‘It’s going to be a wild year!’ Those were my thoughts as I sat down with the holiday list for the year.
Over the past 5 years, we – as in A and me – have made travel an integral part of our lives. The day we landed in Kuala Lumpur from stifling Bombay (I still can’t bring myself to call the city Mumbai) – we decided that it’s time to live. Yes, live. Was it not Malcolm Forbes who said ‘It's a very short trip. While alive, live.’ Fast approaching the 40 milestone, with cholesterol, high blood pressure, stress and wrinkles as everyday companions – we made a conscious decision to live. We tweaked our definition of achievement and attainment. We decided to spend money and time on gathering experiences rather than amassing material possessions. So, every time Apple launches their new generation iphones, we rush to the book store to pick up a copy of Lonely Planet. Every time a friend flashes her new ‘your-life-fits-in-your-680 gb’ hand phone, we fish out our photo albums – from around the world. Every time a friend acquires a property in Bombay, we acquire a new experience in a distant land.
We take our travel seriously. Right at the end of every year, once the public holiday list for the next year is declared, we sit down and chalk out our plan.
Annual leaves for the year = 25.
Leaves carried forward from last year = 0.
Weekend + public holiday + one day leave taken = an extended weekend to do a quick trip to Laos.
First comes the ‘Where to?’ meetings followed by the ‘Where next?’ meetings. Then pops open Air Asia.com, Malaysia Airlines.com and wego.com. In between pops open maybank.com to check the budget. Once the places and routes and budgets are decided, my work starts. Planning the itinerary to the last detail. How to eat, live and shop like a local in Sorrento. Asking questions through travel forums and reworking on the itinerary with advice from travelers who have experienced Chengdu before. Exchanging emails and bargaining on the accommodation in Brugges. Scouting for deals and booking tickets for Sevilla. Looking for off-the-beaten-track routes and identifying places which will be least touristy – how about choosing Andenes over Tromsø? The work is, believe it or not, intense – but also a passion for me. So I actually feel restless when I have no travel to plan. When my list is exhausted, I plan for other people.
I ramble. Which I do all the time. Maybe I will write a detailed post on the process of travel planning in future.
Coming back to this year, while we were having our first of the series of ‘Where next?’ meetings, with a few places short listed in our radar, it stuck me that it’s going to be a wild, wild year.
To start off the year, we went to Sri Lanka. A wild place even a few months back, but with the Tigers gone, relatively peaceful. But a wild trip, none the less. That actually happened in February. January was a dull month, with no trips. We had been to Sri Lanka before – 10 years ago for our honeymoon. Which was in January. So, a weekend + public holiday + one day leave taken + a friend who’s been too kind to host us + a sweet deal from Air Asia (my favourite brand – the best budget airline in the whole wide world) = a belated anniversary celebration.
More on Sri Lanka in my next post. This post is all about why a rambler of a different sort decides to ramble in the blog world. Well, I have been penning down my travelogues for a while now. But not very seriously. A snippet here, a sample there. A has been after me to get them in order. The lazy me – I have been procrastinating for too long. The solution – if I have some friends reading them and asking for more, maybe I will do something about it. In the process, exchange stories and get ideas from fellow pilgrims. Hence the blog. Hope it works.
I will stop for the day. No point pushing myself too hard. Many pages to write. Many places to visit. Many friends to make. Many stories to share. As Lao Tzu says "A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." And I have taken that single step today.