Wednesday, 9 December 2015

My (personal) 9 politically “incorrect” Do’s for the solo traveller

Never be afraid to try something new, because life gets boring when you stay within the limits of what you already know”
 Many years ago I had a complete lack of knowledge about travelling. Truthfully, I didn’t even know I wanted to travel at all! It never crossed my mind that solo travelling could generate addiction as strong as the most powerful drug, one that would fill me up with knowledge and experiences to fill a lifetime, which would not destroy me but build me and ultimately, make me.
  Back to those years, I would have never imagined that my longest relationship would be with my faithful backpack. I look back now on those days and I realised that I have learned or self-learned an awful lot of stuff and I feel I own to other fellow travellers the right to throw some light into the insights of the solo traveller in Asia, maybe with the hope to make someone’s journey a bit more joyful. 

 By all means, the below tips must be read very objectively and with a hint of sense of humour as they are based on my own personal experiences and indeed, there aren’t two experiences that are the same or lived on the same way, therefore my points are mostly valid for myself, first of all, and hopefully, good for you, too.
 If anything, I hope you find these lines entertaining, I will definitely try to provide you with some valid points and hopefully, get you to smile, too!
  1. You will cross land borders and believe me, 70% of your adventures, frustrations or desire to kill someone will be during those borders crossings! Many and I mean, MANY times they will try to scam you. If you have a feeling that they are doing it, chances are that you are right! Do speak loud and clear to the person in front of you and tell them how it is, chances are that you will still be scammed but at least, they know that you know and believe, it feels good to say it J

2. Before you leave for you trip, research like crazy and not the night before your flight!! You will be glad to feel some sense of familiarity on situations that will occur to you on the other side of the world, like land borders scams! You will be shocked to find out that in some places they have never seen a PC let alone Google and no, your Lonely Planet will not talk to you when you are in need of some urgent answers.  Be adventurous, no stupid.
3. In several Asian countries their habitants don’t get the concept of queues, they just DON’T. You will find that your occidental education totally goes to waste on those circumstances and they will push you as there is no tomorrow, no mercy! Believe, forget to be a lady or a gentleman, you are a gorilla and out there is the law of the jungle, therefore make yourself a favour and imitate the locals. If they push you (and they will) push harder!! Don’t be afraid, Cambodians found me most entertaining when I started pushing them with my backpack like a crazy woman but eventually I reached to the counter, ha!

  4. You may wish to remain alone during your travels (I have done it and that is all right, too) but do not let your fears get on the way of the pleasures of sex with a stranger. You should be able to let yourself go taking always the right precautions and not putting yourself at risk, EVER. Said that, sleeping with a fellow backpacker or a charming local will provide you with beautiful passionate memories that will last you a lifetime and if you are going to do it, then have sex as if there isn't a tomorrow! Nothing matters but the moment, you will find that letting yourself go is very refreshing and chances are that the charming local or attractive backpacker will never become too familiar as neither you nor the other person will remain too long on the same place.

 5. Never ignore the power of a smile witch it can improve your travelling enormously. Smiling is contagious, makes you more approachable, trustworthy and attractive to the world. Discover the world with your best face and many times people will act towards you in the same way; there is no price for the smile of a person. Light up your own days and the days of others and be grateful for the sights you see, you are incredibly blessed to be on that side of the world, what else can you do if not smile for those precious moments?
  6. Don’t let your shyness spoilt a moment of truth. Approach people, say hello, smile, ask questions, do not remain hidden in a corner, go out there with a good attitude, gratitude and sympathy and talk to the world, the world will talk back to you. There are good people out there, sometimes you will find them easily, other times you will feel that there aren’t there but remember that your own attitude makes the journey and a simple hello goes a long way, so don’t let your shyness to stop you making friends, discovering amazing people and giving you intense moments of discoveries.
 7. Eat like a local, travel like a local. Leave the luxury at home and go out there to experience reality. If you are carrying a backpack with you, chances are that you have daily budget limitations. It is a perfect combination; not only you will save money but you will also live and experience the struggles of travelling like a local and get your senses tested with the delicious and genuine food from the streets. Yes, from time to time, you will prefer a bus with AC and you should not stopped  yourself of giving you that pleasure occasionally but do not make an habit of being comfortable, experiencing their realities is what will make you a humbler person.
 8. Trust people, there’s no other way.  Where there is adventure, there is fear and to a certain extent, is normal to travel without rusting people, at the end of the day, you are alone on an unknown country and no one will take any responsibilities for you. That feeling is overwhelming at times and understandably you will feel that the only way to protect yourself is by not trusting others but if you do that, you will lose the sense of the journey. Of course always remain vigilant of what surrounds you but, believe me, there is always good people out there, doesn’t matter where you go. Of course, not everyone can be trusted and myself, I experienced that with a fellow traveller but hey, from all experiences you learn and if you fall for a lie, that is also all right and not the end of the world, just another lesson you learnt!

    9. Do what you are scare of doing. Believe me, those will be the things that you will talk about it for years to come. I took a helicopter ride, walked on pending bridges in Nepal, flew in a tiny plane so close to the Himalayan mountains that to this day, I still don’t understand how we didn’t crashed, landed on  what is known as the most dangerous airport in the world, slept with beautiful men,  swam with bio luminesces at night with a stranger in the Sri Lankan sea, climbed mountains, taught English to local people in the middle of the street sin Laos, joined a family in Sri Lanka that took me to a secret temple for a beautiful intimate religious celebration, saw savage elephants at night in the middle of the road, spoke with monks, joined the street children in Cambodia, made lifetime friends, had a water fight with local children from a village in the Laos mountains and many other wonderful experiences that I would have never had if I let my fear stopping me to go out and discover the world alone.

Trying to make a living off your passion when you are passed your thirties

I often read articles of highly successful people that they have demonstrated with big determination that a passion can evolve to a successful career. The case number of these people being relatively young outnumbers of those making it at an older age.

I have also noticed that in my field of expertise, which is travel and hospitality, the word entrepreneur has started becoming a very familiar term, especially for those travelers that have accumulated certain experience in a short period of time and they possess enough pro activity and creativity to build and sell a product or service out of a passion.

In both case scenarios, the common factor is their young age. Unsurprisingly, the advance in technology and social media makes easier to younger generations to study, travel and build professional profiles. Any person with access to the Internet can get into the professional world and, nowadays, age does not seem to be an issue to grow and succeed in a career. At a young age, that is.

Instagram profiles are full of pro activity; the word entrepreneur is almost starting to become a hashtag on its own right. What is most surprising is that most of these people are building their own businesses and brands out of something that they have a genuine interest towards to; it is something that they feel really passionate about it. Once this passion is recognized, then other skills are clearly necessary to build the cements of something big and profitable.

Companies, investors and older well established entrepreneurs get excited and interested when a young person possesses potential good ideas that can become brilliant. A clear example of this, are several articles written on successful people where their age is a powerful remark.

I love reading these articles because they motivate me in several ways, especially when the person and I share the same passion, I get excited recognizing common traits and I can easily picture myself succeeding equally. However, at the same time, these same articles leave me with a feeling of unease.

I’m older that most of these people that are succeeding in their life at a young age. When I looked back to my professional life and personal achievements, I recognize very humbly that I have done a lot, learnt a lot, I have made wise choices and some awful ones and achieved childhood dreams like travelling the world.

All of these things; each job, position, company, country and trips have helped me to build a strong personality and a willingness to succeed and achieve. I made some bad choices and in the meantime, while I sometimes got it wrong and some others right, the years passed quickly. It wasn’t until a later stage in life that I could enjoy fully my passion for travelling, my most important trip just recently happened.

And I’m back to where I was, out of work but excited because it is at my current age that I am for the first time aware that I want to build a life around my passion for travelling. But I feel that I, somehow, need to explain myself over and over again and almost apologize because it has taken me my whole life to understand what I should do.

This society is cruel, because I feel there is a subtle discrimination regarding age and sometimes society makes you feel that you are too late knocking on people’s door.

Society is wrong because I am fortunate to know what I’m good at and feel passionate about it before I die. My age doesn’t determine my ability to work hard and ultimately, succeed. If anything, the fact that I’m older makes me wiser and with a better understanding of the world.

I believe we should all be praised based on who we truly are and not so much focusing the attention of how much a person has achieved based on the age they are. Some people are lucky to find their passion and pursuing their dreams at an early age and some of us, we do it a bit later. 

I think we need to simply recognize that where there is passion; there is a willingness to succeed.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

An obliged visit to the Lanta Welfare Animal in South Thailand

I’m glad that you are checking out this post right now because here’s a non-profit organisation located in paradise that really needs you.
 Well, not so much the organization itself but its habitants; rescued dogs and cats from the whole Koh Lanta island that have been lucky enough to end up in this admirable place where they receive medical care and much needed love.

 I’m going to try to summarize my experience and what the “Lanta Animal Welfare” is by using my own impressions from my visit when I last was in Koh Lanta this year as much as the information they have available for you to read in their own website, which is informative, simple and with some lovely pics, too.

 By all means, finish my post (keep reading!!!) but then right after, click in their website to get a super detailed information of who they are and what you can do for them.
The Lanta Animal Welfare as the name itself indicates is located in the paradisiacal sleepy island of Koh Lanta, which belongs to the Krabi province (Southern Thailand) a world away from the madness of its neighbour Phi Phi.

 This year was my second time in Koh Lanta and I refuse to think that it won’t be a third. This is an island that treats its visitors well and possesses a great traveller community. It is a favourite of mine because it provides a break from madness, nice beaches, delightful bike rides through long roads that surround the islands and some of the most legendaries sunsets in South Thailand and cheap accommodation is still easy to find (tip: head to Long Beach)

 Koh Lanta is very relaxing therefore it makes sense to fill up your days with some activities. One that you take note of and stick with it is a visit to the Lanta Animal Welfare.
My friend and I rented bikes and from Long Beach we headed there. Driving through the main road and leaving the main town where the ferries arrive behind, we missed the street on the left hand side of the road where there is a sign with the Lanta Animal Welfare logo. In my opinion, the sign is not too obvious so keep an eye for it.

 That day was extremely hot and we visited in the late morning, it was pretty horrible so if you are heading to Lanta where the most extreme temperatures are hitting the country, you may want to check with them if it is possible to visit early in the morning.

A delightful woman welcomed us and she was the most helpful passionate person never. I wish I could remember her name but I don’t. She had short blond hair and was British, other than that, I can only remember clearly that she was very passionate about the place
 and managed to pass that passion onto us.

 Said that, in our guided visit by one of the volunteer girls, we saw many other people both locals and foreigners, who were also volunteering, completely dedicated to run the place and to provide the care and love needed by those animals.
 I was amazed to see the dedication of all these people from all walks of life towards an organization that is purely ran by donations and the good faith of people.

 The temperature in Koh Lanta was really extreme back then and in my opinion, it had to be extremelly hard to work on those conditions but they did tirelessly and it showed.

 Here are some facts about the place that I have extracted directly from their own website.  First of all, there are a few ways you can help them, they are the following;

Adopting one of their friendly dogs or cats from Thailand (their animal adoption programme makes taking an animal from Thailand to your country a very simple process) and you will have given a beautiful animal the home it deserves.  For more detailed information, visit their website.
Donating money or medical and general supplies for their animals; every month, they spend more money on medication and food than they have coming in. You can donate via their website. Talk to your local vet clinic and see if they can spare any much needed medication. You will find a list of their requirements and shipping instructions also on their website.
Volunteering to work with animals in Thailand for at least one month; if you are an experienced vet, vet nurse or simply an animal lover, they need you! If you would like to volunteer there is lots of volunteer. Please contact them also for more details.

 Contact details:

629 Moo.2, Koh Lanta, Krabi, Thailand, 81150
+66 (0)843 044 331

 Or if you would like to get more information about volunteering, then send them an email here: 

For animal adoption queries:

For all other queries:

 And if you are in Koh Lanta and your last stop is Thailand and are about to fly home soon, then you may be able to help FOR FREE by becoming for them a fly volunteer. What is that?
 Some beautiful souls visit the Lanta Welfare Animal falling in love with the animals and want them to become a part of their families. These cats and dogs they can’t normally flight to their new homes right away but when they are ready to leave, they need someone who takes them to their new destination countries.

 If you want to escort one of these cats or dogs to their new homes, you must email them your flight details here You can check now their website to know which dogs or cats must fly soon and where to

They need enough notice about 10 days to book them to flights and complete the required paperwork
Minimal flight duration and layovers
Flights should be within the same airline or members in the same group.
You need to be flying out from Krabi, Trang, Bangkok or Phuket airports

Becoming a flying volunteer for them is 100% legal and 100% free as they will do all the paperwork for you!

 Honestly, if there is one visit in Koh Lanta that you must do, it must be this beautiful place full of dedicate people. I feel lucky and honored that I got to see their job and more than anything, to know that some of those cats and dogs they were often close to die and these people brought them back to life.