It's that time again. The days are long; the nights are cold; I'm grumpy. No, I'm not depressed - I have no seasonal illness. I can get out of bed and join in the razzmatazz. But I'd rather be somewhere warm.
And so, just as the baubles come off the trees and tinsel is packed into the cupboards for another year, I'll be again. I have a flight booked to Bangkok, and six weeks later I come back from Singapore. I shall probably spend most of that time in Malaysia.
Why Malaysia? I was there on my long trip and loved it. I love its multicultural soupiness. There are indigenous Malays, many of whom are Muslim. There are Chinese with their temples and wonderful food. There are Thais, of course, with their Buddhism. And plenty of Indians with their Hindu stories and curries. There is tension - much of which is not immediately obvious to the tourist - but there are also some wonderful celebrations of cultural difference. (For instance, each tradition seems to have a different date on which to mark the New Year - and they all celebrate with wonderful processions and dancing. How I'd love it if the tiny Chinese population in my little market town took over the High Street with dragons one year ...)
I love its scenic differences. I shall brave the leeches and go into the rainforest. I might try a little snorkelling off the coast of an island. I shall admire the patchwork hills of the tea plantations.
I shall see if some of the people I met last time are still there: Farouk, the waiter who gave me bigger and bigger breakfasts every day in Penang; Rusty - a landlady in Mersing who knew I needed a cup of tea before I even opened my mouth; Miss Jo - who took me to a Sikh ceremony and then to lunch. They may not be there, of course - it's nine years since I was last in Malaysia and much will have changed. But I'll look for them. And spend time with anyone else who might wander across my path.
Will I write about it when I get home?
I don't know. If there are adventures - then I probably will. But I'm not looking for adventures. In spite of all the dramas in Nepal I don't go looking for cyclones and tigers. I'm returning to a place that I love, because I can, because it's winter, because it is so gloriously different.
But I will blog it. (And I don't go till January, so no need to wave me off quite yet!)