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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.