somewhere I felt a strong connection with when I visited in April.
  • Finding work in Australia. Although I wasn’t a massive fan of Australia I know a few people out there and the wages are great.
  • Starting off in South East Asia and potentially teaching in Thailand.

Obviously, I decided on the last option, but I haven’t ruled out any of the others. When I left Bangkok in March I knew I wanted to go back. 5 weeks was not enough time in South East Asia and there was so much more I wanted to see. I also felt more comfortable with the idea of starting somewhere I’m familiar with. Add that to the fact that it’s one of the cheapest parts of the world to travel and it seemed like the perfect place to begin. Last time I went on a round the world trip I had every step worked out – tours booked on certain dates, flight times and a date to return to the UK and go back to work. With limited time to cover 4 countries I didn’t have a choice but to have a strict itinerary. That had it’s benefits as it made leaving a lot less daunting, but I couldn’t help but envy the people I met who could just travel freely with no commitments or return dates in mind. That’s why I’ve decided to give it a go myself. This time, I don’t need to plan.

But saying that, I am the type of person who likes to know what’s next, and I find it difficult to leave everything up in the air. So I do have a vague idea of what I’m going to do at the start of my trip. I fly to Bangkok on February 19th and arrive late on February 20th. I will then meet my friend Gary who’s flight arrives at midday on the 21st. He will stay in Bangkok for a week or so before catching his flight to Australia (I convinced him it seemed rude not to factor in a mini break in Bangkok on his way there!).

From there I have vague plans to spend some time in Koh Chang.

Image courtesy of iamkohchang.com

Image courtesy of iamkohchang.com

It’s an island I’ve heard a lot of good things about but I never got the time to visit last time I was in Thailand. Either that or I will hang out in Bangkok a bit longer (and no doubt do a lot of drinking on Khao San road dispersed with lying in the lobby of my hostel soaking up the air con) and wait until March 9th when Jess, one of my oldest friends, finishes her teaching contract. She did a TEFL and has been teaching in Bangkok since October with plans to do a bit of travelling before returning to the UK. Although I’m hopeful that will happen, it’s completely dependent on what she decides to do and if she has the finances and the time to do it. If she does then I’m hoping to spend around a month travelling through Cambodia and Vietnam with her. If not, I’ll probably do it alone. While I’m in those two countries there’s a few places I hope to visit:

Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia

image courtesy of paradiseintheworld.com

image courtesy of paradiseintheworld.com

The killing fields in Phnom Penh (I’ll save the morbid pictures of this until I’ve visted myself)

The beaches of Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Hopefully I will see a sunset like this! Image courtesy of imageloopphotography.com

Hopefully I will see a sunset like this! Image courtesy of imageloopphotography.com

Halong Bay, Vietnam where I plan to do a party cruise (They sound like so much fun!)

After that, who knows? I know I would like to go to a Full Moon party in Koh Phangan (I only made the half-moon party last time), and maybe visit the nearby islands Koh Samui and Koh Tao while I’m there. I would also like to spend some time in one of my favourite places in the world – Koh Phi Phi (as long as I can handle before my liver gives up on me!). But apart from that, I would like to visit destinations that are off the tourist trail – I’m yet to decide on those places and they will probably be based on recommendations I get along the way. I would also love to go island hopping in the Phillipines. Borocay looks absolutely beautiful and I imagine the surrounding islands are similar. The Perhentian Islands in Malaysia are on my to-do list too, along with Bali in Indonesia. But these are all just ideas at the moment. My only real plan is to make things up as I go along. What I’m really hoping is that I will meet friends with ideas about where to go and I can contribute my own and then tag along!

I am also doing a TEFL in January which will give me the option to teach in South East Asia and many other places in the world. I don’t know if I will use it or if teaching is for me but it seemed like a good back-up option. If I move on from South East Asia and decide I want to find design work somewhere then I’m likely to head back to New Zealand or Australia. But I also really want to visit South America, Central America, Canada and more of the USA amongst about a hundred other places in the world!

The thing that excites me the most (and scares me too) is that I could literally end up in any country – I’m not ruling anywhere out. I have a return flight from Bangkok booked and up to a year to use it (you can’t book a one-way ticket to Thailand) but it’s not the end of the world if I don’t. Ideally I would have liked to have just booked a one-way ticket but I have to admit I quite like having that return flight there as security. There’s every chance I will go for a month or so, realise it’s not for me and want to go home (although it’s doubtful). I can do that without losing out on money from things I’ve booked down the line and that’s a comforting thought.

As for how long I will be gone, that’s a question I can’t answer either. It’s just as likely to be 3 months as it is to be 3 years (I would imagine with visits back to the UK factored into that time). What I do know is that I will be returning eventually. I cannot imagine being away from my friends and family forever, they’re just too important to me, and ultimately it would break my heart to miss the birth of the children of my best friends or family. It’s something I know I would never do and I can’t see that changing no matter how much I love another country. The idea of being location independent is however, extremely appealing, and I’d never rule that idea out either (although I really can’t see myself reaching that stage).

I’m sure that in the next two months I’ll discover even more places I want to visit (I have a bit of an obsession with reading travel blogs for inspiration) but for now I’m just going to get used to the idea that I don’t have a plan. It’s actually pretty liberating not knowing what’s coming next!

If anyone reading this has any recommendations for other places I should visit in South East Asia, or anywhere else in the world, please let me know below!

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