Sally and Jill, The Backpacking Grannies I Met on the Bangkok Train
Meet Sally (left) and Jill (right). They are British nationals, in their sixties, both married, got children and adorable grand children. They are granny backpackers I randomly met in Bangkok.
I met them on the train. It was their last day in Asia as they would be flying back to UK that night for Christmas holiday. Jill thought I was a Thai when she said hi, so she was in awe when my English was okay and couldn’t help herself to say. Flattered, I told her because I am from Philippines, and she nodded as if it made sense. She happily shared that she got lots of Filipino friends in England who are extremely nice and hardworking. (KUDOS to all the hardworking Filipinos abroad!) They got huge backpacks and luggage. I asked them if they’re on a fancy vacation, and I was mind blown by their answer to my question.
Yes, they were on vacation for weeks but absolutely not your granny’s kind of vacation. They cycled across Vietnam to Cambodia, did a local immersion in a local NGO-subsidized school close to Siam Reap, taught English to local and under privilege kids, donated a chunk of their travel fund in there, did a volunteering in an elephant village in Thailand, and went backpacking on some days left. They are grannies and are travelers. Last time, they did some backpacking in India and had hiked to Himalayas. They had been almost all over Asia but my Philippines. We had exchanged stories all throughout our train ride.
My jaw almost dropped. The things they mentioned were on my very own bucket list. Not to mention that I have never met backpacking grannies in my entire life. I told them that they’re bad ass (Jill gave me a fist bump!) and so inspiring because majority of the travelers these days are of my age. We want to do traveling and YOLO while we’re young as we’re worried that we might not have time. So it blew up my mind that here they are, doing it the other way around. They both admitted that they weren’t able to do these bold things when they were at my age, as Jill naughtily whispered to me that they’re already in their early sixties, but they never think it’s too late. They got married, built their families, worked their ass off earlier their lives; and now they’re living the life that they have always wanted. They said bye bye to their husbands as they went off to the adventure of their lifetime. They are both in their sixties and as fit as twenty-year old hippies. Sally talked about YOLO being their ultimate mantra among all the life matras. These two are my kind of people! They are definitely the coolest grandmas!
I got so inspired by these traveling grannies that I asked them if it is okay to take a photo and write down their story, they happily agreed. As we reached the final station and we bid our good byes, I took away with me the ultimate lesson from the backpacking grannies I met on the Bangkok train station: We literally have our entire life to make things happen.
In the past few months, I received tons of emails/messages asking me how to make things happen, on how to pull up enough courage to make things happen, on how to start, or where to begin. I honestly do not know how to answer such questions as the circumstances we’re in and our priorities in life vary. In this lifetime you will meet a lot of people like me who try to make the most of the lifetime by starting everything while young. But in some days you will also meet people like Sally and Jill who had different priorities in their early lives, yet did not want to miss the chance to live the life they have always imagined. No matter what your age, color, race, situation is; if you want to make things happen, you will make it happen. It does not matter when, what matters is , you made it happen. At the end of the day, it’s your own choice whether to start it young or be like Sally and Jill later in your life.
PS: I can already imagine my old self as the bad ass Jill, as we both have tattoos on our wrists. Darn! I will be a cool granny someday!
About the writer:
She is a young teacher-writer-wanderess from the Philippines. She blends her passion to touch lives with her lust to wander and with her love for life. She’s consumed by all things pertaining to places, people, culture, and words. Follow her adventures on Instagram@pinaywanderess and on Facebook.