Wandering the globe most certainly has it’s moments; it’s highs and lows and endless days of mundane nothingness that goes hand in hand with simply living out your daily life. Wandering the globe solo as a female puts a whole new twist into life that was both expected yet surprising. Even though I haven’t been gone long, I’ve discovered many of the pros and cons of embarking abroad all on my feminine lonesome.
1. The amount of help you receive for being alone is awesome. People have (both figuratively and literally) held my hand and led me in the right direction when I’m lost.
2. You get pity meals! Kind of. I went to an Indian restaurant the other night in Ipoh, stuck in the wrong (empty) part of town outside the city center with nothing around other than this place, and the entire family welcomed me. I ordered a curry with some vegetables and ended up talking to the guy who ran the place. His wife didn’t speak English and he had to translate for her, but we had a great time discussing India, Malaysia, and America. At one point he gave me a bowl of rice “because I had a lot of room for food” as well as black pepper chicken curry to try. Just when I thought I couldn’t eat another bite he urges me to try the desserts he had made that day. All of these extras were for free, all because I was traveling alone and in a dead part of town.
3. Making friends is easy, and you instantly bond with other solo travelers.
4. Being female, people usually look after you pretty well.
5. You don’t have to create a schedule with anyone, you can just do your own thing. And there is no one to get frustrated with or have arguments with after you have spent just one too many days together.
1. You get A LOT of attention. Attention you don’t really want.
2. I don’t know what it is about Malaysia but I have gotten more unwanted attention, stares, offers for dinner and attempts at forced dates than I ever did in Thailand. For instance, I went to the theater yesterday, by myself, to watch a movie. As I stood there pondering which one to see a young man came up to me and started talking to me and asking which movie I was going to see. “I don’t know…” I answered non committedly, “I was meant to meet some friends here but they may not want to watch one…” He proceeded to assume that was a date opportunity and stepped closer, saying, “What movie should we watch? I’ll buy us the tickets now.” Sensing this was going to turn into something eerily similar to that MadTV skit with the girl being harassed in the movie theater, I sighed with resignation, “I’m not going to a movie today.” and walked off. See? I can’t even go to a movie by myself! Ugh.
3. You don’t have anyone to create a schedule with. Truth be told, traveling alone can sometimes be, well, lonely.
4. While women aren’t being blatantly snatched off the street, sex trafficking is indeed a real problem in SE Asia, and traveling as a solo female means you are more likely to become a target. Basically, I can’t act like an idiot or walk down the streets drunk and alone at night. Not that I want to do that alone. Which brings me to another con…
5. There is no one to have stupid drunk adventures with. Since having crazy drunk nights is really only fun with friends you trust not to leave you passed out in a gutter, you don’t really go out on the town much. At least I don’t….it’s no fun when you drink alone. That’s called alcoholism.
The biggest con would have to be all the male attention. But Kayla, you may be thinking, male attention is great! It means you’ve got it going on! No. It’s not great, it’s awful. No matter what I wear, be it shorts, pants, t shirts or tank tops, I am always feeling eyes on me. And it’s far too hot to wear a burka. It has gotten to the point if a man yells hello and waves at me after eyeing me up I either glare or ignore him as I stalk past, wanting nothing more than to snarl, “What do you want!?” but keeping silent. It’s quite a negative attitude. But really I’m tired of attention, I’ve started getting male travel buddies to walk around with me so I get left alone.
That rant aside, some attention is mere curiosity as to why I am traveling alone. And, much to my surprise, people love Americans over here. Which is great, because rather than feeling like I should pretend to be Canadian or Kiwi I can say American and for once be the most popular kid on the playground! Overall I do love it, but sometimes (like now, if you couldn’t tell by my rants and cynicism) it begins to wear me down. Despite these minor hang ups, I am still loving traveling and I see both the pros and cons as part of the experience that I will look back and smile at later.
Oh, and for a small travel update I am now in Penang. It is lovely, and there are monkeys here too but I watch my things closely.