This missive finds its way to you from the bottom bunk of an overnight train in Thailand from Bangkok to Khao Sok National Park.
If you’re one of the people that has seen my itinerary, you may be forgiven for wondering what the hell I’m doing here.
The simple answer is that I was bored.
The longer answer is that I was tired of travelling on my own, and since I was scheduled to continue to do so until the end of November, I decided to do something about it.
That something was a last second phone call to the organisers of my last tour and finding out what they had in the region that wasn’t a duplicate of what I already have planned.
What they came up with is a tour from Bangkok to Bali and that is where I am now.
As I say it was all last second, and it meant that I would have missed out on travelling to Borneo had I not also decided to leave Penang earlier.
Ironically, despite my desperation to get out of Penang, I will be there again for a day sometime next week. I will also be revisiting Kuala Lumpur, but that is fine with me as I like the place. I knew it would be coming up, so I’d avoided the places I was likely to see on the tour.
I’ll also be stopping off again in Singapore, but only really to catch a flight to Jakarta.
The big changes are that I will now be travelling through southern Thailand, and then into Indonesia which is somewhere I’d not planned on going at all. It also means that I’ll be crossing the equator three months earlier than planned.
If you look at my travel map, and then look at where I’m planning to go, you’ll reach the very real conclusion that I am all over the place in Aisa.
I met with my new group yesterday. With the exception of one guy, Karol I will only be with them until Singapore. Karol and I will then meet a new group in Jakarta.
It is a very different dynamic to the last group. Whereas before I was in the upper age group, here I’m one of, or if not, joint youngest as Karol is also 33. The others are a mixture of 40ish and into their senior years.
With the exception of one person, who is here with his wife, the guys are all single, the youngest, and we’ve probably formed a bit of a clique. This isn’t anywhere near as divisive as it sounds, as the other group members have so far preferred an earlier night whereas we have stayed out for a drink, a wander and a chat.
The truth is this is what I’ve been craving the last few weeks. A bit of craic with others.
I’m rooming with Tony. An Aussie, a few years older than me that has travelled the region before. I like the guy already as we seem to both have a pretty relaxed attitude to the travel, don’t mind roughing it a little and see it as part of the experience. That within 5 minutes of meeting me he asked if I fancied a beer at a bar he’d found didn’t hurt either.
Its a big upheaval in my plans, but I know already that it was the right choice.
My one night in Bangkok however has led me to think that if I had been in Thailand rather than Malaysia that I probably would have met other people. Whereas sometimes days would pass without seeing other people in my hostels, Bangkok was crawling with other travellers. I saw more within 10 minutes of sitting down for a pint with Tony, than I had in my entire time in Singapore and Malaysia.
Does this mean that I made a mistake in going to Malaysia? Not at all. I think it is a wonderful place, and lets face it, I’m going back.
Travel is in part about finding yourself, and I’m realising that perhaps I’m less of a recluse then I thought. That I do in fact need the company of other people. I do like time alone, but it seems that I need others around as well.
Tomorrow I’ll be heading into the jungle for a couple of days. I can’t wait to see what I find.