A couple of years ago, it was a dismal Sunday, hubby was off somewhere and the house was quiet. Suddenly, up popped a compelling message: Travel for the Over Fifties.
I began to read….exciting tours, wonderful experiences, giving back to desperate communities, tour guides used to dealing with the over fifties, complete with aches and pains and anxieties. I was hooked.
Where to go? We went to Thailand on honeymoon and whilst I was a little saddened by the effects that bolshy tourism had had on the country, I was realistic enough to understand that in order to survive, one does what one has to do. I did love the country and the people though and have always wanted to go back.
Added in was also a trip to Cambodia. Another destination which has always fascinated me. The terrible regime there which only really ended 30-odd years ago and of course, Angkor Wat, the largest religious site on the planet and where “Lara Croft” was filmed.
I checked with hubby when he came home- not bothered so I thought, “sod it, I’m going” and booked.
I gave myself a year to save for it, paying it off every month bit by bit and then suddenly, I was off. I remember sitting at Heathrow airport feeling lost and alone, waiting for my flight and thinking that there had to be some invisible neon sign above my head, “Solo Traveller”, the way people stared at me and then continued to snuggle up on the benches and share sandwiches and look after each others’ bags.
It was a wonderful, magical, humbling, emotional holiday with a great bunch of people, with whom I am still in contact. We had come from all over the world to do this together. We learnt each other’s stories and were there to offer support when one of us was feeling low or ill.
I spent my birthday in a hole, digging out a septic tank for a Cambodian family who had no toilet facilities. The women would go out into the fields at night and tell us how frightened they were, of snakes and other wildlife. Now, thanks to us, at least they would have some kind of toilet.
I’m damn proud of that toilet which has our names and faces painted on and tomorrow, I am heading off again. This time with hubby, to India to do a similar thing. Waiting for us at the hotel will be 3 of the original group and some new friends too. Am I a bit apprehensive? Yes indeed. Convinced that this trip will give me life long memories? For sure.