I am going travelling. Solo. Unplanned. No time limit.

I’ve got 53 years on my body clock and slightly fewer dark hairs on my head. The rest are salt and pepper (please don’t say grey).

I’ve sold the house, the 4×4, the four poster bed and a lot more (nobody wanted the Swarovski crystals – least of all me). Everything I own is in storage.

I’ve booked a one way ticket to Bali, four nights in a hotel and three in a homestay. And that’s the lot.

There’s a vague idea. South East Asia until the monsoon, then the European summer. Back east after the rains via north Africa.

But it’s essentially unplanned. A series of spontaneous fork-in-the-road decisions lie ahead. What kind of travelling? Simple and basic. Luxury is off limit. I’m aiming to travel cheaply.

It’s an experiment, of sorts. I last backpacked 30 years ago. The intervening years have been marked by easy living and swanky travelling. I aim to discover whether a return to basics is possible and even vaguely desirable. Are homestays, beach huts and hostels a plausible way to travel for a NONY (Not Old, Not Young)? Is spontaneous travel more authentic and exciting?



On this journey I want to get out of life’s straightjacket. Stray way off the beaten track and glimpse ancient and remote cultures.I want to witness the wonder of our planet. For those of you who don’t know me I’m Arthur Penlington. I live in Noosa, Queensland, Australia. I do a little university lecturing and some web writing.

I left the UK in 2005. At the time I was the Senior Editor of  the BBC’s 24 hour news channel. I travelled a lot for work covering wars,  revolutions, coups and elections. Those journeys were  backed by the  resources of a major TV corporation. This time I’ll just have an IPad. I was also a lot younger then.

Interested to see if this travel is possible or whether I inevitably dash for the haven of smart hotels and a chocolate on my pillow at night? Please put your address in the Follow Blog By Email box (it’s on the right hand side of this page). You’ll get updates whenever I write them. Don’t worry, you won’t be inundated.


65 thoughts on “Home

  1. leah trevelyan

    its your favourite neice here lol. hope all is well. leah xxxx

  2. Anonymous

    Hello Arthur,

    Hope you are keeping well!! but where are you these days??

    Speak soon

    Eif and Ior xxx

  3. Catarina Scartazzini

    Hope to see you in South America! Enjoy Sumatra! The vony (veryoldnotyoung ) 8 days older Catarina

  4. Anonymous

    arthur – forgive me for being nosy but are you still in the Philippines or back in Oz – i cant make it out. anyway if you dont reply to this dont worry xx

  5. Karen and tony

    Hi Arthur,
    Just found your blog! Seems we have a lot of catching up to do!!!
    Hope all is well.
    Karen and Tony.

    • Hi guys

      Lovely to hear from you. Glad you finally found me. Yep, life takes some unexpected turns.
      Been putting my best foot forward for more than 11 months now and it’s great fun.
      Hope all is going really well for you both.
      Cheers and all the best

  6. Susan Heaver
    Well mr p I caught up with you at last. I envy you soooo much – can I come and join you but I ain’t carrying your holdall or rucksack – love reading all about your travels xxxx

    • Mrs H. Wonderful to hear from you. It’s been a long, long time. Hope life is great and you and Mr H are still getting yourself out around the world.
      You’re welcome to come and join me……..but I’m about to go trekking in the Borneo jungle and I suspect leeches, spiders and torrential rain aren’t your thing. Way too sophisticated for that.
      Keep in touch. Made my day
      Mr P

  7. Nice to have met you in Luang Prabang, Arthur. It’s great to read your blog. Hope we will meet again somewhere on the road around the world. Good luck and good travels.

  8. Brian

    Hi Arfur,
    Where the bloody hell are ya? Haven’t heard from you for a while – you didn’t venture over the North Korean border did you? I’m sure they would love an ex BBC correspondents view on their political system…. miss the stories mate Brian

    • Hi Brian

      Sorry for the absence…..but be careful what you wish for you might get inundated from here on in!
      Nowhere new North Korea but would still love to go there.
      Good to hear from you, hope life is grand.

  9. Anonymous

    G’day Arthur! Hope everything is going well. I’m in Phnom Penh. It’s kinda weird, but I enjoy it. Angkor Wat was great, they recorded Indiana Jones there. That’s very impressing! The very same day you left Greenview, a russian mid age couple checked in. With them they only had an entire boat with engine and fishing gear. Very funny and very confusing! Cheers/ jaakko

    • Hej Jaakko,

      Great to hear from you and glad Cambodia is going well.
      Phnom Penh is a long way from the peace and quiet of Koh Mak.
      Shame I missed the Russian couple with the boat – sounds very Greenview.
      I made it to Khao Lak and will stay a while near beach and national park.
      Hope you have a fun Christmas……or even just a weird one in PP.
      Travel well.

  10. YOD

    Hi Arthur,

    This is YOD.

    Just arrived home. Looking forward to read the story of Koh Mak.

    • Hi Yod
      Good to hear from you.
      It was great meeting you. I enjoyed our time on Koh Mak – lots of interesting conversations and thanks for showing me around.
      Good luck with everything in Bangkok.


  11. Anonymous

    Hi Arthur,

    This is YOD. I will try to read all of your journey.

  12. Mel West

    Miss you Arthur! Looks like you’re having a great time. Hope to catch up if/when you return to the Coast x Luv Mel

    • Hi Mel

      Lovely to hear from you. I hear you’ve moved on. Hopefully you’re enjoying the new job. I hope it gopes great for you. Bit of a steep learning curve starting just before Christmas but I’m sure you’re used to it.
      All the very best

      • Anonymous

        Hey there again! Yeah moved on to bigger and better things 🙂 It’s definitely very busy before Christmas, but it’s great. A lovely environment to work in! Miss lots of people from PSGC, and don’t miss a few at all!! Saw Roger and Suellen the other day, they came and had a coffee with me, it was so nice to see them! Hope you’re having a great time!

        Take care and stay safe OK xx

  13. Martin

    Hi Arthur,

    have had some WiFi-Problems in Myanmar – just wanted to tell you about Nay Pyi Taw – it is really as surreal as described in the travel guides – never seen empty highways like this.

    • Hi Martin

      Lovely to hear from you. You’re right, Myanmar and wii is not a good combination is it. I did actually go to Nay Pi Taw for a day and a half and I’ll write a blog about it soon. Totally strange place. Nve Ben anywhere quit like it. Hope you are still travelling well and having fun. Ve best wishes, Arthur

  14. Anonymous

    Hi Arthur.
    Nice to hear the news about your travels and forthcoming book. Great to know we can be kept up to date with your experiences.
    Message off Dad, there is now a plaque on the bedroom door,nobody has stayed since the last time you visited. Don’t forget next time you are over this way call for a paned in Rhewl, do try and give us a bit of notice.
    Look forward to your next blog.
    Take Care keep out of trouble and good luck for the rest of the journey.
    Love and Best wishes
    Helen and Brian

    • Great to hear from you. Sorry I missed you in Rhewl. Next time I will call in …..and give you notice! Get the paned ready.
      Hope you are both well.

    • Helen

      Gareth has now signed up to your blog, and is asking for you.
      Keep in touch
      Love Helen

      • Hi Helen

        Thanks for letting me know. Please say hello from me and give him by best wishes.


      • Helen

        Hi Arthur.
        Message from Mam ‘Happy Birthday ‘ for tomorrow.
        Have a great day.
        All the best
        Love Helen and Brian

        • Hi Helen

          Thanks very much and please say thank you to your mum for me.
          Just back from Germany and celebrating my birthday today in London.
          I fly out to New York at the weekend. What a globetrotter!


          • Helen

            Absolutely fantastic, you are making me very jealous, but I suppose somebody has to keep the country going by working!!!. Have a great birthday.
            Love Helen

          • iorwen jones

            Hi Arthur glad your doing well!! A big Happy Birthday from the Jones’s seniors and juniors!!!! All the best!

            Date: Wed, 25 Sep 2013 08:31:57 +0000 To: iorwenjones26@hotmail.com

            • Thank you very much all of you, seniors and juniors. Lovely day in London with a good friend, walk along the Thames, lazy lunch, visit to the British Museum, cinema, dinner in the West End……now I’m well and truly in need of an easy day.

  15. Aunty Eileen

    I’m very sorry that I missed you and hope that I’m here to see you next time you come!
    Have a safe journey home and a lovely birthday when it comes.

    p.s. If I’d have known you were still there in the morning, I would have gone to see you.x
    Lots of love, Aunty Eileen xxx

    • Hi Aunty Eileen

      Lovely to hear from you. It was a shame I didn’t get to see you. I called a couple of times.
      Next time I’m over I’ll give you some advance notice.
      Hope you’re well. The rest of the family seemed on great rom.
      Stay warm through the winter.


  16. Iorwen

    Hi Arthur!! the blog is working!!! now I can track you down when you are not far from Ruthin town!! to save us having a heart attack!!
    It was so nice to see you on Tuesday night!! (and looking younger!!) everybody enjoyed your company!!Take care and keep in touch!! x

    • Hi Iorwen
      It was fantastic to see you all and thank you very much for the hospitality.
      It was wonderful to be back in Cyffylliog seeing you and the rest of the family. Definitely one of the highlights of my journey so far.
      All my very best wishes to you, Eifion and family.

      • Iorwen

        Thanks Arthur!! You know your always welcome in the Sgeibion area!!

        C u soon and
        take care xxxx

  17. mike jones

    Hi Arthur. Mam was glad to see you, am looking forward to following you on the rest of your travels. Always thought you were off your head !!!!!!!ha ha. stay. safe.

  18. mark ellis

    Hi Arthur,

    Warm greetings from your old deckchair assistant!

    Brother Guy somehow found out about your blog and let me know.

    I think it’s a great idea – NONY – btw; and wonderful that you’re touring [part of] the planet. Good for you. fyi I have very fond memories of backpacking across Malaysia and Indonesia 15 years ago, where I believe you are presently. Dont miss seeing Northern Sumatra in particular if you can help it. Superb.

    Take care.

    Mark Ellis.

    • Hi Mark

      You are like London buses. Wait for ages and then two members of the Ellis family turn up at the same time.

      It is really great to hear from you. I dread to think how many years it has been.

      I am now in Europe but at some point in the next few months will probably head to S E Asia. Northern Sumatra is definitely on the list. If you have any thoughts I’d love to hear them. Hope life is treating you superbly well.

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      PS: I still have a token. I think there is still one deckchair outstanding. Could you go and have a look behind the paddling pool.

  19. Peter Mehring

    It was wonderful to meet you.
    Have a nice time…

  20. welcome to malaysia (your highness haha) .. I will look forward for your update, say that you are considering for companies you may let me know while in malaysia (mostly around penang)

  21. Bryan Milner

    Hi Arthur,
    Peregian Springs golf club just ain’t the same. Just got your story from Satomi the other day.
    How could you leave us all in this repulsive part of the world, doing it so tough.? (At least you
    don’t have to play golf).
    Take care

  22. Marea and Dave Ryan

    Good on you, Arthur. Von Ryan’s Express might have a hope of getting more than the “Always a Bridesmaid” prize at the next trivia night.

  23. Vaughan and Trish Rostron

    Good on ya mate. Sorry we didn’t catch up before you left, will have to share a red when you get back or pop home for a visiy???? Hope you have a wonderful experience and look forward to following your adventure.

  24. Tony Caldwell

    The WASPS were very well behaved today, Grey hai!! I would have any colour , pink or blue, it’s better than none, enjoy, Tony C

  25. David smith

    Have a great time mate, wish you all the very best. See you soon mate. Where Iam not sure but have a great time, rather travel then working in the hot outback.

  26. Brian Cairns

    Hi Arthur,
    Travel well. We look forward to sharing your experiences. Bet it won’t be long before you start hankering for the turn-down service and chocolate on the pillow!

    • Cheers Brian. I am now in my first $20 a night homestay and they do actually turn down my bedding each night. Sadly I don’t know the Indonesian for chocolate please.

  27. Dave

    Have a blast mate, stay safe! Dave & Sarah

  28. Stu and Marja Blyth

    Enjoy your travels, personally I will be opting for the hotel with the chocies on the pillow.

  29. Donna Mulder

    Go for it Arthur! All the very best old chap … I’m with you … Currently, in the outback up in the gulf. Living cheaply and simply is a beautiful way of life! AND you get to meet REAL honest people too! You will love it. Good luck and all the best!
    Donna XO

  30. Brian Bishop

    Salt & Pepper haha whats left is just bloody old and grey!

  31. Satomi

    Love your blog.xx

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