license to kill time

The last couple of days have seen me do next to nothing here in Penang. A type of nothing which only someone who has visited a place they have no genuine interest in visiting can appreciate. The kind of nothing that sees you catching a bus, clutching a guidebook for company only to return several hours later wondering what the point of that actually was. It’s not that I have been trying to do bugger all; it’s just that there hasn’t been a great deal to do or see that interests me here.

There are defiantly productive ways of doing nothing. Lying on a beach or going for a swim in the sea as achieved in Langkawi last week were definitely productive nothings. Watching your favourite soap omnibus while slightly hungover from a Saturday night out is a productive nothing. But here in Penang I can’t really say I’ve done or seen anything particularly worth reporting on. The most riveting part of my half day trip into Georgetown yesterday was posing for excitable camera-clad Malay tourists while sat on the edge of Fort Cornwall’s reading my Lonely Planet (for the record it was arguably the lamest excuse for a fort ever, no wonder nobody ever attacked it, it wasn’t worth wasting ammunition on) The fact that I, a slightly bearded bored Western tourist, was the biggest attraction to the locals said it all. On my first night I visited the only food option for several kilometres, the local street food market. Here I had a decent enough chicken curry, swilled down a couple of beers and watched the Malaysian version of the FA Cup final. Hardly groundbreaking stuff, I hear you cry.

It hasn’t come as a surprise to me that I have stumbled upon a place like Penang which I have struggled to relate, or want to relate with. I’m at that stage of my traveller life that I’m not instantaneously blown away by being somewhere new – sure, I love that exciting moment of arrival where I intrepidly look forward to what surprises a new country or city may bring. I adore that excitement of not having any transport booked when I arrive; finding my way to a chosen destination via local bus, ferry, tuk tuk or any other available mode of transport gives me a fantastic buzz. But once that immediate excitement wears of, and you check into your room with limited ease thanks to decent instructions off a website, its then down to the country or location you are in to do the rest.

And Penang just hasn’t done the ‘rest’. I have a suspicion that leaving Langkawi earlier than I wanted to has not helped Penang’s cause. For those who haven’t already noticed, I screwed up my previous blog. In my haste to run off to the beach to catch the sunset over Langkawi, I failed to proof read what I had posted. All of my email subscribers who go off that for gospel, plus those that are so busy they only read each update once (haha, only joking) would have been wondering what the hell I was going on about at the end. Well, if you get the chance re-load the page and you will see I have added the most important three paragraphs at the start that make the piss taking of the clock change all make sense. You will also see that I enjoyed my break in Langkawi so much that I plan on a holiday there next year prior to the cricket world cup.

Penang was on a loser straight off really. It simply could not compete with what Langkawi offered me. What it has offered me is a bit of calm before the storm of the next week or so and a stop off on the way to my next destination. The other main thing Penang has offered me is ample time to do plenty of thinking. I’ve spoke in past updates about how travelling along on public buses or trains gives me a great chance to have a listen to some music and a good think. Travelling on my own at the moment, now several weeks since I departed has seen my thought patterns change immensely since the Thailand leg I started with. Whereas past thoughts were mainly along the lines of excitement at the prospect of six months away, general concerns for people back home while wondering if day to day things such as problems with transportation would hinder me, I now see myself thinking more about me and where my life is at.

Now being the www and all I’m not going to write every little detail down for everyone to read. But I’ll certainly share an insight into my brains thoughts at this present time as it is a big part of what this blog is all about. Especially when the activities are as mundane as the ones in Penang. I’ve started to think quite a bit about what I have done and been through in the past as well as what I want to do with my life in the future. Since my dad died at the age of sixteen, I’ve tended to not look too far into the future. I like to think I’m a live life for the present type, not letting sensible thoughts of looking to settle down get in the way of having fun and living for the moment. I’ve held down a good job since I was seventeen which has given me enough stability financially to set up a home, travel the world and have a bloody good time back home with mates in between. I like to plan, but only on little side projects such as arranging the next cricket tour, or how good I’d like to get at an activity such as golf or snooker. All quite selfish things really – basically doing things for me, achieved thanks to my actions.

It is the done thing in the UK to find a job, settle down with a girl, get married, have a couple of kids and retire. Oh, and have two weeks in the sun somewhere if money allows. I’ve been thinking quite a lot on this trip about relationships, and why it is the given that most people strive for this to be ‘their life’ As long as they are with someone or have been with someone, they can justify their existence on this planet despite not actually doing a great with their lives. Now, don’t get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with settling down and sharing your life with a loved one. It’s got to be the thing everyone wants deep down, I know I do. You can’t wander aimlessly forever, for sure. But the more I travel, the more of the world I see – the more I want to make sure it is with the right person. I’m not going to let anything get in the way of me having fun, being my own person and continuing to explore this brilliant planet in between. If I was with someone for the sake of it, there is no way I could justify to them that such an upheaval that taking seven months off work unpaid entails. I would love to be sharing this experience I am having out here with someone special, but at the same I’m more than content with the position I am in. How many people can say that?

The other thing I’m finding is that travelling alone can sometimes be challenging – certainly very different from being with a companion, whether an old friend or family member from back home, or a new friend met whilst on the road. It’s the little side issues that are hard. Issues such as not having someone around to boost flagging spirits that creep up on you if you’re not careful in this part of the world. Simple things such as eating and staying hydrated I find much harder when alone. If I am tired from a long bus or ferry journey I can find myself slipping into a ‘ I can’t be arsed’ attitude at times. I ate like a king in Cambodia yet have found little motivation to eat more than a meal a day whilst in Malaysia. That’s the one thing I don’t like doing alone, going out for a proper evening meal. It seems a bit of a waste of time showering and changing clothes just to go out and eat. Its something perhaps I should embrace more. For instance, going to the street market I mentioned above the other night was a pleasing experience. However, eating is a necessity in all walks of life and going out two or three times a day to find something preferable to your palate is not always easy. I don’t want to sound like I’m being arrogant here but its easy to enjoy eating out on a holiday – but all day, every day for six months will be hard work. I remember Pale Matt saying to me at a random street cafe in the middle of South Africa that when he first went away to Australia eating anywhere new was a big part of the experience. A simple thing like a garage stop off for an ice cream would go in the travel journal. Yet the more you travel the more blasé you become about these little things. I suppose it’s like my comment at the top of this random update about not getting blown away by the simple things that go with travel.

Finding a suitable travel buddy is a bit like mastering a good relationship. Both need to be strong and forthright in what it is they want, yet being big enough to compromise in certain areas to ensure that both parties are left satisfied. A good travel buddy, such as Fred or say, Dave with the cricket can help bring so much more to a trip. An opportunity to share and help each other out, in between giving each other the time alone needed to get what they want out of a given situation or location.

Me and Damo have a saying for others we know through the cricket – ‘There are those you could tour with, and those you couldn’t’ The ones you couldn’t are certainly not people that we dislike, far from it. Their company is as good, if not better than others. It’s just you couldn’t spend every minute of every day with them for weeks on end. Without a shadow of doubt, I would be classed in that group by many!

After a couple of days doing nothing but reflecting in Penang, I’m looking forward to a few days back on the road. The one fixed date I have had since Fred left me in Phnom Penh is the Mount Kinabalu climb next weekend. I can only get to Borneo from Penang or Kuala Lumpur here in Peninsular Malaysia so always had to come down to Penang anyway. I could in theory of had those extra two nights chilling in Langkawi, but that would have made for a long old slog across to Borneo via KL anyway – using ferry, taxi, train, bus and plane. I’ve already taken that ferry in getting to Penang and tonight have a flight booked down to KL before a further flight to Brunei (part of the isle of Borneo) early tomorrow morning. I only booked this first flight back to KL two nights ago – it’s only a few quid more than what the bus option from Georgetown would be anyway, plus saves the hassle of getting to KL in the early hours only to traipse all the way to the airport from the bus station in the early hours.

It should be a good challenge. I have no place booked in Brunei for the night I plan to be there, or on Labuan Island, where I may spend a night before cracking onto Kota Kinabalu the day after. No ferry tickets booked, or real idea what I’m going to do in these places. Just spontaneous, exciting travel that wets my whistle a great deal at this given point in time. I only decided to do this route about a fortnight ago, so its perhaps a taste of things to come in Indonesia and wherever else I end up post-Ashes in January and early February.

On a final I’d like to thank everyone that reads and comments on my travel tales – either on here, facebook or over email. It means a lot that people care about what I’m doing.


8 Responses to “license to kill time”

  1. 1 Martin Chapple
    November 1, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Allow me to be teacher for a moment….I think “defiantly” should be “definitely” – you should have gone to St Thomas Cantilupe not St. James’s!!!! or maybe Specsavers!!
    Great blog entry – to be able to write about “nothing” takes great wit and imagination – top class old boy! I guess you will have noticed that the Bulls have dragged themselves one place up the table. City are in mid-table obscurity having lost at home to Brentford. Baby is being induced tonight, so tomoz you should have a step-nephew(???).

  2. November 1, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    Yes, its one of those words I rely on spell checker to correct automatically – sadly it seems I spell it so wrong that it changes it to another word that is close! Doh, well spotted though teacher.

    Good luck to Lucy, does that mean you are on your way up t’north?

  3. 3 Donna
    November 1, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    How many people can say that? What else can I say… I am blown away by you!!!

  4. 4 Damo
    November 2, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    ere tha tha rich

    just worked technology out………..it all sounds ace its a massive rollercoaster ride……you gonna be scared at Gabba surrounded by people…..just enjoy it lifes for living and you doing it old lad….not envious remember toffee bollox stopping outside Colombo airport at that fruit stall all ya senses come alive…asia is an assault on all your senses…..sounds like you experiencing and loving it…have a beer for me….Damo

  5. 5 Matt
    November 3, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Damo learns technology shocker!!!

  6. 6 Donna
    November 3, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Damo techno shocker ha ha ha yes! But Rich what IS he talking about!

  7. November 4, 2010 at 3:36 am

    ‘Toffee bollocks’ that Damo so lovingly refers to, was our Guesthouse owner in Kandy, Sri Lanka. He put our room rates up by a high percentage from the original agreed price over email, pleading poverty. He celebrated his extra cash by purchasing a banner ‘saying welcome Barmy Army’ A nice touch, but not the actions of a man hard up on cash!!

  8. 8 Donna
    November 4, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Oh now I understand thanks for that!

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