“I decided that if I wasn’t married by the time I got to forty, I was going to go off and see Asia, somewhere I’d always wanted to see. I left my salon in capable hands, packed my rucksack, and off I went. Initially I went on a six-week holiday. In the six weeks I planned to do trekking in northern Thailand, Bangkok, Singapore, Indonesia, Lombok, Cairns in Australia, overland to Sydney, then to Hong Kong, China, then back to London. All planned, a whistle stop tour on a pre-booked ticket. And I did it! I had to come back for the salon, but I did it on my own and loved every minute, despite some scary moments. Even though there were no mobile phones and no internet in those days, it didn’t phase me to travel on my own.
I fell ill with food poisoning. I was so weak, shaking, I hadn’t eaten for a week, but had to get on a bus with a backpack – with a backpack on your back you’re not hassled. The bus to Lombok must have made about fifty stops en route; about thirty people packed in like sardines, with chickens and goats. My stomach was so bad, I really thought I was going to die. It was dark when I arrived, and wet, and walking along the road I thought I should go and lie on the beach and just die. But I waded through water to get to the place. I remember boys with long hair playing guitars. I said “If you don’t see me for a few days you will know that I’ve died”. One boy said to me “You will not die, I will not let you die” and the next morning he’d put a bowl of rice by my door and they were playing their guitars and singing on a bamboo platform outside. I ate the rice, stayed in my room for about three days, and slowly recovered because they looked after me. They made up herbal medicine in a pestle and mortar, and I trusted them, drank it and recovered. Some of the most memorable parts of the trip were the people. I didn’t want to leave!”