Saturday, February 12, 2011

Why can't I be a bit more like Marco Polo?

Ha ha ha, look at this somewhat wrong but in other ways remarkably accurate world map.
It's as if they didn't even have satellite imaging capability, the 15th century idiots!

Alright, I don't really have any desire to spend my finite existence failing to spread a lying religious message across Asia - the cheery Mormon missionary I met yesterday is already doing a fine job of that (the failing part in particular; he was rubbish). But at least these historical guys had some sort of satisfying objective dictating their foolhardy, inspirational travels across the East, whereas I'm entirely lacking any kind of direction in my 'travels' (if we can call them that? I guess I am physically moving between locations).

This desire for rules is a bit of a contradiction for me, as in every other respect I have a pathological, knee-jerk aversion to any kind of boundaries imposed from above - whether it's a contract for a job, a phone or a flat, or a relationship lasting longer than a week (yeah, there definitely aren't other problems to address there). I have a fantastic job that lets me go anywhere I like (within reason, and sometimes without), but sometimes the burden of choice is so great that it would be easier to have a gentle nudge.

So far, these have mostly been girl-shaped.

Come on universe, you tease - conspire to limit my horizons, rather than forcing me to embrace the invaluable freedom my ancestors may have fought and died for, or at least longed for. This self-awareness makes me worse, not better. Maybe I just need to get drunk and make a contrived bet that accidentally leads to me getting embroiled in increasingly desperate heartwarming scrapes that could also make my fortune.

Everyone else has fun, pointless quests - why can't I? Maybe I just need more hobbies.

This time next week...

I'm allowed to stay in Taiwan until early March, which due to the tedious predictability of time is almost upon us. Good, I'm getting a bit restless anyway. But where to go next?

Idealised view of Japan

I've wanted to go to Japan for ages - I was going to go there originally when I was planning to teach English to kids, until the fear of contracts put me off. As well as remembering that I really don't like teaching. Or kids. Or English. I can get a three-hour flight to Tokyo for about £100, and stay six months without a visa.

Idealised view of Thailand

There's also Thailand, which I've never thought too much about but could be amazing, what with its exciting jungles, budget prices and harrowing poverty. I know someone who might be going next month, so it could be a chance to meet up too, and actually have one of those rare, sought-after reasons to travel (man-shaped this time). I can get a three-and-a-half-hour flight to Bangkok for about £150, and stay 30 days without a visa.

There are apparently some other countries I haven't been to as well, but we'll cover those in due time. It's not like I need more options confusing me, is it? I'm too lazy to sort out a visa for China anyway, and anywhere south of Taiwan (like Indonesia or the Philippines) feels like it's on the way to places I want to go later on.

Indecision time again

So what's it to be - Japan or Thailand? Why do I keep placing Japan first? Is it just a desire to be alphabetical? Maybe I'll end up somewhere I haven't even thought of - it's not like I knew I'd end up in Israel or Taiwan back in September.

Contrary to this tragic, foolish image of myself that I like to exaggerate (at least a little), I am slowly learning things from all this moving about - like my love of the tranquillity and fresh air of the countryside and appreciation of modest-sized cities over sprawling metropolises. But that doesn't really help with the decision making, because unlike the conveniently limited worlds I grew up with in Star Trek - where a whole planet could be represented either by a matte painting of futuristic skyscrapers or an unconvincing orange landscape, and where everyone wore the same silver vest - real-life countries don't tend to be quite so limited in scope, and have a bit of everything. It's political correctness gone mad.

Unconvincing view of Planet M-113

I'm sitting patiently in the hostel common area tapping away on this thing while a Chinese guy does something similar on the other side of the room. There are seven empty seats just waiting to be filled with sexy exotic women who have the power to decide where I spend the next few months of my life, if only they would talk to me and fall temporarily in love with me. The selfish, non-existent whores!