Saturday, 26 June 2010

A bruising bump back to reality

When I was lounging on the sun-kissed shores of South East Asia, lost in a carefree, take-every-day-as-it-comes bubble, the thought of returning home and actively seeking out the humdrum routine of a 9 to 5 office job filled me with mortal dread.

As it turns out, I couldn't have picked a better time to return if I'd tried. I stumbled groggily off the plane into a bustling house full of family, flutes of champagne and a tableful of Mediterranean delicacies, and after a night cocooned in a fluffy cotton duvet, I awoke to a blissful mugful of steaming, strong Yorkshire tea. Over the next few days I soaked up an England basking in the glorious sunshine of a long overdue heat wave: pristine blue skies, long, balmy evenings and summery breezes that carry aromas of freshly mown grass and sausages sizzling on a BBQ - a far cry from the smoggy humidity of last weekend in Bangkok.

However, although the World Cup revelry and festival fervour of this British summertime has undoubtedly cushioned my return home, it has been a bruising bump back to reality. The happy-go-lucky mindset I accrued when travelling has already been swept away by the pressing uncertainty of what on earth to do next. I have attempted to prolong my relaxed-and-in-limbo psyche: reading novels rather than newspapers, wearing flip flops instead of high heels and avoiding makeup and smart clothes. However, my efforts, though admittedly meagre, have been fruitless. Despite pledging to carefully research working abroad before embarking on the inevitably demoralising job hunt, I have unwittingly become immersed in a frantic job hunt. Within a few days of my return I was wading through endless job listings, panicking over rapidly looming application deadlines and attending gloomy careers fairs that lamented on budget cuts.

This week I have resolved to take a step back. Armed with sunglasses, a bikini and an unread copy of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast I'm planning to revive the tranquil, serene approach to the future that I found in South East Asia. Recruitment websites, job specs and application forms will be carefully stowed in a draw for at least two days in the hope that, whether I end up working 9 to 5 in the city or on a flight out of Europe, it will have been a carefully thought out decision!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

A peaceful paradise by day, a non-stop party-goers haven by night

Cystal clear, turquoise waters twinkling and glistening in the sun as they lap softly against the shores; crumbly, white sands curved in a gentle semi-circle; beaches enclosed by dramatic, craggy cliffs spurting tufts of jungle and fronted by gently swaying palm trees... There's a reason why travellers are always reluctant to leave the islands of South Thailand.

As the sun sets on this peaceful paradise the beachside serenity of the day is transformed. Sleepy shores become the crazed centre of drunken debauchery and all-night dancing. Nonchalent locals wow with daring fire display that mesmerise onlookers with hypnotic spins and swirls and the shores are cluttering with stalls selling lethal cocktail concoctions by the bucket.

It wasn't exactly authentic Thailand, Westerners substantially outnumbering Thai people, but after 9 weeks of exhaustive sight-seeing we were more than ready for such beachside hedonism. Although we crossed paths briefly with loud gaggles of those on a post-uni booze-up, when the islands felt more like Magaluf or Marbella than East Asia, dancing until the sun rises is something I can't wait to do again. I am already planning my next trip!