Not too sure how it happened? Seems like it was overnight that we decided to sell the house, buy a smaller one to rent out and go travelling. When every day seems like groundhog’s day, I suppose there is a point you reach where you can’t help but think “what is it all about?”, “enough is enough, time for a change!” Don’t get me wrong, I loved my job but I did leave the house at 7am and return at 8.30pm every day of the week (sometimes later than that, depending on trains) In fact, we both felt exactly the same.
Matt and I decided that we didn’t need a big house for just the two of us. Why work so hard and not enjoy our time together? We wanted to break free for a bit and travel. After all we are not getting any younger (I’m 39 and he is 45), so we sold up and decided to leave our work behind.
A sabbatical we call it! Time for self and world discovery (baby steps…starting with Asia!)
There was so much to sort out! I remember having to lie down on the sofa every time I thought about it (like major procrastination setting in) Funnily enough that happens to me sometimes (starting this blog was a testament to that!) but then I focus on something and go deep into it, like a dog with a bone! An example was our wedding, as I planned the whole thing meticulously, and now it was our travel plans.
We wrote a list of all the things we needed to do, which involved all of our financial ties and the house to do list, so to get it set up for rental. It was like a cleansing exercise, not just downsizing but dematerialising as well. I loved it!
It was definitely stressful, but worth it!
The hardest part was saying goodbye to our two cats, who are now loved by 2 very special people (we were so lucky to find them a good home!) but it was painful to say the least. Not to mention leaving family and friends behind. Thank goodness for mobiles and social media!
Our research included countries where the sun is always shinning – so I had to look at all the weather patterns to devise a loose plan of where we could go and when. We wanted to relax for the first 3-4 months somewhere where we could rent a house to keep the budget down. We sorted out our India Visa through an agent in London and bought a one way ticket to Goa!
We were in Palolem (South Goa) for 4 months from mid Nov 2016 – March 2017. Click on the link to read about Our First Stop: Palolem, South Goa if you’d like to!
Our adventures since then:
Whilst in Goa, we took a couple of journeys further south in February 2017; a long weekend in Gokarna, which is in the neighbouring state of Karnataka and an 11 day break, away from the house and the beach, to visit Kerala
We then set off to Sri Lanka for 1 month during March & April, where we moved from Colombo to Kandy, then down to Hikkaduwa and Marissa, which are both on the South West Coast. Sri Lanka was beautiful! We had an amazing time, where we caught up with friends who came to see us whilst there for part of our trip.
In between our journeys, we visited our friends who live in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. They moved there 14 years ago, so it was nice to see them again after at least 9 years (as we also visited them on our honeymoon, whilst passing through on the way to Thailand)
We are very lucky to have such lovely friends that let us stay in between trips, as Kuala Lumpur is a great travel hub for flights in and out, and of course for a bit of shopping!
During mid April – May, we headed to Vietnam, South to North for a month. Love love loved Vietnam as it’s so different to other South East Asian countries. The food, the people and the craziness on the roads is something everyone should experience! We were really lucky with the weather during April – May, as this changes from South, Central and North Vietnam at different times of the year. Also, it was really good to see an old friend, who moved out there 9 years ago, and his lovely wife!
After that, we chose to go to Kyoto, Japan for 7 days at the end of May (short trip due to the expense!) but if we had an unlimited budget, then I could have stayed there for a while and visited other places in Japan (it’s such a beautiful country). What an experience, we are so glad we got to see Kyoto within our time in Asia. It’s the cleanest place I have ever seen, the people are so polite and the food is interesting and yummy; the Sushi was to die for! You haven’t had good Sushi until you’ve had it in Japan! Honestly, it’s so good! Good thing we both love sushi, whisky and sake! It was heaven for 1 week! If only we had double the budget haha! As Arnold said, “I’ll be back!”
We then headed to Bali for 2 months during June & July, which at first we didn’t actually like. I think the perception that you are fed by travel companies about these paradise type islands can be somewhat skewed, so it ends up being an anticlimax! After a while, once we got to see more of the island, we just went with it and actually ended up loving Bali! You can peek into Our 10 Best Bali Moments here. Once we explored various areas throughout our two initial months, it helped me to cover a comprehensive Guide to Bali which explains each region and town, as well as a bit about the culture there. We loved it so much that we went back in August and stayed till mid October, with a month long trip to Lombok in between (Bali’s neighbouring Island which is a must visit!) – You can read our Lombok: A Road Less Travelled post, that explains more about the much less busy island, and where to go to explore its beautiful beaches and smaller islands just off its shore.
Whilst in Indonesia, due to visa permissions, we had to do a visa run and spent 3 days in Singapore. This City is similar to Kuala Lumpur, in a way that it’s hot, humid and full of shopping malls, but much more upmarket! We didn’t time it perfectly, as we were there during the Formula 1 weekend, but we were to leave on the actual race day itself. However, we did get to see the practice run and spot Lewis Hamilton’s car doing the laps! The set up and watching the practice run itself was a great experience, as we managed to perch ourselves on the balcony of a bar next to the track! Did I mention that it was free? Matt was over the moon, as he is a massive F1 and Hamilton fan!
I will be writing a simple guide for Singapore soon, so watch out for that if you are interested in visiting one day!
In November it was our travel anniversary! We stayed in North Thailand, Chiang Mai (our second visit in 5 years!) This time around we had managed to see so much more as travellers rather than holiday tourists. After enjoying the food, meeting up with friends who were also travelling, as well as visiting waterfalls and temples (in between the many scrabble games!) we headed to Phuket for the first time, where we also got to island hop. That was lovely, but the weather was mixed with sunny days and rain, so we made the most of it when we could! We managed to also visit Bangkok and treat ourselves by staying at our honeymoon hotel, The Dusit Thani, which is a 5 star hotel at an affordable price when compared to Europe! It just had to be done. We also visited a friend who lives there, so we got to enjoy the city a bit more than our previous trip 5 years ago.
Over Christmas and New Year we stayed with our friends in Kuala Lumpur, where I decided to start an online TEFL course (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) I will let you know how that works out, as I would love to do something rewarding like teach English!
After all the festivities and resting a bit, we decided to head back to Chiang Mai so that I could complete my course, where good internet is guaranteed! Our time here is about to end, but we will be off to Cambodia to visit Angkor Wat in early March, which I am very excited about!!
One thing is for certain, no matter how many beautiful places you visit and delicious food you try, the most amazing experience has to be meeting special people along the way; locals, expats and other travellers!
I have a few more posts to write covering our time in Singapore, Malaysia, Phuket, Chiang Mai and soon to experience Angkor Wat, so watch this space!!
You can see a list of all our posts so far on the side menu of this blog, as well on the top menu by destination. If you haven’t got time right now, come back and use them as a reference if you want inspiration or are going to any of these wonderful places soon!
Thank you for reading! 🙂
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