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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Back From Thailand | Airport Horrors – Backpacking Thailand #3

My trip in Thailand is over. In fact it ended about a week ago, I’m just being lazy/recovering from the worst thing about travelling, and as it happens what this blog post is dedicated to; airports.

I know I’m not alone with this opinion, airports, and flying in general, sucks. The invention of teleportation couldn’t come soon enough in my eyes, something like in Star Trek, I’d love to be beamed to my location by Scotty. But unfortunately this isn’t the Star Trek universe, and because of this depressing fact we have to deal with airports in all their hellish glory. From people walking with about 5 too many bags so you can’t get past them and are stuck behind their pace of around 1.4 kmph (woah that was a mouthful), to having to run what feels like a marathon to actually get out of the place, or to your connecting flights; airports really are the bane of my existence, and you’re about to find out why.

It’s safe to say my airport experience was one of the worst. Missing my flight home by literally 5 minutes, absolutely ridiculous I know, and therefore having to spend an extremely gruelling 10 hours in this fear inducing hell on earth. Okay, maybe I’m being a bit over dramatic, but you get the picture, it was horrible. Not only that though, as you can well imagine flights from Thailand to the UK are rather expensive, £400 in fact, aka a whole lot of money to lose for just being a pathetic 5 minutes late. So, it was 8am (2am UK time) and I’m panicking like mad as I have no idea how, or when, I’m going to be able to get home. Initially I was told there were no flights to Birmingham until the next day, but then I had somewhat of a lightbulb moment and realised I could just fly to London and get the train to Coventry, so that’s what I did. Forgetting of course that I would have to negotiate the treacherous London Underground, at rush hour may I add, with all my bags, not good. It was a long process, highly inconvenient, definitely not good for the blood pressure, however; believe it or not, it was quite the adventure, and actually a good experience. Well, at least it makes a decent story, ey. Looking back I’m not actually sure how I passed the time in the airport, because the 10 hours didn’t actually feel that long, the fits of fidgety boredom were saved for the flights themselves, god I hate flying.

So yeah, I made it home. Not only did I make it home, but I made it home alive and relatively uninjured, to my family’s surprise. I’m pretty sure they were taking bets on how long I’d last out there, and to be honest, I don’t blame them. I hope you enjoyed this post, just a short one to let you know I’m back and will be writing about my various escapades in the very near future, so there’s something to look forward to. In the meantime be happy and keep smiling, Harrison 🙂

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:

Backpacking Thailand Days 1&2 – Bangkok

Okay. So day 1 & 2 in Bangkok: Thailand are over and already it has been a pretty hectic experience. From being attacked by vicious wild animals to enjoying extremely cheap food at a delicious vegan restaurant; my experience, like Bankok itself, has been crazy.

Day 1 (well 2 days really however I am counting it as 1 due to it being my blog meaning I can do as I please, sorry for the tangent) consisted of the actual journey to Bangkok itself, and I have come to the realisation that I’m not a fan of long haul flights. Granted the service provided by Air India (not sponsored) was really good, it’s just, and anyone who knows me can vouch for this, I’m incredibly figety and can’t sit still for more than 5 minutes. That combined with the fact that I fiddle (sounds dodgy but I couldn’t think of another word) with everything in sight made for an unpleasant experience both for me, and the people around me. Although I did knock back a few whiskeys which helped a substantial amount, I must admit.
So after 15 hours flying and a 3 hour stop over in New Delhi, I landed in Bangkok, eager as ever to get to my apartment so I could sleep off the impending jet lag that would come to make me it’s bitch for the next 24 hours. But it wasn’t that simple. Suvarnabhumi Airport is rather huge and to get to the exit you have to trek, what feels like, 10km of escalators and hallways and negotaite your way past numerous security guards, checks and finally, immigration. After all that’s over you are finally free, free to roam Bangkok and it’s not so welcoming 30 degrees of pure humidity. Yayyy…
From there I went and got a taxi, they actually had an extremely efficient method for booking a taxi so that didnt take long, thank god. 25 minutes later, and only £2 poorer, I reached my accommodation, gratefully put on the life saving air conditioning, cooked some noodles I had purchased from 7-Eleven, before going to bed and taking a much needed sleep.
Day 2 (1.5) was basically me just trying to recover from fatigue and severe jet lag. My apartment was way out the way from anything anyway so I didn’t mind using this day to just recover.
Day 3 (2) is when the adventure really began. Me being me I forgot checkout was at 11 so the girl who owns the apartment walked in on me… In minimal clothing, but she was super nice so it was okay, despite the awkwardness. I then got a taxi to my new apartment, but due to language barriers I had to walk 40 minutes to find the B&B as apparently I didn’t explain it quite clearly enough. Bearing in mind Bangkok is hot, like really hot, and busy, like super busy, so this was not a fun experience By the end of it I could wring my shirt out it was that sweaty. However I finally found my apartment, and what a surprise it was. Located in a shop which sells mirrors, oddly enough, and decorated from top to bottom with quite beautiful stained glass windows and ceilings, it was a lovely apartment and somewhere I was very grateful to be spending my next 3 nights. Not to mention the fact my host was an absolute star, answering all of my many questions, some of which quite stupid; for example, asking for the wifi password 4 times because I had forgot it by the time I walked up the stairs, and providing me with a very good vegan breakfast. I cant thank her enough.
Now it was time, time to start the Bangkok adventure, which meant crossing busy roads. If you’ve ever been to Bangkok you will know that crossing roads is an art form, an art form that you kind of have to master in a very short period of time, and I’d like to say I have done just that. There are literally thousands of cars and even more motorbikes at all times as well as minimal crossing assistance and traffic lights. What I have learnt is that you basically just have to go for it. Walk out into the road with your arm adjacent to your body and palm facing towards the car/s, they will always stop. Thankfully the drivers are very polite with pedestrians in the fact they just accept this, and do actually stop with no fuss or bother, but obviously as a first time tourist to Bangkok, the roads were somewhat daunting to begin with. Of inside just walk right behind a local, that’s what I did to begin with.

I didn’t really have much time left now, all of this had took me to about 3pm but thankfully where I was staying was very close (just 2 minutes on the MRT) to Lumpini Park, which is kind of like Central Park in New York only in Bangkok, and not New York. Everything I have read/watched regarding Bangkok recommended a visit to Lumpini Park, and it didn’t dissapoint. Packed full of people doing exercise, lush grass and flowerbeds and glistening lakes and streams, it was quite wonderful. It took me around 1 hour and a half to walk around the whole park, although I obviously did stop to take many pictures, watch local Thai’s dance and practise Tai Chu as well as interact with wild animals. Speaking of wild animals, there was an evil turtle which was not only extremely ugly, but massively aggressive. I only wanted a nice close up picture of his devil like face and he went straight for my throat, snapping his jaw like a madman. I took that as a warning to stay away and quickly retreated, he seemed to mean business. Maybe he just didn’t like the name Iggy. But yeah the park was amazing, very chilled and exactly what I needed after that long night and stressful start to the day.
That traumatic experience with devil turtle left me hungry so I hopped on the MRT again to a nearby Vegan restaurant I had been eager to try since my arrival, ‘May’s Veggie Kitchen’. Upon my entrance I was greeted with lovely smiling waiters/waitresses and a menu packed full of a variety of vegan options. From any kind of fake meat to traditional Thai meals, there was something for everyone. I ordered the Thai Green Curry and a water and about 20 minutes later (the perfect waiting time imo) my huge portion of steamy green curry and rice entered my vicinity and I couldn’t have been happier, it was truly delicious. Only cost me around 200 baht, which is little over £4 and in my opinion an absolute bargain. Although one tip, in Asia, spicy means spicy, so be wary when ordering ‘spicy’ food. I made that mistake in India.

So that was the end of my first proper day in Thailand, and what a day it was. Bangkok is such a worlwind of a city. You can hate it one minute and love it the next, but it is definitely somewhere you should try and visit if you want to experience somewhere completely unique and bursting with culture.

I hope you enjoyed reading this, and stay tuned for the next post. Keep smiling, Harrison 🙂

2016 And a Change in Direction + HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Another year’s over, 2015 has been and gone and 2016 has officially arrived. Like I said in my post from last year, time flies as you get older. Again this year feels like it went by faster than ever before, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just makes you realise how quickly life can pass you by. Already this year has started better than the last due to the fact I haven’t got a broken jaw and nose this time round (hooray!).

2015 was a pretty good year for me, looking back at my post from last year (link here if interested) I achieved everything I set out to achieve and not only that but I developed friendships and made some awesome new ones. I also feel like I evolved substantially as a person over the year, changing my lifestyle massively, and this is where the ‘change in direction’ part of the title comes from. I went Vegan on the 20th September 2015 and it’s the best thing that could have ever happened to me and something I feel hugely passionate about and, therefore, why I am going to be writing about veganism a lot more on my blog. So this is just a heads up if you dislike people ‘preaching’ about stuff like veganism (although I wouldn’t consider it preaching) because I will be writing about Vegan related stuff a lot more from now on as I feel it is very important.

I suppose this is the part where I make a few ‘New Year’s Resolutions’. Whilst I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions as if you are going to do something why not just do it straight away, I do have a few aims and things I want to achieve over the year. The main one is to travel somewhere. Just anywhere. Have an adventure as that is my dream in life and I haven’t really done anything to achieve that as of yet. I also want to keep fit, cliché I know, and pass my year at University, all of these are achievable and I cannot wait to see what 2016 holds.

So yeah hope you guys had a good Christmas and New Year, I certainly did, my new kitchen accessories that I got will definitely come in handy! I wish you all a very happy new year.

Keep smiling, Harrison 🙂

memeee

Teens Tell Their Story (Week 3): YouTube

This is week 3 of the amazing ‘teens tell their story’ project run by the equally amazing Caitlyn & Sherina. I missed week 2, unfortunately, but really enjoyed week 1 (you can read it here) and I’m back to do week 3! As you can tell by the title, this weeks topic is YouTube.

If you’re like me, then YouTube has replaced TV in your life and pretty much all of the video content you consume comes from the online platform, except for Emmerdale, I love Emmerdale. I frickin love YouTube. It allows me to travel the world from my sofa (well…kinda) as well as be entertained on a daily basis. I can’t imagine my life without it, and I realise how sad that sounds,but I don’t care. What’s great about YouTube is, for the most part, it allows for an extremely positive community of people with similar interests to interact. In addition to this, anyone can make a channel and build a fanbase, which is awesome and means the level of creativity on the platform is always impressively high. It is also exceptionally versatile and therefore can satisfy any of your audience needs for example; I watch YouTube to laugh, interact or be informed, in fact most of my education probably comes from YouTube, which is awesome. My favourite YouTubers are mainly travel vloggers, not only do I really enjoy their personality, but watching their videos makes me want to pursue my dream even more, which can only be a good thing. I watch people like Ben Brown, the VagaBrothers and Nadine Sykora religiously for those exact reasons, and I will never get bored of their content. In addition to these YouTubers, others I watch on a daily basis are mainly comedy channels, in particular Onision (controversial I know) and JacksFilms, they are both hilarious.

So yeah that’s my take on this weeks topic, as you can tell, I love YouTube. Let me know if you do too! Please check out the creators of this project above, their blogs really are amazing. And thankyou for reading. Also, I linked the YouTubers for ease of access if you wanted to check them out 🙂

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