Life on the road
Do we get bored? Do we wonder what to do next? Have we read dozens of books yet and watched all our 300+ movies?
Nope, there is none of that in our daily life. We are getting a routine now and finally know where everything is packed in the car (although we still can’t find a few things we’re sure we packed, but that’s a different story). And we haven’t been bored for a single minute!
If you are interested in getting a little insight in our daily routine, read on. Otherwise wait until our next blog post for more adventures.
We are generally woken up by the sound of our surroundings around 7AM and don’t need to set an alarm. This can be barking dogs, monkeys screeching, people talking, motorbikes or even fisherman whacking a stick on the surface of the water to chase fish into their nets.
Jon leaves the tent first and I pack up the overnight things and prepare the tent for folding up (closing the windows, putting the pillows and duvet in their spot to make folding the tent easier and attaching the two elastic cords which help pull the tent sides in when it gets folded). We both use a shopping bag to carry our things up to the tent and back down again each morning.
We make breakfast, usually muesli with fruit, sometimes with tea, and find a shady spot to eat it. After breakfast we clean up, putting the dishes away and cleaning up the inside of the car to make sure everything is in its place and the areas we use most are swept and kept clean (are you proud of me mum?!).
The rest of the day is always very different, we explore a town, go for a hike in a national park, immerse ourselves into the biggest water fight in the world or drive to the next spot. We read a lot about the places we go to, but it is still always a surprise what we are going to find there.
Finding a spot to eat lunch is our next challenge, if we’re driving and have a lot of ground to cover we sometimes eat our lunch on the move, but generally we try to find a nice spot to stop. Lunch is usually bread and cheese – we save the evenings for Asian food.
When we arrive in a town we usually have a few things we need to do. Things like laundry (if we stay overnight), shopping for food (fruit mostly), buying batteries or find a post office. These things take time as we have to try to find out where the market is, the post office, a laundry or the supermarket.
Finding things like bread, cheese, milk, muesli or cordial is not always easy. In Thailand we had big supermarkets where you can generally find most things, but Laos for example doesn’t have any supermarkets so we try to find things in small local shops. Mostly completely at random. Who knew you buy bread in Phonsavan in the Indian restaurant…?
In the evening we like to find a spot to camp before it is dark, but this doesn’t always happen. We are learning what to look for in a campsite when we do make it there during daylight. Big streetlights are avoided if we can, but there isn’t always much choice. We’ve stayed in a few guesthouses, but definitely prefer to camp.
Once we have parked for the night we leave the car and get our bikes to explore and find a restaurant for dinner (if we’re in or near a town). We have rarely cooked ourselves, as the food is amazing and cheap. It’s also the best way to get to know the local cuisine.
Back at the car we organise our night bags and wash. We haven’t used our own shower yet as it is so much easier to use a bucket and a washcloth, easier as it is much more discreet. Don’t forget we have camped in police compounds, in public carparks, on empty blocks of land in the city, in a local village, besides rivers, in wats (temples) and on public beaches. None of these are very private, so we generally wait until after dark. If we’re lucky there is a toilet nearby we can use (something else we have to search or ask for when we find our camp site), otherwise we find our own spot (easier after dark too).
When we go to bed, I usually get up there first to set up the fan, organise the bed and Jon locks up the car. Jon is always the one putting up the tent and taking it down as it is too high for me. Click on ‘Packing the Taj Mahal’ to see the little video (1.30 min – opens You Tube in a new window).
So far we have averaged 160km a day of driving, but the fastest we can drive on a really good road in Cambodia for example is 70km/hr, in Thailand it was 110km/hr and in Laos 60km/hr. And that is until the next cow or chicken or pig or water buffalo or duck crosses the road or we come across another potholed section. There are times we only average about 20-30km per hour (and yes, that is on the main roads!).
In every country we buy a local sim card with data, so we don’t rely on free wifi so much. This means we can post a blog nearly everywhere, although Thailand was the worst for internet with 3G only available in Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai (2 of these we didn’t go to). We try to check our emails regularly, but this is definitely not daily, generally when we drive so we don’t loose valuable exploring time when we get to our destination. In fact, most of our blog posts are written in the car too for that same reason.
Life for the co-pilot is pretty busy. Whoever is passenger has to make sure the driver has everything they need, all batteries are charged, there is cool water to drink, the gps is not talking nonsense, bananas, pineapples or watermelons are bought, opening and closing gates, asks for directions, making sure the driver stays on the correct side of the road, spots for good photo opportunities, takes photos and records movies, waves to the kids along the side of the road, read the Lonely Planet about the next town or the history of the country, write blog posts, download photos, back-up our photos, checks fuel prices at petrol stations, …
So far we haven’t killed each other yet 🙂 and we’re feeling more and more relaxed every day. Most of the time we don’t even know what date or day it is. We are absolutely loving it and can recommend it to all considering a midlife crisis, or if you just want to do ‘something else’ with your life!
And please keep posting comments on the blog! We love reading them and always try to respond as soon as we can.