Bags almost packed and almost ready to go, in two days that is. This is going to be such an adventure.
In a way I am fortunate that my work takes me places and provides new experiences but still it is always difficult to leave home where your loved ones are. Luckily things are not that bad this time round due to the fly-in/fly-out (FIFO) nature of this assignment though I have heard of depression cases especially around the time one is about to depart for the next rotation. As a fairly independent and strong-willed person, I don't think FIFO will get to me like that but I guess you can never be sure of something you haven't been through.
As I was setting up my roster in my spreadsheet, I started thinking about what I should do during my 4-week R & Rs. This is really a rare opportunity as not many full-time workers can get to enjoy such regular long breaks and I feel that I should not waste them. But going on holidays means spending more time away from boo after being away for so long not to mention spending more money. I think we must somehow achieve a compromise by vacationing together for short nearby trips and not making the solo trips too long.
The roster for FIFO rotations is never cast in stone due to uncertain project requirements and on top of that I have to co-ordinate all plans with my back-to-back (the person I take over when he goes on his break who will do the same for me) so a 4-week on/4-week off rotation can become 5/3, 6/4, 3/2, or any other permutation one can think of. This makes the booking of air tickets and lining up holiday plans and accommodation very challenging (and expensive as nothing can really be booked in advance).
That being said, I know I will somehow successfully manage my 6 (at least) breaks. From the list of things I can do during those 4 weeks, you can see that there is no shortage of ideas. I really
hope I don't just let procrastination win out and waste my precious
breaks. To date my R & R plans include:
1. Spending some time back in Singapore (Chinese New Year with family and Pink Dot with my gay friends).
2. Short trips to nearby Asian destinations (Bangkok during Songkran for an long-overdue fashion pilgrimage where I stock up on cheap apparel and Bali where I have always wanted to visit, hopefully with someone familiar with that place).
3. A trip to Japan with boo (FINALLY!) and I am thinking of spending more time in Hokkaido instead of Tokyo this time.
4. Vegetating at home with boo completing new (the much-anticipated Dragon Age: Inquisition) and yet-to-be-finished Xbox 360 games.
5. Hosting my mum in Melbourne and taking her to every single attraction here, including the more interesting suburbs (I have not really spent full non-working weeks with her in Australia before and I finally have the chance to now).
6. Getting re-acquainted with Manhattan (I used to go there almost every weekend when I was working in New Jersey 10 years ago). I am thinking of spending 3 to 4 weeks just living there and re-exploring the island in much more detail (I would need to find a local willing to put me up though).
7. Keeping vacation spots to within Australia (going back to Ashby with boo to visit the in-laws, accompanying him to Sydney when he is there to attend a friend's wedding and 2-day trips with him to the hot springs in Mornington Peninsula or bed & breakfast in Yarra Valley).
8. I am also thinking of visiting Europe although it is quite unlikely at this point as I don't really want to explore Europe alone.
It is spring tomorrow and the weather in Melbourne today is perfect but I will not get to enjoy that much as it is constantly-pouring in Papua New Guinea (monsoon season perhaps—PNG weather seems to be very uncertain). And to make things worse, the volcanic eruption from Mount Tavurvur yesterday has a potential of affecting my flights next week (I really hope I will be promptly-informed if that's the case).
Seeing that I will be working and living in the remote highlands, I don't foresee any chance of a photo shoot (amongst other things typical in the developed world) but there is a gym in the camp and I will keep my routine up in order to maintain my body in a shoot-ready condition. I actually hope to use this time to bulk up a little more as there is really not much to do other than work, eat, gym and sleep. I might also have more time to compose, that is if I don't exhaust all my energy after 12-hour work days (7 days a week) and gym.
As I said, it is going to be an adventure and I am so looking forward to it. I will provide a pictorial update when I am settled in but till then happy spring!