“Is it safe for me to travel by myself when I have to?”

 

While in Bonneville Salt Flats.

While in Bonneville Salt Flats.

A question we heard the most. If we traveled back in time when there were no internet and gadgets, how do you think these people did it? That’s right, by going to these places and confirmed the fact themselves.

Thanks to internet, it is easier to find out about things you never knew about. But still, people who never traveled are scared of the world out there, and I found them always in state of “needing to be reassured that it is okay to travel alone”, over and over again. How do you think those travelers got that far? They ventured, they took risks and, experiences they had gained while being on the road had turned them from scared to brave. We all had our first times. We all had our first scary bus rides. We all had that time when we missed our international train and flight. Getting your first times by getting started in everything; they matter. That’s how you build courage. Nobody was born brave, it is acquired.Here are why I think you shouldn’t be scared to travel, especially by yourself or even with others.
1. Utilize the internet and phone in your hand; research, research and research.

Use Google, it’s free! Type in things you are curious about. Magically, things you want to know about places will show up! Read and comprehend, take notes and keep them close to you. Take only good advices, make the bad ones lessons. There are tons of information available online, use them. If you still want to ask advices from others, at least come prepared. I dislike it when people come to me ZERO, expecting me to shower them with everything, A to Z. Don’t be this lazy and heavily relying on others!

2. The world is not that big. 

Everywhere you go, almost certainly you’ll find things that are connected to your country. Almost instantly you’ll feel less of a stranger in a foreign land when they told you they have met lots of Malaysians traveling to their country, some of them can even speak Malay! A little advice: Choose wisely of where to go on your first trip. Don’t make a war zone as your first. Commone sense, if you chose to start bad, you’ll feel bad. You’ll also feel that the world is a scary place while it is not.

3. You are not really alone out there. 

You know some people chose to feel lonely when they are alone by not trying to make friends and using the excuse “locals are not that friendly or I found other travelers are selfish.” You later realized that the problem is you. Don’t lie when all the time you get out there, you’ll meet thousands of new people on the street who also want to make friends with you! Strike a conversation, don’t be too shy to ask someone to take pictures of you. Next thing you know, you guys are best buds! That’s my case in 100% of the time. Am I magically friendly or pretty? I am not, I just open my mouth and start talking!

4. It’s not that dangerous.

Beware of advices from people who never actually been to Thailand when they told you going there could kill you. Never trust this kind of perception, especially when they also never made research about the place! Unless that one place is obviously dangerous like a war zone, then you should take cautions. I dislike when one person write an unfair list about how not safe one place is after spending ONLY 3 days there. How dare you to trick everyone into believing it at first place?

5. Know how to stay safe.

We heard of people getting pickpocketed in Paris, being ripped off by tuk-tuk drivers in Bangkok, and having to pay for a supposedly free shoeshining on streets of Istanbul. Practice precautions when you are alone or with friends by not making fast decisions when you do not want to get ripped off. Don’t wear flashy clothing and showing your expensive camera and that you have money to afford things. Modesty could save you. Don’t take offers that sound too easy and cheap. Take them into careful considerations. You want to have fun and also save money, but when making fast decision without carefully thinking it through, your dream trip can go down the drain.
Extra point,

6. Women, trust your instict. That’s all that I can say.


Alone or not, traveling, when you do it right, it’ll benefit you and others in ways you could never imagine.

How not to be a good traveler

Even a traveler who is constantly on the road makes mistakes sometimes. Mistakes are avoidable if you know exactly what not to do. Note that #2 is definitely unforgiving, so don’t ever try to.

We can never be perfect, but we definitely can try not to pick wrong choices.

1. Underestimating what you are getting into and what you actually are prepared for

In my case, I had underestimated Yosemite National Park, when I thought I can just go there without planning on which part of the park I should go, to see places I wanted to see. I had no idea that all those things are so far away from where we started. It was already 2pm on that day and we made our move from a place that was 4 hours away from all the attractions in Yosemite which is in the valley. On the map, those places look so near, I even underestimated that. Improper planning leads to unnecessary drive and exhaustion. I totaled an excruciating 8 hours of tiresome drive, for 3 minutes of just this photo, and putting my partner’s life at risk.

As a result, I only got to see this spot for 3 minutes because the sun was going down. Was it worthy? We still had 3 hours on the road to our final destination that day, including driving in the dark on dangerous, winding road. I got nothing but this photo and yes I was so mad at myself. I definitely learnt my lessons.

As a result, I only got to see this spot for 3 minutes because the sun was going down. Was it worthy? We still had 3 hours on the road to our final destination that day, including driving in the dark on dangerous, winding road. I got nothing but this photo and yes I was so mad at myself. I admit, I definitely learnt my lessons.

Other things you might be doing while traveling, like going to the zoo, museum, souvenirs shopping or going for a stroll on a beach don’t necessarily require concrete planning. Never ever venture out there not having any idea of what you are getting into. It might costs you your life.

2. Offending everyone by not respecting rules, customs and traditions

In the light of recent earthquake in Sabah, my home state that kills at least 16 climbers, just weeks after a group of tourist climbers posing naked on top of the mountain, also 2 tourists who got arrested and later deported for showing their rears at Angkor Wat, Cambodia, everyone of us here wants or at least thought of being THAT cool traveler, doing things differently than the others, competing to become trendsetters thus becoming popular without realizing that you are dragging unassuming people along with you. There’s nothing wrong in being different but what you do is a reflection of who you are. It is true that earthquakes in Sabah or Nepal weren’t caused by those irresponsible acts. No matter what the reasons are, locals in Sabah are angry because these supposed more-civilized nations & experienced travelers should’ve forehandedly studied cultures of the places they’re going to and that most definitely include thoroughly understanding traditions, respecting the differences in rules and not hesitating to follow the customs. Not a second you are allowed to think that the rules of one foreign place aren’t applied to you just because you’re just visiting. Just visiting is also not an excuse to misbehave. You may get naked in your own backyard because that’s your space, then what makes you think that you should get naked in other’s backyard? Oh, it’s just a mountain and that’s just another temple, no big deal, right? If you think it is okay to just get naked, showing parts of your body that you aren’t supposed to and offending millions of people, you are definitely on your way to become a NOT good traveler. You should see that coming, people do really get what they deserve, especially if they’ve done something offensive and punishable by law.

NAKED TOURISM IS NOT FOR ALL PLACES IN THE WORLD. -Photo courtesy of The Star

NAKED TOURISM IS NOT FOR ALL PLACES IN THE WORLD. What seems cool to you might be offensive to others.
-Photo courtesy of The Star

3. Relying too much on online resources

Not all itineraries made by others will suit you and your travel needs. That is why it is important to construct your own. One’s experience at one place might be different than another. This would actually leads to disappointment, when you didn’t get what you expected to get at first place. Before spending my summer 2 years ago in Venice, Italy, I’ve read lots of wonderful things about Venice and so I just went there, winging it, thinking I too will be having great times like others but in the end, I was disappointed. I didn’t get the experience that I wanted in Venice, because I was relying too much on whatever information I read online without further research. Laziness cannot be forgiven. If you put extra efforts into it, you’ll get more of good things, not only for you but also beneficial to others.

4. Being a complainer that you are

Bad habits are hard to break. Sometimes when you travel, you have to leave them at home, whether you like it or not. Home means all the comforts you can get. Outside home, you forgot that foreign places aren’t designed for you. Then you started complaining about non-existing restaurants that serve rice and why that city must have at least one restaurant that serves your favorite food otherwise you won’t survive. You complain about the sidewalks that aren’t comfortable enough to walk on but locals seem to be walking fine on those. These, and tonnes of other complaints that you sometimes listed for your own amusement, later passing it to friends, simply making your own conclusions of how bad that particular country is and why your friends too, shouldn’t go there. Next time you travel, try not to complain. The purpose of traveling to foreign places is to experience different kind of living situations of others. If you just want the comfort, stay at home. Don’t even bother discovering new places.

So what do you think you did wrong during your last travel?

“So which one is your favorite country/state?”

I found this question difficult to be answered accordingly. Although to date I only was in 20 countries, I love every country that I went to. I dubbed Thailand as my second home after the USA(not counting Malaysia because it is already in my blood) because I’ve had lived in Thailand long enough to understand the culture and know it like the back of my hand. I love Bangkok specifically, if any of you had been in either Bangkok or New York City, you can relate. And therefore New York City is my favorite and preferred city to live in because it’s like Bangkok, only bigger! As for the rest, I loved all 34 states in the US that I recently explored with my permanent traveling partner. I only have 16 states more to go and I am sure I will love them too.

NYC=Bangkok=awesome! 


When I am not in the US, I will park myself in Bangkok or be in Bali, Indonesia. I’ve been to Bali 4 times to date and although it is not a favorite getaway island to some, Bali to me is a great place to undergo emotional therapy. “What? Kuta is like the worst place on Earth!” That 18,000 Indonesian Rupiah early-morning-dolphins-sighting ride in Northern Bali is awesome, do you know that? As someone who doesn’t drink or party, I have successfully made the best out of all famous party spots in South East Asia that I’ve been to. You know you’re THE traveler when you are enjoying what you’re doing regardless the condition or hype of the places! I can’t help you if you are THAT picky traveler.

 Bali is pretty cool for your soul.

I guess that’s why it’s hard for me to choose, because all these places that I’ve had been to are so significant to me. I met the nicest people while in Romania, I’ve had the best home-cooked meal in Italy, I’ve experienced the best horseback riding in the US, I’ve had the best underwater experience in Indonesia. This is how I answer this question! Next time you ask me, it’ll still be the same. I love the whole world!

 Montana’s countryside with horses.

I am in love with Earth and for as long as I live, I will try not to stop loving this planet and everything in it, except Venice in the summer and Paris metro.

So, do you have any favorite country/state?

You have got the money, haven’t you?

You had been working your ass very hard, you work multiple jobs to make your dream trips come true. You booked the flight ticket probably a year before the trip and you have got everything planned. Now you got shitload of money and you think you can be on spending spree abroad and that you’ll be fine because everything else in Indonesia or Romania is cheap, that’s fine if you have a job waiting for you when you get back to home country or you plan to work wherever you are traveling to. I’m talking about how to save money while traveling. In my earlier post I’ve stated that I struggled — even having shitload of money can cause you troubles. Shopping is compulsive. Partying every night is equally compulsive. You don’t want to end up begging for money abroad or worse, ending up sleeping on the street. I’ve seen those, so many times, in every country that I’ve traveled to. Maybe this will help you.

1. Make a budget, write down your spending money and how much you’ve spent in a day

You may have started with loads on the first few days of the trip. Without writing it down, on 5th day you are wondering where have all your money gone. You overspent and freak out. This is why this is so important, especially if you are traveling for the first time. I overspent when I was in Paris with my boyfriend. We could’ve been seeing so many places but I was procrastinating while in Paris and because I was lazy. The thought of having so much money and you’ll be fine is not a good idea. Divide your money into days you planned to spend abroad and into categories; food+tips, transportation, souvenirs, accommodation, monuments/museum entrance passes and unexpected expenses (like getting fined or tickets). This will make you feel so much better, and by doing this, I did have the chances to be on spending spree and we ended up going to 3 other countries+skiing trip while it wasn’t planned in the beginning because I thought we are going to be short of money.

2. Be selective when it come to food and drinks

Unless you are in Asia, alcohol will cost you more than water. Unfortunately, I don’t drink but I’m very concern about alcohol consumers. Beer is addictive, you want to go drinking every day and night and at the end of the day you realized that you have spent way too much on alcohol that you have to also do rationing on food, meaning, eating ramen or unhealthy fast food throughout your trip. I’m not saying you cannot do that, but alcohol is always the biggest part of the spending. Being in foreign countries makes you want to try so new food too. It is okay to have 2 days or 2 night in a week dining in fancy restaurant on your trip, but rest of the days in the week you could save more money by embarking on gastronomical adventure by eating street food or you can simply cook in your apartment/hostel.

3. Carry your own prescribed medication 

It is very wise to carry your own medical supplies, also your own first aid kit. Food poisoning and flu can be easily treated with Imodium and Teraflu. This will cost you less than having to consult doctor, paying for the service and extra unnecessary medications and of course paying for a taxi to get you the hospital because you are cannot take the train or walk when you’re sick. This happened to me when I was in Trieste, Italy. My sinusitis was very severe and I should’ve brought my own medication from Malaysia, which I know was a lot cheaper and though the hospital service is free in Italy, we ended up paying loads for my sinusitis medication over the counter at the pharmacy in Trieste.

4. Take overnight sleeper train or bus

This will save you lots of money while you are actually traveling from one place to another, or from one country to another! Transportation nowadays are so much better. JF and I took the sleeper train from Budapest, Hungary to skiing town, Brasov, Romania. It was €320 for 2 return sleeper double couchette, across the countries for 14 hours. We saved a lot on hotel stay already, and also compensating on flying cost. But don’t fully take my words because it is different from country to country. In 2011, I suffered from high fever and severe back pain after an overnight bus trip from Phuket, Thailand to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia but the overnight bus that I took from Melaka, Malaysia to the border of Malaysia and Thailand was really comfortable and cheap. The biggest part of spending while traveling is always the transportation part. If you can combine it with accommodation, you’ll be surprised of how much you actually can save.

5. Find alternative ways to avoid disappointment

I was so upset when I cannot get on the gondola ride in Venice, Italy. JF made it up to me by saying I can get to see snow and experience winter and so we did.  However, not all of this you can experience cheaply but certainly there are so many alternatives you can choose to avoid disappointment. My skiing trip in Romania was way cheaper than that 1/2 hour gondola ride. That was so much better and I never thought sacrificing some unnecessary expenses would feel that good and now I didn’t feel bad or missing out anymore for not having that kind of experience in Venice. Doesn’t mean that if you are on budget trip, you cannot travel well and do expensive thing, this is why step #1 is the most important.

ImageMy fancy escargot experience in Paris: Try new food, but don’t splurge on them everyday!

Break on break-ation

How artsy the horse is in Margit Island, Budapest

How artsy the horse is in Margit Island, Budapest

I was really amused by this one. I asked the pet store owner to flip him back, she did. Great success!

I was really amused by this one. I asked the pet store owner to flip him back, she did. Great success!

Yes, a break on your break-ation. At some point, you’ll get tired of scaling the cities by visiting all the monuments they have to offer. Some would take a break by doing some shopping, but you can always do that when you got home. I took breaks on break-ation by simply going to the river, see some swans, going to the park, see some ducks, going to pet stores, or going to the zoo. No, if you think all zoos are the same, they are not because you have to understand why there are zoos and why there should be zoos.

Never forget, human and animal interactions is proven to help you cope with stress. Have you taken your break on your break-ation? Go pat some sloths or feed some swans!

Peeking Lemur at Budapest Zoo

Peeking Lemur at Budapest Zoo

Snoozy sloth at Budapest Zoo

Snoozy sloth at Budapest Zoo

I adopted a huge swan in Prague, Czech Republic

I adopted a huge swan in Prague, Czech Republic

Yes, you can pat the sloth at Budapest Zoo

Yes, you can pat the sloth at Budapest Zoo

Grand Circus, Budapest

Grand Circus, Budapest

Very adorable red oanda at Paris Zoo

Very adorable red panda at Paris Zoo

A polar bear's butt at Prague Zoo, Czech Republic

A polar bear’s butt at Prague Zoo, Czech Republic

The funny pigeon interruption at Notre-dame, Paris

The funny pigeon interruption at Notre-dame, Paris

I was busy feeding these 3 hungry birds in Vltava, Prague, Czech Republic

I was busy feeding these 3 hungry birds in Vltava, Prague, Czech Republic

Wall Cat in Brasov, Romania

Wall Cat in Brasov, Romania

Viva la Italia!

June 28, 2013

Buongiorno!

Probably too late for that as it is 6 pm in Malaysia at the moment. I left Turkey and all the kebaps for this country of pizza and pasta. Rome is expensive city in this expensive country of Italy. Like in Turkey,they also have tramvay in the city, and also cat park. I have had among the best pasta, or probably the best pasta in my whole life in Rome, and they taste different than ones I had in Malaysia. I forgot to take photos of my meal though because I was too enjoying them.

I went to the great Colosseum and having to feel like gladiator and finally got to see Fontana di Trevi, the famous fountain of Virgin Roman Spring and yes, a visit to Vatican City. There were thousands of people queueing to probably see the Pope, but I was just there chasing after pigeons.

Going to Naples or Napoli today, the land of Mt Vesuvius and Pompeii ruins.

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Amazing Istanbul

June 20, 2013

Shisha, cherries and olives.

I am traveling to the land where you can find cherries, olives and shisha in every nook and cranny. For two mornings I had new kind of breakfast where they served bread with hard boiled duck egg, two types of olives, sour cherry jam, cheese bar, with fresh cucumber and very succulent tomatoes. I found it strange somehow but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

I discovered a very cosy cafe along the street of Gulhane in which they had served flavorful shisha and Turkish coffee. I’d say do not skip Turkish shisha while you are in here because it tastes different than ones I usually had in Malaysia. After breakfast yesterday I walked up the hill to huge market and had my very first fresh cherries, and found among the shiniest, most plump tomatoes, sold by the 2 friendly men who asked for their photo to be taken. Stumbled upon this very beautiful mosque just next to the market. The area is surrounded with parks with benches and yes,cat house. I met this lovely ginger tabby which I named Seymor. He literally made love with the cat food given instead of eating them;so weirdly cute and adorable.

Later in the afternoon I took the tram to the north, to Karakoy. I went up the tower, the Galata Tower and had enjoyed the breathtaking view of Bosphorus and surrounding area. It was worth 13TL (Turkish Lira).

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Lost in watermelons.

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I love the cool breeze blowing on my face, but not the sun having to set at 9pm!

Merhaba

June 17, 2013
Merhaba.
It means hello in Turkish. Day one in this small town of Fatih and Beyazit was very warm and enchanting. Everything that I saw was just new and different. Beyazit is crowded,but kind of crowd that I am willing to walk through because it was local people crowd. I had trouble adjusting my sleep time for the sunset was at nearly 9 pm yesterday.
My first meal was a scrumptious eggplant (terung) kebab. Turkish people are very friendly, making me feel less like a traveler but more like one of them.
I was spending my afternoon under a tree sipping warm breeze of Mediterranean sea, watching youngsters jumped off the cliff to swim in the sea. I’d say summer in here is still not as hot as in Malaysia and definitely not humid. I walked miles but sweat a little, which I love the most.
Cats really made my day yesterday. The stray cats in Beyazit have medium to long hair. I patted almost every cat I met and thought that they didn’t understand my Malay Meow because they seemed to be ignorant but docile at same time. What a great day it was.
Some of my photos might be upside down or not rotated, but I hope they are still viewable.
Warm greetings from Istanbul.
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