Traveling the World Alone

Traveling the World Alone

Traveling Alone – A Different Perspective

Traveling the World Alone sounds scary! It is a little terrifying for many of us in the beginning. It can also be one of the most enjoyable experiences for both women and men and once you begin your journey you realize its not dangerous or scary if you use common sense. It’s a great way to travel and offers benefits that will make your travel rewarding. My first rule about travel is to be careful and safe. Where you travel makes a big difference. South America is not as safe for the lone-traveler as it is in South East Asia. 

Jet engine and gulf of Thailand window view, Traveling the World Alone

This is the southern tip of Thailand on my Air Asia flight to Singapore.

Traveling Alone in SE Asia has its advantages and disadvantages. I was updating my About Page for this magazine the other day and realized how different I am from many of the other travel journalists, photographers and bloggers.  It didn’t really allude me, but I never put it down in black and white before.

Travel is Therapy

Traveling is a type of therapy for many people including myself because it has made me think about the present, not the past. The past was about losing my wife to breast cancer. The past was about how my profession changed and surviving during a terrible recession, or losing one of my kidney because of cancer.  The past was about a crippling accident that I was able to recover from without the recommended surgery. I’m on a new road here…this story is about the why and how traveling alone changed my life…

Siem-Reap-Riverside, Traveling the World Alone

Late in the afternoon along the River Front in Siem Reap, Cambodia

SE Asia Travel is For All Ages

Traveling alone in SE Asia is a great experience for anyone at any age. It’s relatively safe here and there’s a lot to see and experience. Most of the locals in Cambodia and Thailand are very nice, but you also have to be careful. Many locals think all westerners are rich and there are a fair share of tourism vendors that want to get as much money out of you as possible, especially if your alone. Research, research, research is my advice. I try to warn others as best I can when I write about my experiences. The big thing is not to be afraid to go alone. Experience this cultural diverse area where you will forced to live in the present.

BKK ferry boat, Traveling the World Alone

A Ferry transporting people on the river in Bangkok.

Travel While You Still Can

My past has had its ups and downs, and death of a spouse is a hard one! I try to look at the positives of most things and I do find them, but sometimes it takes a while, and sometimes it doesn’t happen until a lot of time has passed. The positives show up in many ways if you’re looking for them. You have to keep searching and not give up. I was a caregiver to my late wife Betsy who had Breast Cancer for just over six years before she died.  All I can take with me concerning her death is my love for her and a message, and the message is to live life to the fullest while we still can. Life is short!! Anything can happen at any time!!! I’m qualified to say that…

Life Changes after You Lose a Loved One

After losing Betsy I didn’t want anything to change, all the while I was going through depression. I was heartbroken and lonely. I had my fill of changes because she was gone, wasn’t that enough of a change??  Well, that’s not the way it works. Looking back over the last 16 years without Betsy, my life has changed several times over. I told myself, it was up to me to change my life if I didn’t like what was happening! I even started writing a book about going through the grieving and dating and about relationships. Maybe someday I’ll finish that book, but now its about living in the present. That is what traveling the world alone does to you, it makes you live in the present and makes you realize that Life is all about changes…

Cambodia Countryside, water buffalo rides,

Chinese Tourists riding in carts pulled by water-buffalos on the back roads in Cambodia.

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How the Travel Bug Began

I injured my knee after an accident, I was on crutches for almost 6 months and could not work.  I healed my knee by exercise and taking herbs. My doctor wanted to do knee a replacement, I wanted to keep my knee if I had any choice at all.  This was the turning point in my life when I decided that I needed to live. My life had changed dramatically and looking for a positive I could get take my past was I had to start living and following my heart. I made a choice and from my past experience with cancer, I listen to my doctor but made my choice about what to do. I did my own research and healed my knee myself, no more crutches. The time was now if  I wanted to travel because anything can happen and physically I was ready to travel.

Technology Advances

I have always wanted to take my camera and hit the road, but I never had the guts. Times have changes since those initial thoughts from years past; digital cameras, laptop computers and cell phones were now available and perfect for a traveling photographer.

Angkor Temple Ruins, Traveling the World Alone,

Angkor Temples about in Cambodia and this image was photographed during the rainy season.

Deciding to travel alone was a hard decision at my age (baby boomer), and it has not been easy, but it’s been rewarding. I asked myself how could I travel and do something constructive with the knowledge I have? It’s not just about making great photographs, I wanted to applying my knowledge of architectural and food photography for reviews. I review hotels, attractions and restaurants for this magazine. I still love taking photographs and apply what I know to fine art, travel, and architectural photography. Many think I am on an extended vacation, but I work long hours on the computer and schlep my camera and tripod on travel treks, but I enjoy my work. Money is tight but I get by as long as I stay on budget and I get a little help from doing reviews and selling some of my images.

De Naga Hotel Room, Traveling the World Alone

De Naga Hotel interiors in Chiang Mai. Feature article for the Sept (quarter) Issue 2015.

There are lots of single travelers in Thailand and Cambodia, but in my age bracket, not many are writing about and photographing their travels on the internet like I am.  Many single travelers are on holiday with a large portion that are young and a few middle-aged and travelers from generation. 

57 chevy parking, Traveling the World Alone

Finding classic cars in foreign locations is a treat for a baby boomer. I found this primo 1957 Chevy on the streets of Bangkok

Because I am older, I bring a different perspective to traveling alone along with my creative eye. I look at the world in a different light because of past experience in business, life and my commercial/fine art photography background. Many people I hear from would love to travel but do not because of finance, kids, relationships, a  physically disability or because they are too scared too. I share my travels for those that are able to travel and want to see and learn about my travels and those people who can’t travel and want to see the world through my eyes. I also get a lot of positive feed back about my photography, which is still a love of mine after shooting for over 40 years.

Trees close to Pt-Reyes, Traveling the World Alone

Photography is a big part of my travels. What do you see here? Three trees or two trees and one tree? Because of the two and one configuration of the trees the photograph is balanced. Photography is not all about sunrises and sunsets, you can make great photographs by training yourself to design a photo through your viewfinder. This photograph was photographed close to Pt. Reyes California, USA. on my way to Florida.

My goal is to share my experiences with my readers like the video below as I ride up the mountain for a Zip Line Adventure. I try to give my readers a chance to know what it’s like to see the countryside in foreign lands, in this case around the curves of the mountain on the way to the zip lines outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Traveling alone in SE Asia seems perfect for staying at hostels. Easy to meet people but they have their disadvantages too. Shared bathroom, quiet time (no snoring) and privacy are concerns. Most have younger backpackers, people who are great to meet, in your age bracket, but many older travelers stick with hotels and guest homes, not hostels.

Experiencing Travel Life

I take my time to experiencing the details of exploring/photography and noticing the cultural differences between each country.  So far my travels have taken me back and forth between Thailand and Cambodia, and the cultural differences stand out after a while.  If you can spend enough time in each country you begin to understand the differences.  

Buddhism is Popular

Both Thailand and Cambodia are predominantly Buddhist, which may create the illusion that they are very similar. Customs, foods and family may seem similar, but past wars and struggles create a stark contrast between these two countries. The language is different but has some similar qualities. In 2016 my plans are to see more of Cambodia, travel to Vietnam and Laos for my first time and compare their differences and likenesses, along with taking as many photographs that I am able to along with a some video. All of that right after a trip to see the historic River Kwai from World War ll.

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Wat Pha Lat a very old Buddhist Temple in the mountains above Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Comparison Traveling 

I try to make comparisons of everything I can between the countries I visit and my home in America.  In SE Asia, religion is very important along with the family core. Older people are treated differently and the work hours are long with low pay in many fields. The laws are much different, especially traffic laws. Right of way belongs to the motorist, not the pedestrian. Sidewalks often have obstacles to walk around and over. But even with these difference, its relaxing here, there is a slower pace and not as much of the ‘I have to have it now” mentality.

Live in the Present

For me its less stress and I am doing what I feel I need to do to live again, to live in the present.  I see new places, meet new interesting people (old and young) and get in a lot travel photography as I see temples, sunsets, making reviews and studying the culture; it’s a foodies paradise too. I often think about my late wife and wish she was here because she would’ve loved meeting travelers from all over the world and experiencing the SE Asian culture and foods. She was a people person who loved to help others in anyways she could. That’s what I try to take with me, to live life to the fullest, and to help others too.  There is a lot to see and I love photographing ancient ruins, nature and animals, I’m in heaven here.

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A Gibbons Monkey Greets One of the Guides from Flight of the Gibbons Zip Line outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Traveling Alone

The truth is you are never really alone when you travel. You either meet someone on a bus sitting next to you or you make friends with others in restaurants or just about anywhere. When you are gone from home for a long time sometimes your friends end up coming to visit and travel with you. That is when it really gets fun!  I now have many friends here, Tuk Tuk drivers, hotel managers and even people who you meet working in the hotels become your friends. The women here are beautiful too!

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Beng Mealea with Charlotte meditating, my travel companion for the day as we explored the Temples of Angkor

What’s next on the Menu in SE Asia

Next up will be Myanmar and Vietnam for the first time and more exploring both Cambodia and Thailand.  Learning about the eastern ways of Yoga, meditation, massage, reflexology, Asian foods and the way of life in SE Asia are all coming up for 2016.  What I learn I hope can by applied by anyone who travels or wants to experience it through my eyes. If nothing else, for those who can’t travel, they can live through my eyes.

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Travel and Food Photography go hand in hand. Having a food photography background and family restaurant business creates consulting and photography opportunities. I also get to review some very nice restaurant and try out many international foods as well. These delicious rolls were from Naga Hotel in Chiang Mai.

Follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest. Reviews of restaurants and hotels are reported with my true feelings and honest opinions about the food, culture, and hotel/resort reviews.  I want to help other travels who might want an older point of view. For travelers over 50, comfort and safety are key to enjoying your vacation or holiday and that is what I look for among other qualities.

© 2015 Travel Food & Health Magazine

Author: TL

Editor & Chief, professional photographer who’s passionate about fine arts, travel and food photography. Traveling in SE Asia currently. Thomas Levine Photography sells photo stock, products designed with his images, and educates others on how to take great photographs. Travel Food & Health is Tom’s way of sharing the world. Geared for both travelers or arm chair travelers.

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