There comes a time in long-term travel where you hit a wall and experience travel fatigue. You can only see so many castles, museums, temples, churches, or memorials before they all start looking the same. You find yourself going through them quickly, skimming over everything, just so you can say you’ve been there.
After spending over a year in and around Europe, we were excited to fly to SE Asia where we would experience a different culture and find something we thought we lacked. Something new! We would experience new foods, art, architecture, languages, and everything would be good. We would once again be excited about traveling and refreshed with new vigor.
After spending two weeks racing around Israel and Jordan we flew to Bangkok where we would spend a week seeing the sites before heading somewhere else in Thailand. We had looked at all the options, but could not decide on where to go after Bangkok. To the south were islands that would offer plenty of relaxation and sandy beaches. To the north would be elephants and eco lodges where we could learn and do eco stuff.
After arriving in Bangkok, Kerri and I came down with a nasty cold and it totally wiped out our enthusiasm about seeing anything. Bangkok was noisy, crowded, and totally crazy and helped decide our next location. We chose to head south to the quiet island of Koh Phangan and recover from the fatigue of being sick and long-term travel. Why Koh Phangan? Why not!
After a long overnight bus ride south we caught a ferry and arrived on the island of Koh Phangan. A quick taxi ride later we found ourselves at our beach bungalow for the next 3 nights. It was hot, we were tired, but the serene location on the beach was exactly what we needed to relax. The place was owned by two British expats and they offered things on their restaurant menu that we had been craving: cheeseburgers, onion rings, and American breakfast foods! We had only been in Thailand for one week, but we had already become bored with Thai food. Before leaving to travel around the world we loved Thai food and usually had it once a week. But when you have it for every meal, it gets old quickly.
We quickly decided that we liked Koh Phangan and found a bungalow with a kitchen to rent for 2 weeks. There is something about the island that drains your energy and turns you into a beach bum. We spent the first few days swimming in the sea, lounging around in hammocks, and doing lots of reading. If it wasn’t for the fact that we had to leave the country to renew our visas, we may still be there. Koh Phangan reminded me of the ancient Greek story of the Lotus Eaters who were content to just lie around all day eating lotus flowers and to never leave the island.
The lack of doing anything while on Koh Phangan gave me a chance to reflect. I started thinking about our future life after traveling around the world and a 4-letter word. Jobs! We have decided that we are going to try and resettle in New Zealand after our world tour and I would like to find a job helping in the rebuilding of Christchurch. They are desperate for people with experience in the civil engineering field and it seems like a great opportunity to have a once in a lifetime experience of helping a large city rise from the ashes after their devastating earthquakes. It also seems like our best bet to get residency visas to allow us to move there.
With a moment of clarity from the island’s influence of non-productivity, I decided to update my resume, which now includes an around the world sabbatical. The chance to experience multi-modal transportation and the different infrastructure around the world is definitely resume worthy! After updating my resume I found a job offer in Christchurch and decided to apply online. We still had 7 months left of our RTW trip, but it seemed like a good match and I figured it might take that long after applying for residency visas. The next day I received an email from the recruiter stating that he wanted to talk to me on the phone. I had to go find a SIM card for our mobile phone and then gave the recruiter my phone number. The phone conversation was actually a phone interview, which went well. Over the next month I ended up doing two additional interviews, a test, reference checks, and discussed salary and the visa application process.
In the end, I did not get the position, but it was a valuable learning experience and probably worked out for the better. The position would have started in July, which would have cut our RTW trip short; at least for me. We have two housesits arranged in Australia this summer and Kerri and Sydney might have had to do them by themselves if I had been offered the job. I looked online and found other jobs that I could apply for, but have decided to wait. I had spent the last month giving my complete attention to getting that job and it had taken away from our adventure. Instead of blogging, maintaining our website, or going out to enjoy this part of the world, I was practicing interview questions, researching construction and building standards in New Zealand, and looking at real estate and transportation options in Christchurch. What was I thinking?
The new plan is to wait until July when we arrive in Australia before even looking at jobs again. That should give me plenty of time to apply and interview, but more importantly, it will get my focus back to traveling around the world.
The heat and humidity of SE Asia is not helping with the travel fatigue, and is actually making it worse. Everyday I yearn to be back in Europe with the cooler temperatures, better food, and tap water that you can actually drink without getting sick. I think we need a vacation! Maybe we just need to find a quiet island in the South Pacific and spend the rest of our time lounging on a beach with the refreshing trade winds before heading to Australia in July. Long-term travel is amazing, but it really wears you out!