They say millennials are spending all their money on travel instead of saving for homes and pensions these days, but travelling isn't just for the young – not if 89-year-old Russian grandmother Baba Lena is anything to go by. The grey nomad is proving it by zipping around Vietnam on the back of a motorbike, sampling spicy local cuisine and cocktails – then posting about it all on social media.
On her most recent trip to Thailand, Baba Lena enjoyed the country's beaches and sampled tom kha soup, the classic Thai dish made with chicken and coconut.
The 89-year-old from Russian city Krasnoyarsk, a stop on the Trans-Siberian railway, visited Prague, Poland and East Germany in the 1970s, but stopped holidaying abroad because she no longer had the time or money. But six years ago, at the age of 83, she decided she wanted to see more of the world.
She became an internet sensation after meeting Ekaterina Papina, a fellow Russian traveller, in Vietnam. Papina's post on Facebook about her inspiring meeting with Baba Lena received 14,000 shares. The intrepid babushka has now taken to Instagram and Facebook to document her travels, with the help of her grandson.
Baba Lena travels alone and says she loves meeting new people. "It's easy to make friends when I'm away, because a lot of people wonder [at] my age and ability to travel and they want to help. They show me everything everywhere, help to see the sea, visiting restaurants," she told The Independent.
As well as meeting new people, she's not afraid of trying out local forms of transport, hopping on the back of a motorbike for a spin in South-east Asia and then climbing onto a camel in Israel during a visit late last year (as shown in the video below).
Since her 83rd birthday she has visited Turkey, the Czech Republic, Germany, Vietnam and Israel. Her favourite was the Czech Republic, because the people are friendly, she says, and she enjoys the food.
"Travelling means a new life, people, meetings," says Baba Lena. "It's pleasure to see how all greet [and] learn. The biggest thing I have learned about life is there are a lot of great people in all countries! Nothing to [be] afraid [of], because you can only die once and you'll die one day anyway."
Baba Lena uses her pension to fund her adventures. She also grows and sells flowers, and sews, to boost her travel budget.
And this Instagramming babushka shows no signs of slowing down. She plans to be in the Dominican Republic for her 90th birthday in April. Baba Lena, we salute you.
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