• • •
When I think about this time, I can only define it with one word: excitement. I was excited because Miguel was joining the adventure. I was excited to be back in Thailand. And I was also excited because it was my 26th birthday and I was launching (link) the blog as a self-birthday present.
I arrived in Chiang Mai after a 20 hours bus trip from Laos. I didn’t sleep because of the excitement.
I spent those bus hours polishing the blog. I already had three articles finished and everything was working and ready to be published but I couldn’t stop working on the details.
Now, a year and a half after, I find myself continuously working on my websites. It’s an endless task.
That taught me two lessons:
Perfection doesn’t exist. It’s like the horizon line. You move one step forward, and it moves as well. It’s unreachable. You can always find more ways to polish and refine something. The process never ends.
It’s important to walk towards perfection but it’s also important to be aware that you will never reach it. Don’t become obsessed with it. The key is to reduce the time and efforts you invest in perfecting something once you arrive at a reasonable level.
The second lesson is that perfection doesn’t exist because as you move towards it, you learn many things you ignored before and your previous idea of perfection becomes obsolete. You may realise that everything that you have done before is wrong, but this is good. It means that you are on the right path.
I couldn’t be happier about the decision of starting a blog, and as the time has passed, it’s gaining more and more importance in my life.
Finally, Miguel arrived, and we spend our next days discovering Chiang Mai, riding bikes and enjoying night markets and delicious food.
It was amazing to see one of my best friends after a long time, and it was great to do so travelling in SE Asia.
After a week in the north of Thailand, we moved to our next destination, Malaysia, an old friend of mine.
Malaysia brought me many good memories, but this time was entirely different. This part of the trip was defined by the diversity and contrast of the places we visited.
We started in Kuala Lumpur and we headed north. We ended up in Perhentians, a beautiful and small island in the northeast of Malaysia.
In Perhentians, I dove again, and I started the next diving course. I was already certified as an Open Water by PADI, but I wanted to go a bit further. With the Advanced Open Water, I was going to be able to dive up to 30 meters, do wreck dives and night dives.
It was scary at the beginning because the sensations 30 meters down were different and more overwhelming than in my previous dives. The psychology and the awareness of danger are also different. But as you get used to it, the differences start to fade out, and the excitement replaces the scariness.
That’s a lesson I learned diving:
We are not afraid of the unknown itself. We are afraid of the idea of finding some of the already known bad things in the unknown.
After a week living in a bungalow on the beach, it was time to move to our next destination, the jungle.
Taman Negara is one of the most authentic and shocking places in Malaysia. You can tell by the colours, the landscapes, and the fauna and flora. Its wildness is absorbing and very attractive.
We visited an Orang tribe who lives in a semi-traditional way. It means that they are nomads, they build their huts, they hunt and gather their food, and they have their own rituals and lifestyle. But they also benefit from outside visitors showing their culture and exchanging goods with the modern society.
Spending some days in the tropical rainforest inevitably made me think about the human evolution. Collective consciousness allowed humans to survive and dominate other species. Being part of a collective introduces specialisation as a value since individuals no longer need to be great at everything.
That brought me many thoughts, but maybe the most important one was that this process has become extraordinarily complex and now it looks like hyper-specialisation is now one of the norms to survive inside of the society.
Since the very beginning of the trip, my intuition was telling me that The Philippines was going to be one of the best parts of the whole adventure.
We arrived in Puerto Princesa at the end of May. We rented motorbikes, and we started to explore the island.
We ended up going north, to Coron and El Nido.
I soon became mesmerised by the incredible beaches with crystal clear water, corals, hundreds of fish and even turtles. It was the closest I’ve ever been to paradise.
The Filipino culture, lifestyle and life pace also blew my mind.
They were fun and open. And most importantly, happy. You could see it in their eyes. Their lifestyle was very modest and essential. Wake up, fish something to eat, exchange the surplus for rice and other goodies, and hang out with other people and see how the day evolves.
Of course, they had some down moments, but they seemed to deal with them with optimism and good vibes.
The biggest dreams they had were to get a job on a cruise and therefore have a chance of travelling. Most of them have never left their country, and some of them have never left their island.
That taught me a good lesson: Ambition makes your life complex because you aim for things that require a lot of work. Being ambitious is a good way to motivate yourself to follow your dreams, but ambition can also lead to destructive things like ego and lack of appreciation for what you already have. Ambition requires caution.
In El Nido, I finished my diving training, and I finally got certified as an Advanced Open Water diver. I was so happy and proud of myself. Diving was definitely one of the best things of the entire SE Asia adventure.
We left The Philippines and moved to Indonesia. I’m sure I’ll be back at some point. I loved it, and I only saw a tiny part of it. I would like to go back and spend weeks, or months working and enjoying the life by the sea, right in the paradise.
Our next destination was Bali. In a few minutes, I had the feeling of already having been there. It somehow was a mix between Cambodia and Thailand, but of course with its own essence.
Nature was coloured by a special light that made everything look beautiful, again, unbelievable. We met some locals, and they invited us to their houses and to be part of some rituals. I felt shocked and very lucky to have the opportunity to live such authentic experiences.
At this point, after 7 months of non-stop travelling, I started to experiment something I call traveller tiredness. I began to miss small things, like cooking, having a decent shower, or just chilling without so many stimuli around me.
I also wanted to find more time to work on my projects.
Some travellers told me about it before. So it didn’t take me by surprise. It’s something that happens to everyone at some point. The solution is to slow down and have a break. In my case, I thought it was a good time to finish my adventure.
After a couple of weeks in Bali, I took a flight to Bangkok from where I went back to Europe.
• • •
When I started the trip, I never thought I was going to be backpacking around 7 countries for 7 months.
Thinking backwards I realise that the whole trip was defined by three completely different parts (the three articles I’ve published).
Travelling with my girlfriend, travelling alone and travelling with a good friend.
I enjoyed each of them a lot. They brought me to many different experiences, moments and memories that made my 7 months in Asia a real adventure.
I believe this trip has been crucial for my life, filled with, probably, the best experiences I’ve ever had. I’m still learning from this voyage, it’s one of those experiences that take time to digest.
Some pictures from this part of the trip
PS: My online course Strategy & Business for Illustrators is now available for pre-order!