Eira. Southampton, England. Four years. Beer? The opening chat with your new hostel friends tends to follow the same pattern, just take a leaf out of good old Cilla’s book; ‘What’s your name and where’d you come from?’ and whack a ‘how long you been on the road?’ on the end and you’ve got your ice-breaker down pat. In fairness the ‘four years’ is a little misleading, I’m not even on the road right now, but its four years since I first hefted a pack onto my wobbly shoulders so I’m sticking with that. Of course the conversation following that one almost always goes something like this: ‘have you tried…’ ‘you have to eat…’ ‘do you wanna go get some…’. Food and travel are kinda like beaches and sunburn for a pasty English bird like myself; you just can’t have one without the other.

So I’m Eira, I graduated in 2008; year of the global financial crisis – go me! I did what every other bugger did and worked god-awful jobs in call centres (shudder), until I decided the only option was to pack up and leave the country until it looked safe to return to without being caught under a headset again. ‘Good afternoon you’re through to…’

Well I’m not sure it is safe yet, but one way or another I am returned and damn, did I have some adventures. I’m currently doing a masters degree so further adventures will need to be put on hold for a bit, but there’s no way I’m going years before I have my next masala dosa, Penang curry or baba ganoush, so I’ll just have to figure out how to make them for myself. After all that effort it would just be bloody-minded not to share my tricks! I’ve learnt my skills from some awesome people after all.

I’m also a vegetarian of 17 years and I know first-hand how hard it can be to travel in some places if you don’t eat meat; I lived in Mongolia for a month and saying you don’t eat meat there is pretty much akin to saying you don’t eat at all. There are ways to do it though, nowhere need be off limit if you prepare ahead of time and don’t mind being eyeballed like you just fell out of a tree.

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