One of my favourite trips ever has undeniably been the six months I spent in Australia now five years ago. I look back at that time with a magical feeling in my heart – lol, I know, cheesy. But I do.
And I nearly didn’t go. I’m terrified of spiders, and in my head they’d be lurking around every corner. I’d dreamt and fantasised about Australia for ages, and one night I just had a breakdown and decided not to go. Until my mum (rightly) told me to not be ridiculous – so I went, because my mum is always right. (And no, in stark contrast to my expectations did I not get attacked by vicious spiders at all)
Off I went – with a chocolate Christmas calendar in my backpack because Christmas was going to be included in my stay.
Both before, during and after travelling to Australia you’re being bombarded with information about what not to bring into the country – mostly a whole lot of food items. When I disembarked my plane and headed for immigration I was convinced that I would be sent straight back to Denmark for having tried to smuggle in an illegal Danish chocolate calendar.
I decided my best bet was to play it honestly, and so when I approached the counter I confessed; my backpack is stuffed with chocolate! The man behind the counter gave me a skeptical look and insured me that I couldn’t bring it into the country, and just like that all my Christmas dreams vanished – a December without a Christmas calendar? I’ve probably looked awfully sad until his expression turned from serious to cheery and he said “‘course you can, love”. And from then on I loved Australia.
The trip turned out to be amazing, magical, and unforgettable. Those six months are some I’ll treasure forever. I laughed uncontrollably, I cried rivers, I met beautiful people, I met not so great people, I attempted surfing, I failed at surfing, I got drunk and fell out of a trolley, I got lost, I found my way back home, and I loved every minute of my time in Australia! ♡
I think I’ve had the travel bug since I was a kid. Travelling means new experiences, new impressions, and freedom.
I’ve definitely inherited that gene from my mum, and for as long as I can remember I have come along whenever she’s been travelling. Sometimes my dad can be persuaded to come along as well, but he’s definitely not as keen as the ladies of the family 😉
As I’ve gotten older, I have started travelling without my mum as well; at first with friends and afterwards solo.
And the whole thing about solo travel – it gives a lot of reactions. Many assume that it’s unsafe for women to travel alone. And yes, of course you’ll have to be careful, but male sole travelers should as well. In any case it shouldn’t scare off anyone from travelling the world alone.
I was 19 when I left for my very first solo trip in my first gap year. My destinations were Vietnam, Thailand, and India. I was met with so many concerned reactions from friends and family.
Back then I never really understood their concerns and promised them that “yes fine, I’ll take care of myself”. I simply never thought about the fact that it could be more unsafe as a young woman to go on a solo trip.
I can’t really remember ever feeling especially unsafe on any of my trips. There’s a certain kind of calmness around unfamiliar places, because you don’t know what to expect of the place in the first place.
My parents have mostly let me do what I want – within reason, of course. They haven’t made a bunch of rules, and they’ve let me feel my own way in life. My upbringing has been safe so I think it’s been healthy to look for some challenges.
“you need to meet some bacteria to build up a resistance”
When I was 12 my family and I went to Egypt, where we’ve been a lot. On that particular day we were visiting an Egyptian family with a daughter. We didn’t understand a word the other one said, but we were roughly the same age so obviously we hit if off! While my mum drank tea with the parents, the daughter, Aya, dragged me with her into the hectic streets of Cairo.
Hand in hand we ran through the pulsating and vibrant streets, while Aya eagerly introduced me to her friends every time we came across someone she knew.
My mum and I have often talked about if it’s been shaping me in any way, that I just got thrown into a situation like that without anyone to lean against. And who knows, it might have played a role in me gaining the courage to travel the world alone.
Anyhow, I have loved travelling ever since. I love travelling with friends and family and I love travelling alone.
When I was 12, my parents bought a holiday home in Egypt. Originally, it was supposed to be an investment, but as The Arab Spring happened, Hurghada – where our home was – wasn’t what it once was anymore, and you’d be lucky to sell without loss.
It doesn’t matter, really, because we’ve enjoyed going there at least once a year, anyways – up until Covid of course, and I miss it!
Egypt can both be a beach vacation, a cultural vacation, fun and games, amazing sunsets, eye opening, magical, and overwhelming all at once. I’ve had countless amazing experiences in Egypt and it holds a special place in my heart.
As a 12-year-old I was running around the busy streets of Cairo with an Egyptian girl my age, while my mum was having tea with the girl’s parents. At 14 I drove around the desert in ATVs with my family and watches the sun disappear behind the mountains. At 16 my four best friends and I went to a bar for the very first time. At 21 I brought my boyfriend to Egypt for the very first time, and have since brought him multible times. At 25 I was supposed to go to Egypt for the I-don’t-know-which-time but had my trip cancelled because of Covid – and I haven’t been since…
A trip to Egypt can have the pyramids, The Valley of the Kings, and the Karnak Temple, but a trip to Egypt can just as well be about absorbing as much vitamin D as possible. Waking up late, going to the beach; alternating between swimming and tanning, eating late dinners, drinking colourful cocktails…
Consider this my declaration of love to the country – I’ve fallen head over heals!
When I was younger (just to make myself sound really old…) I was sure that I was going to live the big city life – being sort of a Carrie Bradshaw type: someone who would write or do photography and live in a fancy apartment in a big city. Always busy and on her way to somewhere new.
I’d be sat at a cozy, local café with my laptop, and obviously I’d know all the staff – ’cause this is where I would be everyday, working. With a latte og espresso by my side – because in this fantasy I like coffee. I’d be gazing out onto London’s busy streets, crowds in Paris, or a pulsating city life in New York.
However, my boyfriend and I have just moved to a tiny village. It isn’t even a town you know of if you aren’t from the area. And that suits me just fine…
The idea of the high life in Sydney or Los Angeles has been put away, and now I dream of a garden, a dog, and an affordable rent.
I did originally come from a small town as well, so I know what it’s all about, and so far I love the fact that we can’t go for a walk without meeting a handful of people we know.
Not very rock ‘n’ roll, and not a Carrie Bradshaw in sight.
And I can’t wait.
February 25, 2014
I found myself in Bangkok with my new friend Mikkel who I’d met just a couple days earlier. We’d bonded over both being Danish and decided to travel the next bit together. Overnight we’d struggled through a 14 hour bus ride from Krabi to the chaotic capital of Thailand.
We arrived at our ‘2 dollars a night’ hostel as the sun was rising. The reception area was unlocked but the staff wasn’t in yet, so we decided to leave our bags and take a morning stroll through Bangkok, which was surprisingly quiet in the early morning hours.
We saw forests of skyscrapers as we walked side by side on the main road, but one stood out to us: abandoned and nicknamed Ghost Tower. The actual name of the 49 story skyscraper is Sathorn Unique, and was destined to become a luxury complex, but it was abandoned when the financial crisis hit Thailand in 1997. Since then the unfinished skyscraper has been left more or less empty – most people keep their distance since it’s believed to be haunted.
The building was surrounded by a fence with warning signs promising prosecution to trespassers, but curiosity got the best of us and it only seemed like the right thing to try and get up there! Maybe because we were a bit delusional still from that bus ride and maybe because we’d only had 1,5 hours of sleep that night.
When we found a hole in the fence that was just about big enough for the both of us to squeeze through, we just had to go for it.
First floor was very dark, very moist, and eerily empty.
It showed obvious signs of having been abandoned for a while, but at the same time we saw little signs indicating that someone might stay here regularly. We didn’t entertain that thought for long as our only focus was how we could get higher up.
Soon we found a couple of stationary escalators in a very poor condition that we ascended carefully. We never knew what was going to be around the next corner. And as scary as it was, we found it incredible fascinating wandering around the gigantic, abandoned concrete building that was supposed to have had such a different destiny.
When we tried to get further, we found that all the stairwells had been thoroughly barricaded with sturdy metal grids and heavy padlocks – it was obvious that someone didn’t want people to enter.
Back on the first floor we did some more exploring. Hidden behind a wall we encountered a woman on a bed and a man next to her. We didn’t get very close before the guy dashed towards us, yelling “Get out! Get out!“. Shocked, we rushed away while apologising and hurriedly squeezed ourselves back through the hole in the fence.
Still determined to get up there we searched for any kind of entrance only to find that we’d have to cross the roof of a long, rusty metal bridge about 20 meters above the ground from the, also decayed, car park next to Sathorn Unique. We made our way up the seven stories to the bridge, and I think that’s when it hit us how incredibly dangerous it would be to climb over. We took turns attempting but neither of us ever let go of the railing, and after about an hour contemplating whether or not to do it we decided to head back home, super bummed that we weren’t even close to reaching the top.
After a quick nap at the hostel we suddenly decided that we were going to give it another go. We simply couldn’t leave Bangkok without having risked our lives just a little, so we went back there and the first thing we encountered was a French guy on his way down from the top poking his head out the balcony from around 7th floor. He yelled down to ask whether we wanted to get up there as well, so we told him yes! and hoped he had a better entrance than over the rusty bridge. Unfortunately he didn’t, but seeing him walk across the bridge with confidence gave the both of us the courage to give it a try ourselves. Pretty soon we found ourselves on the right side on the bridge, adrenaline pumping and ready to conquer the 49 floors to the top!
It was equally terrifying and exhilarating.
It’s nothing we gave much thought, but the building was obviously in decay and debris was scattered everywhere. Elevator shafts were uncovered and had it not been for the darkness we would have been able to look directly down all 49 floors.
We were the only two people there and we took our time exploring the different floors we came across, seeing turned over bathtubs, unused roof tiles, and lots and lots of graffiti. We even lost each other a few times when we accidentally wandered off and had to yell out the other’s name in the echoey building.
It was an absolutely wild trip up there, but after a long while we reached the top, and adding a bit more climbing we reached a platform from where the view was no less than amazing!
We sat up there with Bangkok far below our feet and shared a cheese sandwich (that we had initially brought in case we had to bribe someone). This has without a doubt been one of the most insane experiences of my life, and I feel lucky to have been able to experience something like this.
When I’d just graduated high school my best friend and I went interrailing through Eastern Europe for a few weeks. It was my first true backpacking experience, and I loved it! Hooked from the very first second!
I loved the freedom, I loved the community, and I just never wanted it to end.
Being a backpacker means meeting new people almost constantly, and creating friendships based on nothing but the love for travel. You’ll care deeply for people you’ve just met, and it’ll hurt your soul when they leave.
If you really immerse yourself and just open up to all the experiences, it’ll be so intense. Your social comfort zone will be challenged and expanded. The friendships might be short but they’ll be sweet. I think that like dogs years, time moves a little differently when you’re backpacking.
Following that trip me and my backpack went away, just the two of us, several times. But these last years I have rather – dare I say it – taken a suitcase with me.
And with a suitcase comes hotels instead of hostels, restaurants instead of street food, and cocktails instead of bag-in-box wine – and inevitably also some experiences.
Well I actually think that in my case, most of the above came with my boyfriend, haha. He’s definitely more of a “comfort traveller” than I am.
I used to 100% identify as a backpacker and I was sure, I was never going to travel in any other way ever again. And yet here I am. Haven’t touched my backpack a few years.
A sin against my personality.
I’ve never been one for planning a lot, and to my own surprise (every. single. time) my travel plans rarely go as smoothly as I might hope for.
When I wanted to go from Bangkok to Khao Yai it all got a bit more complicated than I’d expected, and I experienced just how helpful people can be.
January 28, 2014
It was my very first gap year and I’d just arrived in Bangkok after travelling through Vietnam for the past month.
The next day I mentioned to the not-very-English-speaking receptionist that I was going to the bus station, and soon after he’d arranged for me and my backpack to be picked up by his friend on a scooter. I was supposed to be dropped off by the metro station, as the bus station wasn’t more than 5 minutes from there. As a backpacker and always looking to save money, I quickly agreed.
After having been glued to my chauffeur for what felt like an eternity because my backpack was twice as heavy as me, and with every turn it felt like I was going to tumble right off, I was dropped off somewhere seemingly random and pointed in a vague directions towards the bus station. Five minutes quickly passed with no bus station in sight, but I did meet another backpacker – lost on his way to the bus station…
We joined forces and then spent a while being pointed in several different directions – but at least I had company as long as I was lost in Bangkok. Almost an hour passed until finally we found the right place.
I’d Googled the trips and found that I was supposed to get a bus from Bangkok to Pak Chong and then another one the next 26 kilometres to Khao Yai. I got to Pak Chong – no problem, but then it turned out that no buses drove after sunset. I’d never been early, of course, but with the time I’d been delayed, the sun was long gone.
Right, no problem, I thought. But the town was small enough to have no taxis either. And hotels for that matter, so I nearly came to terms wit the fact that I was going to be stuck there through the night.
I wandered aimlessly for a while until I found a small improvised café by the road. I asked for help and then everyone in the little café started chatting (in Thai) until one person was pushed forward – he was the only one who could speak a little English, he explained.
I told them about my situation and a whole lot more chatting commenced as I stood there with my fingers crossed. Suddenly a small family stood up from their table and my very own interpreter explained that they were offering (and insisting) to drive me the next 26 kilometres to my hotel in Khao Yai.
They showed me to their car, and in the (pretty crammed) boot sat a young boy eating crisps. He was thrown out to make room for my bag. I don’t know where he went, because suddenly we were driving, and after being quizzed in limited English (what’s your name? where’re you from? how old are you?) for half an hour we arrived at my parents’ hotel. Just in time for a late dinner.
Not exactly how I’d expected to come to Khao Yai, but it all worked out brilliantly after all. People are just great, aren’t they?
Hey Laura, how will your life look when you’re a grown up?
Well, who knows – I don’t, anyways…
I’m totally the type to find security in a house, a dog, and a garden, and then every once in a while I’ll be sat at a concert listening to some song about living before dying and then a couple of restless days will ensue. Because that is actually a good point, remembering to live life before it all ends.
And I guess it does make one think what it really is you want the future to hold. Would I be satisfied with what I had achieved if it was all going to end tomorrow? Nah, I don’t think I would…
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: it is tough being in the middle of your twenties! Did anyone say quarter-life crisis? (or is that reserved for people that has passede their 45th birthday?)
Instagram is overflowing with succesful and passionated 21 years olds that are rocking everything they do and I cannot keep up. The vehicle that’s supposed to bring me through life is rusty and I think the front wheel is falling off.
In other words; I have no idea how I want my life to turn out.
To be continued…