I’ve spent the last two days in bed with a cold, sleeping, reading in a desultory fashion and indulging in feeling a bit homesick and sorry for myself. Being ill does that to me wherever I am; I lie there feeling lousy and wracked with self pity. I think I enjoy it in a masochistic way.
Luckily the hotel I’m in is a cut above some of those I’ve stayed on this trip. It’s peaceful and cool; my room is painted a pale aquamarine and the light from outside filters through white linen curtains. The bed is comfy, with thick sheets and there’s a spa bath in the bathroom (a serious luxury – most of the hotels I've stayed in have a shower squeezed in beside the toilet, which is functional enough but doesn't make for an indulgent bath time).
This is one time when it doesn’t help to be travelling alone: too much time with my own blue thoughts and no one to shake me out of it. I wonder why I do it. Over the past 20 years I’ve made four big solo trips to Asia, India and the Middle East and taken lots of short solo holidays all over the place. On the practical side, it’s often because there’s no one who can come with me, so it’s go alone or stay at home. But I think it’s more than that this time.
This is a personal journey, one that I’ve been inspired to take because I’ve flown this route so many times in the past 20 years and always wondered what was happening on the ground beneath me. And it’s part of an internal journey I’m taking too, as I try to feel out where I belong and where I want to live for the next 20 years. Ever since I left Germany with my family when I was 7 years old I’ve been torn between Europe and Australia and those divided loyalties are still playing in my head today.
I’m also trying to figure out what it is that I want to do and what I want to say as a writer and as a journalist. I’m not so much trying to find inspiration as some kind of meaningful point to putting pen to paper. Can words change anything?
Though I’m physically moving, my internal journey feels much more stop start: one step forward, two steps back. Maybe I won’t know how much distance I’ve covered till I’m back home in London, seeing it and my life there with (hopefully) new eyes.