I’ve always wanted to do this. Everything on that ever-changing board is potential. Almost everyone else here knows where they’re going but I don’t have a clue, and I love it. If you could go anywhere and do anything, where and what? Make the choice, let the destination guide you but nothing more.
I’m standing in the middle of a crowd at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The past three weeks have been a blur but, with one email, the ten month advertising campaign I’d been working on is over - after just three weeks. They cancelled the budget.
This means I have no plans, no income and, most importantly, total freedom.
And I think I’d like to go surfing. On the Destinations Board there are one hundred options, but one seems brighter than all the others. Bali. Air Asia. 17:55 to Denpasar. I look at my watch: it’s half past two.
I’ve never been to Bali and I’ve never just gone to an airport and bought a ticket on the spot, but now’s the time. I check the price online then go to the desk, where they can’t do me a deal. I return to a spot on the floor, log in to the airport free wifi, and book my flight.
For the past few years I’ve become pretty comfortable with my line of work, which is to organise and complete (hopefully) long distance expeditions without motors. In between I write a book or make a short film and give motivational lectures. After six years of perseverance I started to make enough to get by, especially as my life is in two bags, which right now are by my feet.
But this year I wanted something different, some perspective. Can I survive doing something else. No big endurance adventures, just smaller projects to help develop my filmmaking and presenting skills.
Make a decision and the world seems to conspire in its direction. All of a sudden I found myself being offered the chance to star in a global advertising campaign - just like that!
But now, as you know, that project was over just as it started. So now I really do have to survive in the unknown. I check in, head to the departure lounge, and with less than three hours before my flight devise a plan.
I’m almost out of battery and the only powerpoint is beside a massage chair, but the chair beeps loudly when I sit on it. The only option for silence is to drop 15 Malaysian Rinngits (£2.20) into the slot, in return for 30 minutes of massage. This is now my office.
In my bags are three assorted cameras, a tripod, a Phantom 2 quadcopter and a LiteProGear feather crane, which extends to 10 feet. I’m ready to make films. I google surf camps in Southern Bali and send similar messages to the first five I find. ‘My name is Dave Cornthwaite, I’m travelling with all the aforementioned film gear on a global journey called Out of Office, finding interesting things to tell stories about. I don’t want paying, but if you can cover accommodation and food in return for a film or five, just let me know. I arrive in Bali in five hours.’
20 minutes later an email appeared. ‘oooh sounds like we could crack a deal. Would be best to meet up and have a chat see what we can come up with. I should have a room for you. Josh’
And so it was that barely six hours after buying a ticket to Bali, I found myself at the Rapture Surfcamp in southern Bali as the new videographer for the camp’s beginner surfers. ‘You can stay for six months, if you like?’ Josh said to me minutes after we met, and although I wasn’t quite ready for that kind of commitment, I did end up spending ten days at Rapture.
The camp itself was bliss. More cushions than you’ve ever seen in your life made pre and post surf a decidedly horizontal affair, and with an active purpose to my being there I instantly had an ice breaker with everyone else at camp. Each day the beginners were driven off to the best spots for surfing that day and I quickly set up a routine, filming a little of the preparation and drive, then picking my spot to capture everyone’s waves and, occasionally, to send my camera drone up for some aerial views.
I filmed the morning session then surfed in the afternoon and each evening collapsed into a lounger and compiled individual folders showing each person’s waves that day. I also edited a short, 45 second summary of the day, and after dinner had a brief showing of what I’d caught on camera.
The boss was happy for me to sell my creations should anyone want to buy them, and in return for a couple of quid a time, almost everyone at the camp left with some super memories, the lucky ones even had their first waves caught by Droney.
My time at RaptureCamps helped me solidify my plans for the coming weeks, which were still wide open. In short, I didn’t want a plan, but did like the idea of continuing to exchange my skills for basic living and sometimes travel costs. I’ve always giving focus to my projects with some choice ground rules, and decided that I’d continue this Out of Office campaign, going in search of cool stories to tell wherever opportunity led me. The key: I couldn’t organise any ‘job’ more than ten days in advance.
The challenge was on and, by the time I left RaptureCamps with 2 million Indonesian rupiahs (£98) in my pocket, I had my next gigs lined up. It was time to head north to Ubud, and rather than Eat, Pray and Love, I was to spending the week presenting at a cowering space called Hubud, teach at the Green School (voted the Greenest School in the world in 2012) and, in return for accommodation at the incredible Bambu Indah hotel, I’d simply make a film about my stay.
Track my ongoing #OutofOffice progress on www.facebook.com/expedition1000 and www.youtube.com/davecornthwaite