The first week of February has passed, yet this is the first day I actually get to sit down and write something that's not work related since about 20 January.
Anybody who is self-employed will be familiar with the famine or feast period that is December and January. Either everybody is out of office, or they need all the things done ASAP before they leave for the holidays or realise they forgot lots of stuff during their return. Thus, I barely had any work for the first half of January, but once we landed in London, I was inundated with jobs and worked two weeks straight without a single day off.
Still not falling for Thailand
Which is ironic, since I was hoping for lots of work while we were still in Thailand. We started the New Year in Khon Kaen, Isaan. I can confidently say that the hotel we stayed at for the three nights leading up to 2016 was the best thing I've ever experienced in Thailand, and not only because of the low price for a 5-star hotel (we stayed at the Pullman Raja Orchid at Khon Kaen, which more than worth its rate, although the breakfast was terrible). Isaan just kept being terrible, and to top it off, nobody seemed to be available to take us anywhere during the days before and after new year. Even tuk tuk drivers were rarely motivated to take us!
After a few more lacklustre days in Udon Thani (again, the best thing were the gym and pool in our apartment building), we flew back to Bangkok. One of my travel resolutions for 2016 is to fly less, but the buses in Isaan are terrible. They make countryside buses in India seem like the Shinkansen!
We spent a few days in Bangkok, which remains my favourite place in all of Thailand, before flying back to London. It was high time to leave South East Asia!
Catching up with friends in the UK and Italy
A week in London was just the right amount to catch up with friends and family, get our international food fix and remind myself that nope, I still don't feel like going back. After a spontaneous 4-day trip to Edinburgh (which is amazing any time of year, and I hope to return in the warmer season sometime), we were off to Italy!
We didn't mean to go to Italy. I don't mind Italy but if you've been reading my blog for a bit or know me, you will know that I'm not a fan of Mediterranean Europe. The Med is too easy and often a bit boring to me. Give me the Balkans, the Middle East or North Africa any time... However, a good friend of mine recently moved to Italy to live with her Italian husband to be, and we couldn't resist visiting her in Milan. Our two nights there reminded me how very much I am a continental European and enjoy openly chatting with friends and random strangers alike about history, culture, politics and of course food! No saving face bullshit for a while!
Working and roaming in Rome
As we were a bit at a loss where to go next, we decided to find a home base for a few weeks and found a very reasonable air bnb apartment in Rome for a month. So far, I've spent most of my time working, but have to admit that I'm not very smitten by the place. I've seen to many Roman ruins elsewhere in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East that I don't find the ones in the middle of the city centre very inspiring. Nor do I like how the centre feels like a museum and anywhere outside like the Paris banlieue. Yet, our apartment is lovely and I've got lots of stuff to work on, so I don't really feel disappointed. I shouldn't be moaning at the food, either, but man, it's hard to get non-Italian food in Rome. Even the "Chinatown" barely sells food, just crappy clothing and plastic junk.
Arrogant? Having grown up with Italian food and Italians, having lived and worked with Italians, I have to say that the best Italian food doesn't have to be found in Italy. In particular, and Italians agree with me, not in the restaurants of biggest cities (where it's actually immigrants cooking most of the time). So while I like Italian food, eating it 7 days a week gets boring fast. I do appreciate the Sicilian veg and oranges which are prolific even at this time of year, though!
Italy is being kind to us, and offers a lovely start to the year, for which we have some grand plans! Keep an eye out for the February and March updates :)