Living in Ubud

We live here

For the last couple of months we have been living in Bali and learning that time here slips by very easily. So easily in fact, that part of me feels I should probably be alarmed about this careless drifting towards the end of my life, but the trouble is that I simply feel too relaxed to care.

The last six months have involved a lot of travelling, and seen us in India, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia and Singapore. But now, and with a deep and satisfied sigh, we have unpacked our suitcase and settled into a place that feels like “home”.

We are in the village of Penestanan, which is a suburb of the small and wonderful town of Ubud. Apart from a few excursions, here is where we stay until the end of September. Home for us is in a house with an unusual collection of quirky rooms, owned and run by the delightful Sudi and his family.

After spending a month in the downstairs jungle room, we have now moved up to the top floor. It’s a blissful spot, offering fresh breezes and stunning views. Everyday the local kids come to the fields to fly their kites. I watch them from our couch, marveling at both the designs (which are usually in the shape of giant birds and butterflies), and the fact that the kites are often three times the size of the child !

teblin-geckoWe do have housemates though ….. just like everywhere in Bali, we share our place with numerous geckos. These small lizards stick to the walls and ceilings and keep the room free from insects. They also have the habit of hiding behind household objects and leaping out whenever you move them (it’s a bit like living with Kato in the Inspector Clouseau fims). It’s a bit freaky at first, but soon becomes just another part of the fun.

Days here are very easy, very pleasant, and often beautiful in a myriad of quiet and subtle ways. We get up with the sun and breakfast on weetabix & raisins whilst watching the morning haze lift from the neighbouring rice fields. Jane soon walks down to the pool to do her hundred lengths, whilst I sit back and dream before braving the news on the BBC. An hour later, when Jane’s shift is over, I go down and swim my own set.

The pool is the main reason we chose to stay at our present address. Its a gorgeous place and most days we are the only ones who use it. Orchids from the surrounding garden trail overhead, dragonflies skim the water, and the local finches come down to drink and watch us swim back and forth.


The path down takes us by the house-shrine where Ganesh the elephant god (adorned in garlands of marigolds), sits in regal majesty before fresh offerings of incense and biscuits. My relationship with him is evolving; no longer just a stone statue, he has started to become a definite presence … some sort of living being that offers strength, wisdom, protection, support and good luck. I always stop to say hello and give my respects.


The sweet smoke from his incense often coils across the pool to mingle with the caramel-like fragrence of the frangipani flowers in the garden. As I reach one end of the pool, I turn to swim back and am greeted with the light of the morning sun streaming into the surrounding orchard, where bananas and papayas hang ripening in the trees. I ponder to myself that if this place smells like heaven and looks like heaven, then surely I must be actually be in heaven.

Of course its not really heaven. For a start, St Peter at the gates has been replaced by the Immigration Department who suspiciously questioned me about my intentions before they would validate my visa. However once you are away from the hassles of Indonesian bureaucracy, the exhausts from downtown traffic jams, and the dank wafts from its third-world sewer system, living in Ubud actually does feel pretty close to heaven on a regular basis.

Life falls into certain rhythms here. Balinese culture is heavily influenced by regular ceremonies that underpin peoples lives. Every six months there are important purification ceremonies. Every full moon, and every dark of the moon there are temple ceremonies. Every month or so there are important dedication ceremonies and every day fresh offerings are made to the gods of the house and fields. Last month was the annual “metal implement blessing day” which has taken on a modern twist as all the cars and scooters get covered in flowers and woven-grass sculptures.

Earlier this year when travelling in India, a friend described to me how once a year his town set up a speaker system to broadcast the recital of Hindu texts ….. without a minutes break …. for an entire week ! Although he wasn’t a religious man, he said that this event had the effect of “purifying the air” and the town felt clean for months afterwards. I personally think that the constant ceremonies of Bali must have a similar effect. There is something intangible here, something special.

When I have spoken to Balinese about this way of life, they have often rolled their eyes at the sheer number of ceremonial duties that take place. But they still live it and feel it deeply. To my own eyes these events have the very real effects of binding communities together and reminding people of the better angels of their nature.

Not only that, their religious events are also an amazing spectacle. Processions are taken seriously but are good natured, and colourful. Women dress in their very feminine finery and carry boxes of offerings on their heads. Whilst the men play a gamelan orchestra of gongs, xylaphones and drums or band together to carry large statues aloft on bamboo rafts. When we first arrived here there was a cremation ceremony for a important elder, where the whole village took part to see her off. Jane and I looked down from a nearby rooftop open mouthed whilst an extraordinary ceremonial “dance” unfolded below.    Please click on the picture below to see the video. 

There is no doubt that Ubud is quickly becoming modernised, but Bali’s deep and unique culture remains reflected in everything around. Family homes are a good example, consisting of numerous, stone-carved detatched rooms built around a courtyard. Each room has its own dedicated place and function, including some just for the gods to live and thrive in. It’s a way of representing an ordered and beneficent world. Appreciation of art and beauty are everywhere here, in the form of statues, paintings, wood carvings, fountains and flowers.

Another spectacle here is nature itself. The surrounding countryside is so outrageously lush that walking through the rice fields and river canyons of Bali is a journey into Green. Shades and shades and shades of it. There are certain things here that I love to do, and simply getting on my scooter and exploring the back roads is one of them.


There is no doubt that another of the things I love to do here is EAT. Food has become a central part of our existence and after more than a year of being without our own kitchen, we are enjoying the novelty of making our own food again. Jane does her amazing salads and I have become proficient in cooking peanuts, which we buy raw and gently heat up with salt and pepper. Better than any pack of KP, they make a nice lunch which we wash down with our own brew of iced rosella tea.

However Bali still remains one of the few places in the world where eating out is actually cheaper than cooking for yourself. Ubud is the home to at least four hundred restaurants and cafes, many of which serve outstanding meals, and each day involves excited discussions about where, and what we will eat. We like to try at least one new place a week as well as return regularly to our short list of favourites.

Gado-GadoThere is a nice place called Laba Laba, run by three beautiful sisters who live gracefully and greet us with peaceful smiles. Not everything there is to our taste, however through trial and error we have discovered they do one particular stand out dish. A filling and healthy plate of vegetarian Gado Gado with sweet peanut sauce costs just £1.70 and is one of the most delicious things we know.

Then there is Cafe Vespa ….. our local eatery where we go if it rains and don’t fancy the ten minute trip into town. It’s a popular hang-out and the tables are often filled with “internet zombies” who spend hours plugged into mac books, whilst nursing their single glass of water. However we always manage to find somewhere to sit and order two dishes of their amazing pasta with fresh basil and spicy tomato sauce.

La mienOur favourite of the moment is “La Mien” a Japanese noodle joint in the middle of town. Its a small, funky place run by a friendly bunch of young locals. It has traditional red lanterns hung outside, and a mural of manga-charecters inside. Undaunted by the complex menu, we first tried it on a whim, and immediately fell in love with the clean tastes and ultra fresh ingredients.

It’s one of those places where the food is so good that your stomach is thanking you for the next couple of hours. Its also a great place to sit and watch the goings-on in Goutama Street.

Ubud has a cosmopolitan street life. There are locals passing through on their way to temple; the men in sarongs and head-scarfs, the women dressed in colourful lace and balancing stacks of offerings on their heads, . There are numerous tourists from Europe, Japan, China & the States. The new arrivals clearly disorientated, the veterans confidently en route to favourite eateries. The ex-pats are easily identified by their nonchalance and “I’m an Ubudian” vibe as they cruise through on scooters and bicycles on their way to the next social meet-up. Occasionally dancers from the local shows hurry by in full makeup and golden headgear that look so dazzling that it makes us gasp. Then there are the street animals: dogs down below, cats up on the roofs, the odd rat flitting around the shadows and geckos waiting by the lights ready to ambush any insect the comes within range.

I confess that it is the women that I watch the most. Ubud is renowned (at least in my eyes) for being a town full of beautiful women. Balinese women are often extremely pretty, gentle, good humoured and an absolute joy to meet. That alone makes for pleasant people watching, but Ubud has also become a magnet for independent women from across the westernised world. Travelers, artists, students, entrepreneurs and writers. Ever since this town was made famous in the film “Eat, Pray, Love” they have come in numbers for yoga classes and new age lifestyles. Ubud offers a relatively safe and gentle environment. Some are just passing through but many others have settled down and made their home here. As we sit and eat our noodles Jane points them out to me as they walk on by………. but makes sure I don’t get too interested.

After our meal and a stroll around the block, we return home to knock up an exotic fruit salad and watch a film. The ride back takes us past Campuan Temple, which is alive and ablaze with light for the latest ceremony. Today is “Iron Fence Day” where people commit to guarding their minds against negative thoughts  ……….. I think we could all do with a bit of that.

Campuan Temple at Night

One Year In

Our first “Nomadiversary” came and went quietly. At the time we were holed-up in a strange room in Delhi and feeling pretty jaded with the whole thing. We were sick, it was cold, the place was grimy and the honeymoon period of travelling had worn off.

In short, we were wondering if we should give up this nonsense and go back home.

Now, it’s a month later and we are back on good form and blissfully installed into a beautiful bungalow on the shores of Koh Lanta in Thailand. All of which goes to show that there really is no escape, and the ups and downs of life are going to get you wherever you are. So right now we are simply lazing around, recovering from two months of hard travelling and catching up on writing blogs and books.


Compared to many people we have met along the way, we are without a doubt, lazy, lazy travelers. I have given up on trying to make the most of where we are, and found that I am happier leading a quieter existence, spending much of our time around our accommodation, cocooned from the often exotic and chaotic life that goes on outside. I have also given up reading many of the travel blogs out there as what other people are doing seems to bear little resemblance to my own nomadic life.

The adventurous part of my self feels a bit short-changed in this regard, and I do need to listen to, and act from it now and again. However my lazy, “ already been there and done it” self gets most of the say. There are a couple of reasons for this, not least being that exploring Asia can be exhausting and also that we remain on a modest budget that is mostly dedicated to comfortable transport and comfortable guesthouses and so little remains for funding adventure.

Another reason is simply that as I become seasoned (ie older) there are fewer new experiences and less fresh excitement to be had. However I have also noticed that my inner world has become richer and deeper. Consequently I don’t feel the need for constant stimulation from the world outside to keep me entertained. That’s my excuse for not going bungee jumping (again), or getting drunk with a bunch of idiots wasting their life (again), or heading into the wild to pit myself against nature and my own physical limits (more or less again). Instead I spend a lot of time thinking, reading, reflecting, and creating.

That said, when I look back through our photos and videos of the last year, I am amazed at just how much we have actually done. So, in case you are interested, here is a little flavour  of how its been for us:

Apart from our real home in Sidmouth, we now have two other “homes” in Asia. One is at Chrissies Hotel in India (see a previous blog entry). The other is at our travel hub in Kuala Lumpur where we regularly rent a city apartment from a charming Chinese guy called Alan. The Condo building its in is an interesting place where Russian mobsters run an “escort service” from the lobby. However our rooms are quietly up on the eighth floor where we can spread out and make good use of the excellent download speeds for stocking up on films and TV shows.


Unfortunately, the last time we were there we got caught up in a family dispute between Alan and his sister who also lives in the same Condo. On our arrival she threw a gallon of soy sauce over the door to our apartment in order to get at him, and he had to spend a few hours cleaning it up whilst filling us in on her increasingly erratic behaviour. The previous week she had tried to get through the door to his own private apartment using a chainsaw ! We never found out exactly what the issue was but felt somewhat relieved when the time came for us to move on.

The other adventurous aspect of Kuala Lumpur is choosing what to eat and drink. Every day we spend hours hanging out at “Chat Time” where we sip ice drinks and people-watch. Malaysia’s capital has an extraordinary range of characters and we anticipate the pleasure of bagging our favourite pavement table, supping pearl milk tea and iced caramel coffee and watching the parade go by.



The city also has thousands of eateries that offer a bewildering range of weird food; although finding affordable, healthy and enjoyable meals hasn’t proved too easy. Next to Chat Time is the infamous “Lot 10” food court, an underground cave of food stalls that offer such delights as Raw Fish Porridge or Shredded Intestines with Century Old Egg. We go down, smell the aromas, take a look and think …. Nah!


Previously we found the legendary Nagasari Curry House, that serves up cheap and cheerful Indian and Thai food. Situated underneath a giant mural of pop icons including Queen Elizabeth dressed up as a gangsta, it made for a great evening of curry and beer. Unfortunately on our latest visit we discovered to our dismay that the original restaurant has now been demolished and is relocated in a hot little room next to an open drain …. not ideal really.


Talking of curries and open drains, we have just completed our six month visit to India which did include some adventure. So much so really, that it’s actually hard to know where to start describing half a year in such a place. Each day you see, hear, smell and do things that you never would have imagined, and it leaves a jumble of impressions, memories, thoughts and feelings that are not easily processed.

Here are a couple things that remain in my mind:

One day Jane and I took a ride out to an obscure nature reserve in Rajasthan. The lake there is known for its crocodiles and we managed to spook one as we walked around the shore. More afraid of us than we were of him, he disappeared under a great swirl of water. Continuing on we found a small path leading away into the surrounding hills and decided to see where it went. Essentially it led us into the middle of nowhere, just a maze of scrub and shady bamboo groves populated by fierce monkeys that grimaced at us as we passed by.


As the light began to fade we decided it was time to retrace our steps and get back to civilization, it was at this point that we spotted this skull woven into a tree….. what the heck is it ? Is it some boundary marking, is it some primitive magick, is it an art installation, or is it just a joke or a thing done for the hell of it? What do you reckon?

The streets of North India are FULL of dogs and cows. They are also full of pedestrians, scooters, motorbikes, autorickshaws, bullock carts, donkey carts, camel carts, market stalls and inanimate obstructions of various shapes and sizes. Sometimes they don’t all fit together. One day Jane and I were caught up in extreme gridlock at a crossroads where everybody and everything came to a complete halt; packed in so tightly that nothing moved. When you are on foot and cannot move an inch for five minutes, you begin to understand what a billion people in one country really means.


The worst place for traffic was Jodhpur. The density of vehicles and pedestrians filling the narrow streets is horrendous at times, and made all the more scarey by the reckless speeds of motorcycle and rickshaw drivers. In five days there I saw two people get hit, plus two other high-speed misses where the potential for severe injury was shocking. It’s hard not to like Jodhpur due to its sheer aliveness, but I have never felt so vulnerable when walking the streets.

However it was in the small town of Jaisalmer that we saw the worst accident. Maybe in the hierarchy of things it wasn’t too bad as the victim was only a dog, but the memory remains strong and I can still see the incident in my mind when a scooter ran over him and broke his front leg. His scream of pain, shock and injustice was loud and long. It was the sound of innate despair that all sentient beings recognise and long to avoid. I remember the sight of him standing with one leg held high and dangling as he looked accusingly at the driver of the scooter. In a westernised country he would have been scooped up and taken to the vets for care and repair. But then in a westernised country he would not have been lying asleep, sprawled out in the middle of a busy road, oblivious to any risk. As it was he instantly became just another lame feral dog, limping through streets where he might or might not survive the next few weeks.


It’s natural and easy to feel deep sympathy for him, but then how to feel about seven year old children, dirty, shoe-less and uneducated, carrying great bags of empty bottles through similar streets ? How much should you allow yourself to feel for an injured dog, compared to children trapped in poverty ? What to think? How to feel? What to do? India poses so many questions and I still struggle to come up with meaningful answers.

Second to India, the country we have spent almost as much time in Australia, where we got to know two very different places. Firstly was the community around Maslins Beach in South Australia, where many of the older people settled in from Europe to become part of the expanding wine industry. Jacobs Creek (a favourite of British supermarkets) has its vineyards there, plus many other smaller companies. The beach itself is a sweeping bay backed by a wall of coloured cliffs. It has stunning sunsets and is notorious locally for being Australia’s first “nudey beach”.

Maslins Sunset with Jane for FBclothing-must-be-worn-for-web

The thing that really struck me about South Australia is how friendly and chatty the people are. In many ways its exactly how I expected Aussies to be, but experiencing incidents when even small children smile at you and wish you a good day is heartwarming.

The second place we stayed was in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast at a small and spectacularly pleasant place called Noosa. We were lucky to get a three month house sitting job at the remarkable Noosa Waters estate, where we were installed in a very large and comfortable house on the canal. It was there that we had the dubious pleasure of watching Australian television where local and national politics is portrayed in all its juvenile and gorey detail.

You can read more about Noosa in a previous post …. and click on the links above to see our videos of our time there. What I didn’t say then is that we found a huge difference between the people of Noosa and the people of Maslins. Whereas the South Australia bunch would happily tell you their life story while queuing up to buy a stamp, many of the Noosa bunch would rarely say hello, or even look you in the eye, let alone get chatting. The social contrast between the two areas was huge and despite its pleasant environment, when the time came we felt ready to be moving on to experience a warmer vibe.

Before we left on our travels, I envisaged that life in Asia & Australia would be slower, easier and more engaging than the day to day lives we led in the UK. In some ways it is, but the greater reality is that cultural and language barriers pose endless challenges that need to be overcome every day. Finding suitable places to eat & stay, booking flights, learning about visa regulations, staying in budget and staying healthy all take a great deal of time and effort.

After a year of living like this we have discovered that our prior and naive imaginings of living as if we were on a long holiday were not at all accurate. Having said that, it’s still much better than working in toxic jobs and slouching through another grey and damp British winter. So despite the challenges, all in all we have had a wonderful year ….. and look forward to more.

In a couple of weeks we head back down to Australia for another visit to Adelaide and Maslins to catch up with family and old friends. After that we have planned a return to Bali where we can join the huge ex-pat community there, settle down at last in one place for a while and get into some approximation of normal life. Less adventure, but also less hassle and more fun.

Ubud-coconut-nutter-2 Ubud-coconut-nutter-1

A Return to Pushkar


Hello and Happy 2015.

So here is a new post to welcome the new year … in another new place. Right now I am sat next to a small window overlooking Lake Pichola. The pleasing sounds of children playing happily drift over from a nearby housing compound and mix with the music from a rooftop restaurant.

It’s taken a little while for me to get into the vibe of Udaipur. We got here four days ago and began our stay at another guesthouse tucked away in the back alleys of the old town. On the face of it, it was a nice place. Clean, comfortable, lots of local atmosphere, but we didn’t feel good there. Our experience wasn’t helped by the neighbour’s horrendously amplified singing and ranting speeches, celebrating until 2.00am; but worse than that was the atmosphere of the family that ran the place. I don’t know what was going on but there was sulks and scowls and a general depression that seemed to spread to all who stayed there. After three days we’d had enough and relocated to a different part of town. Its a few pounds more per night but the room is twice the size and the staff smile and wish us good morning.

After eleven months on the road, staying at numerous hotels and guesthouses, we have learnt that human warmth counts for a lot. It can make or break our experiences anywhere we go. The previous three places we have stayed have been as heart warming as anyone could hope for and consequently we have been having a ball.

We are now half way through our Rajasthan tour, and I confess that during the planning stage I had some doubts about what it would be like. Its been thirty years since I was last in this part of the world and since that time I have heard from many people about how much hassle it was, about all the scams, the traffic, pollution, crowding, and abusiveness.

After arriving here five weeks ago, it’s true that the traffic, muck and fumes can be a bit fearsome in places, but that’s just a small part of the whole and the rest more than makes up for it. I also admit that I would have liked it a bit warmer. Prior to flying up here we knew it was going to be colder and so on arrival we quickly invested in some shawls and hats for extra insulation. They were soon followed by Henry our electric heater who we smuggle into our guesthouses to stop us freezing at night. Thankfully the days are generally sunny and warm …. we are mainly in the desert so that’s what you get.

Jane-in-Jaipur-Auto Henry-the-heater

You know, Rajasthan remains an amazing place. Some places are touristy (Udaipur is a good example and actually looks more like Venice to me!) but five minutes in any direction takes you back into authentic India, and thirty minutes out of any town takes you into a land of enchanting desert and tribal villages. I am so glad to say that it is still a remarkable area and I want to talk about a couple of places we have been to over the next few entries but for now I will be focussing on just one:


Pushkar has been a bit of a landmark for me. It was a place I travelled to as a nineteen year old hippy back in 1984, and it went down in my personal mythology as the place where the world revealed itself as a far more exotic and engaging place than I had previously imagined. Soon after arriving I found myself staying in a tiny octagonal room in an old palace on a holy lake. Each of the room’s four windows had a completely different view and I spent hours smoking ganga and gazing out of them; redefining my view of the world.

It was from that place that I met Mike from Melbourne and we set off on a string of backpacker adventures before moving on and losing contact. In the decades that followed I sometimes wondered if I would ever go back to Pushkar and so when the chance came I took it.

Pushkar town has three distinct elements to it. First and foremost it is a holy place of Hindu pilgrimage. The town doesn’t allow any meat or alcohol inside and is built around a small lake that has mythology woven into it, and where pilgrims come to worship. The second element is the western tourists, it attracts a lot of old stoners, spiritual seekers, modern travellers and sight seekers. There are whole roads of shops and cafes dedicated to their needs and their money. Thirdly there are the locals who live out their daily lives, earning a living, raising children and buying groceries. All three elements live happily side by side and it is an interesting mix.


Pushkar-Sadhu-for-web-by-Chris-Bailey Pushkar-Woman Pushkar-people-1

We stayed at one of those heart warming guesthouses I’m talking about, where Papuji the Rasta owner (yes there are Rastas in India) made us quickly feel at home. Located out of the main throng it was a relatively quiet place with great views of the whole town, and cost us an affordable £7 a night. This left us a little extra money for some adventure and so I did my favourite thing and rented a Royal Enfield Bullet for a couple of days.

Pushkar-Bullet hdr Jane-on-the-Bullet

Papuji told us of an unusual “Baba” (Indian Holy Man) who lived out in the hills. Many of these holy men have a hallmark way of devotion or practice and this man’s approach is by eating only potatoes. Yep …. this guy has survived by eating only potatoes for the last twelve years! Not surprisingly he is called “Aloo Baba” (Potato Baba). We had to go see him.

Standing on the rooftop, Papuji pointed to a distant hill, saying “go beyond that and then turn right at one of the villages, Aloo Baba lives in a cave further out”; and that’s how we set off.

Once beyond the hill, the road emptied of traffic and we blissfully chugged along passing occasional huts nestled under barren hills. At one point I stopped to take a photo of one of them and a young girl spotted us and came running. Her name was Seema, due to a lack of language on both sides, all I can say is this is where she lives and this is how she looks, and we probably made each others day 🙂

Seema-2Seema's-Home Seema-1

A few wrong turns and two hours later we made it to Aloo Baba’s cave where he warmly greeted us and invited in for tea and snacks. He doesn’t eat this himself but prepares some bread (baked rock-hard in a fire) accompanied by some fiery vegetable curry for any passing visitors. The cave contained a small spring dedicated to Shiva and next to it was a second cave for meditation. It was a peaceful, happy place that was clearly liked by locals and visiting hippies alike. Due to the decorative spray paint murals, it wasn’t quite the spartan desert abode I had expected but it was a unique and thoroughly enjoyable experience all the same.

Alloo-Baba wild-peacocks

He told us of an old Shiva temple further down the road, so we said farewell and fired up our old Bullet again, setting off along a rough track passing flocks of wild peacocks and desert monkeys. It didn’t take long to reach there and again it was a quiet, simple place that Jane particularly liked. For me the best bit was the ride which was simply gorgeous.


At the end of the day we returned under a setting sun, passing through villages where the women walk to the local well and carry the water back in large pots balanced on their heads. The men shepherd goats and wear spectacular coloured turbans. This is Rajput territory and the people are proud.

Rajasthan-Shepherds Rajasthan-girls

Aside from the desert, there was one other place I wanted to see in particular …. my old octagonal room. Due to the passing of time and my original fuzzy mind, I only had vague memories of where it was, and it took a little while to find. However after some searching I recognised the old place and with a careless shrug, the security guard let us in to explore.

I remember it was well past its prime thirty years ago, and these days most of the building is deserted and beginning to disintegrate. Gingerly picking our way through the grounds and up some old stairs, I finally found room 214 which is now a dusty and forgotten store room. Surprisingly, revisiting the place proved less emotionally significant for me than I had expected. I recognised it alright, and looked again through the windows, but it didn’t spark many memories or lead me back into old mind-states. However I did feel it closed a loop in some gentle and intangible way.

Room-214-@-Sarovar-Hotel-Pushkar-2 Room-214-@-Sarovar-Hotel-Pushkar Pushkar-Gateway1

I wondered what the me of today would tell the young hippy that lived in that tiny room all those years ago. I thought and thought on this and realised that actually there was not much I could say that would make any difference to the course of his life. I do like to think he would have been very happy to know that I would come back three decades later as a married, middle-aged man, searching for him and wishing him well. I’m sure he would have been impressed to know that the me of today has found some level of freedom and continues to travel in a sustainable way in the happy company of a woman I love.

Nine Months In

India has a certain smell. Actually it consists of a vast range of smells, many are amazingly good and some are appallingly bad, and together they blend into something distinctive that I will always associate with this country. However beyond this daily nasal assault there exists something else. A certain special fragrance like a warm, earthy perfume mixed with spicy home-baking mixed with a hint of jasmine. It’s not a constant experience but something rare that wafts in on the breeze now and then. It is a heavenly smell that is easily swamped by baser elements but it still survives and it is most noticeable in those special places that still have magic.

The place we are living in at the moment has plenty of magic, and I sit and breathe in that heavenly smell every day. I am happy. Really happy.

Chrissy-Hotel-2-for-fbChrissies Hotel has been part of our personal history for nearly a decade but I had forgotten just how unique this place is. I lost sight of it in my mind during all the upheaval of the last few years, where many other things clamoured for my attention and response. Now that we are here again, I realise just why this little hotel in a remote part of South India has won a place in my heart and how it lives in my dreams.

It is owned by our dear friends Adel & Chrissy, and we have been blessed by Adel’s generosity and hospitality many times over the years. We started staying here as guests. Now we are family and Chrissie’s is our home for the next couple of months.

Staying here is like a dream. This area is high up in the range of hills known as the Western Ghats and is famous for its spice plantations, forest reserves and tea fields. The hotel is only a short walk from the small town of Kumily however its real beauty is that the building is set amidst the fringes of the forest, and that makes all the difference in the world. Instead of having to go out trekking to see wildlife, all you have to do is chill out on your balcony and wildlife turns up every day to look at you!


Our room is level with the tree tops and the canopy leaves are close enough to touch. We spend a good part of each day just watching the natural world come and go. Of course there are birds of all types. One or two have tails of long and elaborate streamers, whilst others are bright red, green or yellow; but our favourites are the Hornbills. They may be drab grey in colour but they have an amazing kookaburra-like call and a presence about them that makes them fascinating to watch. Curious and shy in equal measures they like to see what we are up to, but quickly fly off if we pay too much attention to them.

Not surprisingly there are also insects here too, and in many ways we find them the most impressive of all. The butterflies and moths come in all sizes and patterns and are often spectacular. We saw a stunning butterfly yesterday that was as big as my hand, with a chunky bright orange body and irredescant blue wings.

leaf-insect-for-webHowever as spectacular as that specimen was, it’s the ones that are masters of disguise that really fascinate me. There are numerous insects here that look like twigs, seeds, bark, sticks and leaves. The only time we notice them is when they break cover and land on something man-made, even then it can be hard to tell if some innocuous looking bit of plant is actually an animal until it suddenly sprouts legs and walks off !

Jane has greatly impressed me with her tolerance of the creepy-crawlies. She rarely gets phased and didn’t even complain about the super-fat cockroach she found in the toothbrush bag. However there is one particular critter here that she doesn’t like and that is the Cicada. They look like giant horseflies (ie as big as a finger) and often visit at night, making clicking & buzzing noises as they fly in. That said, I also get requests to carry out random evictions such as when she discovered a huge stick insect that had stuck itself to the bathroom door, or the muscular praying mantis that was watching her in the lounge.

Despite the huge variety of exotic wildlife here, there are two species in particular that make their presence felt. We live with monkeys. Two sets of them; namely the Macaques and the Nilgiri Langours.

The Nilgiris are particularly impressive. Large, muscular, agile bodies covered in black fur and sporting blonde hairdos, they come leaping and swinging in through the trees. Far shyer than their macaque cousins they mostly keep a comfortable distance away from us whilst peacefully feeding on the leaves and jack fruit in the forest around us. The leader of their small troop is a huge alpha male who we call “Blondini”. If he stood up straight he would measure five foot high and his whooping call can be heard across the entire valley. One of his favourite passtimes is leaping at full force from the trees onto the roof of the restaurant which results in a large “Boom” that asserts his authority as the top boss in the area. Just how the plastic roof withstands the repeated impact of a ten-stone monkey remains a mystery to me, but so far so good.

Our most memorable meeting with Blondini was when we were having breakfast one morning and he decided to drop in. Jane sat open mouthed as he suddenly appeared on the parapet next to me. He then leapt effortlessly across the entire width of the café to land on the opposite wall where he sat and observed us for a while before launching himself back into the forest once more. The speed, agility and power of the Nilgiris is quite literally awesome and it was thrilling and frightening to be so close to this unpredictable animal.

Nilgiri-Langour--for blogNilgiri-Langour-2-for-fb

The macaques on the other hand are probably better described as awful rather than awesome.

They are without a doubt the most entertaining of all the animals here. Generally much smaller than the Nilgiris but what they lack in strength they make up for in numbers, intelligence and brazenness. They come swarming into the grounds looking for food and mischief. When they leave the area generally looks like a bombed out latrine. As unsavoury as their habits can be, Jane and I love watching them hang out.

Unlike the Nilgiris, the macaques get a lot closer to us. Close enough to touch and for me to take some wonderful photos. Living in the same space also allows us to get acquainted with the different members of the troop. In all there are about twenty of them with a lot of juveniles in the gang. There are three youngsters in particular who like to stick together, and I have had some magical times sneaking up on them and watching their adventures.


The other day we were sat chilling on our balcony when Jane heard a noise from our kitchen. We both went to investigate and found a small monkey had snuck in through another door and pulled the bin bag out of our kitchen bin. The bag was bigger than the bloody monkey, and it was amazing to see him pick the whole thing up and run with it across the floor and then jump up on top of the balcony railing. Thankfully I managed to snatch it back before the entire contents were emptied out and strewn across the garden below.

Yawner-for-fbMacaques are great opportunist thiefs and we soon learnt that we need to keep our doors and windows shut whenever we’re unable to guard them. However we have also found out that their level of intelligence enables them to operate at higher levels of crookery. They have the ability to observe, analyse, plan and work together in teams. This often involves one of them providing a diversion with “endearing” monkey antics and then when our attention is taken the other little bastards make a move to sneak into the room and ransack it. This happened the other day when a sweet looking littl’un turned up carrying a large leaf in its mouth, whilst I was busy photographing it, its companion managed to slip around behind me and was just about to enter the bedroom when I noticed and stopped it. We were lucky, Adel has told us many stories of how variations of the same trick have resulted in successful raids where mobile phones, spectacles, clothes and medicines have been stolen from rooms.

Life here is not all monkey business. We have also been engaging with the ancient Keralan tradition of Ayurveda and enrolled for a course of massage treatment. Every day at three o’clock our van pulls up and we hop on board for the bouncy five minute journey to the clinic. There we each go into separate  gender rooms where I get Pradeep and Jane gets Celia and they get us oiled and massaged to within an inch of our lives. Two hours later we return to our hotel where we melt into a state of Zenness until its time for supper.

One thing about India is that if you know the rules and pick your places, you can eat extremely well. Some, if not most of the best meals in my life have been here and this year we have been really spoilt. Luckily for us Raja the chef has returned to Chrissie’s Hotel and he is a man with real talent and skills. A new menu has been developed for the Café and we have been doing our part as “taste consultants”. Actually we have felt like judges on Master Chef as various banquets have been laid before us and we have been invited to eat and give feedback. Easy to do when everything is delicious.

By way of giving something back I have been getting creative and designed the corresponding menu booklets in Photoshop. I confess to feeling very proud when fifty menus returned from the printers and are now being handed out to all the customers.


Together we spend our days working on our respective projects; Jane on her book and me on my photos and videos. We relax, we chat with the staff and we meet the varied guests. When we are not getting massaged we go for leisurely walks around the town and surrounding areas.


Another blessing here is the hotel’s yoga room  where I often go to continue my taichi practice and meditation. At last I have real space to think and do a little reading, some reflection and lots of appreciation for how good things are. These are how my days go, with the nights often involving some great chill out sessions with Adel and T20 cricket or listening to music. Finally Jane & I settle down to watch an old Twilight Zone or Hammer Horror before retiring to bed.

Life here is good.

Six Months In

So here we are coming to the end of a surprise three-month stay in Australia.

Neither Jane or I expected to be where we are right now but thankfully one of the rewards of our new lifestyle is having the flexibility to embrace opportunities as they arise.

Back in May, just as we were leaving for Bali, my cousin asked if we would return to Australia to look after their home while they went abroad for three months. The request came out of the blue and required a major readjustment of our plans, but as it allowed us to strengthen our finances and provide a comfortable space for me to reflect and for Jane to write her book it was too special an opportunity to miss. Not only that but it’s a fantastic house located in perhaps the nicest of all places in all Australia.


And to top it all we are living in Noosa Waters where life is graceful, very comfortable and very easy.

Told you it was nice

Told you it was nice

Blue water is everywhere. The town itself is built around a river, an estuary, a lake and six separate beaches making it a haven for surfers, boaters and fishermen. Australia’s most popular national park is ten minutes away and has a selection of great walking trails. There are no sharks and no crocs but plenty of dolphins and the occasional whale. However most noticeable of all are the wide variety of exotic and noisy birds that keep us enthralled.


Rainbow Lorrikeet

One hour before sunrise the large flock of Rainbow Lorrikeets that roost around the corner, start to stir and get moving. They are very colourful birds that never stop chatting to each other and they fly over the house in great noisy waves. This is the signal for the rest of the birdlife (and us) to wake up. As Jane and I snuggle in bed we listen to a range of bird calls and wait for our particular favourite … the Pied Butcher Bird. It looks very similar to your average Magpie but is blessed with a beautiful, clear, melodious whistle that sounds very human-like and happy. Its a wonderful way to start the day.

Living here has been a great example of what I was hoping for. In the years preparing for our trip I came across the concept of “Slow Travel” which essentially means foregoing the lure of rushing around trying to see as much as possible. Instead you settle into a place for a few months at a time, getting to actually know a few people and allowing the place to gradually open up around you. You might not cover as much ground, but the Slow Travel approach does have its own benefits.

We have gotten to know some lovely people in this area including Greg and Kerry over the road who treat us like family. We have also been able to explore some of the lesser visited places such as “The Hinterland” which I guess you could say is the green buffer zone between the sapphire blue coast and the dusty red Outback. The Hinterland is actually a long strip of rolling hills and valleys that has its own climate and feel. Every couple of weeks we pack a picnic into the car and explore another section of this beautiful area that often has quite a European vibe ….. that is until you step into the remaining pockets of original rainforest which really have a look and sound all of their own.


Slow Travel not only allows us to engage more with the local area, but it is also a much cheaper way of travelling. It cuts down on transport costs, allows us to negotiate better rates on accommodation and find out where the best deals in town are. And believe me ….. when you have given up your jobs and existing on a modest income, then financial management becomes a high priority.

Consequently we are very grateful that this period of house-sitting has enabled us to gather our finances for our next round of plane tickets and insurances. I am also very glad to say that one of the real successes of the trip so far has been our financial discipline and the joy we get from actually being able to increase our savings rather than fritter them away. However as any pessimist will tell you; every silver lining has its cloud and I have to say that the savings part has come at a price ! Our commitment to use this time to save as much as possible means that we have missed out on a lot of the joys of Noosa. It would have been great to learn to surf and to hire boats for the day or to go out whale-watching or even to spend more time hanging at the local coffeeshops. But sacrifices have been made !

we haven't done this :-(

we haven’t done this 😦


We often have to remind ourselves that we can’t afford to spend like we are “on holiday” and that we need to see this as our day to day life.

 ....... or this

……. or this

However I must admit that some aspects of our daily life have certainly improved over the last six months. Maybe best of all is that we have become our own masters; we have few obligations, we answer to no one, we live to our own rhythms and for the first time in a very long time …. we have time.

It is this luxury of Time that I missed so much when I worked at full-pelt, five days each week. Now …… at last …… I have some space in my mind again. Space where I can reflect and create …. and that is exactly what I have been doing for the last three months. In my last blog entry I wrote a bit about my inner experience of struggling to let go and heal from the stresses and traumas of my old career. Consequently I have taken this time to really engage with this and reflect on all the positives and negatives of my old job.

Becoming an OT was a huge deal for me and despite getting to the stage where I never wanted to do it again it has taken a lot for me to be able to let it go. This letting go not only involved a psychological shift but also a very real-world action of cancelling my legal registration. Once you do that, it becomes very official and doors slam shut. So it did take me a while, a lot of honest reflection and some important decisions before I could really make my peace with it ….. but shortly after my forty-ninth birthday, I did make that final step and I set myself free.

It definitely feels like a big leap into the unknown but I tell you I do feel good about it. A little scared for sure … it’s not easy giving up a career that provides status and security …. but in the main, my overwhelming feelings are simply those of accomplishment and relief.

That in itself has been a big thing for me, but I found that one thing then led to another and alongside bringing closure to my old life, I have been working hard on designing a new one. Essentially I have really spent this time investing in myself.

Some time ago I came across a range of personal development cds and books by Jim Rohn, Brian Tracey and Jack Canfield. It’s all very “American Dream” orientated but I found that if I disregarded the materialistic hype, the actual principles and techniques they teach are very very helpful in getting me to appraise and steer the course of my life.

So I returned to this material with a real focus and over the last three months I have been asking myself …. and answering a series of questions such as:

  • What are the most important things to me ?
  • How do I want to live ?
  • What do I want to do with my life ?
  • What do I want to achieve ?
  • What are my expectations of life and myself ?
  • Do I honestly expect to succeed at new and difficult challenges ?

It actually took me about six weeks for me to answer these simple but surprisingly difficult questions in an authentic and useable way. It has taken me another month to draw up a set of eight primary goals that I want to guide my life over the next few years. Goals that I can live in real harmony with, that inspire and nurture me and that will bring some real benefits into my life. Should be Good.

So we have some interesting times coming up. We return to England for a short break in a couple of weeks where we get to see family and friends and spend time in our favourite places (ie. Sidmouth, Devon and Sussex) ….. After that it’s six months in the glorious mad house of India.

Three Months In

There is a large spotted gecko living behind our fridge. I call him Steve. If I press my left cheek up against the kitchen wall and peer into the gap along the side I can see a large fleshy foot stuck to the back wall, the rest of him is hidden. Steve is about ten inches long which is a giant in gecko terms and he has such a loud call that I instantly wake up when he launches into his brief but impressive morning chorus. If you imagine a squeezy dog chew with a deep baritone note then that is what he sounds like.

Steve is not the only lizard that we share space with. There are any number of much smaller geckos in our kitchen and bathroom that all sound like chickens. And just this morning I spotted a remarkable chameleon-like chap in the garden. His bright green colour matched the surrounding banana leaves so perfectly that had he not fallen from a tree I would never have noticed him. I’m not sure why he fell out of a tree but by the time he had regained his composure I had got within three feet of him and was able to marvel at the elaborate crest that ran from the top of his head and along half his spine. He was the closest thing to a dragon I have ever seen. We eyed each other up and down before he shot off into the undergrowth quicker than lightening.

Forest MonkeyBali is a wonderful place to spend time and to say that it is lush is a significant understatement; essentially it’s the full tropical experience. Every day we encounter new plants, new colours of butterflies, new exotic birds and new exquisite flowers. In the day we often go monkey spotting. Every evening we walk back to our villa picking our way through a patchwork of rice paddies that are alive with frogs and fireflies. Of course Bali is not all about the nature and environment, but I am delighted to say that the people we have met so far are friendly, gentle and very often charming, and their culture is rich in art and the kind of religion that seems to nourish rather than bind peoples souls. No place is perfect but for us Bali is often blissful and we love it.

I wish I had come here earlier but then I don’t know if I would have been able to tear myself away and have the inclination to see other places instead. As things stand we are now half way through our month-long stay and are already planning a return visit next year where we stay for much longer. I am also a little ashamed to say it, but maybe the best thing about Bali is that its really, really cheap.

Wayans-villa-1To give an example of how cheap; the two of us are currently living very comfortably on around £25 a day. That sum of money pays for everything including our villa (with swimming pool), our internet and mobile phone, our laundry and all of our food and drinks, oh yes …and the rent of a scooter. Undoubtedly there are other places in the world that offer similar (and even better) budgets but I am sure that very few provide the same overall quality of climate, culture, food and security.

Living here is exactly the kind of thing I had hoped for before setting out on our journey. That starting point was three months ago now and as the saying goes .. “ a lot has happened in that time”. So much has happened in fact that it has taken me all this time to get around to writing my second blog entry. That’s my excuse anyway; another equally valid perspective is that I move a lot slower these days and it takes me a while to get around to do anything. But then at least I’m in good company as the inhabitants of tropical islands often seem to adopt this approach and so this must be my attempt to integrate with the local lifestyle.

OK, so what exactly have we been doing ? Well …. in travel terms we have spent a relaxed month in Malaysia checking out the islands of Langkawi and Penang as well as the capital Kuala Lumpur (popularly known as KL). We then flew to Australia where we spent our six weeks living with family near Adelaide and Brisbane. After that we spent a desperately hot and humid week back in KL before coming here to Bali.


Malaysia proved to be an excellent start to our journey and we had an enjoyable time exploring Langkawi, spending days on beaches and evenings hanging out at various eateries across the island. The local Malays were very laid back and life was good. In Penang we spent our time in the capital of Georgetown which is a Unesco Heritage Site due to its charming architecture and famous for its street art and amazing Chinese, Indian and Malay cuisine. KL itself turned out to be an interesting mix. We were there over Chinese New Year which was full of fireworks, karaoke, and families eating. It was incredibly noisy at times, especially throughout the night where earth-shaking fireworks regularly interrupted the frequent singing of “My Way” and “Buffalo Soldier” coming from the stage that had been erected in the street below. Apart from the new year celebrations our main memories of the city are around the exotic but totally unappealing foods on offer, and trying to work out who was involved in the sex trade which seemed to cater to all niches.

Bollywood Junction Penang Sketch

Australia saw us travelling to two separate and quite different areas. We spent most of our time at Maslin Beach which is famous for being the centre of Australia’s wine production (Jacobs Creek and Hardeys vineyards are here along with a hundred others). Its also famous for its naturist beach which was sometimes fun and sometimes a bit weird. We also had a fabulous week at Noosa in Queensland which is famous for its general quality of everything, especially the water sports and markets. Interestingly we met quite a few well-travelled people there who had decided that there was no where better in the world than Noosa as a place to settle down.


If you are hoping for a lot more descriptions from our travels then stay with the website and blog because over the next few months I will post some good photos, vids and tales of our travels in more detail.

If you have read my thoughts on my website then you will know that as well as travelling in external world I also have some regard for the inner, psychological aspects of journeying and what goes through my mind as we pass from place to place. Sometimes these aspects are very much about the impacts of day to day life in new cultures and with challenging experiences. Sometimes they are thoughts about life in general and sometimes they are about my history and how I perceive myself.

In the previous post I described the significant points that led up to where we are now and I think its pretty clear just how sick I was of the working culture I had become entrenched in. It had become so toxic to me that I felt genuinely ill but I just kept going as long as I could and doing the best I could whilst holding the direction of early retirement and travel in my mind. During the planning stage I always imagined that once we were “out” then all my stresses would be gone and I would be free to focus on the here and now.

However now that I have been free of it for a little while I am finding that so much of my identity had become wrapped up in my career that I have a hard time thinking of myself in other terms. Not only that but my mind will often replay some of the most disagreeable aspects of my old job, which in turn gets me feeling angry and resentful. Thankfully this slowly diminishing and transforming but its quite depressing to find myself in beautiful places with all the time and resources to enjoy them, and yet not ready to appreciate where I am.

Now I don’t want to give the impression that I am spending a lot of time feeling sorry for myself as we are certainly enjoying plenty of good experiences but I do feel that I am recovering from some level of trauma and that comes and goes. Essentially I feel that I have recently emerged from crawling through a mother of a thorn bush over the last few years and I am pretty tattered and torn as a result. This just goes to show that some things (ie emotional healing) really do take time and can’t be rushed. The good thing is that Bali strikes me as an excellent place to allow some opening up and letting go. And bit by bit that is what I am doing. So here is the formula that I have come to adopt when I find that life isnt going how I hoped and I am not feeling how I think I should feel:

First stage is to stop trying to feel happy and open up to how I am really feeling.
Second stage is being kind to myself.
Third stage is being kind to myself some more
Fourth stage is to accept the things that upset me and be prepared to let them be part of my story
Fifth stage is allow my mind to identify the things that have helped and be grateful for them
Sixth stage is allow my mind to work out how to move on and get back on track.
Repeat all the above stages for any number of days until you are ready to move on.

That’s the general approach anyway and it keeps me feeling true to myself. If you know a better one then please let me know.

Endings and Beginnings – A Rare Turning Point

How do you feel when a moment you have been waiting eight years to happen finally arrives? 

And what if that moment was something that had taken extensive planning and extreme striving to bring about?   And what if you knew that it involved such a radical change in your life that it would be one of those rare “turning points” where the life you have been living is suddenly gone and everything is new and unknown?

Well that is exactly where I am right now ……………. and to be honest I am not really sure how I feel.  Apart that is from mainly feeling hot and tired ……….. I like to think that will improve once I adjust a bit more.

In pondering what I have achieved and how it all came about I must admit to feeling some surprise that I have been alive for forty eight years now. It’s gone quickly and its going even quicker each year. When I look back over this time I can start to see any number of important milestones. Specific events, choices and chance meetings that have shaped my life into what it has been so far. However if you talk about “turning points” where the course of an entire life fundamentally changes and everything is affected, then that’s different. Up to this point I have only had one.

My big turning point was twenty years ago when I made a commitment to settle down, get a degree and a career, get married and buy a house. This turned out to be an almost excellent decision, and it significantly improved my life for the better. That turning point transformed my understanding of the world. It showed me what the important things in life are, it markedly improved my material circumstances and my finances and it gave me a sense of self esteem and a place in life. However it was not without challenges, and the main one turned out to be my career.

Working as a front line Health Professional (specifically as an Occupational Therapist) is many things, but it is never boring. For fifteen years I worked daily with the most extreme examples of physical and mental disability that people can experience. I worked with people who were struggling to cope with severe illness and often with the ending of their life. I worked with individuals and families in crisis, always trying to provide flexible support and solutions to difficult problems. I worked in the NHS and I worked for Social Services in a range of positions over these years and although it was a job that had real meaning and it remains something I am deeply proud of it, the more I saw of the health system over this time the more disillusioned I became.

So one of those milestones I was talking about came around eight years ago, around the start of that disillusionment. My wife Jane and I had just returned from a wonderfull holiday in South India and we were both relaxed and blissed out from three weeks of life-affirming adventure and joyfull experiences. That feeling was killed off within two hours of being back at work. Although we worked in different professions and in different services, my wife also experienced a similar system as I did. The contrast between how we felt at work and how we felt when travelling in interesting and exotic places was so marked, that I had to ask myself the question ….. “How can I get more of this”?  And so it was at that point when the idea of long term travel was born.

It started out as idle speculation on where to go and whether we could afford it. Initial calculations seemed to suggest that it was possible to live a reasonably comfortable and interesting life on a modest budget in much of Asia and some other areas of the world. So all we had to do was work out how to provide ourselves with this money every month. Over time some important points began to crystalise. Not least was that my wife Jane and I did not want to sacrifice our home or our savings to finance it. Basically we had worked very hard to make some headway in life and there was no way we were going to give up our long term security (such as it is) for a few short years of fun. Therefore there was no easy solution for financing our trip, and that is why it has taken eight years to get us to this stage.

The Chinese have a saying that “In order to taste sweet, one must first eat bitter”; the West makes the same point in the saying “No Pain, No Gain”.

Consequently I ground my way on through a job that became increasingly stressful and unpleasant. Poorly resourced and so badly managed that it took my breath away and I burned with shame to be part of it. Working life became a huge challenge and at the end it was so bad that our wellbeing began to suffer.  We certainly weren’t the only ones in this position and I spoke to many of my colleagues who were equally traumatised and appaled at the state of management in the service. Together we struggled to keep our health and sanity in seemingly impossible conditions. Jane’s circumstances were different but no better, as she went through similar experiences working desperately hard in childrens nursing.

Along side of work, our home carried its own demands. Anyone who is not born into a family with money in England will know just how hard it is to get a foothold on the property ladder. Scraping the deposit together can be a monumental struggle and then paying off the mortgage takes greater sacrifice and a lot of time. Even with a little support, the only way we managed to secure a property was in buying a cheap wreck of a little old cottage on a noisy road and then completely renovating it over an entire decade.

It was a tough route but one stage at a time the bitter started to turn to sweet as we were first able to pay off all our remaining debts and then to save some money. Finally, finally we were able to sell our old place and move to a little bungalow that was structurally sound and secure. They joy and relief we experienced at this milestone was wonderful. Not only because we had long dreamed of moving off that busy road to somewhere peaceful in a nice area, but also to live in a property that wasn’t in a constant state disintegration. This was the key for us as it allowed us to rent out our home and live off the rental income.

Eight years is a long time to work on a goal. It also provides plenty of ways to test whether it is something you really want and how you want to do it. During this time our plans evolved as we started to contemplate other important questions such as “What are we going to do when we are out there”? And “What are we going to do when we come back” ? These ultimately equate to …. “What do I want to do with my life”?  Essentially we will be giving up work and will be freed from nearly all responsibilities. Furthermore for the first time in a long, long while we will have the luxury of TIME. So the reality of our plans gradually began to dawn on us. In effect we will be abruptly shifting from a life of working so hard that we had no space in our minds for anything but the clinical responsibilities of our jobs, to ……… well NOTHING really !  Lots of time and lots of space and no distractions from your own presence!

Rather than go into a rambling description of how we are answering these questions right now, I will return to them in later posts. After all that is what a Blog is for isn’t it?

Instead I will say that two weeks ago we wrapped up our life back in England. All possessions put in storage, careers ended, cars sold, utility bills paid off, tax rebates applied for, home rented out, friends and family goodbyed to. Our previous life is now over. The second turning point in my life has arrived.

As I write this I am sat in the room of a small guesthouse on the lovely island of Langkawi in Malaysia. Its 35 degrees in the shade and I am recovering from a particularly unpleasant bout of flu that struck three days after arriving in Kuala Lumpur. I am hot, tired and a bit numb but Yes ….. more than that I am greatly relieved and a little excited.

Our trip began in a very cold London at the end of January 2014

Our trip began in a very cold London at the end of January 2014