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The Road Ahead: Wade to Indonesia

Wade makes his way from Hong Kong to Indonesia and muses over the emotions that come with travel.

I am in the Hong Kong airport, about to get on a flight to Jakarta. I didn’t really think about this journey too much, the days just kind of passed and all of a sudden yesterday was the day before I was supposed to leave. “I guess I’m going to Jakarta tomorrow.” I didn’t really feel that overflow of varied emotional responses that usually comes from the thought of going to another country until I was checking in at the airport in Xiamen and the girl say the word “Jakarta.”

I liked the way it resonated.

Yeah, I am going to Jakarta.

Never been there before. Then the emotional floodgates opened: the excitement of going to a new place, the sadness of leaving my family, the pressure of having to make something of the travels, the worry of needing to file an article — somehow — with the SCMP by tomorrow afternoon, the anticipation of movement.

I’m now in Hong Kong sitting in one of those empty points in travel where you’re between one place and another. There is really nothing to do, so I just relax at the gate and watch people walk by. There is nothing more relaxing than air travel — you just go from point to point like a little sheep, shepherded by signs, teleprompters, and people employed to ensure that you don’t lose your way. There is nothing to think about when flying, so your mind wanders and your body just goes through these mechanic, zombie motions.

The plan for Indonesia is not set. I originally wanted to go to Sulawesi. I took up an interest in an old culture of sea nomads called the Sama-Bajau. Many still live on boats. I wanted to go out to the remote islands where they are fishing for sea cucumbers and see what I could learn.

Plan B would be traveling town to town down Java.

Plan C would be going to Sumatra.

The road is pretty wide open at this point. Any suggestions?

Filed under: Indonesia, Travel Plan

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3544 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Astoria, New York

7 comments… add one

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  • Pat Jack January 7, 2015, 5:27 am

    I vote for “Plan B”, traveling town to town, that worked really well in Jinmen.

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    • Dan January 7, 2015, 4:28 pm

      I spent 2 months in Sumatra a few years ago, and was blown away. It’s a fantastic place. Java, while interesting, is less spectacular and unique. Sulawesi would also be fantastic.

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  • David January 7, 2015, 7:52 am

    Surely you mean being herded like “cattle” instead of “sheep” in international air travel.

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  • Lawrence Hamilton January 7, 2015, 6:38 pm

    How much time do you have? That could help make a decision. Remote islands are always good.

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    • Wade January 7, 2015, 11:03 pm

      Only a couple of weeks here. Yes, islands could be interesting. Will try to get out there. Money is a little tight.

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  • becida January 7, 2015, 10:26 pm

    The boat people! Do they really keep chickens on their boats?

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    • Wade January 7, 2015, 11:02 pm

      Probably. I would 😉

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