An Unexpected Travel Alone

Prior to the New Year of 2015, when I was still halfway through jotting down goals that I wanted to check off in the coming months, I wrote down the words “Travel alone” in my planner. It was a selfish move, I mean it’s not particularly nice to turn down people who’ve expressed a want to join certain excursions of mine. 

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But I do think a little selfishness is necessary when young – especially when in the early 20s. I think it’s absolutely normal to be a little egotistical in the years of discovering the self. 

I started the year off searching places I wanted to wander in. Singapore was the safest option. I grew up there, had loads of family and friends I could visit and live with (a.k.a. save money), and was raring to stuff my face with spoonfuls of chicken rice, hokkien mee, and popiah – oh delicious popiah with bits of crushed peanuts. But there was also the option of Hong Kong, a place I had only been to once before, so familiarity and strangeness could still marry. Or maybe even Bangkok, I did love sticky rice and pad thai after all. 

And then there were the suggestions from my friends who had already tried a travel in solitude. 

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“Go to a place you haven’t been to before,” they’d say. 

“But what if I get lost? What if the people don’t speak English? What if I die?” 

“That’s the beauty of it. You’ll learn how to survive. You become independent.”

It wasn’t before long though that I put a pause on all my Google searches entitled “Where to Travel Alone”. Work was piling up, meetings couldn’t be missed, and sleep was becoming more of a treasure than a normal part of a day. And in the midst of all the deadlines and emails, an opportunity arrived in the form of a business trip. 

A weekend after, I was on a flight to KL with a laptop, a passport, and a grin. “Hey, this is pretty cool. I get to travel alone without even paying for it,” I thought to myself as I waited for my bag to clear in the security area. 

It was a crazy trip to say the least. I went to the iflix MY office, straight from the airport –one take out bag of McDonald’s in one hand and my luggage in the other. I was only supposed to stay for 2 days so the entire day involved back to back meetings with only minutes left to spare to check my email flooded with messages. 

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The thought that I’d have enough time to go around the mall and spare 1-2 hours shopping flew out of the window when I looked at my watch. 9pm. The last round of meetings just finished and I hadn’t even checked in yet. Ah, the beauty of productive sit downs. They make time fly by.

When I got to the hotel, I was rushing to plop my things down and grab some food when I saw the glorious bath tub beaming at me. Honestly, had it not been for my boss inviting me for dinner, I would’ve completely forgotten to eat – which actually says a lot considering I could yak about Asian food endlessly. 

The morning after – or should I say hours after, since my body finds it hard to adjust if I’m not in my bed – I took a walk in the hotel before heading over to the breakfast buffet. Thought to myself that I might as well explore the area since I’d leave before the connected mall opens. 

I found solitude and contentment that morning. It isn’t that hard really, with a view as peaceful as that.

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Now I suppose, it begs the question, does the trip count as a travel-alone? Honestly, it probably doesn’t since it was a business trip. Also because I found a college friend who was on the same flights as mine, both going and coming back from MY. 

At the bare minimum though, I do believe I traveled alone. I found my solitude. I found my independence. And I found contentment. And although I may not have done it in the way I completely envisioned it to pan out, it’s a check off my list! And that’s enough for me.