Tag Archive: Solo Travel



A fellow blogger once asked how many countries I have visited. A friend once “humble-bragged” by advising I should start planning to cover all 7 continents to “round up my travels”.  Unfortunately, I don’t keep count. Why do they, I wonder? Nor does it matter to me what others think I missed or should have done. I go where it pleases.  And beyond the sights, my memorable experiences are always characterized by the people I interacted with. That includes the people I traveled with. I have the good fortune of traveling with many, varied circles of friends outside of family. The foodies, the sightseers, the adventurers, the history buffs, the art and culture vultures, the hikers, as well as those who just long for some R & R. Not stuck with any single group, I relish the company of each. That includes a peculiar group I’d call the “losers” — people who don’t care getting LOST, seeing the ”mishap’ as another opportunity to explore! 






In Bhutan, I found a very admirable tour and hiking guide. My friend Beth and I “adopted” Sonam whom we referred to as our godson. We are still in touch, thanks to Facebook. We were updated with Sonam’s adventures from a young man to bridesgroom to young father, moving from Bhutan to Australia. I credit Sonam for making it possible for me to hike up to Taktshang Monastery aka Tiger’s Nest. The hike is quite dramatic considering you see the site high up in the mountain from the base where pilgrims and tourists commence the hike or horseback ride for the first 1 hour. I chose the latter to conserve my energy for the hike and met Tring, the old man whose horse is likewise called Tring. Don’t ask why. Meanwhile, I left my friend Beth with our driver who grew years older (again, don’t ask me why 🙄) accompanying my friend up to the Halfway Station. Tashi Delek!





Still on Bhutan, I have to say I’ve been so impressed with how kind and caring their people are. Whenever I stopped for oxygen breaks, there were locals eyeing me as if asking if I need some help. They’d only stop staring and got on with whatever they were doing when I smiled to reassure them I’m still alive 😊 Also, I never found a race so detached from material wealth as these Bhutanese. Sure there were poor people around, but I never once felt that money mattered most to them. I sure hope that didn’t change over the years since I’ve been there. 






Because I run a blog site, one of my followers learned I was staying in Madrid for nearly 3 months back in 2013. He messaged to invite me to a good Cocido de Madrileño lunch plus an afternoon tour of the city’s hidden gems. The best tour I ever had! Under the tourist radar sites included trespassing on strangers’ apartments to view better preserved medieval walls of Madrid. Well not exactly trespassing — Marco actually knocked on strangers’ apartment doors to view the walls from their porches!  And these locals were most accommodating. 




Because I made many solo trips in and around Spain, I met a lot of new friends and interacted with many locals. Before getting off a bus, I’d ask the driver which is the best way to reach the Plaza Mayor. Invariably, the bus driver will advise me he’d be back on that dropoff by a certain time for my ride back. Better than riding a cab! On that New Year’s Eve I was in Madrid, I jumped up and down with the locals,shared drinks with them, and even hugged them as the clock struck 12. My niece and them locals were family 😘




In Mongolia, my friends and I had a chance to visit a ger, eat an authentic lunch, and observe how a typical Mongolian family lead a nomadic lifestyle. I parted with my locally-crafted necklace to give to the “lady of the ger” who cooked and served us some dumplings and tea right inside the ger. We didn’t sleep in a ger. I don’t think I could unless one goes to the gers put up for tourists with modern conveniences 😜 






In Hanoi, I found children playing “sipa” which literally translates to kick. It’s a native game in Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand and other Asian countries. I joined those kids for a game in my wedged sandals while carrying my bag. Beat that! Then in India, I strayed from our travel group and found ourselves in the kitchen of a Sikh Temple where they were preparing to feed a long line of devotees. The volunteer cooks looked tired but friendly. And locally? I remember spotting a fellow blogger in a Masskara festival in Bacolod City. I approached Enrico and here’s our photo before the parade started! Listen to the drum roll… 




Live like it’s the last day of your life? Naaah. If that’s my mantra, I’d likely just stay home and spend time with family. Or pray in a convent or church.

 

I live like there are many days ahead to celebrate life. I go to the Prado and take in just a few. Knowing there would be other days to enjoy more. Leisurely. No rush. I visit Barcelona for a weekend thinking there would be many more weekends to spend there. I love visiting and revisiting places I enjoyed. That explains why I take photos in the exact same places where I had my photos taken years ago. The unwanted pounds. The unwanted lines and wrinkles. Little reminders of time past. Who cares? I’m enjoying life. Without the rush.

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It’s not that I recommend it, but more than a few times I find myself buying a ticket from a vending machine to catch a train departing in less than 5 minutes. Imagine the thrill of brisk walking to the escalators, down to the ramps or platform, and hearing the train doors close behind you after having just hopped in.

 

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And how about the excitement of reaching your destination? No matter how much you’ve read up on the place, I like the momentary ignorance and madness of deciding which way to go out of the train or bus station. Do I turn right, left or go straight? When I went to Aranjuez, I wondered whether I’m getting off in the middle of a forest. That’s how it looked just before the train stopped and I heard the announcement that we have reached Aranjuez. I walked for about 10 minutes to reach the Royal Palace and Gardens. No one to ask as most others who got off the train took the bus or were fetched by friends or relatives. It would feel the same way going to Valle de Los Caidos, except that most bus passengers are likely tourists like you too.

 

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Fortunately, Spain has a superb transport system. The Metro, regional trains, fast trains, buses are all so easy to deal with. And clean! I also found the Spanish very friendly and helpful. Once, there was this middle-aged lady who actually walked with me for some blocks till the last corner just before my destination. In Alcala de Henares, the young students tried to be very precise with their directions (a plaza or square lined with plane trees, a building with many columns, a house with bronze statues and a fountain, etc).

 

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It helps that google allows me to do virtual tours and obtain directions. While I do get maps and check out the attractions in each place, I always seek to get images of the palaces, museums, parks or whatever else I intend to visit. This allows me to easily “spot” the sites I intend to visit.

 

 

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What I love about traveling solo is I get to linger longer in places I like, and eat whenever it suits me. The only drawback is that I don’t get to eat all I like. I mean, you can only order so much for yourself, right? No one to share with. My routine is normally to eat small portions but more often, so I get a variety of the foods I’d like to try without appearing like a glutton.

 

 

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Good research, with lots of allowances for spontaneity, and a good pair of walking shoes. Or boots to keep those walking legs warm when the temp drops. This is important. No way I’m walking anywhere unless I have comfortable footwear. Many make this mistake of looking fashionable rather than comfortable. Trust me, they are not mutually exclusive.

 

 

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So who says you’re too old to travel solo? I have no talent in the kitchen. Just survival cooking for moí. I’m pretty neat at home but it’s not like I enjoy domestic chores. I love to read, but my pocketbooks travel with me. A bench in the park and a cup of good brew make perfect companions. I get my adrenaline rush chasing trains, snapping photos and eating local delicacies. When I am home, I am more likely doing my “research” or blogging rather than busy with my knitting needles. C’est la vie! 😉😉😉

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Me, Travel Solo?


You must be joking.  I may have done it before, way before.  Till my knees ached. Till my shoulders drooped. Till my back screamed ouch.  Till my mind never stopped wondering where I put my stuff.  Oh, how I wish I still have the energy and fearless wanderlust of the young.  But I certainly try.  At my age, you just have to give me A for effort.

 

 

The lust for adventure began with my first solo trip to another Asian city.   I was 18, and had to meet up with my parents in Hongkong.  It was not a lovely experience.  My nerves got in the way and that little paper bag behind the seat was put to good use as my hour-old meals decided to exit unceremoniously. The next chance I got was when I took a short course in England at a time when the EDSA revolution was unraveling.  Talk about perfect timing. I would have loved to be home then.  But as luck would have it, I was thousands of miles away.  I didn’t just study then,  I scrimped like crazy.  I stashed away half of my allowances into a kitty for my weekend travels , as well as for a 3 month long solo travel around Europe after I completed the short course.   Talk about “fearless wanderlust”,  I was young and carefree then and couldn’t be bothered that I crossed oceans from London to Washington DC with my last US$20 in my pocket.  I tempted fate then,  all too confident that my friends in US of A were just a phone call away to bail me out of whatever trouble I got into.  As things turned out,  my friend had to ask another friend (whom I met then for the first time) to fetch me at the train station where I ended up with my bottom $20.  Mind you, I had no credit card, ATM card nor cell phones then   =)

 

 

Since then,  I knew that traveling with or without a group,  the whole way or part of the way,  is a little luxury I just need to indulge in.  To visit and revisit the same sites etched in memory, and draw the same intensity of cheer and joy.   So I worked hard.  And saved good.   Good enough for an early retirement. There are far more things I can do without, and that supported my idea to quit and have a life .   Rather, to celebrate life!

 

Then and Now

 

I love traveling because I always come back with less cobwebs in my mind. It is as if I empty my mind of all clutter upon departure, and fill it with many happy memories upon arrival. I also like the idea that life is so focused on the present, and my senses are all playing to listen, feel , see, smell and taste everything novel or not so new. The fact that I only have to choose from a limited wardrobe, or use the same pair of shoes throughout my holiday , or work and survive on a single budget make life so much simpler. Sure, you sometimes get a raw deal in a few trips, or feel hassled by flight delays and cancellations, but the joys and simplicity of the present far outweigh the negatives. Oh, btw, I always end up gaining more friends after each trip. Many I kept……

 

Manhattan Skyline (Before 9-11)

 

Solo travelling allows you to discover places, but more so to discover one’s self.  It puts you in touch with your inner self and allows you to trust yourself (and others too) more and more.  In a way,  it boosts your self-confidence as you discover new boundaries.   Once you unravel yourself in this fashion,  you then find out how much you can celebrate life in a way only you can understand.  Who cares if others don’t?  The capacity for joy is a gift.  To find joy in your heart, even in solitude,  is a blessing.

 

 

I envy the young bloggers for their youth, energy and enthusiasm.  I still share the same sense of adventure, but I am now constrained to make solo trips only around the city.   After an unnerving misadventure in Nanjing, China where I took a nasty slip, hit my head on the pavement, broke my eyeglasses and ended up with the stem (that part which rides the ears) stuck near my eyebrow,  this old hag is not allowed to go solo beyond city limits.  A pity.  But the restriction does not in any way dampen the joy I have wandering around.    After all, there are so many places to visit and revisit.  I may not be your typical DSLR-toting blogger (too heavy for my bones to carry) ,  but my P&S cam serves the purpose to document the sites I enjoyed.

 

Nanjing Misadventure

 

So, while you young ‘uns are spelunking , scaling mountains, camping, diving into unknown waters , sailing,  or whatever else, this grandma travels — solo most often—  around the city checking out new food finds or revisiting churches and museums,  or simply enjoying the breeze along the Bay.   You see, there are more history lessons to be learned visiting these areas and I simply love “going back in time” to reminisce the good ol’ days.  More importantly,  I always find myself thanking Him that I find myself in these situations that bring so much cheer.  Truly, gratitude is the memory of the heart!

 

This is my entry to Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival on the theme “Solo Travel” hosted by Nina Fuentes aka Just Wandering