Solo Female Traveller: Table for One

I am what many people call “an independent woman.” I take care of myself (most of the time) and have no qualms about doing stuff on my own. Since I was young, I have preferred to do stuff without help from others.

When I was 20, I decided I would move to Hawai’i. I was encouraged to go and make sure it was a place I could live. So I went on my first big trip by myself. I stayed in a hostel and made friends and did what 20 year olds did. A month after I turned 21, I moved to the Aloha State completely on my own without knowing a soul out there. I managed well enough.

21-in-hi  North Shore, Oahu, 200something, my first visit to Hawai’i

When I was 25, I decided it was time for another move. I would move to Thailand to teach English as a second language. Three days before my 26th birthday, I packed my bags for the 3rd or 4th time and I boarded a plane. The first leg was delayed, causing me to miss the following 3 flights. I arrived in Surat Thani on a lovely monsoony afternoon, greeted by my new roommates the eve of my 26th. My first morning in Thailand was my birthday. During that time, I traveled to the Maldives completely on my own. I couchsurfed for a few nights and then found a nice local atoll to crash on for a few days. I couldn’t afford to stay in a fancy resort (although all inclusive) and it isn’t like many people go to these romantic locations on their own. I saw an opportunity, and I took it. I had a lovely stay at the Dhonvali View on Maafushi. The staff was amazing and set me up on dive trips and other atoll visits, and included all meals for me, set up on the roof overlooking the ocean.

That is the moment I realized the downfall of traveling solo: I would be eating alone. The staff would occasionally join me and chat with me about life and whatever. Sure, it allowed me to gather my thoughts as I ingested some local cuisine and gazed upon the desert waters. But I was eating alone.
In Maldives, when I eating alone, it really wasn’t so bad. I didn’t mind really at the time. But I didn’t quite realize how many meals abroad I would eat in silence.

prison

Not a bad place to be stuck.

maldives-dinner

Rooftop dinner for one.

The latter half of my 20s has/was spent living in Korea. While there, I took a trip to Boracay on my own. I got myself a nice quiet room for the first half of the week and met with a friend for dinners or random travelers for lunch. A fruit shake for breakfast wasn’t a big deal for me on my solo journey.
It was the end of my trip when I booked myself a nicer resort with a fancy pool and buffet that I started experiencing the Maldives sensation, squared. I remember stepping up to the host and the lady greeting me with “Hello, miss. Table for 2?” Confused, I saw behind me was a man. We laughed awkwardly for a moment as his wife walked up and I replied, “Just me. This guy is taken already.” I don’t know if what I saw in her eyes was embarrassment on her part or for me. She sat the other couple first and then proceeded to make me wait while she found a tiny table in an obvious part of the room. It was the table anyone who has worked in a restaurant knows. THE table that doesn’t get seated unless desperate. They put me at the desperate table.
But being the proud and independent woman I am, I held my head high, straightened my posture and ate like a champ. The next day, as she walked me to the same table, I asked to be seated elsewhere.. a little less obvious. My wish was granted and I was put into a corner. Damnit. Whatever, the food was fucking incredible.

This is something I have been enduring for a decade. I know the motions and have learned to take it with a grain of salt… but unfortunately, it’s a bit harder without the tequila and lemon.
Quick flashfoward to today, September 16th in Hoi An, Vietnam. I am on a solo trip in a beach town at a nice hotel & spa. It’s my first breakfast buffet here. I cannot fucking wait. I walk up and I see the dining room is full. There are barely any seats. I tell the hostess “Just me” and she looked confused. “Table for one, please.” Fear or shock, or both?, filled her eyes and she looked around for a table or a place to waste on a single woman. Then she smiles and says “Follow me, please.” So I followed her through the dining room. I kept trying to find that table that I knew she would place me at, but this dining room didn’t have one! Whaaaaaaat? She took me through the dining hall and OUTSIDE TO THE POOL. Where a nice square table set for 2 was set. Next to a crying Asian child. Next to a couple who were soaked from swimming. Next to people in their bathing suits.
She tried to put me outside. Then, as if to embarrass me further, she asked if I was with the gentleman near the door who was waiting for his omelette. Deja. Fucking. Vous. Nope. I replied in my sweetest before-10am venom-dripping voice. I am by myself. I am eating alone. I would like a table with the rest of the guests, thank you very much.
“But miss, there are no tables.” So I went inside and found a long table that had 8 seats. The 4 corners were occupied by 2 separate couples. I walked up and said “Excuse me, is one of these free?” Silent nods. I sat down. “But miss!” said the hostess. I sweetly glared at her and said, “Why yes! I would love a coffee, thank you so much.”

And that is how I started my day.
Solo travelers, especially women, be wary of eating alone. Not because of someone drugging you (although, yes be wary of that), but because assumptions are made and you are better than whatever the assumption is. Find your spot and sit in it. Then proceed to make a mess and eat like a big, leaving bits of jam on the table for them to have to clean up. Actually, try to eat like a lady with a little self-respect.. but definitely leave a bit of jam on the table.

 

Advertisements

10% of the world…

That’s how many places I have been to..

I have visited 21 countries (24 hours or longer) and stayed in 4 other countries’ airports.

1. USA

2. Mexico

3. Bahamas

4. Jamaica

5. Puerto Rico

6. England

7. Spain

8. Italy

9. France

10. Netherlands

11. Belgium

12. Greece

13. Israel

14. Thailand

15. Japan

16. Hong Kong

17. Malaysia

18. Philippines

19. South Korea

20. Maldives

21. South Africa

Airports:

Germany, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Singapore

I am so proud of my accomplishments – but I am also very disappointed that it hasn’t been more. I have not yet been to any South American countries and have only been to a small portion of Europe and Asia. There’s still Africa too.

My bucket list of countries:

Finland, Norway, Iceland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Egypt, Turkey, Taiwan, Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Indonesia, Cuba, Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, Costa Rica, and more. I just can’t think of them all because I’m supposed to be teaching right now. Oops.

Single Lady: Maldives

I’m a single 28 year old American chick. I’m independent and strong-willed. I have no problem traveling alone, but I’ve noticed there’s a serious lacking of information about women who travel alone in foreign countries. I’m not saying I always have the greatest trips, but I can share my experiences and try to give insight to the ladies in the world who choose to travel independently.

In October 2012, I went to the Maldives by myself. I didn’t know where to stay or what to do, but I had found a ticket from Thailand that was cheap, so I grabbed it. I flew from Bangkok to Colombo (Sri lanka – smelliest and most boring airport I have ever been in). When you fly into any tropical location, get yourself a window seat. IMG_0960  It is GORGEOUS.

You can’t just show up to a country that’s made up of sinking atolls without a place to stay – so, I used the fantastic site, http://www.couchsurfing.org, to crash on a couch for two nights in Male. Luke is a seaplane pilot there from Canada. While I crashed his couch, he helped me to find an atoll to stay on that wasn’t going to break the bank and wasn’t a complete couple resort.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I took a ferry to get there and enjoyed the sun for a good few hours. The atoll was Ma’afushi. It was a local atoll that still had Muslim customs..so there was no alcohol and I couldn’t walk around in a bikini. There was a particular strip of beach that was “allowing” of women in bathing suits, but the weather wasn’t great for it.

The place I stayed was fantastic: Dhonveli View.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  From the outsideOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  The welcome deskOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  The small loungeOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA simple breakfast nook

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I got a large and clean room with a queen size bed (two singles pushed together) and a clean bathroom with hot water.

 

For around $50USD a night, meals were included and were fantastic. They served me dinner on the roof overlooking the ocean and the night sky.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA There was so much food that I could barely eat it all. The main source of food there is fish (obviously), so I had quite a variety of tuna and rice during my stay.

The family that owned it were very sweet and accommodating. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When I wanted to go diving, they recommended a guide for me to go with and I had an amazing dive buddy, a Dutch lady who was also visiting the island. The weather wasn’t great (as mentioned) so a couple of the dive spots were rough, but the dive master helped me with everything. We saw a shipwreck and did a drift dive after viewing 100+ black and white tipped reef sharks.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The next day I asked to go to a resort island so that I may have a few drinks and enjoy the beach and water in a bikini on my holiday. I wish I could remember the name of the resort, so I could warn you. (For those who aren’t aware, a resort will typically be on it’s own atoll so that it can regulate the drinking laws and cater to the guests. Like many resorts, if you want to visit it for a day, there will be an entry fee.) This resort was beautiful. It had sand paths and so many trees.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The sand was clean and the beaches had chairs and towels provided. I asked to go snorkeling and the concierge pointed me in the direction of the scuba/snorkel shack. The man in charge of the scuba/snorkel shack was the BIGGEST ASSHOLE! I was paying to use the masks and he would not allow me to rent one. He said it was because I was not a resort guest. I went back and asked the concierge about it, and they called him up and sent me back to him. He still did not permit to rent a snorkel mask, depriving me of one of the main reasons I had come to the island. Literally, he ruined the majority of my resort visit. So I went to the bar and luckily it started raining (this made it better because i didn’t feel as bad about missing the beach). I had the most expensive gin + tonic ever. Then I went and got a 90 minute massage…because why not? The massage wasn’t bad, but the spa was gorgeous. It was so what I expected when I walked in – beautiful flowers and wood and art. It was peaceful just to walk in. After the massage I went back to the beach and sun bathed until just before sunset. I met the boat that took me back to Maafushi. I don’t know why I was so upset, but I was really not in a good mood. I walked into my room and there was a beautiful bouquet of my favorite flowers: Plumeria. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The staff had left me this gorgeous gift in my nicely tidied room. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

They gave me a great dinner OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA and I sat in the main area with the girls who work there and we all chatted for a few hours. They were really sweet. I highly recommend it as a place to stay.

I took a ferry back to Male and went to a resort near the airport to wait for my flight back to Thailand. Of course, it was super sunny out. I met a great group of people who told me about how they had done a dive excursion. They stayed on a boat for a week and did 3 dives a day (and some at night). Those lucky bastards saw whale sharks – – – the only thing on my diving bucket list.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA There is no joke about the water being crystal clear. 50 shades of blue to be seen here. The ground is hard but the sand is soft and fine, like sugar.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   cropped-pa170166.jpg

At the end of the beach that allows bathing suits is a gorgeous house that I believe was a school at one point. I can’t remember exactly but it had some kind of damage done (obviously) and it is now abandoned.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Colorful sand bags for when a storm comes and the waves get a bit rough.

 

In the end, I would recommend a trip to the Maldives at some point in your life. However, maybe go with friends or a significant other – and get yourselves a water bungalow!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

%d bloggers like this: