OR OLD BIRD GETS THE TRAVEL BUG AGAIN!
In preparation for a big trip across many countries, one has to take a deep breath and dive in. After the rosy flush of my first ever solo long-distance trip to Thailand, I didn’t want to lose my buzz and immediately started checking what would be a good time to go East once more. I had returned in the December for a pretty lousy 60th birthday and a shitty Xmas so was keen to get myself away in the New Year maybe March with all that was to be organised.
Fear of Flying.
I wanted to hit India as I really didn’t want another mammoth flight to Bangkok (although I would be going there later) and thought my best bet was Northern India. The flight to New Delhi is four hours less than Bangkok and boy oh boy it makes a huge difference. Generally, you fly at night which I hate. I know that as long as I can see out the window in the day, I can keep the flight from crashing. I do this by staring out the window and concentrating very hard at any sign of turbulence. I am very good at this. Call me old fashioned but I know it. Now when you’re hurtling through the pitch black and they make you close the blinds til morning you are basically in a claustrophobic metal coffin. Since doing the long haul with Thai Airlines I will never make that mistake again. So I was loving the India vibe when I saw I could get a morning flight arriving at a civilised time in the afternoon.
The Vague Plans.
So step one would be a Delhi base and fly to Jaipur for a few days for the Moghul palaces back to Delhi then Agra for a bit of Taj Mahal. Finally, I would hit Varanasi for sunset and sunrise on the Ganges. Excellent.
Top Tip: You might want to remember to do the usual health checks with your doc as India and any long-distance travelling takes its toll. In retrospect I wouldn’t have been so hasty with the length of the Indian visa, there is so much to do there and there are wonderful train trips you can get to go down South. Me, in my hotheaded impatient way, wanted to get along swiftly enough not to miss out on the whale sharks so just had the two weeks there. However, I WILL go back!!!
For my next bit of the plan I wanted to go to the Philippines, so off I trotted to their Embassy by Trafalgar Square where they also have a casual tourist office. They were brilliant and were the ones who told me about the whale sharks and it being the right time of year for their migratory season (at that point I didn’t fully understand that you can swim with them.) I was kitted out with maps and leaflets and booklets and by the end of the chat, they were all very enthusiastic as if they were coming too. At this point, I would, APU wing it, what an innocent I was. You can’t go to the Philippines (and quite a few other countries) without POOT (proof of onward travel) (CLICK THIS LINK FOR WHAT CAN HAPPEN …). This nasty little trick has screwed me three times despite Expedia assurance on one occasion that I didn’t need it. So innocent me, I didn’t book an onward flight as I don’t like to be tied to a schedule and anyhow I didn’t know where I was going next. I was a free spirit FFS.
Alert: for tips on hot trips and some general homework on preparation for solo travel especially if you’re an old bird. Click on following link SIZZLING HEAT AND OVEN READY OLD BIRDS! Interested in swimming with whale sharks? Click SWIMMING WITH WHALE SHARKS. For mature peoples, fitness tips click SOLO TRAVELLERS AND FITNESS and FITNESS AND THE MATURE SOLO TRAVELLER. Also, you might want a quick butchers at Life when travelling solo, new viewpoints? That’s more if you’re still pondering travelling solo. Good luck my birdies! Fly freeeeeee!!!
Next little trot was to the Malaysian Office where I added some more brochures to my bag and was wowed by the idea of going to the orangutan rehabilitation centre at Sepilok. Another vagary in my casual attitude, also I loved Malaysian food surely that was good enough reason? I was on fire. So India then the Philippines then somewhere, whatever. Click on the above link and the foulness of not organising POOT will be explained and all the drama it entailed.
Anyhoo, I just booked three flights, London New Delhi, New Delhi Bangkok Bangkok Manila and would sort the rest when I arrived in the Philippines. HOORAY! Blithely I unsuspectingly got on with other exciting things. Online application for a visa for India and a quick check about any vaccinations I would need and of course malaria tablets. Then I swiftly assessed other countries in the general area I possibly would visit. Indonesia for sure but my future travels were rather woolly in my brain. I love travelling like this but as I said it has pitfalls.
Ready to pack my tiny suitcase (CLICK ON LINK FOR THE PACKING TIPS) I was flushed with pride, I was back for just a short time after my Central Europe mega trip and was whizzing off again. Haha I was on fire.
My visa finally arrived in the nick of time meaning I meandered off into the sunset like old birds do. ‘Seize the day’ is my motto and thank the dear lordy lord I did considering the difficulties now. I do wonder if I sensed something ominous in the air, I was in such a rush to squeeze in as much as possible. I felt maybe it was because I was getting older and wanted to test myself with big adventures but now I believe it was some kind of premonition….. reinforced by my hideous time in Beijing and starting to see how horrendous it would be to live under a Fascist regime.
Countries Visited Last Two Years.
This was from my journal in March 2018. In 2017 I had gone to Thailand and Cambodia, Central Europe, (Prague, Budapest, Sopot, Krakow, Vienna, Zagreb, Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik). 2018 this trip (New Delhi, Agra, Varanasi, Jaipur, Manila, Cebu, Panglao, Talisay, Kota Kinabalu, Sepilok, Kuching, Bako, Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, Jakata, Bunaken, George Town Penang, Chiang Mai, Bangkok) and more Europe. In 2019 The trans Siberian Trip and the Central and South America. So CARPE DIEM being my motto because we all know the shit hit the fan shortly after. Love to you all my birdies and start planning your life again.