When you’re travelling in South East Asia, the majority of backpackers you meet are fairly young. But the majority of those travelling alone are in their mid-twenties. It’s reasonably rare to see gap-year students alone, especially once you step off the main tourist circuit. This is particularly true of young women travelling alone. And that’s just what I saw on my travels in Thailand and Cambodia. In India, to see a teenage girl travelling alone is almost unheard of. To be honest, travelling solo in India really deserves a post of its own. Another time. But here are a few things you’re likely to experience, both good and bad, as a young solo female traveler.
I wouldn’t have taken back a second of my travels last summer. Although I definitely had some lows to match the highs, travelling solo did amazing things for my confidence and sense of direction after leaving my first university course. Although I only I turned 19 towards the end of my stay in India, I wouldn’t say that being so young had any detrimental effect on my travels as a whole.
NB: I apologise once again for poor photo quality; still no laptop/camera access!
I’m happy… But I’m sad. I’m hopeful, but I’m also a little nervous. I’m tired, but I’m full of excitement for the next part of my life.
Such are the feelings I face as I scuff my toes in the hypothetical dirt, unwilling to drag myself away from the action-packed, varied life of travel which I have been living for the last few months, leaving behind the unpredictability of life on the road in favour of a new Bachelors degree and a whole YEAR of living in the same place. I left university nearly six months ago; I flew to India a month later. Since then, it has been such a roller coaster ride. The lows are few and far between, but despite what some would have you think, they do exist. But the highs… The highs are extraordinary in every way.
I would not take back a second. I would not reverse a single decision or moment which led me to be here, writing this post in a cafe in Kanchanaburi, watching the monsoon rains splash on the road outside. Even though at points during the last year, I’ve felt so desolate that I could barely see my own existence into the next week, I am now exactly where I am supposed to be.
I haven’t really loved my time in Cambodia so far. A number of reasons have added up to me being alternately amused, faintly bored, somewhat interested and enormously irritated in varying amounts since I have been here. I am sad that I don’t have more time here to give it more of a chance and visit some places which are a little further from the backpacker trail, but unfortunately I am going to be leaving in about a week. Or perhaps fortunately, this time.
Don’t get me wrong; in no way am I dismissing the whole country, or the people, or the amazing experiences other people have had here. But at this point, Cambodia and I really haven’t gelled at all… Maybe another trip in the future will change my mind but currently, my feelings about the places I have been here are fairly resentful. For a number of reasons.
So hopefully you’ve all seen my notice about how I won’t be able to post properly for a while. Currently in Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia, I’m writing this on my phone and in all honesty, I probably could write some more long posts like this but it’s the most annoying thing… Especially as my nails are now at the stage where the length makes it uncomfortably difficult to type but they just look too cool painted so I am unwilling to cut them off.
But yeah, laptop out of action. And the reason for that is… I got mugged. Well, it was more of an attempted bag snatch so I won’t be over dramatic.
I had been warned about Phnom Penh, especially about its change of character after dark. However, I am generally not one to let warnings stop me from living my life and perhaps I was careless last night. Scratch that, I was definitely a bit careless.
I’m just going to start this by saying that I am a notorious over-packer, and I’m not ashamed to admit that my mother’s help was instrumental in me managing to get my life for four months into a 45L backpack… I’m spending 4 months in Asia; 2 months in India and 2 months split between Thailand and Cambodia in SE Asia.
I’m currently only a month into the trip, and still stationary in India, so I don’t know if all the stuff I’ve brought will be useful when I’m on the move, but I’d hazard a guess not for some of it, so I imagine I will end up dumping some things. I will reserve judgment on the usefulness or lack thereof of some of the stuff I brought with me until the end of my trip!
I’ll start with the bag itself. My main piece of luggage, and the one which is cabin baggage on planes, is the pink rucksack pictured below. I do have another rucksack at home which I bought for my trip to and across America last summer, but it’s about 80L, and I didn’t want to have to lug it around like I did last time. *war flashbacks to my bulging backpack knocking out old ladies on the New York subway*