After quitting my PhD in December 2013, I got chatting with a few people about what I was going to do next. Generally I’d just sort of vaguely say “Travelling, I guess” followed by a swift change of subject. Mike Pettit apparently said something to his Mum about wanting to travel to Vietnam at some point, who then told my Mum, who then told me. Subsequently Mike and I got in touch and ended up planning an epic adventure. Good old Mums.
To start with, we had a short list of geographically disparate destinations that we assumed it’d be fine to get round in two months. A fairly arsey travel agent informed us that we’d started planning far too late with our trip and that we couldn’t do all the countries we wanted to by a long shot. Great news! It turned out this guy was mostly a moron but he at least helped us narrow down our list of countries. We finally settled on China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand and booked it all through another (far more enthusiastic) travel agent. Charles Clarkson, a man with whom I’ve a protracted love-hate relationship, decided to come with us for the three-week China leg of the trip. I was initially sceptical about this but it worked out pretty well in the end! My girlfriend, Rachael, flew out for the week we spent in Hong Kong too, which was a nice sort of mini-holiday in the middle of the whole thing.
We’d only booked our flights into Beijing and out of Bangkok so the rest of our itinerary was down to us. Initially I’d been quite concerned about this but it turns out that if you just wing it these things usually turn out fine. Over the next few months we had a seemingly endless procession of injections and visa applications. After all that it was a relief to be actually leaving and getting on with this whole “adventure of a lifetime” thing…
These entries were written as letters to my family while on the road as we travelled around Asia. The writing style changes slightly and gets more verbose as I get further up my own arse. I’ll mostly leave these as they were written, adding occasional notes as needed.
The following entry was written after a 17 hour flight from Gatwick to Bejing, therefore it’s a little disjointed. Decided to leave it as is to underline the level of jet lag.