The Beauty of Solo Travel – A Dedication to my Favourite British Lads
What do you get when you put 9 British lads, 1 British girl, 1 Irish man, and 3 Canadian girls into a room? Well to truly understand the answer to that question, I have to take you back to where it all began. On a beautiful Malaysian island called Langkawi.
This is a story, or rather a dedication, to a group of people I met a few months ago. You see, the beauty of solo travel is that you get to meet great people, and then travel with them for a while. Then you meet more people and travel with them. You are never really travelling alone, rather with new people all the time.
It’s a little different with these lads. We kept meeting up randomly throughout South-East Asia. First Malaysia, then Thailand, and finally Laos. It wasn’t until near the end of Laos that I decided to actually travel with them. Even that only lasted for one week. But our hilarious meet-ups will be something I’ll never forget.
The Beginning – Langkawi, Malaysia
I went to Langkawi in early December 2018. Deciding to stay at a hostel that was a bit out of the beach centre as to avoid all of the crazy touristy partying and have a more relaxed time.
Little did I know that plan was immediately about to go to shit. After I arrived and got settled, I sat down with a group of about 6 people who were sitting in the hostel’s beautiful outdoor deck and common area. See where I first mention these lads in my amazing visit to Langkawi Malaysia post.
At this point in time I can’t remember exactly which one’s of them were there. I can actually only remember the ones that were not a part of their group. These two English girls who were there for a couple of nights and one guy from Whales who had joined up with them for a week or two.
As the afternoon turned into evening the group of us slowly had showered, gotten food, gotten drinks and continued to enjoy the beautiful views this hostel’s deck had to offer.
Once we were well liquored and the hostel bar had shut down we decided to take a Grab taxi to the one good place to play pool in the area. When we arrived the hostel owner who had come with us very kindly bought us all some beer pitchers.
After a couple of hours of enjoying the live music, playing some pool, and hanging out, we headed back to the hostel in smaller groups. Sadly, whilst on that same hostel’s back deck, I ended up falling through. Yep right through. My leg went embarrassingly directly through the deck.
Thankfully I knew where the two British girls’ private room was where I went to go get some consoling before heading to bed.
So far seems like a pretty ordinary night out whilst backpacking right? Just wait.
I also may have left out a couple of parts that can be kept as a funny secret between myself and those who were there.
The next night is quite similar, with only about half of the British lads wanting to come out this time to the pool bar.
The first British lad I’ll introduce you to is Archie. Archie, otherwise known as Captain, absolutely loves to creep girls out. I’m pretty sure it’s his favourite past time. He thinks it’s funny, and to be honest it really is when you’re on the other side of it.
What do you say to someone who won’t stop looking into your eyes and telling you just how blue they are. Over, and over and over again. Sweet? Maybe. Creepy? Definitely. At first, it’s quite annoying and hard to know how to respond, so naturally I demanded Elliot come to the bar too. Archie and I didn’t get too close on this Malaysian trip, but over the next couple of months he definitely became one of my favourite people.
Elliot is the second British lad I’ll tell you about. Elliot, or Els, claims he is the only one that Archie will listen to, and is sort of like the organizer of their big group. God bless his soul, trying to manage 7 other 24 and 25 year old British guys sounds like my nightmare. Elliot became the guy I knew I could count on, even though he’s possibly the most binocs (crazy) out of the group. #IrishCoffees. Well, besides the Captain who claims that title with pride.
After dragging Els to the bar, the two of us ended up leaving after just one drink. I wasn’t really feeling the bar that night, felt bad for dragging Elliot out, and was happy to leave Archie behind.
The next morning they were all heading north to Thailand and I would be staying a couple of more days before going more south in Malaysia.
I decided to grab a couple of their Instagram’s anyways just to stay up to date with their trip as people do while travelling. Never really expecting to see them again though.
Ao Nang, Thailand
Low and behold an entire month later they were still in the south of Thailand, where I was heading. I saw on Instagram that they were stuck in Koh Samui during a tropical storm, while I was back on the mainland in Ao Nang, Krabi.
I didn’t really keep up to date with any of their Instagram stories or photos until one day when I saw that they were doing a pub crawl at a bar where I was about to head out to with friends from my hostel. As it was the last bar of the pub crawl I think many of them went too hard too early and had gone to bed already.
I ended up only seeing Archie once again, and George. George who has yet to be introduced is so hilarious. Mainly because when I met him back in Malaysia he had lost his voice and again one month later it was still gone. Even to this day, 3 months after we met, I have not heard George with his normal voice.
He loves to hangout and chat and be a part of what’s going on, never wanting to stay home and drink honey-lemon tea as he probably should. So there he was, dancing singing and shouting at the top of his lungs having the best time ever. Him, Archie and I took some pretty hilarious photos and had a great rest of the night.
I then ended up leaving the next evening on a flight to Chiang Mai where I would start my two-weeks of volunteering out in a rural area 30 minutes outside of the city.
Two weeks later after having almost forgot about them (sorry boys), I ended up seeing a video that showed them in Pai at the same hostel I had booked in advance just a night or two before seeing this video.
I gave my favourite group leader, Els, a message to say I’d be seeing them at Pai Circus Hostel in a few days if they were still there.
Ya Boy Roy
Once I arrived I quickly made friends with one of my favourite humans to date, ya boy Roy. Now although this is a post dedicated to my favourite British lads, I couldn’t talk about Pai and leave out Roy. One of the most positive, generous, and crazy guys I’ve ever met. The day I met him was the day after all of his stuff had gotten burned down in an accidental electrical fire. But I never saw him without a smile on his face, he had his Passport, his cards, and his one and only Aleena and that’s all he needed.
Grey & Hutch
Two more of their friends had joined them from back home starting around New Year’s. Ollie, otherwise known as Grey, and Hutch, whose first name, Will I don’t think was used even once.
Grey is the friendliest, nicest guy ever, and yet also very binocs (crazy). Unbeknownst to us now in Pai, we would become parents to a beloved puppy we named Brownie, and also become undefeated in pool together.
Hutch is probably the one lad out of all of them that is both binocs and very chill at the same time. We had some very funny times together, one where I will still stubbornly say that they were definitely bananas! Just kidding it was definitely leaves, I wasn’t wearing my glasses…
Aaron, a solo traveller from Ireland had decided to join this crazy group after meeting them at Koh Phangan’s New Year’s Eve party. Although I don’t specifically remember introducing myself to him, I do remember having a few too many drinks with Aaron one night out at Pai’s Don’t Cry Bar. Where he managed to basically face plant after trying to hop onto a different stool across a little bonfire. Here’s to hoping he’s not doing any more face plants.
Ped, who also became known as Magic, whose first name is really Dan, has not been introduced yet. For that Dan I apologize, in Malaysia I think we had some great chats. Dan is also one of the nicest guys you’ll meet but definitely knows how to have a good time. I hadn’t seen or spoken to him again until Pai, where he quickly became known as the best DJ to put my tube beside whilst tubing down Pai’s river. Don’t worry Els, you too.
After a day of tubing all together in Pai we went back to the hostel and had a very blurry game of flip-cup. A couple of nights more together of classic Pai times, lots of drinking, and hanging out we said our goodbye’s once again as they headed to Laos via the slow boat. I decided to stay a couple of more days in Pai in order to go to this electronic music festival they were having.
See that is the beauty of solo travel once again. Even though you meet these great people you can still decide what you want to do and just plan to meet up with them at a later date.
Luang Prabang, Laos
I thought I might see them again in Laos as that is also where I was heading next but had no idea if they’d still be there or not. I wasn’t really holding my breath or anything.
Low and behold a couple of days passed and Elliot messaged me what hostel they were staying at. So after my own slow boat journey to Laos I met them at their hostel for the last 2 nights they were there.
Emily & Sarah
This was actually the first time I really chatted with the two girls they were with in Pai. Two very sweet Canadian girls they had met in Koh Phangan at the New Year’s Eve party who had grown close to Elliot and Tom and decided to continue to travel with this binocs group of lads.
Thank god for them honestly, without these two girls there would have been way too much testosterone being thrown around for me to enjoy their company for too long.
Megan on the other had joined at the very end of Pai and I don’t think we even saw each other until both arriving in Luang Prabang. When we first chatted, I grew to like her immediately. So kind and sweet, and her story is so cute of how she was just starting her working Visa in Australia but felt she was missing out on too much by being there and really wanted to be with the guy she was seeing from back home, George (who I mentioned earlier). The two of them are honestly so adorable.
I also have yet to introduce Tom, which I’m so sorry for because me and Tom had some good times together since Malaysia. Do you remember how I said I don’t remember anyone the first time I sat down at the table with them? Well I lied, I do remember Tom now that I’m typing this. I remember him asking me a bunch of questions of where I was from, etc. Tom is a very genuinely nice guy who knows how to have a good time. And now he’d gotten himself a lady friend (Sarah), go Tom.
Layla & Rosie
Anyhow, back to Luang Prabang. Once again, I opted not to travel with this group and just meet them at the next place. I wanted to stay a bit longer to meet up with two girls I had met and really connected with in Pai, Layla and Rosie. Who were also coming to that hostel that day.
Layla and Rosie are 19 and 20 and doing a long South-East Asia trip together before hitting the University world. Although both 4 or 5 years younger than us they were very mature and we all had such a great time together. Hoping to see them again now in Vietnam.
Vang Vieng, Laos
After a couple more nights of late night Luang Prabang bowling, and one stolen phone, I was ready to leave. Thank goodness Layla and Rosie were too.
We met up with these British Lads at the next hostel in the next Laos town of Vang Vieng. The famous Laos tubing town. Our hostel, Nana Backpackers, had free vodka and whiskey from 7pm to 9pm, while the local bars continued the trend from 10-11pm. So naturally we stayed at the hostel to have some drinks before going to the next free spot. This trend continued for the week, as we both decided to stay at Nana’s for an entire 7 days or so.
Alex, also from England, had only met this group of lads in Vang Vieng where I also met him during our first tubing excursion. We were having some good conversation whilst stopping at the first bar.
Seriously one of the most genuinely nice guys I’ve met, I wish him the best travelling with these guys. Especially since his birthday was just a few days after we parted ways. Hope they treated you well in Cambodia now that I have left!
Once again, the group was a bit ahead of me and headed to the capital, Vientiane a day before myself and my new lady travel companions, Layla, Rosie, and this lovely girl from Austria, Corinna.
I arrived in Vientiane a day later than them and had a complete fail of a day trying to get my phone fixed. The hostel bed was so uncomfortable and the city was so hot that I then decided to only stay one night and finally actually start travelling with these UK boys to the next city. Which ended up being a 12 hour night bus down to the south of Laos, to the 4000 islands.
4000 Islands, Laos
We ended up staying about 3 or 4 nights in the 4000 islands. Had one great and very long day of kayaking, seeing a couple of river dolphins, and eating some very interesting Laos BBQ lunch. The rest of the time was spent classically having some drinks, hanging out, and livening up the local bars.
Now there is one more person I have yet to introduce, and for good reason. Big Dez has always been one of my favourite lads. Mostly because he’s often doing his own thing not really caring about fomo like the rest of the group (and myself). And although we’ve always had good chats and good times together ever since Langkawi Malaysia I think the 4000 islands is when Big Dez and I really had our bonding moment.
One night we were all walking to find this beach party, when Big Dez, who had the directions, and I had turned to go the correct way. Meanwhile, everyone else gave up and turned around. Asking us to text them what was up with it. So we continued on a to walk about 20 minutes along this dirt path to find this so-called beach party. I shared my knowledge of constellations and how they differ in the northern and southern hemisphere and we drunkenly laughed in awhe of how crazy that was.
Splitting Up – Once Again
A day or two later we would be splitting ways once again. They would all be heading to Cambodia while wanted to go to Vietnam. We had one really great last night together. Getting dinner at a delicious Indian restaurant, and heading to a close bar for some last pool games and drinks together.
I said goodbye to everyone either that night or the next morning. They took an early boat and mine wasn’t for a couple of more hours. Some of them are planning to do Vietnam after, where I will still likely be. So it’s time for them to now start following me!
Now that you can somewhat understand the hilarious and fun dynamics of our group it’s time for the answer to the earlier stated question. What do you get when you put 9 British lads, 1 Irish man, 3 Canadian girls, and 1 English girl into a room?
You get a creepy captain, a lot of binocs, some hilarious banter, and most of all, friends for life. Will miss you guys, wish you all the best in your travels! See you again one day I’m sure.
Comment below if there’s anything you think I missed, PG things of course.