I’ve been on the receiving end of raised eyebrows and other such questioning looks when sharing my travel itinerary with a good few people. It seems that many cannot believe the extent of my planning.
For the record, here is the unabridged version of my planned schedule, my six-months of journeying written-up in one foul swoop…
January 13th 2010
Fly London > Bangkok
July 12th 2010
Fly Bangkok > London
…which neatly encompasses all my detailed plans so far. Further stages of planning will commence upon either A) spinning a bottle and venturing in the direction it points to, or B) asking the nearest dreadlock-garnished gentleman to notify me of somewhere cool and then following his directions to get there.
It’s OK though, for those of you who think I’m being a little reckless: I do plan on purchasing a guidebook. I just don’t have any immediate plans to read it.
On a serious note, there are plenty of things I want to see and do whilst travelling. I’m looking forward to sailing down the Mekong in a rubber dinghy, cycling through the grounds at Angkor Wat, doing nothing on a postcard beach in Ko Someplace, ziplining through the Gibbon trees in Laos, sailing through the otherworldly realms of Ha Long Bay, drunkenly running around in my pants during a stay in a hostel run by Australians, and many other adventures besides. But as far as planning them goes, that stuff can come later.
I can’t help but think that being on the road, as pretentious as that may inadvertently sound, shouldn’t be the same plan / organise / stick to schedule routine that plagues the average mans day-to-day existence back in his homeland. God only knows how close I came to becoming a complete mentalist when I had to live life by the clock in my ‘M’ days, constantly running around trying to claw back precious seconds to start the next task in time. I don’t want to be remotely like that when I’m travelling from place to place, not even in a mockingly-ironic sort of way.
And that’s the other thing: I’m not just doing this for the individual sights, or to see as much as possible. I’m on more of a slow-burner route. It’s the atmosphere I want to soak in, the more subtle ambience, the things you don’t get to admire from the coach window or the Grand Palace gift shop. If fitting loads in and staying on the go is the equivalent of the fast-food cheeseburger, then I’ll settle for kicking back and observing the sun set over the farmers grazing fields, whilst the young future cheeseburgers fatten up on…whatever it is that cows eat in Thailand. Some sort of rice, perhaps.
I guess what it really comes down to, for me at least, is that travelling feels like it should be more organic and spontaneous than sticking pins in a map and then following a predetermined route in order to successfully navigate from attraction to attraction. Some people like that level of planning. Some people have so many places they want to go, and so little time to do it all in, that their travels pretty much demand extensive planning and scheduling. I’m not criticising either method or reason, it’s just not the way for me.