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.

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Caught up in a caiman face off

Think a canoe trip in the Pantanal region on Brazil is a quiet affair? Think again!

(Visiting the Brazil stand at the World Travel Market yesterday made me think back to this most memorable of days during my solo trip to this incredible country)  

Today we’re talking reptiles and mammals and despite the night safari being cancelled due to high winds, the 7am 4km walk through the neighbouring area showed up a whole array of strange and exotic creatures. That may sound like an early start to some of you, but believe me, it’s impossible to sleep past 5am as a cacophony of birds, ably led by the extremely loud and ubiquitous chaco chachalaca, shake you out of your bed whether you’re ready or not. (Side note here – I am awarding the chaco chachalaca my ‘how to big yourself up’ award as it has a fabulous name that sounds like a samba step and a call like nothing you’ve ever heard before yet it is the dullest and most boring looking thing you’ve ever seen. The thing is, everyone knows it and it is completely unforgettable  – a great job of self-publicity that we could all learn from!)

Back to the morning walk and it wasn’t long until we came across howler monkeys, capuchin monkeys, yellow armadillo, marsh deer, and South American coati.

 

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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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