This is another travel story.

But to me, it isn’t. This is my personal reflections and observations from my ventures beyond sunny Singapore.

Alone on my first solo trip in Hong Kong

I vividly remember my train of thoughts, planning for my first solo trip to Hong Kong. Coming from a highly protective family, coupled with the fact that I was the eldest child, I dismissed the idea almost immediately. I told my dad about the idea and waited anxiously for his reply.

Go. Find yourself.

The words of wisdom from my old man.

That got me my first single adventure to Hong Kong at the age of 21. It may be a very late age to start flying to foreign lands alone for some of you, but it’s the Asian mentality. I personally felt that I should have done this trip way before I hit my twenties.

The lessons I’ve learnt from these overseas episodes are far more enriching than anything else thought in school. Heck, not even from the streets of your own hometown.

Schools may teach you how other countries work through history or geography class. But only through your own eyes and embracing every foreign experience can you truly appreciate and humble yourself. From the peaks of Indonesia to the busy streets of Vietnam, only by immersing yourself into these lands can you learn and discover that life is not a one way road. You will learn about how other cultures correlate and mingle with one another, all falling beautifully into place.

Up in the forests of Mt. Ciremai

And as a foreigner, you cannot afford to shove your ideas and disrupt the local routine. You have to appreciate and be part of it. Only then you discover more about not just the host country and its people, but also yourself.

Myself? What’s there to learn about myself?

Being alone in a foreign country, you are granted ultimate freedom in any choice you make. There are no restrictions; the only restrictions are in your mind. That’s the reason why so many travel articles advise travelling with a open mind. And I cannot disagree with it at all.

In fact, this luxury of liberty in a different world will lead you to wonder what you can achieve in the foreign land. Can I climb this mountain today? Maybe I should head to the beach, which is a 2 hour drive away from here. Or should I head to the park and just unwind? I can stay in. I can go out. Wanna change plans? Go ahead. The possibilities are endless, and all that is ever stopping you is your mind and the barrier you put in between you and the potential once in a lifetime experiences.

And by experiences, I don’t just mean the wonders of the country visited. You also encounter the friendly locals as well as fellow travellers who both groups are more than willing to share their stories about anything and everything. It’s never just about the location, it’s also the addition of the people around you that makes travelling worthwhile.

(from left to right) Henry from Spain, Amy from USA, Carolina from Germany and me, atop Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak

I was given a rare opportunity to travel with my family to Bandung Indonesia back in 2016. Rare because we seldom travel together due to work commitments, but I felt really good about this one. Over there, we were warmly greeted by a 22-year-old Chevi, our local guide cum driver. After showing him our intended places to go, he gave us a detailed itinerary for the next 4 days.

Fast forward 4 days, the only thing on my mind was how similar we were yet, how different we can be.

This guy is my age. He’s driving a manual transmission van through hoards of traffic and up on winding slopes. I can’t even bear waiting in line at the McDonald’s drive thru.

Chevi then opens up his Instagram and begins showing me his photos.

Mountains. Waterfalls. Beaches. All the adventure stuff I only dreamed to do, only to be restricted by Mum. I told him that one day I will come back to Indonesia and climb a mountain with you.

Fast forward 2 years, I’ve already reached two peaks in Indonesia. And every time I come to Indonesia, I will always be greeted by Chevi. I have made a lifelong friend. (Secretly also a mountain guide because he’s been doing this for ages)

And of course we never just climb as a pair. He extends this “massive climbing event” out to his circle of climbers, and this gives me an even more opportunity to mingle around with the local culture and food.

(Left): At the highest peak of West Java, Mt. Ciremai. (Right) At the famous Kawah Ijen, where blue flames can be spotted

However, travelling alone does have its dangers. Potential thieves may purposefully be eyeing on solo travellers for a quick buck or it may even be for a more sinister agenda. I once got scammed in Vietnam S$100 for taking a 10 minute cyclo ride.

But this does not dampen the overall mood of the experience of flying alone. In fact, these less-than-satisfactory events have paved a lot more opportunities and lessons for me. You may lose a dollar or two, but as long as your life is intact, it’s not so bad right?

I believe that solo travelling is really a fascinating trend, a movement many of us are taking part in. I’m really ecstatic to listen to other fellow travellers when they elaborate the stories of their escapades in far and wide countries.

To make sure I keep all my journeys in memory, I will always bring a journal, a field note if you may, and do a daily entry of every day in a different country. This way, I not only have a piece of my own personal history for myself, but also I have the ability to share with my following generations and hopefully inspire them to discover that the world is way bigger than they perceive.

So if you’re up for a whole new different experience, fly away! And who knows? We might be travel buddies in the future. Cheers to that.

Hope you enjoyed my very first article! Do add in the comments section about what you think. Also, if you liked it, e-clap! It’ll mean the world to me. Thank you! To see more recent updates, follow me on Instagram.