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Newsletter #33 - Searching for Adventure!

Published about 1 year ago • 5 min read

Newsletter #33 - Searching for Adventure!

This email is a recap of my 2-day trip to Chiang Mai. A post-mortem on planning a couple of days on my own. The first time having multiple days on my own since having a baby almost a year ago.

I'm exploring together with you which lessons to draw.

Like I mentioned before, I write this newsletter for myself. To document how I'm thinking about things at that specific moment in time.

The situation

This was the situation:

  1. I had a full week off for Golden Week in Japan
  2. We had a doctor appointment on Tuesday evening
  3. My spouse had Friday off, so I wanted to be back on Thursday evening
  4. Co-workings in Thailand potentially were closed on Monday and Thursday due to public holidays

So I was left with Wednesday and Thursday to do something.

Here's why I wanted to do something:

  • Because time off in a new environment allows to step back, to come up with new ideas, to take the long view, to see the big picture, and start dreaming again, start being bullish again about where I want to be in 10 years, start thinking 10x. Literally watching my life from 30,000 feet, and contemplating who I want to become in life

There were a couple of initial ideas :

  • I wanted to do something with my father but he was unavailable
  • My spouse and baby would join on Friday wherever I was

The biggest mistake I made is that I knew why I wanted it, but not what I wanted.

I started exploring options, but given the limited time, I wanted comfortable options. Comfortable options meaning I didn’t want a long 3rd class train ride because I want to focus. And I don't want to spend hours in immigration or visa procedures, which are common in South East Asia.

The pitfall was that RandomAirport was in my head, I wanted to work on that.

What I only realised afterwards is that if you have a couple of days for yourself, you better find some adventure, rather than spending more hours behind the laptop.

I love coding, but there is enough time in my life to sit behind the laptop.

That made me hesitant to go to Macao, Hong Kong, Koh Phangan, or any other destination which is a little further and unknown to me. Because by the time I would get out of the airport, found a place to work, found a place to eat, knew how to get around, took some time to explore, there would be little time left to do actual work.

Intuitively I did search for adventure, by contemplating horse riding in Khao Yai, which we eventually decided to do together in the weekend after I came back. Or I wanted to fly to Mae Hong Song, which is in the middle of the mountains, the flight itself would already be an adventure (but that flight doesn't exist anymore).

Alternatively, I could take the night train. I love travel by train. Japan and Switzerland sound nice but too far for 2 days. Thai trains are a little less efficient (understatement) but good enough. But the train to Chiang Mai would leave too early Tuesday evening (conflict doctor appointment), and when I finally went to buy a train ticket to Nong Khai, the train was full...

Also, Chiang Mai is notorious for bad air quality. A month ago you would choke walking on the street. In April the rain starts, and the air should be better, but I didn’t want to book until a couple of days before leaving to make sure.

My train plan was to take the night train to Nong Khai, at the border with Laos, cross the border, spend a day in Vientiane, and fly back. That would have been sufficiently new to be categorised as "adventure". Alas, the ticket-gods decided differently .

I do have it on my bucketlist to do it at another time in June. Just as I will go to Kuala Lumpur again when we live in Phuket.

3 options

I used my own website WeekendAway, to find Hat Yai in southern Thailand. But again the fear of discomfort kept me from going down that route.

With time running out, I had 3 options:

  • Chiang Mai: safe and sound, been there many times
  • Kuala Lumpur: nostalgia as I used to go there often, but less known to me nevertheless
  • Macao: relatively cheap flights, maybe do the largest bungee jump in the world, which frightens me to death ...

But I waited too long, and Kuala Lumpur and Macao became too expensive.

Chiang Mai was the solution.

And so I went to Yellow Coworking in Chiang Mai. A place I know well.

I did try to make a small adventure, by renting a scooter at the airport, which is impossible to do. No-one ever rents scooters at the airport, and that's why it's double fun. I succeeded partly. They came pick me up with a car and took me to the rental 200 meters down the road, but I did return in front of the departure gate 💪

When in Chiang Mai, it was only then I started to realise the goal of my trip should have been adventure:

The plane was full of western people, Yellow co-working as well. I felt as mainstream and herd behavioural as possible.

There are many many great mountain roads around Chiang Mai (though many also full with dangerous tourist vans), and instead of sitting in a co-working I could have rented a full motorcycle and go drive in the mountains.

Or I could have taken a hotel deep in the mountains.

Or I could have driven to Pai, the real hipster village, 2.5 hours through mountaineous roads.

But those realisations only came in hindsight.

When I arrived at the hotel, it turned out the swimming pool was closed due to maintenance, and that I booked a room without a bathtub.

Luckily I used the former, to ask them to upgrade me to a room with the latter.

And I went to sit in the bath and thought about my trip.

And I realised that other than adventure, a step back was what I needed... I have been too immersed in Random Airport in past few weeks, with too little focus on the long term.

It made me consider whether I should abandon RandomAirport, before it sucks me back in ...

Maybe it's time to start working on something which is still fun, but for which people are willing to pay ...

Benefits of only being away two days

Because I wanted to stay in Bangkok until Tuesday evening I did do other cool stuff:

I did go for a long walk with my baby daughter on Monday morning. Walking with a baby in Bangkok is always a little adventure!

We went to discover a new Indian restaurant close to the doctor's office on Tuesday evening. You can hardly call a restaurant an adventure, but let's say it planted a seed for another adventure to India :)

And I did spend a day writing a story. I realise I want to write more. I don't know yet what, some mix of autobiography and fiction. Something like Gentleman in Moscow or Grand Hotel Europa.

Actions and Conclusions

- there is enough adventure to be found, if I put your mind on adventure from the start

- I want to spend more time writing

- I’ll make a list of adventures and miniadventures on my blog (the list is not there yet!)

- I'll try to find something which is still fun, but for which people are willing to pay (edited after sending)

That's it, see you for next edition!

Hi! I'm Joris

This is my weekly braindump. You can read it, but I don't write it for you, I write it for me.

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