Arriving in Borneo, gaining some peace of mind

We arrived in Borneo today, and for the first time since departing from Beijing Sunday morning, I can finally feel myself relax. Before going on, I should clarify that when I say "we," I will most likely be referring to my travel companions and close friends Will, Phil and Kelly. Anyway, we left Beijing Sunday morning, took a train to Tianjin, and a flight from Tianjin to Kuala Lumpur. After spending about a day in KL, we hopped another flight, this one to Borneo, and now it feels that our vacation truly begins.

The entire month of January, and first two weeks of February, were extremely chaotic for me. I was wrapping up projects and starting others, and began writing for some great new clients. But I was also trying to pack up my apartment, tie up loose ends in Beijing until I return at the end of this trip, and maintain my friendships and the great momentum I had developed in terms of my self-work.

This was all well and good until about the beginning of February, when everything came to a head. In the turbulent first two weeks of the month, I worked an insane amount of hours and survived on almost no sleep. For five consecutive days before leaving for vacation, I was up working until 5 a.m. every day, allowing myself to pass out only when I had begun to hallucinate from exhaustion, then waking up four hours later to do it all again.

My diet consisted mainly of double cheeseburger meals from McDonald's and noodles from the local Xinjiang restaurant in my neighborhood, washed down with large doses of Diet Coke and strong coffee.

In short, my lifestyle had become extremely unhealthy, with a horrible work-life balance. I actually went three days in a row without showering because "I didn't have the time." If I wasn't working, I was sleeping. There was almost no time for anything else.

I promised myself that all of that would change once vacation started. First thing on the agenda: give my brain a break. When you start hallucinating due to sleep deprivation on a regular basis, wake up every morning confused about where you are, and your short-term memory, including about what clothes you have on your body at the moment, begins to fail you, you know things are not good.

And now that I have arrived in Borneo, I feel that pattern beginning to unravel. While the first two days of the trip have been exciting and interesting, they've also been full of travel, planning and a sense of anticipation for arriving in Borneo.

This afternoon, sitting on my hostel bed, gazing through the broken shades at pink building across the alley, I felt an oddly giddy sense of relaxation. The view from our room is nothing spectacular; this is a budget backpacking trip.

But finally getting to sit with the quiet, with nothing on the immediate horizon except indulging whatever whims and interests I want, up to and including a long nap, I felt I was on vacation at last. My brain, though tired, has stopped hallucinating and already I am feeling more alert and clear-headed, which is good since I don't want to miss any of the storied wonders Borneo is supposed to offer.