A little later than usual we begin our look forward to the year ahead by casting our minds back, scratching our heads and wondering just what the hell did we do with our time in the year past.
The temptation is strong to just link to our New Year post from 2016 as much of what I wrote then pretty much applies this year too. I know we got stuff done last year. I’m sure of it. It couldn’t have been all cigars and beer by the beach and going back to the first episode to binge all six seasons of Game of Thrones before the new series began.
If you read our post from 2016 you are excused to scamper and play outside. Even if you didn’t but have suddenly thought of something better to do – or even just something else to do – don’t feel guilty that you will hurt our feelings. These beginning of year posts are mostly for us anyway. They help to organise our minds for the tasks ahead and provide the giggles this time next year.
My, my, I’ll think back. Did I really believe we were going to get all that done? Surely I must have known I was just going to rewatch Game of Thrones.
The main task we did actually accomplish last year was the one we intended to do the year before that. Back in 2015 we hoped to update the hundred or so listings on our Free or Cheap Volunteer Work site, redesign the layout to better match our other sites and add hundreds more listings. For the most part that is what we actually did, though we still have many more NGOs and organisations to sort through and add whenever we next get around to it.
On our Overseas Job Centre site we updated our country guides, adding many new pages and improving the layout. The task, as always, took longer than expected and we didn’t complete the job with several more countries and regions still to add. This though will have to go to the back of the queue because this year we intend to pay more attention to the business side of things and possibly even answer more than just the occasional email on time. We also set up our DClick advertising programme but have not really pushed it yet.
The most important thing that happened for us in 2016 was the expiration of our Turkish residence permits. To live in Turkey suddenly got a lot more expensive as we now need to purchase an ineffective health insurance policy and jump through a few hoops including a visit by the police. A friend with tact issues was left alone by his wife for a few moments with the police during his home visit and ended up with orders to leave the country, a decision only reversed after a bit of grovelling next day at the police station. Rather ominously, they were asked if they drank alcohol, something unlikely to have happened in pre coup Turkey.
In the past we would have instead endured the pleasant chore of quarterly visa runs to neighbouring Greek islands but since we last did this Turkey has aped the EU’s Schengen rules and we can now only stay 90 days in 180 without a residence permit.
We knew this day was coming and cancelled this trip last year to enjoy what could be our last year living in Turkey. That ended four months ago with most of the time since spent visiting family and friends in Northern Ireland, Wales and England. Currently we are in Thailand, in one of our favorite guest houses, The Jolly Frog, beside the Kwai River.
This is less a travel trip than others we have taken in the past. Thailand has become our goto place for somewhere to live when not in Turkey or the UK. So far we have revisited old ground and expect to do so for a while yet. It is only visa rules that have delayed our settling down in Chiang Mai, the northern city that is increasingly completing the trifecta of our residencies. (We haven’t lived in the UK for a long time but banking and family mean we, like most expats, keep at least a toehold in our home country).
We might spend a while in Cambodia this time and hope to ultimately do a bit of proper travelling too, visiting countries and regions we haven’t seen before. This trip is open ended and without any concrete plans other than that given above.
So what does this mean for The Working Traveller? As already mentioned we will be focusing on the business side of things this year, growing JAB and hopefully selling advertising. We can afford to live abroad but travelling is more expensive and we need to make a bit more money to fund whatever it is we wish to do next with worry.
That said, already I have got a bit of a writing groove on, with inspiration drawn from being on the road again. Outside of the projects undertaken last year on our other sites, TWT has solidified into the regulars of our Monday Photo, Workers of the World Weekly, JobSpy, and the recently introduced DN/LI/TB, but we hope to add hostel and hotel reviews and monthly round ups of our activities – assuming there are any besides eating and wandering about, which is mostly how we amuse ourselves.
From the reviews I’ve done already I’ve noticed they often take the form of mini blog posts, instead of as much as informative and useful ways to decide where to stay, so maybe we will tell this trip story in this way rather than through formal blog posts.