For the past week I have been staying with my good friend Jess at her apartment in Bangkok, hence the lack of blog posts. The truth is I haven’t really been doing much and I’ve pretty much been living like I do at home but at an apartment in Bangkok. It hasn’t been my most exciting week away but it’s been a good learning curve.
When I quit my job and booked this trip I knew I would be coming away with an open mind with regards to living and working anywhere other than the UK. I even did a TEFL (Teaching English for a Foreign Language) course in preparation incase I wanted to work in Thailand. I also considered trying to pick up enough freelance design work to get by in a place where I’d only need to earn about a quarter the amount I do at home in order to do that. This week I’ve had a pretty good insight into what it would be like to live and work somewhere so different to home – and I don’t like it.
Earlier in the week I picked up a bit of design work, which was great – that way I could experience working on the road and where better to do it than in an apartment that was empty half the day (while Jess goes to teach at a local school). After two days spent indoors (bar going out for dinner etc) doing work and being productive I realised one thing – if I don’t like doing freelance and working alone at home then doing it abroad is no different. I still felt isolated.
I think I had visions of working on a beach somewhere where it’d feel different – more exciting. I soon realised that working outdoors in the sun really isn’t an option for me – I just wouldn’t be able to concentrate. So I basically ended up sat in the apartment on my laptop which is exactly the same as how I’d do it at home but without my friends, home comforts and the people I miss around me when I’ve finished. I mean don’t get me wrong it was great to earn a bit of money and I would definitely take on more small jobs while I’m away, but it’s just made me realise that working permanently on the road (they call it being ‘location independent’) just wouldn’t be for me. That’s something I would have had to work towards and probably would have taken me a while – now I know not to aim for it.
I haven’t ruled out ever working in another country but now I know it would have to be a regular 9-5 job and somewhere more similar to home (I suspected this before which is why I considered Australia and New Zealand). I know that living and working somewhere so different to the UK and with such a different climate just wouldn’t be for me – I would get too homesick. Maybe it’s just because I’m not a big fan of Bangkok (and I’ve never had any desire to live in a big, chaotic city like this one) but I have realised there is a big difference between living a travellers lifestyle here and actually living here. I suspect that, even if I made a new group of friends, if I ever settle anywhere and live a 9-5 lifestyle then I will just really miss having my old friends around. This week has made me think about that a lot.
Before I left people were full of questions about where I was going to go and what I was going to do – I would always respond that I really didn’t know and it would be something I would figure out as I went along. I knew I wouldn’t know how I felt about things like this until I was actually here. I would figure out if I wanted to work here and how long I wanted to be away, where I wanted to go and when I wanted to go home. I think I’m on my way to doing that. If I go home after 3 months having realised I just miss home too much and to keep the experience of travelling completely separate to the experience of working full time, then so be it.
But saying that, I think I will feel differently and a lot more positively about this experience when I’m back on the road again. At the moment I’m living the same way as I would at home so it’s hard to see why I’m here sometimes, but I know when I start moving around more and actually seeing the world outside of this apartment I will start to love it again. On Sunday Jess and I are leaving here and I’m starting the life of a traveller again. For 5 weeks we will travel through Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Northern Thailand. I can’t wait. It hasn’t been a negative experience staying here – if anything I have saved a lot of money and we’ve also had some good evenings shopping, going the cinema and having a few drinks. It’s also been great experiencing life here with one of my oldest friends who knows the city well. But mainly I think it’s been a positive experience for what I’ve learnt from it.
I’m a big believer in everything happening for a reason – I trust my gut instinct and believe wherever it takes me is what was meant to happen. Even though sometimes it’s not the most logical option, I’m usually pulled one way or another by it. So if just before I left my perspective on long-term travel changed and I don’t feel the same about it now I’m out here – then that’s how it’s meant to be. I’ll feel no shame in going home after a few months having come to that conclusion.
I suppose what I’m saying is, a lot of you will be happy to hear, that you might see me back in the UK sooner than you thought.