- Malted Bali -

26th September '18

I couldn't tell you why, but for some reason I'd been feeling compelled to buy insurance before going to Bali.

It shouldn't be a concern of mine, seeing as I've essentially been abroad without insurance for most of the past decade.

I started my first year travelling with insurance. Although I was so paranoid about them finding an excuse not to reimburse me, that when I actually needed it, after injuring my knee, I simply got the knee looked at by a doctor, but never got it fixed properly.

And at least one of my teaching jobs has provided insurance for me, although my understanding from someone who made a claim, is that it was barely worth the paper it was written on, and were I to suffer a serious ailment, I'd still find myself up shit-creek.

Essentially I've had nothing worthwhile since my initial policy expired a year or two into my trip. Something just tells me that I'm going to need it in Bali though.

Perhaps it's because it's the first new country that I've been to in six years. Perhaps it's because of the recent earthquakes that've been happening in the Bali area. Or perhaps it's because of my sense of hyper-paranoia about investing so much into this bootcamp, and being aware of what's on the line.

And also seeing as it's likely going to be the last part of my trip before returning home, if something is going to go wrong, then it has to be now.

And although I'd looked for but given-up on finding decent insurance that I wasn't precluded from, and was nervous but willing to just roll the dice, when the manager of my Bali school sent around this message to our WhatsApp group, 'highly recommending' getting insurance...

Yeah, it probably would be a good idea. And this company that he's recommending don't actually care that I'm not currently residing in the UK.

My concern isn't minor costs that I might incur.

If I lose my laptop, I can replace it.

It would suck, but I could cover the cost. It wouldn't financially cripple me.

The same with flight cancellations, or lost baggage. Minor things like that.

What terrifies me, is suffering a serious illness or injury where you can rack-up thousands of pounds of hospital bills.

I've heard horror stories from people in the past; one in particular that resonates in my mind, where a guy had a motorcycle accident in Thailand, I believe spent a while in a coma, and had tens of thousands of pounds in bills to pay by the time he woke-up and was ready to leave, which they wouldn't let him do without paying.

I'm not sure how they kept him there; maybe they had his passport. But ultimately his parents had to remortgage their house just to pay his medical bills.

And even though I've lived with such a threat for most of the past ten years, the fear that a serious illness or injury could leave me with crippling debts for years to come, just seemed like something I should address before going to Bali.

People think that I'm crazy for saying this, but based on my own experience, I hold the belief that having any kind of safety net makes people far more likely to do stupid things, because they know that there'll be fewer consequences.

Years ago I remember linking to an article that presented research showing how skiers who wore helmets were more likely to get into accidents because, thanks to their helmet, they felt less need to be careful.

Personally, the only time I've seriously hit my head on things has been when I've been wearing a helmet.

I used to play American football. You'd never catch me running face first into people without a helmet.

I remember a few years ago when I fell off a motorcycle in Northern Thailand, my head crashed hard into the ground, but luckily I was wearing a helmet.

You see it when people cross the road. The kinds of people who always wait for the green man before crossing, never look as carefully as those who just cross when there's a break in the traffic.

You even see it in dogs. In Bangkok, the stray dogs that survive to adulthood have learnt to look before they cross the road.

I'll watch them sometimes, and they do check for traffic first.

You don't get that in England, where all of the dogs have been on a leash their entire lives, and have had the safety net of a human to look both ways for them.

Although it can save your when you're down on your luck, I kind-of look at insurance as a licence to be a moron, because there are fewer consequences when things do go wrong.

I even said a couple of blogs ago that I was disappointed that I'd been unable to get any insurance when I was in London, but at the same time... I'll be more careful without it.

If I know that hospitalisation is going to cost me thousands of pounds, the likelihood of me doing something where I could end-up there is far diminished than if I've got an insurance policy to cover the costs for me.

The most obvious example would be riding a motorcycle which, from what I understand, is the normal mode of transport in Bali.

I wouldn't even think of getting one without insurance. I'm not as dumb as I was when I got one to travel in Northern Thailand a few years ago. And the scars on my ankle from that adventure, tell me that motorcycles do go wrong. If an insurance company is going to cover the financial costs of crashing though...

So I combed through the terms and conditions of this policy, seeing what activities I would be covered for (I might also want to try surfing in Bali, for example), but came out barely any wiser with regards to motorcycles, because you seem to be covered for scooters at least, so long as you have the equivalent licence in your own country.

So I then looked up my UK driving licence; does that allow me to ride motorcycles?

Turns-out I can ride mopeds and scooters on my UK driving licence, just so long as I have 'L' plates.

So if I go to Bali, rent a scooter, and put some 'L' plates on it, does that mean I'm covered by the insurance?

And what if I'm on the back of a motorcycle? The wording stated that the driver must have an equivalent UK driving licence.

Does it phrase it like that because I'm British, or because it has to specifically be a UK licence? If I get on the back of a motorcycle driven by a fully-licensed German, am I covered then?

I think that I ultimately concluded that I wouldn't be covered for a motorcycle of any kind, which is likely a blessing because it'll stop me doing something stupid like getting a motorcycle. But before I buy this insurance policy, I need to figure-out my exact dates and...

Right around this time, the final payment for the bootcamp was due. And in the email that I sent confirming that I'd sent the payment, I asked a few follow-up questions to the manager of my school, including 'Do you recommend booking a flight out of Indonesia before arriving?'

I didn't really want to book my outbound flight because... well I don't actually know where I want to go.

There's a 95% chance that I'll want to go back to London, but I'd like to get part-way through this course before deciding for sure.

Unfortunately the manager of the school was pretty unequivocal in his response, saying 'I strongly recommend that you do have an outbound flight booked, because some airlines won't even let you board your flight here without one,' and 'if you're really not sure, then just book a cheap flight to Singapore.'

Hey, that's a good idea. Why don't I just book a cheap flight to Singapore?

Although I should really look up the cost of flying Bali to Singapore to London, compared to just flying Bali to London and oh... it's much cheaper.

You know how sometimes you see something, and are just... that's way too good to be true.

There was one flight from Singapore to London, a direct flight with Norwegian Air UK (nope, I've never heard of them either) for £176.

The next cheapest direct flight was £442, and even with a layover, the next cheapest was £315.

The cheapest flight from Bali to London was £368, and included a transfer so took almost 24 hours.

Ok, is this a wind-up? £176 from Singapore to London? It's...

Fuck it, that's too good to miss.

Ever since he'd sent me this email saying 'just book a cheap flight to Singapore,' I'd been thinking... why the Hell don't I go to Singapore anyway?

I've never been there, and as weird as this is to say, who knows when or if I'll ever be back in this part of the world again?

It's very strange for me to say that, seeing as other than my trips home to London, I've been in the East Asia since 2011, so to think that I may never come back here again is a very peculiar feeling. But just being realistic about it, if I do get a job in London as I'm hoping to do, what reason is there for me to come back here?

I've been spending a lot of time with my ex-girlfriend over these last few weeks; kind of ironic seeing as we've barely had time to see each other for the last three years. As soon as I don't have a job and I'm leaving the country, suddenly loads of time to spend together.

Apart from to see her though, what would my motivation to come back here be?

I don't really know that I'll have any, so it could be many years until I'm back in this part of the world. Why not have a couple of nights in Singapore? See one more country seeing as I'm here anyway.

And as there's also a mythical flight to London for £176 on November 29th, and I'll have to leave Bali on November 27th, it lines up perfectly and...

Do you know when you do something, and a part of you is saying that it's not even real, but you do it anyway?

That was what it was like, booking this flight back to London.

I was all like... at £176, I don't even know if this plane exists. But it's such a good price that I'm willing to take a chance.

Seeing as the whole point of going to Singapore had been so that I wouldn't have to commit to going somewhere after the course, it was a little ironic that I'd booked my flight from Singapore to London, before I'd booked my flight from Bali to Singapore but... well God works in mysterious ways.

I would later come to learn that this flight is 'the world's longest low cost non-stop service.'

Yeah, no shit. I'm flying halfway around the world for £176.

With that done, I then did book the flight from Bali to Singapore on November 27th.

With the bootcamp finishing on the 24th, that'll give me a couple of free days to enjoy Bali before leaving, then a couple of days in Singapore because... I don't really know why, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

And then... well in my mind, this marks the end of the trip that I set-out on back in 2008.

Who knows what that actually means in reality? For example, if this bootcamp's a disaster or I just can't get a job or make an income from programming afterwards, then my fallback will probably be to go abroad and start teaching again.

Or hey, a real dream scenario would be to have a job or be able to make an income, where I can work remotely. If I can travel around and make a living from my laptop, then moving somewhere cheaper than London, like for example, Thailand or Cambodia, would be likely.

That improbable scenario is one of the reasons I was hesitant to actually book a flight home. So who really knows if this means that I'm actually going to become settled?

The most likely way that I see it playing-out in my mind though, I'll have a job and a lease on an apartment in London, sooner rather than later, which is why that I think this is probably it.

A decade abroad, almost to the day actually.

Looking back, 19th November 2008 was the day that I left.

If this flight really exists, I'll be arriving home again on the 29th November 2018 so... it was a pretty good guess when I said that I'd be gone for ten years.

With that done, I then bought the insurance that had been the catalyst for inadvertently adding-on a trip to Singapore and then buying a make-believe flight to London and... well wasn't this a rather expensive couple of days.

I'd paid the bulk of my tuition fees to Le Wagon, flights from Bali to Singapore to London, two months of travel insurance... and just to top it off, this was when AirBnB took the remaining money I owed for my accommodation in Bali so... well don't I feel poor all of a sudden?

I didn't pay any extra to get my MacBook insured, seeing as it was rather expensive to do so and they'd only insure it to the value of £750 (it'll cost more like £1,500 to replace) so... well here's hoping that I don't lose it or get it stolen. I am though now insured up to £10 million for any medical emergencies in Bali and... that seems rather expensive.

Seeing as my financial worth to the world is only a few thousand pounds, I'm not sure why anyone would pay £10 million to keep me alive but... well whatever.

I want to have as little distraction as possible during the bootcamp, so why not book a place to stay in Singapore now, so that I can forget about that? And as always, the first thing I check when going somewhere new, is how easy is it for me to eat there? Does Singapore even have any vegetarian restaurants?

Alright, well that answers that question. I guess that I won't go hungry in Singapore.

And I was determined not to do a Jethro, and spend hours scouring-over all the available accommodation before eventually booking. But for some reason my brain just lacks the ability to book places to stay quickly.

I thought I was doing well. I found a room in someone's apartment in the city centre on AirBnB and was all... ok, don't overthink this. Just book it. Just book it.

Except... well my flight to London is at 9:30 in the morning. Can I make it to the airport on time if I'm staying all the way out here? Maybe I want to be staying nearer the airport.

So this is a map of the Singapore MRT network, so I'll need to get two trains. And trains from the nearest station start running at this time. And the transfer takes this long. And the train then arrives at the airport between terminals 2 and 3. But I need to be at terminal 1. Let me see a map of the airport. How long does it take to get there? And what time do I need to check-in by?

I want to stress that this wasn't a quick process.

It took a long time to find all this information, and I'd memorised most of the Singapore MRT network and a map of Changi airport by the time I was finished and had figured it all out and... well I think, if everything goes to plan, I can make it to the airport from the city centre in time to check-in for my flight, but it will be close.

I'd even looked-up the other routes that this airline flies from Singapore, and at what times, just so I could estimate how busy the check-in counters would be.

And after all that, after several hours of learning the geography of Singapore and the times of the public transportation, do you know what I did?

I booked the very first place that I'd looked at.

Why can't I just do things like a normal person?

But oh well, it's done now. I'm staying in a 'Nice and cozzy room without window' in Singapore. That sounds fun.

Assuming that this does mark the end of this trip, and perhaps even the end of this blog seeing as the entire purpose of this website has been to document this one trip, although I'll see about that. Maybe I'll want to carry on writing.

Assuming that this is the end of my trip though, a personal curiosity was I wanted to work-out exactly how long I've spent in each country that I've been to over the past ten years. And that turned-out to be no small undertaking. I had to look-up emails from ten years ago to work-out exact dates that I flew, and if I landed the next day or the same day.

It took a good few hours to write-down with relative confidence, the dates that I arrived and left each country over the last ten years. And as I found-out, in that time I've crossed international borders 48 times.

The most reliable way I found to figure all this out was to look back over my photo albums and see how they were dated and... I got a little nostalgic if I'm honest.

These old photos triggered a lot of long-forgotten memories of not only what I was doing all those years ago, but of the person that I was at the time.

Seeing drunken photos of me partying in 2010, made me realise that damn... life has changed a lot.

I don't hate my life by any means, and one thing that I do while I'm meditating everyday, is take a moment to remind myself of all the things that I have to be happy about.

Just an internal dialogue with myself that being a healthy, free, self-supporting person isn't something that I should take for granted, because I won't be forever, and many people aren't now.

If you could rank the 7 billion people on earth by quality of life, I'm sure I'd be somewhere in the top few percent, and that's nothing to scoff at.

So it's just a daily reminder to myself that hey... whatever problems you think you have, things could be a lot worse, so don't let them ruin your mood or your day.

But at the same time, I looked back at these photos as I was calculating where I'd spent these past ten years and was all... I do miss being the carefree person that started this trip. That's just not me anymore.

Buying a tent and a knife and hitch-hiking across Canada seems a thoroughly stupid idea to me today, and yet I did it then. All these drunken nights out that make me smile to look back at and think about, and yet today, driven lately by a desire to retain my health, I don't even drink.

I don't think that anyone is the same person after ten years, no matter what they've been doing. But I've certainly changed a lot. And getting these little glimpses back to who I once was...

I guess that it really hit home that you only get one chance; one shot at life.

I can never rewind and be that person again. I'll never have that youthful vigour, that indifference again.

Ten years ago my dream was to travel around the world. Now my dream is to settle down and get a job and an apartment.

That alone should tell you how different my mind is today.

It's with a smile that I say that, and I can certainly be thankful that I didn't waste my entire youth rotting-away in some job that I hated.

But then who doesn't want to be young again? And this was a stark remind of... hah, but you never will be.

As it reached one week before I was due to move-out of my apartment, as instructed three weeks earlier, I went back to the store of my wifi provider to cancel my connection and to arrange for an engineer to come around and collect the equipment.

I walked into the shop, took a ticket, and had to wait about fifteen minutes until my number was called. And then I went up to the desk and told the girl why I was there.

"What day are you moving out?" she asked me.

I responded, then she told me "Oh, you have to come in two or three before you move-out."

Fuck off you stupid cow. I was here three weeks ago, and she told me to come back one week before I left. Now it's one week before I leave. I didn't come here again, only to be told to come back in a few more days.

I didn't say that, but I did become a little testy with my responses from this point forth.

"You need to cancel your connection 3 days before you leave" she told me. "It takes 2-3 days to arrange for the engineers to come to your apartment."

I'm leaving on the 28th. Arrange for the engineers to come on that day now.

"Oh, we can't do that I'm afraid. You have to cancel the connection, and then the system will make an appointment for the engineers."

Well I'm not willing to spend my last three days in this country, before going to a new country I've never been to before, to do a coding bootcamp no less, with no Internet connection, so I'm not cancelling before the 28th. I've got way too much to do that I need wifi for. And I won't be in the apartment after that for someone to come around and collect this equipment, so I guess we're at an impasse.

This is what I meant a blog or two ago, where the way things are done here sometimes completely defies logic or reason, but it gets fobbed-off as just being the 'Thai way.'

How does that make it any better? If anything, you're just insulting yourselves.

"Well you can bring the equipment in yourself on the 28th," she said.

Fuck off, I've already got to deal with moving-out of an apartment on that day. Come and get it yourselves.

After a long dialogue of me getting more and more irritated by this Thai way of doing things, I eventually stopped and just asked her... ok, what equipment exactly is it you need?

"The TV box," she told me.

"Do you need the wifi router?" I asked.

"No, you can keep that," she replied.

Well... why didn't you say so? I couldn't give a fuck about the TV box. I don't even use it, you just gave me a free cable package when I signed-up for wifi three years ago.

So after rather a long back and forth, I agreed to bring her the TV box the next day, she agreed to leave my connection open until the 28th, and we all went on with our lives.

I'd walked to the shop to do this. And I walked home again afterwards.

The train would have been quicker, but thanks in large part to my watch now tracking my movement everyday again, I've become more conscious about the daily calories I'm burning.

It is strange how motivating just seeing a number detailing how much you've moved each day is, for making you want to move more.

Since I turned activity-tracking back on on my watch, I've started walking everywhere again.

The next morning I got up, disconnected my TV box, put it in my bag, and walked back to this shop again.

They accepted it, and told me that they'd leave the wifi connected until the 28th.

"How much do I have to pay still?" I asked.

"Nothing, you're all paid up," they responded.

"Are you sure? I'm all paid-up until the 28th?"

They...were sure. Somehow.

It's strange, I don't remember travelling into the future to pay my bill already but... I tried. I can't force them to take my money.

Then I went to a foreign exchange to get some US dollars to pay for my Indonesian visa on arrival.

Then I tried to close one of my Thai bank accounts by going into a branch but... you can't do that here sir, you need to go to the branch where you opened the account.

Fucking Thai way.

The good news was that this branch was only a ten minute walk away. The bad news was it was in the same building as my former work. And man, I was so close to being spotted and forced into having a conversation against my will.

As I was walking along, the school's... I don't know what his job title is, but he sits in a cupboard surrounded by outdated electronics equipment all day. And as I was walking along, this dude walked right across my path, less than ten yards in front of me, his gaze no more than 25 degrees from looking right at me.

I've never been so scared in all my life.

My eyes widened and I just held my breath.

Until after three seconds that felt like a lifetime... oh thank fuck, he's gone. That was a close one.

I closed this bank account, moving the money to my other, more useful Thai bank account.

And my dilemma with money, is that any that I leave in Thailand, I could lose access to, because banking here is kind of third-world.

Contrary to banking in the UK, where branches are rapidly closing, in Thailand you're still required to go into your branch for all kinds of things, and online banking is less functional, less secure, and requires having a Thai phone number to receive confirmation code text messages.

So my ability to access my money once I'm out of the country depends on whether or not I still have access to my Thai phone number. And that's provided by the same company that I get my wifi from, whose system isn't even advanced enough to arrange for an engineer to come to my apartment one week in advance.

So the obvious thing would be to just transfer all the money out of Thailand.

On the other hand, a lot of digital services, are significantly cheaper in Thailand.

As an example, Spotify in Thailand is about a third of the price of Spotify in the UK. But to pay for Thai Spotify, you need to be paying from a Thai account. So for as long as I have money here and I am able to access it, then I can save a tonne of money compared to paying for things back home.

I ultimately decided to transfer most of it home, but to leave enough in Thailand in a couple of different places, to pay for Spotify for a few years, and perhaps some other things like PS4 games/subscriptions, which are also significantly cheaper here.

Not enough that should I lose access to it, that it'll really bother me though.

And if there's one positive to Brexit, it's that the weak pound means that this money is worth hundreds more than it would've been pre-vote.

Scant consolation, but at least I feel like I'm getting some compensation.

The last time I left Bangkok, I was lucky in that the girl who lived below me, literally took everything.

She didn't care what it was, she was happy to take all my stuff, so getting my apartment shut-down to nothing was a doddle.

I remember at about 3am on the night I left, taking down shopping trolleys full of stuff to give to her.

I'm not quite so lucky this time, in that I don't know anyone in my building, let alone someone who wants to take my stuff off my hands.

The last time that we met, this girl did say that once again, she'd be happy to take all my stuff, she'd just have to come in a taxi to get it this time.

Unfortunately, she's since moved to Australia to study, so that option's out the window.

Fucking Australia.

And I hate throwing away perfectly good stuff. It seems such a waste.

On the other hand, finding a home for all of your things, even stuff that you're giving away for free, is a damn sight harder than just taking it to the bins at the end of the hall.

You either have to arrange for people to come around and collect it, or you have to take it to them and... fuck, I've got enough to do.

So in the name of ignorance, I've convinced myself that the housekeepers of this building, with all their integrity, will take the perfectly good stuff that I leave at the bins, and make use of it themselves.

I mean, this is a country where people collect plastic to sell. They'll surely be able to make use of some perfectly good stuff... right?

Books, clothes, stationary etc.

To keep my conscience clear, I'm telling myself that they'll definitely sell it on, so I'm not technically just throwing it all away. I'm donating it.

I don't have a car here, and even if I did, I honestly don't even know where I could take this stuff.

I've never seen a charity shop in Thailand.

But I didn't want to bombard these poor housekeepers by clearing-out my apartment all at once, so instead everyday, I've been clearing around three or four carrier bags worth of stuff.

I bet they're starting to wonder what's going on.

It's made shutting-down my apartment a very gradual process. Every day it's becoming less and less populated with stuff. Less and less, my apartment.

It was slowly emptying though, my wifi connection cancellation had been arranged, my money taken care of, my flights back to England booked, my insurance bought. Everything was going perfectly... to plan.

"Ahahahahahaha." - God

You could perhaps describe me as being in a state of hyper-alert right now.

I am very, very aware that any number of very possible, innocuous incidents could completely derail everything that I've got planned, and prove to be incredibly costly.

Take my passport for example. Say I happened to lose that before leaving Thailand, how long would that take to replace?

I've never had to go through replacing a passport abroad, but I assume that it would take too long for me to make my flight on Saturday.

And from there you could watch the dominos fall and think that... well if I can't make it to Bali on time, I'll miss the beginning of this course, probably beyond the point of ever being able to catch-up, making the bootcamp not remotely worthwhile.

Would they be willing to refund me or reschedule me for a subsequent course?

I doubt it, so losing my passport could indirectly cost me thousands of pounds in the tuition fees alone.

And I'm sure that you're thinking... well how're you going to lose your passport? It just sits in a drawer in your apartment, right?

To close my bank account, I needed my passport. To cancel my wifi connection, I needed my passport. To exchange money, I needed my passport.

It's going everywhere with me right now, and one momentary loss of concentration could be absolutely devastating.

Or imagine if my laptop were to suddenly break. There are no Apple Stores in Bangkok, it'd have to get sent-off to Singapore, but now there wouldn't be time to get it back before I leave, so I'd be arriving to a programming bootcamp without a working computer.

In fact, recent editions of MacBook have notoriously temperamental keyboards, so much so that Apple has extended the warranty for particularly keyboard issues to three years, because not only is it prone to error, but in the TouchBar versions, the entire bottom part of the MacBook is one unit... so far as I understand.

You can't just replace one faulty key, you have to replace the entire unit, costing around $700.

I've been very, very careful to keep the keyboard clean, so as to not allow even a speck of dirt into it. But just this week the 'B' key started playing-up, exactly as in the link above.

Firstly it stopped responding unless I pressed it uncomfortably hard. Then it started double-pressing. And after about ten minutes of downright dismay and fear, because by this point it would have been too late to send my MacBook to Singapore, it started working normally again and has done since.

I guess that a tiny bit of dirt slipped by me, and it's loitering around underneath the 'B' key somewhere.

But that 'B' key is, I'm sure, going to be pretty integral for a programming bootcamp.

I can't imagine too many programs are written without the letter 'B'. And like Bangkok, there are no Apple Stores in Indonesia, so if my MacBook needs repair, I assume it'll have to get sent to Singapore taking more than a week to get back.

One faulty 'B' could cause me a week at a programming bootcamp, without a computer.

It seems to have fixed itself now, but with so much invested in this bootcamp, the stakes are so high, and the structure on which they're built, so precarious, that I am just hyper-alert about everything. Paranoid about every little thing that could go wrong, just to make sure that it doesn't.

One momentary lapse in concentration over the next couple of months could be very costly financially, and for my future.

The need for everything to run perfectly is absolute. I can't afford for anything to go wrong.

Oh look, my iPhone's got a swollen battery.

I've unfortunately had swollen batteries in two iPhones already, so I'm more aware of the symptoms than most people. And almost invisible to the naked eye, I noticed by touch a very slight raising of my iPhone's screen away from the casing, and based on the position of it being exactly where this happened the last two times, I immediately knew... swollen battery.

It was already too late to have it sent-off to Singapore to get replaced, so I put a post online to find-out how risky this actually is.

That was a mistake.

You know how if you ever look up any symptoms for ill-health online, like 'I've got a slightly sore throat,' and every comment will be something like 'that might be cancer, you should get to a doctor immediately, otherwise you could die.'

I've stopped ever looking up health symptoms online, because the answers are so exaggerated from the likely reality that you gain nothing from doing so.

It's the same with tech problems.

'I've got a slight scratch on the corner of my watch.'

'Oh my God, that could short-circuit the battery and explode killing you and everyone else around you.'

So when I put a post online asking about the risks of a swollen battery, the responses included:

Alright, fuck it I'll get it checked-out then. So the next morning, I wandered down to my usual repair shop, who all they've ever done when I've needed something, is open my phone up, tell me what I already knew, then send it off to Singapore to get actual Apple engineers to look at it.

I wasn't expecting anything different here, and after taking my phone out the back to open it, the engineer came back saying 'you've got a swollen battery and your phone has water damage.'

Yeah, that'll be from the time I dropped it in the toilet.

I didn't say that, I was all 'oh wow, that's surprising. I've been so careful to make sure I never got it wet.'

Because of the water damage though, they wouldn't replace it for the cost of the faulty battery; I'd have to pay for the entire cost of the handset.

That's kind of a shitty policy if I'm brutally honest.

Seeing as my previous two iPhone 6's got swollen batteries without ever getting water damage, I think it's reasonable to assume that the two things aren't related.

And seeing as the swollen battery, not the water damage, is the reason that I need to get the phone replaced, it's kind of a shitty policy to use the water damage as an excuse to not give me the rate that I'd get if only the battery was the issue.

It's the same as saying 'you've got a swollen battery, but the screen is scratched so you're not eligible for a replacement.' There is no connection between the two things but... well Apple aren't worth a trillion dollars because of how they don't screw people out of money.

"So how much is that?" I asked.

He quoted me the equivalent of around £300, but it'd have to get sent to Singapore for engineers to look at, and would probably be back around Friday.

I'm leaving the country on Saturday morning, 'probably' isn't good enough mate.

And why the Hell do the Apple engineers need to look at it if I'm going to be charged the full cost of the replacement anyway?

So I took my potentially explosive iPhone, put it back in my shorts pocket, which no longer felt such a great place to keep it, and waltzed on out of there.

'Fuck,' I was thinking to myself. What timing. This week's been expensive enough already.

My immediate thought was ok, what's the cheapest way to get a new iPhone?

I don't really trust Bangkok's second-hand market, so what iPhone model can I still buy new?

Some shops were still selling the 6s and the SE.

Several places were still selling the 7, and that's what appealed to me the most, thinking about cost vs capability. But do I really want to spend over £400 on a device already two years out of date? Maybe I should just wait and get an Xs, but... another £1,000. Fuck that shit.

Or... why not just keep on using this phone until it explodes properly?

I only knew it was a swollen battery because of experience. I probably would have kept on using it for another two months anyway. Why not just keep on using it? It probably won't explode during the bootcamp.

And anyway, I've got insurance now.

I also didn't get why they couldn't just pop-in a new, unswollen battery, but I guess there was a reason.

The day prior to this, I'd booked a hotel next to the airport for my final night in Bangkok.

I'd contemplated asking my landlord if I could stay in my apartment for one extra night, but ultimately concluded that to move-out of the apartment, then get all the way to the airport on the other side of the city in the morning rush hour, would be too much before my morning flight. I'd rather get the moving-out done the day before.

And after booking the hotel, I message my landlord asking him when he could come over on the 28th, suggesting 2pm.

"Ok, see you at 2pm" he replied, before deleting that messaging, saying "sorry, I have training that day. I can't get there before 7pm."

Well... damn, I don't want to hang around here until 7pm. I'm paying for a £60 hotel room.

That's a lie. You know how you go onto Agoda, and you've somehow always timed it perfectly and 'there's a special 75% discount right now!'

Oh my God, I'm so lucky. How did I time it so perfectly again?

On this occasion though... actually that hotel looks alright, so I bought this £60 room for £15 and... well if I'm paying for a £60 hotel room, then I'd quite like to get some time to hang-out there and feel all hi-so. So not being able to get there until late in the evening because my landlord can't even make it to my apartment until 7pm... well that kind of sucks.

As I was walking back from getting my iPhone looked at the next morning, at around 11:30am, he suddenly messaged me.

"Can I come around at 1pm today to look at the apartment?" he asked. "It'll make it quicker on the 28th."

My ex-girlfriend was already coming over but... ah, what the Hell?

I'd never tell her this, but she's really good to have at these kinds of encounters because she's very personable and always happy to just talk to people, so where as something like this might be a bit tense as a landlord and tenant are arranging a move-out, she always lightens the mood.

One thing that I'd completely forgotten, is that technically, my landlord is supposed to give me back my damage deposit.

I always completely disregard damage deposits because... well if your landlord decides to keep it, especially when you won't even be in the country 24-hours after moving-out, what can you really do about it?

I always consider it more of a downpayment that I'll never get back again.

But he came over, and I was very open with him about any damage, of which there isn't much. It was also good to ask him what things he wants me to leave behind. Kitchen equipment, bedding, that kind of thing that could be potentially useful to the next tenant.

He just told me to leave all of it so... well that makes it easier.

But on the 28th, "I can either come at 7am before work, or 7pm after work," he told me.

Well that sucks. I don't want to move-out at 7am and have eight free hours before I can even check-into my hotel, but I don't want to only be getting there in time for bed either.

Thanks to my ex-girlfriend we came to an arrangement where I'd give him the mailbox key now (so if you sent me any mail recently, I won't be able to get it), and then I'd leave him the keys to the apartment in the mailbox on the 28th, and leave the apartment anytime I want.

And then he said "and I'll put your damage deposit into your bank account on the evening of the 28th."

Oh fuck, I forgot about the damage deposit.

He was taking a little bit off for perfectly reasonable things, but suddenly I was about to have... more than enough to buy an iPhone 7.

Well there's a coincidence.

We talked for quite a while before he left. He used to be a programmer, and was telling me that he stopped because he hated looking at a computer screen for eight hours per day and it started to affect his eyes and...

Yeah, we should probably stop this conversation.

And then... that was it. Sweet. I'll just leave the my keys in the mailbox on my way-out on Friday, and I'm ready to move-out of this apartment.

That was pleasantly easy.

The entire time this was going on, I'd been getting messages from the suddenly active Le Wagon WhatsApp group, because the manager of the school had invited people already in Bali to meet at the beach for 'sunset drinks.'

There was a small number of people who'd seemed to have arrived already.

If you were willing to go through the hassle and expense of getting a different visa, then it was possible to stay for longer than the sixty days that I'm going for. But this message exchange, of which I didn't partake, highlighted something that's been wrestling on my mind for a long time.

I would love to be this spontaneous, impromptu guy, who lives for the moment and always focusses on now. And perhaps in the past, I was. Perhaps when I was travelling, I found that nice balance where my meticulous personality allowed me to safely live a spontaneous lifestyle.

Since I essentially stopped travelling to work six years ago though, and I've been living in the same place, doing the same things, day-after-day, my lifestyle no longer forces spontaneity into my studious mindset.

When procrastinating before bed a few weeks ago, I read some random blogs from the time I was travelling in Asia pre-CELTA (so in 2011-2012), and it was startling quite how much I've changed from then, when I often wouldn't know what town I'd go to bed in that evening, as I woke-up in the morning, to now, where in my Bangkok lifestyle, I could often tell you what I'd eat for dinner, and roughly even what time I'd eat it, five days in advance.

I'd eat at around the same time every day, and when I'd go to the supermarket, I'd buy things to make specific meals. I'd rarely buy anything off-the-cuff to just eat when I fancied. Everything I'd buy would be a specific ingredient for something.

And seeing as I'd cook my mostly fresh food based on what would go bad the soonest, if I went shopping on Friday, I could tell you with relative certainty, what I'd be eating the next Wednesday.

It's just a quirk of my personality that I focus on things in meticulous detail. It's one reason that I think that my mind is suited to programming.

But when I was travelling, there was enough new information for my brain to focus on everyday, that I could focus on detail without becoming obsessive. Once I settled-down to live though...

It's why I always say that you need to regularly get away from places to get some perspective, to look back, and to see what's actually important.

Maybe it's more necessary for me than others, but you just need that break.

You often see it in older, retired people.

At my former gym, there were these retired women who just went there everyday.

That was just what they did; it was their life now. But in the yoga class for example, you could see they'd get irritated if they didn't get their exact place on the floor.

When you go to the supermarket in the late morning, when the people with jobs are at work, it's filled with often retired people for whom a trip to the supermarket is their big, exciting thing for the day. And for them, anyone who's acting differently from how they expect people to act in their supermarket is a source of frustration.

And even though they have nothing else to do all day, getting the shortest queue to a cashier is a personal victory.

They're people who don't have enough variety in their lives, who then obsess over the things that they do have.

I think in a sense, that's what's happened to me over the past few years.

And I don't want you to make the mistake of thinking this is always a bad thing.

Obsessing over details was how I was able to travel for so long, and never really run into any problems.

Being determined to stick to something, is how I'm able to stay disciplined with my diet, only eating vegan food, rigidly sticking to fasting restrictions when I was doing that.

That, along with my discipline for exercise and other things, is how I'm able to stay so healthy.

It's even how I've kept up with this blog for over a decade.

But as with everything, there needs to be a middle-ground. And I think that's probably what I found with travelling.

When my meticulous personality met my spontaneous lifestyle, it was that perfect mesh, but that's not how I live anymore.

Instead, for the last three years I had a very structured, very routine lifestyle with almost no unknown, and no spontaneity and... I mean, it's not good really, is it?

I think on some level, a desire to bring some unknown back into my life played a part in my decision to leave my job.

I just couldn't face another year or six months of doing the same thing, day after day, week after week, term after term.

And where there might be positives, like such discipline with your diet to potentially improve the quality and longevity of your life, it's when you become obsessed over things that really don't matter, that it becomes a problem.

I would always wait in the exact same spot on the platform for my train to work, and it would always frustrate me if someone was already standing there.

It was the spot on the platform, underneath a discreet air conditioning unit, that was closest to the doors that I'd want to get off at, so was the best spot to cool down after the walk from my apartment.

These air conditioners are in the ceiling all along the platform at five to ten metre intervals, and I caught the train at a quiet station at quiet times of day. Ten yards further down the platform, there would always be another, equally cool place I could stand, but it still bugged me every time someone was in my spot.

I had my favourite toilet cubicle at work, because it was the one least likely to get people in the adjacent cubicles.

And when I'd go to the bathroom and someone was in my favourite cubicle, I'd just let-out a little 'fuck's sake' to myself.

These are part of an endless list of things, that are very easy to see from a distance, are completely meaningless. But at that moment, living-out the same routine, day-after-day, they matter. They almost become a part of you.

That is my spot on the platform. That is my toilet cubicle. And when someone disrupts that routine, it's enough to change your mood.

What you always try to do, is limit these unnecessary obsessions. Although stress often dictates you're unsuccessful, hence why you need to get away regularly, and look back and appreciate what actually matters.

And there are some restrictions that I've placed on my life that I think are great.

Being vegan: I'm healthier and I sleep with a clear conscience every night, knowing that I don't contribute to factory farming.

Drinking lots of water: I'm so disciplined with drinking at least 4.5 litres of pure water everyday, that even if I get to the end of the day and have it all still to drink before bed, I still do.

I'll be up several times in the night because of it, but consequently won't make that mistake again for a while, so will keep myself constantly hydrated through the days and weeks following.

Even little things like always brushing my teeth when I wake-up and before I go to bed.

These are things that I wouldn't ever want to change.

But then there are others, like the ones that I talked about above, that just don't matter.

And the one that's been playing on my mind a lot: Alcohol.

Let me preface this by saying that I don't miss drinking at all.

I haven't had a drop of alcohol in more than three and a half years, and I don't miss it even a little bit.

I don't miss the taste, I don't miss the hangovers, I don't miss the wasted money.

The reason that there is still dilemma to it, is that as I've found over these last three and a half years, having an alcohol-free social life is not an easy thing.

One reason that I rarely ever hung-out with the people from my work, was that everything that they ever did involved alcohol in some way.

It was always that they were going to this bar, or that pub. And I just didn't want to go and be the guy sitting there, not drinking.

Working six days per week, I didn't get much opportunity to meet people outside of my job, although at times I did even look-up various meet-ups for other interests that I had, but found that they were generally just nights out drinking disguised as something else.

You'd look up a running club for example, and the finishing point of the run would always be a pub. We're just going to run to a pub.

Like I say, my desire to drink again is zero. I don't miss alcohol at all.

But there is also a part of me that's come to appreciate over the last three and a half years, that if you want to be... accepted, socially, then alcohol is a necessary evil.

How many people in the world will justify drinking for completely fabricated reasons, just because it's something that they want to do?

I mean, that's really what we humans do in general.

We like to think that we're logically-thinking beings, but really, I see far more examples of people just doing what they want to do, and coming up with the "logic" afterwards.

I'm no different. I routinely fob-off evidence of meat being good for you, and remain steadfast in my belief of a healthy vegan diet, because I just like it. I don't want to contribute to animal farming, and this is my way to justify it to myself. I just choose the reasons that get me to the end that I want.

And seeing as alcohol is a fun drug, and an addictive one at that, there are far more people who've come up with ways to justify consuming it, than people who find reasons not to, despite basically all of the evidence pointing to it being bad for you.

If you were an alien, and you came down to earth and just looked at the pros and cons of alcohol for what they are, it'd take you mere moments to conclude that no one would be stupid enough to drink it. There are no benefits.

Yet look in a pub on a Friday night.

Or this article on the BBC, which ends with a quote from a professor at the University of Cambridge:

"Given the pleasure presumably associated with moderate drinking, claiming there is no 'safe' level does not seem an argument for abstention" he said.

"There is no safe level of driving, but the government does not recommend that people avoid driving.

Come to think of it, there is no safe level of living, but nobody would recommend abstention."

Just think about that for one moment. Appreciate how ridiculous a justification for drinking that really is.

Yes, there's no safe level for driving, but you don't get unhealthier just for doing it. You don't know that every time you get into a car, that you're taking time off your life.

You do know that every time you drink you're making yourself unhealthier.

Yet, this professor for the public understanding of risk at the University of Cambridge has come up with this drivel to justify drinking.


I can only speculate, but like most people with most things, drinking is probably just something that he wants to do, so has justified to himself why he can.

And where my dilemma comes in, is that I don't want to drink again.

I've never once missed it over these three and a half years, and I don't think that I'd even enjoy it.

But at the same time, are the social costs of abstention really worth it?

Already some peers and teachers from my bootcamp are meeting socially, and what are they doing?

Having drinks down on the beach.

When I went to Le Wagon in London, there were cases of beer at the door for people to pick from as they came in.

I'm not sure if that was because there was a talk that night, or because that's just how they finish their days.

On the evening before the bootcamp starts in Bali, people are already talking about meeting socially:

Do you notice the wording?

It's not 'let's meet-up on Sunday afternoon' or 'let's hangout on Sunday afternoon.'

It is specifically let's 'have a beer all together on Sunday afternoon.'

Beer is an integral part of this arrangement that makes it palpable.

The first response: 'Yes, let's meet for drinks soon!'

For the one above, they weren't meeting to watch the sunset on Sunday. They weren't meeting to hangout at the beach. No, they were meeting for 'sunset drinks.'

Drinks, explicitly stated.

It's something that a person probably wouldn't notice unless they abstained from alcohol for years. But as much as people like to claim otherwise, it is challenging to be socially accepted without alcohol.

Alcohol bonds people, and for many people, that is now the only way that they know how to bond with people.

I guess that for so long it's been a crutch to their insecurities that they can no longer do without it.

And for me on the one hand, I don't want to drink. It's just not something that I want or need in my life again.

But on the other hand, I do hate that you're almost forced to be socially reclusive if you don't want alcohol.

I'm sure that some people will argue that's not the case, but especially in getting to know new people, as will be the case once I get to Bali, it is my experience.

For all the negatives, it does help people to bond.

If you sit around a table with three people that you don't know, that's an awkward situation.

For some reason though, if you put some beer in the middle of that table, suddenly it's a great environment to get to know each other.

I can't fathom the logic as to why that is, but if you put a drink in someone's hand, they become more personable, even if they're not drinking it.

It's like that scene in Big Daddy, where the little kid's scared, so Sonny gives him magic sunglasses that turn him invisible, so anytime he gets scared, he puts on the sunglasses.

People are scared to talk to each other, but suddenly you put a beer in their hand and they become confident.

I don't really get it but... it is the way it is.

In fact as I was calculating the days that I've spent in each country over the course of this ten year trip, I'll admit that some of my most nostalgic moments are alcohol related.

These last three years that I've been in Bangkok, will I look back at the photos in a few years time and feel the same way, without these alcohol-forged bonds?

Probably not.

I'm still friends with some people from my first Bangkok job, and I haven't worked there for almost five years.

I've already lost touch with everyone from this job, and I only quit last month.

Is that coincidence?

People often say that too much of anything is bad for you, but everything is ok in moderation.

It doesn't quite work for everything, but it is true for a lot of things. If you have too much or too little food, you die. You need that moderate amount.

I find trying to use the same justification on alcohol a little nonsensical, but you can certainly argue that a moderate amount won't have a profound impact on your health.

At a stretch you can even make the argument that the stress-reducing properties in alcohol could even make you healthier, although I think the people that make those kinds of arguments are frantically trying to justify to themselves why it's ok for them to drink.

My point is though, that one or two drinks probably won't kill me. And to bring this full circle, has my years-long obsession with not drinking alcohol, corrupted my view of reality on it, where I'm so determined to justify to myself why I shouldn't drink, that I haven't taken a step back and simply thought... ok, sure it's unhealthy, but is abstaining entirely really worth the social cost?

Is the minimal deterioration in my health and my wallet from having a drink, not countered by the social benefit?

A part of me has toyed for the last few weeks with just having a drink, one drink, by myself, in my apartment, alone.

Not because I want one, not because I think I'll enjoy it, and not because I think it'll even taste good. Rather, in my mind right now, alcohol is such a big deal.

Having been so long without it, just like a supermarket queue to a retired person, in my mind it's become that to ever drink again, is a big fucking deal. That it could have these huge implications for my future and...

Alright, sure, it technically could. But then so could a lot of things.

The reality, when I'm able to put myself into the third-person and take a step back and actually look at it, is that to paraphrase Ricky Gervais, I am one person out of a species of seven billion, which is one of half a billion other species, on a rock that is travelling around one of over a hundred billion stars.

The consequence on the universe of whether I have a drink or not, is so insignificant. And yet I've built it up in my mind to be such a big deal.

Yet if I have just one drink, in my apartment, by myself... it all goes away. This... taboo of not drinking alcohol, it all goes away.

I've been thinking that for weeks, yet to the point that I write this sentence, I haven't been able to bring myself to do it.

We'll see if I do at some point.

Drinking a beer could perhaps be a mental farewell to this era, where abstention has been a key part to the way my life got shaped in this second stint in Bangkok.

And alas, one way or another, it is now coming to an end.

And although it's going to be hard to say goodbye to my apartment, and the familiarity of the life that I lead here, the hardest thing was always going to be saying goodbye to my ex-girlfriend.

We were lucky in that she'd taken a couple of coincidental days off work which, along with the preceding Sunday, meant that ending yesterday, we spent three days together, mostly at my apartment.

That was more time than we'd been able to spend together at any other time over these past three years.

Unfortunately, her time-off has now ended. And with her working everyday until I board my flight, we've already said our final goodbye which...

I don't envision being in this part of the world again for a while, as I said earlier, and she's never been to Europe, so our paths are unlikely to cross accidentally.

And like I always do, I didn't really realise the gravity of what was happening, until it was already over.

It's like my mind can't process what's actually happening, until I'm sat on my own and it's already finished.

I'm always pretty robotic with my emotions, and people mistake that to mean that I don't care, but it's really not the case.

She was crying as we hugged for the last time and she left my apartment, where as my face remained kind of stoic.

It wasn't until she was gone, and I sat down on the edge of my bed that I realised... fuck.

I can count on my fingers the people in the world that mean anything to me, and I just said bye to one of them for the foreseeable future.

I don't know when, or even if we're going to meet again.

Sat there alone, I shed a little tear to myself.

But this is the path I chose. I've got to live with the consequences of my decisions.

And based on the all around sadness that I'm feeling for leaving Bangkok, any reinforcement I've made the right decision has been welcomed.

Le Wagon just got rated as the best coding bootcamp 2019, so that helps.

And I saw a video that someone had put together of UFC president Dana White that I quite enjoyed.

They spliced in some factually inaccurate information with it (he never bought the company; he was only a minor shareholder, and personally made $400 million from its sale), but it spoke to me on exactly the right level of... just try it. Just go for it. Regret doesn't come from failure, it comes from not trying.

'If you're in a shitty job and you hate going into work...' yep, that was me.

That moment where you're just, 'I'm quitting...' yep, that was me.

'If it fails, then fuck it, you can go back to the job you were doing before...' yep, that's me.

"It's better to be at the bottom of a staircase to greatness, than at the top of one to nowhere."

I came up with that when I was meditating, trying to justify that I've made the right decision.

Time will only tell if there is wisdom in those words, but with two days until I move-out of my apartment, there's certainly no going back.

As I write this sentence, there are 34 hours until my insurance policy kicks-in, so knowing my luck, I'll get hit by a car tomorrow.

But it looks like I'll be taking my explosive phone and my streak of sobriety to Bali with me, for what is either going to be the best or the worst thing I've ever done.

Either this bootcamp's going to be a success, and completely transform my lifestyle and the prospects for my future.

Or it's going to be the most expensive mistake I've ever made.

I'm anticipating an intense, stressful two months.

I'm taking in the most positive mindset that I can, but who knows how long that's going to last?

I'm praying for competent, dedicated peers, but even when writing this blog, a message got sent around to the WhatsApp group from one of the teachers, pleading for the students who haven't done so, to finish the prep work.

And right now I'm a mix of sad, excited and terrified.

The only thing that I can say with certainty, is that I'm going to dedicate everything that I can to this over the next two months.

I'm committed to following this path that I'm on until it reaches some kind of conclusion.

Either success, where it leads to being able to make a living. Or failure, where it's patently clear that's not going to happen.

So as I finish this blog and sign-off from Bangkok, it's like I said before:

There ain't no gettin' offa this train, till it gets to the end of the line.