The weather is rapidly changing here in Saigon, and the hot summer months are now on our doorstep. You can feel it in the evenings when you sit and enjoy your ca phe sua da, and the gentle breeze that hits you is no longer cool, but lukewarm, like it’s come out of a blowdryer. You see it when you walk down your street in the evenings and find that the little old lady who sits on a tiny stool near your apartment is now wearing a short-sleeved pyjama top instead of her regular pink cardigan. You smell it in the air when you walk past your local breakfast stall and the aromas of grilled pork permeate your nostrils deeper and stronger.
Along with the weather, we have also been undergoing some changes. If you’re a regular reader, you will have noticed that it’s been eerily quiet around these parts of late. So before I go any further, I’m going to apologise for our absence. We’re sorry. We’ll never let it happen again. Truth is, we’ve been going through ‘some stuff’ for the last month or so – stuff that we’re still trying to work through and still trying to figure out.
I’ve been too guilty to even log onto the dashboard of this site; I hadn’t even seen our statistics until just now. It both delighted and saddened me in equal measures to see how despite the long absence we’ve been doing pretty well. It delighted me because it shows that all the hard work that we’ve put into this site has been recognised and is getting paid off, and it saddened me because we’ve been unable to update it in so long.
We’ve both missed working on blog posts for the site. We used to get so excited when we’d come up with a great idea for a post, and even more excited when something we had worked on was received well by you guys. But we’ve completely let the site down for the last few weeks, and it’s due to a number of reasons. Let’s rewind a little and see what’s been going on.
Taking time to catch up
Some of you will already know that we came back to Saigon at the beginning of the year, when the weather was still cool, in order to catch up with some of our work projects. We chose Saigon because we have been here twice before and we love the city. It’s cheap, it has a fantastic café scene, plus we have some really good friends here. It is the ideal place for us to settle down in for a while and work on our freelance projects.
During this time we’ve both been doing a lot of thinking about what we want in the future: both near and distant. For example, while I’m sure you will all agree that Ankit is a fantastic photographer, it’s very hard to break into travel photography, and it’s even harder to make money through other types of photography while you’re on the move. You need to be settled somewhere where you can build up a client base, and he’s becoming increasingly interested in doing that – settling somewhere for a while to work on his photography and make money out of it, too.
I’ve also been considering which direction to take my career in. I’ve been freelancing full time for three years now, and I’m starting to feel like things have become a bit stagnate. I need a new challenge and to shake things up a bit. I hate feeling like I’m not learning anything new or that I’m not working on something that I’m passionate about, and that’s how it’s been of late.
So, in short, we came here to work but have ended up spending a lot of time thinking about what our next move will be career wise and where we see ourselves over the next few months. And trust us, this stuff can give you brain ache! It can also make you want to bury your head in the sand for as long as possible, which is one of the reasons why you haven’t seen much activity on here.
I’m writing a book!
It’s been a dream of mine to write a book for as long as I can remember. One of the many reasons why I was excited about being on the road was that I really felt it would be the perfect opportunity to knuckle down and get writing. The reality, though, is that it’s extremely hard to stick to even a semblance of a routine when you’re travelling. You will really want to always get up at the same time, work out, and then sit and do your work for a few hours before heading out to explore whichever far flung place you find yourself in, but it’s a lot harder than it sounds.
I know our friends over at Double-Barrelled Travel are extremely good at this and I admire their dedication. Unfortunately, I have the attention span of a five-year-old, so in order to have a routine that I can stick to, I really have to be ‘settled’ in some place for a longer stretch of time than a week. It will start out well, but the minute we have to change towns, get on a plane, or do anything that requires us to deviate from the routine, I’m back to square one. I wish I were better at it, I really do, but this is how I am.
So a few weeks back when I was feeling a bit down about the fact that work was a little slow (this is how it is in the freelance business – one minute you have too much work to handle, the next minute you can swear that you can see tumbleweeds rolling across your inbox) I decided to turn the quiet period into a positive and use the extra time that I had to my advantage. I now get up at 6am, shower, and make my way to our local Starbucks by 7am. I get myself a coffee, get comfortable and work on my book for two hours. This is something I’ve now been doing for two and a half weeks.
The rule is that I’m not allowed to leave until I’ve written at least 2,000 words, and I’m extremely proud to say that on most days I’m averaging 2,500. I’m already 53k words into my manuscript and I cannot quite believe the progress I’ve made in such a short space of time. I’ve grown to love my early morning starts and the two hours of writing. It’s cathartic and it makes me feel a great sense of achievement. I know that being settled in one place has enabled me to find a routine and stick to it. I’m not quite sure that I’d be able to do this if we were on the road.
If you want to follow my journey of writing my first book, check out my personal website for more details.
So, what the hell is going on with us? Good question. Ankit really wants to get his teeth more into photography while also getting paid for it. I’m starting to feel like I’ve reached a bit of a brick wall with my freelance journalism and I’m contemplating a new challenge. When we’re on the road I just don’t feel like I’m focused enough to work on my career as well as travel properly the way I want to, and Ankit feels the same.
We’re in a bit of a dilemma. We love travelling and we want to continue this journey for as long as we can, but we’re also not feeling fulfilled by the work that we’re doing, which kind of negates the whole point of it all. We want to find a sustainable way of combining the two – career and regular travel.
We have a number of options. One of them is for Ankit to find a photography-related job here in Saigon or pursue a freelance career, I can work on my book while I contemplate what my next work move will be, and we can continue to travel around Southeast Asia while we’re in Vietnam. Or, we can hit the road again and work the way we have been so far, and do it until we run out of steam. Then there’s the wild card that’s slowly becoming the favourite option: we’re thinking of moving to Nicosia, Cyprus, getting an apartment and setting up our respective businesses, while travelling around Europe at every possible opportunity.
The future of Scribble, Snap, Travel
Trust us, this site is not going anywhere. Even if we do end up settling somewhere, we will continue to travel and to share our stories. We love the little community that we’ve built around the blog and we don’t want it to go to waste. I for one absolutely love writing stories for the site – it gives me a creative outlet that I don’t otherwise have. I’ve also grown to love all the comments that we get whenever we post something new, and getting to interact with people who share our love of travel.
So are we ready to give up life on the road? While we still don’t know for sure what the future will bring, much like the weather here in Saigon, we feel we’re getting warmer.
What do you think of our plans?