My One Year Sabbatical in a Nutshell

August already as my sabbatical draws to a close. One year over quick as a flash, but has it been so fast. I remember those long days of packing box’s, moving, waiting. Weeks until that first plane out of England, long days that were replaced with nail-biting journeys, steering away from earthquakes. Long nights wondering about aftershocks and how/if we would wake. The rum bottle-shaped like a monk. Long sleepless nights in the heat of India’s monsoon, Southern Thailand restlessness and the beauty of Yangon. Thoughtfulness after my first days on the streets, itchy blankets, filthy toilets, spiders the size of my fist and the most glorious warm smiles that lasted forever, last forever. And rats.

Long days cycling around Angkor Wat, long days looking for lost accordions and airport after airport after train after bus after room, after train after train, after room after bus after train after bus bus bus tuck tuck bus train flight room room.

Long walks through the lower Himalaya , across borders, across bridges and no mans land. Long days on tropical beaches swimming towards the sunset, long nights in Chinese karaoke bars singing to The Carpenters before a long ferry ride, a sharp short air-bound shift and submerged in a totally different culture. Tada. Temples, stupa, temple stupa stupa.

Shooting movies for German TV, judging art contests in gymkhanas, day boats, night boats, night boats, day boats. Riding camels across the dunes of the great Thar desert, riding bus roofs for days in the Burmese countryside, hours of wondering and sneaking into five star pools. Long  inductions into cults, friends dying of TB and falling in love all over again. Long lines waiting to be hugged by goddess and friends long goodbyes. Long hours between meals due to the fear of fish sauce. Beaches and swimming, searching for coral, avoiding the source of the sauce.  Long days trying to book train tickets and the days drifting into each-other, as the sun turned me brown and browner. Long bus rides with fragile Burmese stomachs vomiting into bags and long nights running from lady-boys. Sunrises and sunsets staring out across the earth. The long wait for the apple store and the sheep waiting for slaughter. Waiting for red wine. Waiting for the bus. Waiting to return.

Street parties, room parties, bus parties, train parties. Friends never forgotten, connected forever by memory and the shared experience. Mrs. Popcorn and her avocado slat, Denis Sweeney and his re-appearances, the masseuse, the train worker and the boy from Israel. The vertical gardener, the wondering mistral, the girl who was desperate for action and the two Adams. The son of the Burmese government, the bagpiper and the fellow hope. The cigarette selling footballer, mamma z and the Shrew. All there, all here.

Designing shops for random Keralan men met on trains, hiring boats to sail great waters and water parks with segregated wave machine ropes and fake Bollywood rain storms. All taken in stride after taxis, rooms, bus’s and planes. Beetroot upon days of beetroot. A life really worth living. A lucky man.

Reflecting on this year that unfolded, with joy and with sorrow as i unpack the packed. Nothing presented as expected, days that just couldn’t have been planed. Excitement and freedom ever single day, but sometimes perhaps not.  All documented, all lived, always cherished. Days of the then unknown, mystery on tap. Laughing, crying but mostly joy, with a little fear now and then thrown into the mix.

So as i drift through my final few days, before i resume my post i thank myself for making this choice, wondering how it will impact on my British reality. My only regret is that it didn’t last forever.


  1. Michela

    Beautiful words! I’ve never had a sabbatical year and I’m very envious. We are going to Burma in october, only 2 weeks, any recommendation for a not conventional trip?

    • pinkybinks

      Thank you Michela. You must go to Hsipaw….Its truly beautiful. And find the hot springs there. Don’t bother with Mandalay. Pyi u lin is also nice…the food market is fantastic. Also Yangon is great – If you want any advice with where to stay just let me know. Try to book guest houses in advance. The clover hotel is really good in Yangon.

  2. asmallpiecedaniellemarshall

    Great post. I love how you’ve given us just a little taste and left so much to our imaginations!


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