7 countries, 13 flights and 50 tuk-tuk rides: Taking a sabbatical to travel

In November last year, our Associate Director and Indirect Tax specialist, Alex, set out on his sabbatical travels for 3-months. Over 12 weeks, Alex visited Singapore, Australia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

7 countries, 13 flights, and 50 tuk-tuk rides later, Alex is back in the Harvey John office!

Alex, so good to have you back in the office! How does it feel after taking a sabbatical to travel, to return to reality after such a long break?

Cold! After spending the last 3 months in shorts and t-shirts, I’m wondering if my body will ever reacclimatise to British winter – But besides returning to the ‘beast from the east’, it’s great to be back and in a routine again.

What was your main goal for that trip?

The main goal was more or less to have no goals. I’m a huge over-preparer and this was the chance to go with the flow and not be bound to premeditated plans. That said, I was also determined to eat my way through Asia without getting food poisoning – Alex 0 – 1 Asia.

What was the weirdest thing you ate?

A ‘century egg’… It’s exactly what it says on the tin! (Google it!)

What was your best experience?

The first 5 hours of our train ride from Ella to Colombo were incredible. Hanging out the window and seeing the mountains and tea plantations unfold certainly made up for having a Sri Lankan family sitting on my lap for the next 7 hours of the trip! Apparently, you can’t ‘oversell’ train tickets in Sri Lanka…

Scuba diving WW2 shipwrecks in the Philippines, exploring Sydney’s coastline, and eating the street food of Asia are also up there!

What was your worst experience?

It’s a cross between being chased by rabid dogs in Sri Lanka in the middle of the night and being hotel-bound on an island in the Philippines during a wild typhoon. Neither of these was fun at all!

Any advice for people considering visiting Australia & SE Asia?

Book hotels in advance over Christmas and avoid typhoon season!

How have your travels affected your work/life attitude?

It’s a bit cliche amongst the traveller alumni, but it reinforced to me how much we have given to us on a plate across most of the Western world and that we should maximise every opportunity we’re given.

Any advice for people considering going on a sabbatical?

If you’re able to do it, do it!

If you could go back in time and do it all again, what would you do differently?

Sweet-talk David into letting me have an extra month off so I could squeeze in New Zealand!

What are your travel plans going forward?

This year I’ll spend some time exploring what’s on our doorstep with a few long weekends in Europe. I think Austria, Germany, and some Italy are on the cards.

Alex Mann is a Director in the Tax Division at Harvey John.

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