Contrary to the old adage that life begins at forty – it doesn’t, life begins whenever you want it to, and for me that was when I recognised that there’s still a big world out there, and I had to make the effort to see it.
A son with wanderlust and a zest for seeing everything there is to see offered enormous support and made such a difference, as did my daughter who encouraged me all the way (provided her brother looked after me!).
Some years ago, I put all trepidation aside and set off to Thailand. I remember I flew the least expensive way possible, via Abu Dhabi, and the flight was delayed there for eight hours. This was before the new airport was completed, so not as modern as now. I was mesmerised by the sights and sounds, (and the loos). How different all this was from Europe.
The delay meant I missed my connection in Bangkok to meet my son in Chiang Mai, but it also meant a little extra time to take in all that was new. I recommend a night in an airport talking to the various workers as an introduction to the people of a country, because I found the English speaking Thais doing the cleaning and manning the few coffee stalls open, and the police/security delightful and unfailingly helpful.
I managed to organise myself to get on the first flight to Chiang Mai the next morning, and my phone was working again, so I was able to contact my son who met me. I still remember my first thoughts in Chiang Mai – what was I doing here?!! The sights, all the electric wires dangling within reach, the various advertising hoardings, the apparent utter chaos, and the smells! I will never forget my first smell of Chiang Mai because it was so different to anything I had ever experienced, I wondered, can I do this?
Reader, I did do it and loved every minute of it, and have done a lot more since, but Chiang Mai and Thailand will always have a special place in my heart. So read on and discover that’s it’s never too late to see the world, you just have to make your mind up to do it…