One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster

Actually, it was two, but then I wouldn’t have been able to use the line from that famous 1984  (is it really that old?) song by Murray Head!

This was an obvious starting point for my first trip to Thailand last year and I don’t mind admitting that I was more than a bit nervous about exploring Bangkok alone. I’m from the generation that didn’t really do the whole gap year thing, in fact, I don’t know any of my friends who took time out to travel in our late teens or early twenties. We all finished school went to college or to work and then aspired to get onto the property ladder!

But you hear so much about Bangkok – how it’s full of young backpackers partying up a storm, how unsafe it is, how you can buy or sell anything, and of course about the rather dubious nightlife.  Even so, I felt as though I had to take a couple of days to see it even if my expectations were rather low.

But you hear so much about Bangkok. Was it safe for me to explore alone?

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Talking Travel

Meet Janet Mactavish, a passionate solo traveller who’s now using her knowledge and experience to design luxury personalised travel services for her clients. Here she tells us a little about how she got started, why she always packs a door wedge and why we should all think about a certain poem. Read on to find out why.

Tell us a little about yourself and your mission?

At the grand age of 23, I jacked in my job in the City (London) and moved to Bahrain to become a flight attendant with Gulf Air. The plan (as I told my then boyfriend), was to go for 6 months but, I loved the experience, the freedom, and the lifestyle so much that I stayed, for 12 years! From Bahrain, I moved to Saudi Arabia and worked for a Saudi family on their Private Jet, which was an incredible experience and I met some interesting people, including Hassan Bin Laden. Sadly though, it did not end well and I ran away in the middle of the night… a story for another day I think!

I am now a Private Travel Designer and the owner of Travel Magellan, which I set up in early 2012 to provide a truly personalised travel service.

Why are you passionate about this?

I feel that there are few people out there who care as much about your holiday as you do, so one aim was to change that. Also, something that drives me mad, is being passed around an office to speak to different people because the person you spoke to the first time is not in/on holiday/gone on maternity leave/sick leave.

Tell us about your solo travel adventures and how you got started travelling solo.

Because of the nature of my work, I was single for a long time and decided that if I did not do things on my own, I would never do anything.

What do you like about solo travel? Dislike? Read more

Talking Travel

Meet Julie Lovegrove, a professional photographer with a passion for travel and a mission to combine them both to help us improve our photographic skills. Here Julie shares how volunteering in Africa sparked her love of solo travel, her top tips for solo woman travellers starting out in mid-life and her own solo travel style. 

Tell us a little about yourself and what’s your mission?

I’m a 58-year-old professional photographer who specialises in photographing women and babies. That’s the day job. However, my passion is travelling abroad and recording those travels with my camera. My mission is to expand on this to do two or three trips a year and take others with me. The main emphasis of those trips would be to concentrate on improving their photographic skills as we go, with some dedicated ‘classroom’ sessions followed by plenty of practical practice.

Why are you passionate about this?

Whilst I seemed to be a natural at capturing great moments and scenes, it took me a LONG time to learn the technical aspects of how to get the best out of a camera. I had to be drip fed information from my very patient husband, but if I was in a situation with other photographers I lacked the confidence to ask questions for fear of appearing stupid or not knowing what I was doing. I want my clients to be able to enjoy a ‘judgement free’ trip where everyone is supportive and like-minded and feels l that they can ask for help over and over until they ‘get it’.

 

Namibia
Caught doing what I love – photographing something amazing

 

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Sri Lanka Hill Country – go for the tea, stay for the curries​

Sri Lanka is foodie heaven and a vegan paradise

It’s mid-morning and the train to Nuwara Eliya is climbing through the lush, green countryside on its way to the hills of Sri Lanka’s tea country. Since I boarded at Haputale the scenery has changed completely and I find myself jostling with other passengers, hanging precariously out of the open carriage door as we wind our way through the undulating, rough country risking my life to get the perfect photo. Yes, the tea plantations are impressive and that is why I’m making the journey, but it’s the manicured terraces brimmed to capacity with vegetable plots that are really getting my attention. I had no idea that Sri Lanka produced such an abundance of fresh produce but then I suppose there’s a reason why the national dish is rice and curry and most of those curries are made from vegetables.

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