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Thursday, December 3, 2020

What I Learned From Travelling Solo | Ima Samsudin

Assalamualaikum & Hi | I hope you guys are having a good day. With the pandemic and all, travel is something that you probably missed, cause I do too. I went through my photo gallery on my phone and found some photos when I was wandering alone in Seoul. Those beautiful moments flashed back and so I thought, I really need to express them in words – thus, here it goes.



Lots of you might have seen and read this kind of article. Either it was ’cause you’re gathering some info to embark on your first solo adventure or just curious – why did people travel alone when they can go with a company? Well, generally, traveling is fun. Especially with a couple of friends or just with your loved ones. But that doesn’t mean going solo is not fun at all. Today I’m gonna share what I personally gained from traveling solo based on my tiny little experiences.

I am neither an avid traveler nor a travel expert. I’m just privileged to travel at least once a year – domestic and/or abroad. I even treated a simple trip back to my hometown as a lil adventure. I booked a flight ticket, came out with a packing list, and created a simple itinerary like I was going for a trip of a lifetime. I enjoyed every bit of the time I spent on the road or a plane, on a bus or a train. #rhyme. Lol. Having to do something out of my routine every once in a while is something I always look forward to.

Look, bear in mind. I wrote this based on my own perspective. Others might differ from mine. So, if you have a similar experience, share it with me in the comment section. I would love to know!

TRAVEL AT MY OWN PACE

Some days I just wanted to sleep in the entire morning only went out discovering the city after my stomach growling asking for food. And some days I went out pretty early to catch the first bus to the place I wanted to visit. Sometimes I skipped lunch cause I still wanted to capture more images or shot more footage. Other times I stopped at the coffee shop and laid back there for the whole evening.

The freedom you get from having to decide where to go and how long you should spend your time at certain places is just fantastic – like you own your life! Well, you are, but there are times you just have to do certain things for the benefit of others too. When you travel solo, you own the itinerary for yourself. For a while there, you don’t get to please anyone but yourself.

MAKE YOUR OWN DECISION AND DO IT FAST

I was accidently became a solo traveler in a foreign country for the first time in my life when I was 22. It was back in 2016, a trip planned with my two other ex-roommates but I was the only one who made it on our flight to Singapore. Landed in Singapore with the thought that my travel mates will not make it, so the first thing I did was to canceled our accommodation booking before 12pm the same day to avoid being charged. When I spoke to them, they already left KLIA2 to KL Sentral and about to catch the bus from KL Sentral directly to Singapore.

After we planned our rendezvous, I bought a sim card at the airport cause I need to get to the city and find a new place for us to stay. I boarded the train without having thought of which station to disembark but on the way, I managed to find a backpacker hostel in Arab Street via Agoda. Without prior booking, I planned to just walk in and see if there’s enough room for the 3 of us. The lady said, she will confirm again after 3pm. So, instead of just waiting for them the whole day doing nothing, I’ve decided to explore the city by myself. We finally reunited past midnight on the same day after all of us went through hiccups. I still wonder what’s the full story on the other side but I get that they became closer much faster due to the incident.

From that, I learn something. In life, you don’t have to just wait for things to happen but take chances and make something memorable out of it. And if things not going on the way you want it to be, you opt for a plan B, C, D, or even Z. That way, you won't have to say this thing to yourself in the future, “I wish I could’ve just went for it…”







TRUST YOURSELF

One day, at the ski resort on eastern outskirts of Seoul, over one hour drive from the city, I faced a fork in the road. I canceled my ski session cause I didn’t feel good skiing alone, embarrassing myself in that massive crowd. So instead of just waiting for about 4 hours for the shuttle bus which supposed to be taking us from the ski resort back to the city, I’ve decided to leave on my own. Alhamdulillah, thanks to Allah for Google. I’m still alive today to tell the story – “I googled myself out from that ski resort back to Seoul safe and sound”

I took a local bus from the ski resort to the nearest town, Hongcheon-gun. From Hongcheon-gun terminal, I purchased a bus ticket to the city of Chuncheon with my broken Korean that I just got from google translate. Arrived in the city, I had to walk for about 7 minutes to the nearest train station that could take me back to Seoul. It was a terrifying moment considering I was so-called ‘stranded’ in a foreign town/city and I didn’t speak the language just yet. Luckily, we were living in the technology era so I could use Google. Phew.

That was, so far, the most challenging time I’ve come across while traveling and I brought it to myself. I could’ve just waited for the shuttle bus and do nothing, I guess. But as much as I trust myself by boarding on the plane for my first solo trip, I took the chance and just went for it cause I knew I could do that.






HAVE FAITH IN HIM

When you travel solo, you basically on your own. Duh. What I meant by that is, your safety and life are pretty much depending on you, alone. No one can help you to get out of a mess (if there is) and no one can protect you first hand. I got that Seoul is a safe city for a solo traveler, but no place on Earth is ever safe not even at your own home. I can only do certain things to prevent myself from getting into trouble, like stay away from the ‘red’ zones, don’t walk alone past midnight, don’t attend to Ahjusshi who’s offering an umbrella, and so on. The rest of it was, tawakkal.

For safety reasons, I posted my location on social media after I left the place. I would send a photo or an update to my family at home so that they could keep track of my whereabouts. I’ve listed a few emergency contacts on my phone and even printed it out and slipped in my passport cover so I always had them with me at all times. When I had to be placed in a certain situation that needed me to defend myself, I knew that I was capable of doing so. I didn’t know any martial arts but I did know some basic self-defense moves. Alhamdulillah, so far I haven’t been physically attacked by strangers on the road.>

LEARN TO SAY NO

This is also one of the self-defense moves that I’ve used a few times before. On my solo trip, a stranger came to me one night, when I was strolling around Hongdae, alone. She was harmless, just a fun high school girl to talk to. She spoke in decent English and I thought, “Wow, she really wanted to practice her English that’s why she picked me out of thousands of people here”. At first, I was not suspecting anything but I was processing a lot at the back of my head. Like, “What kind of mess this girl could cause me – Maybe not here, maybe if she drag me somewhere else…?” And.. suddenly, she invited me to meet up with her friends and learn more about Korean culture. That’s when I knew I need to get away from her. I came out with lots of excuses and firmly rejected her invites and left.

2 nights after that, I bumped into random guys at the different streets in Seoul. Their approach was kinda similar to the high school girl, so, I did the same thing. I acted cool, said I’m sorry, and left. Luckily I was not alone at that time. There were lots of people around us so I felt rather safe. If the guys planned to hurt me or anything, they wouldn’t do that in front of the crowd.

I also like to meet local when I went abroad doesn’t matter if I travel with friends or when I went solo. So when I was in Seoul, I actually stayed at my girl-friend house (I met her on couchsurfing). She actually invited her boyfriend and a few other friends for dinner and asked me to dress comfortably, like when only us at home. Meaning that I need to take off my scarf which is not right, right? So I said, ‘NO’ despite she’s been bragging to the others that I look even nicer without it and that the guy friend should see me free hair. Lol. I didn’t despise them cause they simply didn’t know much about Islam. They were being curious as they shot me with questions about dating and marriage in Islam for the entire evening.




KNOW MYSELF BETTER

As cliche as it may sound, it is what it is. When you’re far away from home and the norms, you come to think about what it is that makes me unhappy about? What I truly want in my life? What I enjoy doing out of my free time? I realized that I am okay by myself. I am perfectly happy being alone and enjoy my own company. I figured that my ideas of travelling and exploring are different from others and I shouldn’t just follow others, I should be comfortable in my own skin. I learned that my priorities keep changing but that is the same thing that always topping the charts, my well-being. I am so selfish that I always put myself first then only thinking about others. But that also mean that I know what I like and dislike. I know that I can be friendly despite being an introvert. I know how I look on my resting -b**ch face that’s why people find it hard to approach me. I know that I walk fast and eat comfortably with only one hand. (Weird huh, that’s me) Those are just a few of it. We’re not necessarily have to travel solo just to find ourselves. But I personally discovered myself even more through traveling. Going solo was when I gained a lot apart from just collecting good memories.

I can’t wait for this pandemic to be over and the border re-open so that we can travel freely like we used to prior this whole thing. Where do you want to go next? I’m thinking between Trans-Java and Korea. Why Korea again? I left my stuff there since Feb this year, so I need to collect em from my friend (alasan), hahaha.

Till next time. Baiii~
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