Evolution of plans

The most common question I was asked before starting my journey was about my plans. My answer was I have no idea, I choose not to choose. I was sure about Transsib-Mongolia-China, but the rest was up in the air. Frankly I did not have any longterm plans, but I had hazy ideas. However due their haziness, I preferred not to share them with anyone and seeing that most of them have not realized I am glad I did not. The initial idea was to go everywhere – Russia, Mongolia, China, South Korea, Japan, all over South East Asia, Tibet, Nepal, India, Middle East, Eastern Europe and so on. Eight-nine months is such a long time after all provided I wanted to go back before summer. Upon arrival to China in November, I realized that going to South Korea and Japan was not feasible due time and money constraints. After Hong Kong, I became glad I did not go to Japan, as Hong Kong’s high price level was painful enough after a month in China. I can only imagine what Japan would feel like.

After South Korea and Japan fell out of the picture, the idea was to do South East Asia, then go back to China and continue to Nepal and India via Tibet. And then to go back home somehow by land in the beginning of June just in time to attend a wedding and a birthday bonanza. The next few realizations were that a) Tibet is not a pleasant nor easy place to visit due all the government restrictions b) I got my dose of India in Malaysia c) I have not got simply enough time for India. India is way too massive to be crammed in such a short period of time. So India, Nepal and Tibet are out as well.

The next idea was born around January and involved to go from Singapore to Helsinki by land via China, Kazakhstan, other Stans and Russia. A beautiful idea in itself: Helsinki – Hong Kong by land on my way to East and Singapore – Helsinki by land on my way back. But the devil was in details. I still had a second entry Chinese visa still at that point, but I slowly came to realization that I would not make it to China before the deadline of the visa in March. What I did not take into account is that I had spent way too much time on Thailand’s beaches (no regrets whatsoever) and had little desire to go to Kazakhstan after the easy-going life of a beach-bum. You do countries like Kazakhstan before coming to Thailand not vice versa. Plus time constraints again, two and half months is just such a short period of time for all those countries. During my last visit in Bangkok, I made one more cut to my travel agenda: no China, no Stans, no going home by land. Just South-East Asia for the rest of the journey and flying back home just in time before summer festivities. That settled my return plans and I am flying home out of Bangkok via Berlin on 2nd of June. Ticket booked. Finnish summer here I come.

And one final touch, I met Noora and Ilmari today for the first time in six months and realized that we had booked the same flight to Helsinki. Life truly has its own bizarre way of making surprises.

Going south

As I settled down with the idea to go back to Ko Phangan, I got news that the camera would be repaired only the next week. So long the original plan. Of course, one option would be to go to Thailand and try to fix the camera there, but knowing Thai laid-back mentality I think I’ve got better chances to get it fixed here. So in the light of this new information it looks like I am going further south to Singapore via Cameron Highlands and Melaka if time permits. Then back to Penang to get the camera and then hopefully back to Phangan.
Sven Väth @ Zouk Singapore on 28th January, here I come!

If you want to make god laugh…

…tell him about your plans. I fully realized the truth of this statement during my journey. Making any plans is next to useless, as you most likely end up doing something else anyway. Hard deadlines as flight tickets and visa dates provide some sort of guidelines, but even those are not set in stone. The deadline of my second entry to China is on 15th March, but now I am considering staying in South East Asia for a little longer instead and getting a new visa later if I decide to go back to China. Oh well, it is almost two months until then, so who knows what I will end up doing.
I came to Penang for two reasons: a) to do a vipassana retreat and b) figure out what to do next. The third reason was to get my digital camera fixed while I would be sitting in the retreat. Sounded very neat and logical at the time. After spending a couple of days here, it became clear to me that I want to get back to Hat Yuan to rendez-vous with Finnish posse (hello Urkki, Johanna, Noora ja Ilmari). As soon as possible, too. Then I found out about the annual Thaipusam festival happening here on Thursday and it seemed like something really worth seeing. A few days before the festival is too short time to do a retreat and too long time to just bum around the city. Luckily (or not so) the fate of my camera was unknown until today, so I could not just disappear into the world of vipassana, nor leave Penang. Given these two factors, I realized that the retreat is not doable at this point and it is better to stick to the festival and getting the camera back and then head back to Thailand. No regrets about the retreat too.
So far so good. But as life is full of surprises, I just found out that Sven Väth is playing in Zouk, Singapore on 28th January, so now it is really tempting to travel Maleysia for the next ten days and end up in Singapore for quality German techno. I must admit that it sounds almost as good as going back to Hat Yuan. Aaargh, decision making and missed opportunities. Just lovely.