Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Wandering planner

As I said in my previous post, I had a lot on my mind once I got back from Tanzania in December last year. You may know this already, I've made some pretty radical choices for this year and I'm very happy about it.

I decided to resign from my job at iris in London and go travel for a while, which is something I've wanted to do for a very long time. As my friend Adam told me, traveling is one of the few topics I get visibly very excited about when it comes in conversations. I really hesitated as it certainly wasn't the reasonable thing to do but those who know me also know I enjoy being unreasonable and I usually do things putting 100% in or not do them at all. I'd given up my previous flat in London and was going to look for another one while staying at my brother's place for a few months, I have a little bit of money on the side, I'm single and my wanderlust only grew stronger after the trip to Africa. Anyways, all of it put together it's a great time to take a plunge and go ahead with travel plans.

I only had a short few weeks in January to sort out everything in London and flew to Hong Kong on the 2nd February where I'm writing this from. One of other best friends, James, lives here and I hadn't seen him for several years. I have been organising a loose itinerary traveling in Southeast Asia and taking care of my visas for China, Vietnam and Laos. My little brother Morgan recently moved to Laos so the first leg of the journey is to make my way from here to Vientiane overland, via China and Vietnam. In a few months, probably during the summer depending on how the budget goes, I'll be looking for a new job somewhere in the region.

I've also decided to write letters and post cards while on the way so send over your address if ever you wish to receive one (I'll prioritise people I know, but happy to send something even if I don't know you). I received a letter from my sister who recently moved back to France in December and I'd forgotten how cool it is to receive and read a letter. I also like the idea of writing something for one person rather than broadcasting online on places such as this blog. I tend to be completely oblivious to the magic of email and online stuff; I'm looking forward to be a bit disconnected while traveling (at least not have 24/7 access as I'm used to).

I had a break from the Internet and computers while in Africa and it was very refreshing. I also forget that emails or even SMS are asynchronous methods of communication. There is a lot of talk about real time these days and my usual expectation if I send an email or an SMS is that I should get a reply very soon if not immediately - when you think about it, it's pretty silly given the other person isn't there waiting for you even though that's how I and others I've seen behave. Anyways, the surprise of someone I write to getting a letter in the mail while they're waiting for people to reply to important emails and text messages makes me smile. So there.

I also just finished reading Chief Culture Officer by Grant McCracken; a really good book and it's giving me interesting ideas for things to look out for while traveling as well as what and how I'd like to share those noticings. That's why (sort of) I can happily announce that if you're a hardcore Gourmet Burger Kitchen fan wandering around Lan Kwai Fong in Hong Kong, you can sample the wares of Gourmet Burger Union (Disclaimer: I didn't eat there so no idea how their burgers are, I just liked the extreme similarity with the GBK logo). This in itself is a whole mine of inspiration for thoughts / a blog post about brand copycats of which there are all around in Hong Kong and China.

I'll add just one last thing matching back with some of the ideas Grant put forward in CCO, if you have a brand and you don't follow what's going on with your customers and in culture generally, you might have copycats take your brand and likely do more inspired things with it than your brand book will ever allow (Again, the thought doesn't necessarily apply to GBK vs. GBU though if someone who tried both wants to comment, they're more welcome).

So if you want to follow some of my travel experiences; check out this blog, my Twitter stream, my Audioboo (which will also post to Twitter / Facebook), Facebook if we're friends there, Flickr, or if I have your address make sure you check your mail box regularly ;)