Solo Travel vs Travelling in a Group

Travelling solo versus travelling in a group/with friends. It’s a topic debated by many travelers around the world and I’m here to offer my share of wisdom on this topic. I may not have an abundance of knowledge on this, however; I have done both and therefore feel like I am adequately experienced to provide some good and valid insight, so here we go.

All my life I have traveled in a group, whether that be for a school trip, a family holiday, a lad’s holiday, or anything in between and they have all been great. On the other hand; I have also traveled a few times alone, recently on my month long backpacking trip to Thailand, which again was amazing. Now there are obviously pro’s and con’s to both, and that’s what I’m here to discuss, starting with travelling in a group.

The obvious benefit of travelling with other people is that it’s cheaper. 1 room split between 2 people, for example, is the best and most obvious saving. But the savings don’t stop there. Depending on the size of your group you can save on things like tours, taxi’s, entrance fee’s etc, granted this isn’t a guarantee, but with good haggling skills it can be achieved and sometimes with great success, and depending on where you are in the world, it can save you a lot of money.

Another positive for travelling in a group is that you have someone to share your incredible travel experiences with, something that will make you closer with that person and something that you can reminisce about together for years to come. In my opinion, it’s always better to share these moments with others, especially friends, however; I do understand that solo travelers prefer the more personal feelings of travelling alone, I just prefer to share these experiences with others.

Travelling in a group also means you won’t, or are less likely to, get lonely. Sometimes you just want someone to talk to, and if you are travelling solo this is, sometimes, not an option. But obviously if you have a travel partner/s you will always have someone to lift your spirits and mask the feeling of homesickness which might creep in from time to time. Travelling is not always easy, it can get stressful as things won’t always go to plan, therefore having someone you know with you is often very beneficial and again can keep your morale up and get you through the challenges of travelling.

On the other hand, solo travel also has its benefits. The main one is the fact that it is you and only you making all of the decisions. In a group people will have differing opinions on where to go, what to eat, where to stay etc. This could mean that you miss out on something you wanted to do due to the fact the majority of your party chose something else. Also, it could slow you down as it can often take a while to come to a decision on said subjects. Furthermore, the feeling of total freedom you get travelling alone is unbeatable. It’s very intimate, and evolves you as a person in ways you could never imagine. It’s just you and the earth, and that is so powerful.

However; obviously the best thing about solo travel is the fact that you will meet new people and make some great new friends. Whilst this isn’t restricted to solo travel, you will be more inclined to go out and interact with new people more. This can lead to new friendships made and a massive growth in your confidence. I mean, if you can go to a completely foreign country, overcome an insane amount of culture shock, meet new friends, gain amazing new experiences and just have an overall amazing time, then it is quite clear solo travel is definitely worth it, and in my opinion can be more rewarding than travelling with a group, particularly due to the amount of personal growth you will achieve.

So there is my two cents on the subject, I hope you enjoyed reading this. Stay tuned for new posts and keep smiling 🙂

 

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Backpacking Thailand: The Temples of Bangkok

One thing I wanted to do in Thailand was visit the temples, and they did not disappoint.

As someone who has taken interest in Buddhism in the past, it was fascinating for me to actually be in a Buddhist place of worship and see the monks kitted in their orange robes and going about there daily lives, lives which are incredibly different to the ones we live, it’s quite amazing  to see the contrast. There was something special about being there, it’s hard to describe, but you could feel the connection. You may think visiting the temples is just looking at the buildings and leaving, but it’s so much more than that. Yes the buildings and archetecture are beyond beautiful but more importantly, at least for me, was the educational side of the visits. The temples I visited in Bangkok were Wat Traimit and Wat Pho and both were very informative about Buddhist traditions and how the temples were built and when etc. Wat Traimit featured an absolutely mesmorising Golden Buddha, the largest in the world in fact, which was 14ft and estimated to be over 600 years old, and many of that time it spent covered in stucco to protect it from Burmese invaders in Ayyuthaya. You could tell how much the Buddhists respected and worshipped this statue, it was somewhat divine and I throughouly enjoyed being in the presence of such important history. In comparison to others, this is a relatively small temple, however it makes up for that on beauty, so you will be able to get those Instagram shots. Outside of the temple are various souvenirs stands, some of which offer some very nice memorabilia that you wont find anywhere else in Thailand, so I’d definitely recommend having a quick look around. I purchased a little something myself, of course Wat Traimit is also conveniently located next to Chinatown, so it was awesome to head straight from the temple to the hectic streets of Chinatown.

The second temple I visited was Wat Pho. This is located right next to the Grand Palace and has a lot more to see and do than Wat Traimit and, because of that, is a lot more touristy. The main attraction of course is the reclining Buddha, it is huge, 46 metres long to be precise. Wat Pho is also home to the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand, there are literally hundreds and not to mention the best Thai massage you can find in Bangkok, or so I’ve heard I didn’t actually get one. What is cool about this temple is that it was, and still is to an extent, a school for medicine and was in fact the first ever site for public education in Thailand. Again so much history and if you go make sure to throughouly look around and read all the information on display as it most definitely makes your visit far more worthwhile.

So yeah, I loved visiting a few of Bangkok’s temples, they really are wonderful places and something everyone visiting Thailand should at least consider, whether you are interested in Buddhism, history or even just photography, it is certainly worth it.

Hope you enjoyed this post, sorry it’s late, been busy haha. And I just realised this sounds like a tripadviser review, my bad :/. Keep smiling, Harrison.
Wat Traimit:

Wat Pho:

“But Hitler Was Vegetarian, So That Means All Vegans Are Evil” – Anti-Vegan Argument #4

Believe it or not this is actually an argument us vegans hear, quite regularly as well unfortunately. And it is a quite simple one to refute, simply by saying no; Hitler wasn’t a vegetarian, not even close. Hitler was advised by his doctors to follow a vegetarian diet from ‘time to time’, emphasises on the time to time part of the sentence, due to the fact he suffered from severe flatulence, however; he was never an actual vegetarian. Just by looking at the facts we can decipher this. Biographers who wrote about Hitler (and who knew him quite well on a personal basis) openly describe his love for Bavarian sausages and game pie (“game” meaning wild meat from birds and other creatures) and Hitler’s own personal chef described his favourite meal as stuffed pigeon, not very vegetarian huh. Thanks to ‘naturalnews.com’ for the info. But let’s play it your way, let’s pretend Hitler was a vegetarian. The problem with that is the argument is a logical fallacy, aka an argument with extremely poor reasoning. To put it simply, one does not impact the other. You can be evil and you can be vegan, the two are by no means mutually inclusive. If you want to play that card then allow me to play mine. Stalin, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot… the list goes on, were all meat eaters, so surely that means meat eaters are also evil serial killers, right? No. Of course not, so can we agree to put this argument to bed now, as it really is a stupid one and just makes the arguer look like an idiot. Granted it is usually played at the end of debates when said party realises they have lost, but go out with dignity for goodness sakes. So, to clear up, no Hitler was not a vegetarian, but who cares if he was?

Keep smiling, Harrison.

Anti Vegan Argument #3 – “It’s humane though”

Surely it’s okay if we kill the animal humanely, right?

 

No…..

 

 

The answer really is that simple, I can’t believe this is an actual argument I’ve heard, but ‘No’ makes for a boring blog post, so here goes.

Firstly ask yourself this question; would you like to be killed ‘humanely’? The average slaughter time for a cow is 18 months, pigs even less and chickens just mere weeks. So if someone offered you lots of money, a nice house, anything you wanted really but the catch is you will be slaughtered for food after 18 months, would you take it? Of course not. And the fact is 99% of animals killed for food are not treated ‘humanely’ at all. Yes some might get to be ‘free range’ before their impending death, or yes they might be knocked out before they are killed, but the fact is it will never be humane to kill an animal for food, especially in this day and age. The demand for meat is so high it is impossible to have completely grass fed animals, there has to be some form of slaughter house, animals have to be pumped full of steroids and live their lives in cramped spaces, just to keep up with the demand for meat and dairy. So if you say to yourself that it’s okay because the animal was killed humanely (how the f*** can you kill something humanely?) then you really are scraping at the bottom of the barrel for excuses.

Keep smiling, Harrison 🙂

Cognitive Dissonance – Dolphin Dies For Selfies

Cognitive dissonance. That pretty much summarises the whole human race at this point. The definition of this term is the following: “the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioural decisions and attitude change”. Mainstream beliefs are constantly contradicting themselves in this day and age, and the most recent example of this is the controversial death of the rare La Plata Dolphin which tragically died after being passed around for a selfie on a beach in Argentina. Now I love animals, as you can tell by my passion for being Vegan so this upset me more than most, however; I love all animals and believe they all have the right to live just like you and I, and, despite the fact this particular dolphin is a very rare species, the death of this dolphin upsets me just as much as the death of a cow for your burger, or the death of a male chick for simply not being born a woman. All animals have the desire to live and, in my opinion, are equally deserving of that right. Death is death, and I am fully aware that dying for a selfie is ridiculous, but dying for food after spending an entire life enslaved and being pumped full of steroids and antibiotics is equally ridiculous, particularly in 2016 when humans have no need to eat meat, in fact the general consensus of science is that a vegan diet is actually optimum for human health, despite what mainstream media propaganda/coverups will have you believe, such as that recent video from WatchMojo. Just look at people like Dr. Kim A Williams, who happens to be the president of the American College of Cardiology, Dr. Michael Greger who uploads daily content on his site (click here), Dr. T Colin Campbell, who published the biggest study on nutrition of all time in the China Study. There are tons of mechanistic data and studies showing that Vegan diets actually can reverse disease and, considering that 14 out of the 15 biggest killers in the UK/US are diet related, this is revolutionary. There is not one nutrient that benefits the human body which cannot be obtained from a vegan diet, humans simply choose to eat meat, it’s traditional, they have you believe it’s ‘natural’, it tastes good and by consuming meat/dairy you are actively supporting the rape, exploitation, enslavement and slaughter of innocent, sentient beings that are motivated by the same emotions to live as we are, and if that upsets or offends you, maybe it’s time to wake up from this fantasy land the media portrays where chickens and cows run around happy and accept the reality of your decisions to consume animal products.

To summarise; it’s obvious that humans love animals, you can tell that from how upset everyone is about this dolphin, not to mention the fact many of us have pets which we love. Humans have no carnivorous instincts, as I said in my last post (here), and more and more people are realising this, making the connection, and going vegan. I understand we don’t see a dolphin as food in this country, but other cultures eat dolphin, we are just desensitised to other animals dying and being labelled as bacon or sausage, it’s wrong and will change, sooner or later.

And this is not the truth because I’m Vegan, I’m Vegan because it’s the truth. Keep smiling, Harrison.

Why I Went Vegan…

So as I said in my last post I’m going to start incorporating more and more vegan related content into my blog. I have never felt more passionate about something in my life as I do veganism, it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle and something that attacks the biggest injustice in human history; animal agriculture. Now these posts will attack mainstream beliefs, beliefs that have indoctrinated pretty much all of the western world and ideals that the majority of the population invest in, that being meat and dairy are good for you and needed in your diet. So meat eaters could easily get offended reading vegan related content as it attacks the foundations of their ideology, I get it, I used to be that guy too, but I urge you to read any content with an open mind.

Anyway; as you can tell by the title, this particular blog post is about why I went vegan. Like many I went vegetarian before I went vegan. Whilst this is a good stepping stone up to veganism, I would advise just going straight into veganism itself, that’s what I should have done looking back, as it really isn’t that hard and it’s what’s ethically right for the animals and the planet. Obviously you will make mistakes to begin with, but that’s all part of the learning curve. So yeah, I went vegetarian just after my 18th birthday in May, around the 14th I believe, after watching a heart-breaking documentary called ‘Earthlings’ (I shall be making a post very soon with lots of the content that motivated me to make the change, so stay tuned for that). The only reason I watched this documentary was because I was watching a Fitness channel called ‘Vegan Gains’ on YouTube and he spoke so highly of it, so I decided to check it out. Bearing in mind at this point I had literally just finished eating a kebab so I was still a fully-fledged meat eater and had no desire to change my lifestyle. This documentary opened my eyes to the animal agriculture industry and what it’s really like. The media do a great job of portraying some kind of utopia regarding animal agriculture and I, like many, hadn’t made the connection as to what I was eating due to this propaganda western society is subjected to on a daily basis. Whether that be happy cows or chickens on the packaging, or giving meat fake names such as ‘bacon’, which is really just pig flesh. I mean does the media really think children who watch shows like Peppa Pig would be happy eating a real pig? The animal agriculture business is the most profitable business in the world and they do a great job of exploiting the cognitive dissonance in society, but once you make the connection, like more and more are nowadays, you can’t go back. For example; as the great Paul McCartney says “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.” Anyways, I digress. So I was vegetarian for around 4 months. I always had the idea that I would go vegan, just never fully committed, but as I continued to educate myself about the meat and dairy industries and the more I exposed myself to the truth, I decided it was time to change my life, do what was ethically, logically and environmentally right, and go vegan. I went properly vegan on the 20th September, just as I started university and I have never looked back. I feel better both physically and mentally, I have more energy than ever and I am just a happier person in general. I have the theory that by abstaining from putting death and suffering inside my body, I am happier. In my opinion everyone should go vegetarian or vegan, I shall explain why in a later post but I just don’t see how anyone other than a sociopath could make the connection and continue to live their lifer the same way, it’s just not right. (Oooo controversial)

So yeah, there we go. I understand this is an incredibly self-centred post but I figured it was the best place to start and might be relatable in a way. Keep smiling, Harrison 🙂

My Travel Bucket List!

Travel related posts are always my favourite type of posts to write and they are usually the ones that go down the best, so, despite my lack of travel at this present time, I decided to compile my ‘Travel Bucket List’. A large proportion of my life consists of me reading or watching travel related articles/books/videos and through this I have discovered many activities that have significantly fuelled my desire to travel the world.

One of my dream travel destinations is Iceland, so naturally this post will feature various Icelandic adventures. The first quite obviously being to see the natural phenomenon, the Northern Lights. Even looking at pictures is enchanting, so to experience this in real life would be a truly remarkable experience. One more thing Iceland adds to my bucket list is to experience the ‘Blue Lagoon’. In a country known for being stereotypically cold, it may come as surprise that Iceland offers a geothermal spa with water temperature ranging from 37-39 degrees but, due to it being located in a lava field, it does and my god it looms relaxing. Plus it’s good for the skin and who doesn’t love skincare! One final thing I would love to do in Iceland, and it was hard to whittle it down to just 3, believe me, is visit the ‘Skaftafell Ice Cave’. In the country of ice there are obviously many ice/snow attractions; however, this one appeals to me the most purely for the fact it just looks incredible and quite extraordinary, I mean just look at the picture of it!

Okay, away from Iceland now. South East Asia is also a part of the world that I am eager to explore. The street markets in Asia particularly appeal to me due to the fact they combine culture with shopping and offer a great chance to interact with and immerse yourself with the locals. One specific market that stands out is the ‘Chatuchak Market’ in Bangkok. This weekend market has around 8000 stalls and is split into 27 sections (AKA it’s frickin huge) and pretty much sells everything a human being, like myself, would desire. Thailand is also the host of ‘The Full Moon Party’. The full moon party, whilst pretty crazy nowadays (I mean there’s drugs, sex and everything in between), is something that looks like so much fun, if done sensibly(ish). 40,000 people crammed onto the beach dancing throughout the night, having the time of their lives and consuming the occasional alcoholic beverage, okay a lied, a lot of alcohol is consumed, but that only adds to the fun haha.

So there is my travel bucket list. I tried to keep away from the things you would normally see on a typical bucket list. For example; The Taj Mahal, bungee jumping etc (although I definitely want to do those too). And obviously there are a lot more things I would love to do so maybe I will write a part 2, who knows. Let me know any of your travel aspirations and keep smiling, Harrison.

p.s If you would like to check out my ‘Dream Travel Destinations’ do so here (I will love you forever).

iceland            Blue Lagoon