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My grown-up gap year

Feeling directionless, Angela Elwood, 54, packed a bag and set off to explore Asia. It was the start of a new life

self

The national anthem plays loudly across Hua Lamphong station in Bangkok. I am extremely hot and surrounded by people: monks in orange robes sitting on wooden benches; travellers lying on the floor. Every Thai person stands to attention as the music starts, a show of national pride that never fails to move me. I recall the first time I was privy to this spectacle. I had been eating in this very station, waiting to board a train for Singapore and, when everyone rose around me, I’d had no idea why they were doing so, nor what to do myself. Now, I smile and, despite my tiredness after a long flight from the UK, I feel delighted to see it again, and completely alive. I’m back in Thailand.

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