Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A short conclusion to my trip blogs

(Written the day after we got back. Posted much later.)

It was a wonderful 8 weeks away.

It all started with a meeting with my boss, Steve Bochen, at which we decided that I was no longer a good fit with the company. It was not planned. I had wanted to leave for quite a while but I hadn't found the right next thing for me yet. All I knew was that for the first time in my life I didn't know exactly what I'd be doing next, and that felt a little odd. I also had a little money in the bank, which made things not quite so scary as they would have been otherwise. This was actually my dream scenario, as I'd always wanted to go off on a longer trip, but had never been able to. I just hadn't thought that it would come true.

After watching a travel show about a year ago I had decided that I wanted to go to Indonesia. It looked like a great adventure. So that was to be part of the trip. But I also wanted some time to relax and think about my life. Everyone said that Thailand was a wonderful place, but I'd always avoided it, thinking it being overly "done". Perhaps there's a bit of ego in selecting a travel destination for me, wanting to go somewhere others don't, but still wanting to go somewhere warm and fun. This time however, with Indonesia already on the itinerary, it seemed like a good time to go to Thailand. The trip was set. We got our families' permission to be away at Christmas, which is not something I take lightly, booked our tickets through Aeroplan, and we were set.

Many people were shocked that we were leaving so quickly. They said that we were impulsive. It didn't feel that way at all. If felt like we'd been leading up to this trip for awhile, we just hadn't known it.

I've written about all of our experiences in this blog in detail, so I won't go into any of that again. Some bigger picture items instead -

  • Indonesia is a beautiful country with wonderful people, but it's sure not easy travelling. In fact, it is by far the hardest country to travel in that I've ever been to. It's cheap, but not if you actually want to get from A to B in a short amount of time. We met some people who had done a lot of traveling there. When we told them what we'd done in 4 weeks they were amazed. They'd done a lot of the things we'd wanted to do, but they'd had 4 months, and they still felt they'd only scratched the surface.
  • We feel like we only got to the easier parts of Indonesia. We wish we'd made it to Sulawesi, Sumatra and Kalimantan (Borneo). Those will have to be for other trips, and not any time soon. Maybe when I've bought my boat and have a lot of time on my hands.
  • My favourite time in Indonesia was on Gili Air. It's not particularly "Indonesian", but it was close to my idea of paradise. I was very happy there doing very little.
  • Yogyakarta is overrated. Jakarta is overly criticized.
  • Indonesian people are some of the hardest working, nicest people. Sure, anywhere you travel you might have a less than great experience, but overall they are terrific. I think that one of the most amazing parts of our trip was being taken in by the Sergeant and his family in Jember. It had nothing to do with scenery or tourism, it was just a simple act of generosity by someone who had never met us and never expects to see us again. I'll do my best to remember that the next time I run into a tourist that needs a hand.
  • Tourism to Indonesia has been killed by terrorism. It's tragic, because it's one of the best ways some of those people can rise about the poverty the engulfs the country. The odds of getting killed by a terrorist in Indonesia is probably less than getting run over on your way to work, so stop worrying so much.
  • Thailand was very easy to travel around. It's relatively affordable, and it's a very nice country. Interesting culture, good food, great beaches. Not surprisingly, it's busy in the busy season. It's pretty much what I expected it to be. Very few surprises. I'd recommend it to someone who hasn't traveled much, but I didn't love it. I don't imagine we'll be going back.
  • Even though you know it's going to happen in advance, and are ready to deal with it, it becomes very tiring being lied to. I'm tired of being told something is closed, etc. when it's not. This happens in most countries, but in Thailand I found it particularly exasperating.
After 8 weeks, I'm glad to be home. I think I was ready to come home after 6. I've always been jealous of those people who go away for 6 months at a time. It still sounds interesting, but it also sounds hard. I think that if I were to do that I'd need a home base, such as the aforementioned sailboat. (About 52' will do fine, thank you very much.)

I've had the opportunity to do a lot of thinking about who I am and what I want to do next in my career. Fortunately, or not, I have not had any grand revelations, perhaps just some realizations. They're a bit too private for a blog, but I can say a few things. I love the communications business and the weird nebulous thing that that is starting to include. I enjoy leading a team, and have realized that I'm pretty good at it. I need to give myself more credit for some things and perhaps less for others. And, in the end, my personal success, failure and happiness is up to me.

In the end, I am glad to have done the trip. No, it wasn't my favourite trip ever. I still think that that was Vietnam. But if I hadn't done it I think I'd have regretted it. Now, I've got that out of the way and am ready for the next chapter in my life.

Anyone know of any super-wicked-cool-fun-successful Vancouver based communications firms that are hiring?

No comments: