Must Travel Asia celebrates Asians who travel. Today, we want to share with you five stories of Asians who travel. We ask them: why do they travel? And what’s their favorite travel moment?
Tracy Tan, 27, Bruneian based in Japan
“When I get tired of how things are and want to rejuvenate myself, that’s when I solo travel.”
I am a huge fan of solo traveling. I’ve tried different ways of travelling – traveling with friends, with people I don’t know, with family – but I realise I enjoy solo traveling best. When I travel by myself I don’t have to spare my time or my mind with anyone. When I get tired of how things are and want to rejuvenate myself, that’s when I solo travel.
It doesn’t need to be somewhere far. It could be a short three days but it is never longer than two weeks because (my situation now doesn’t allow a getaway longer than two weeks). It is better than nothing though, so fair enough.
I don’t plan too much when I travel. Other than buying air tickets, booking my accommodation and checking off things I really want to do, I usually spend the rest of my time in a place sitting down with a good cup of coffee in a nice cafe reading a book and playing my favorite songs in repeat mode. That is my favorite moment of traveling.
Sarah Tay, 25, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
“My favorite travel moment would be when you realize that it is no longer wanderlust but it is actually your reality.”
Travelling brings you back down to earth, realizing that the world is so much bigger than what you’re used to in your everyday life back home. Being away for that couple of days or weeks, with no strings attached (e.g. work responsibilities), allows you to feel like you can finally break free and take on the world. Well, at least that’s what I feel personally. Truly, that is one of the things that I really love about travelling – that sense of freedom to explore and enjoy without worrying too much.
When travelling, even back at home, I am always observing the people around – the person selling the coconut shake by the beach, taxi driver who sends you around, the bike rental person, the immigration counter officer, the hotel staff, other tourists, practically anyone who crosses my path – because I am always trying to imagine how their everyday life is like. And I guess, it is also to see if I would enjoy being just any one of them for a day, or for life. By doing that, it really humbles you to be grateful for what you have and to strive even more for the things that you would like to have.
My favorite travel moment would be when you realize that it is no longer wanderlust but it is actually your reality. And that moment actually starts from when you leave home to your destination. It is made up of small exciting moments, such as when the plane takes off.
Although I’ve been on quite a few plane rides now, I still get really excited with butterflies in my stomach when the plane takes off, akin to a little girl who is given candy. I am a window-seat person, which amplifies my excitement even more when I get to feel and see the plane lift off the ground. And then, there’s that small moment that you experience when you arrive in a different state, or land in a different country, and there’s just so many different people and novel things around you.
It is just all that excitement, adventure, awe, anticipation, and sense of wander that is packed into one, making you realize that wanderlust has indeed become your reality.
Pamela Loh, Singapore
“I travel to experience cultures, understand histories, interact with locals and travellers, experiment different cuisines and to admire nature’s beauty.”
My travels are driven by curiosity for I have a strong desire to discover new things and explore the unknown. I like to push personal boundaries and challenge myself. Thus, I travel to excite the restless soul who needs getaways from every day mundane life. I travel because I feel empowered to make things happen. I travel to experience cultures, understand histories, interact with locals and travellers, experiment different cuisines and to admire nature’s beauty.
There are plenty of travel moments where are dear to me. One which I will share will be the time I travelled to Anfield, Liverpool. I discovered Michael Owen when he was playing for the team back in 1999 and I have always been a Liverpool fan since. Many years of watching matches played in Anfield, to step right there was a surreal moment for me.
I only managed a tour around the stadium as it was during off football season. As I stood on the spectators gallery, it felt as though I was brought into a parallel universe where I could faintly hear fans cheering with pride singing to the theme song of Liverpool, You’ll Never Walk Alone as a big match is playing on the field. I never thought I could make it there, miles away from home on my own but I did. There was a sense of accomplishment and a dream realised.
(Read more of Pamela’s travel adventures on Pam Goes Travelling)
Noel Lau, 42, Malaysian, Nomad
“I travel now mostly to get to know the culture. I am intrigued to know how different society works; how people from different background think; to find out our similarities and differences.”
I remember as a young child I dreamed about traveling. And I’m glad I have the chance to fulfil this dream. I have spent the last 11 years of my life traveling around the world, and the reason why I continue to do so has changed over this period of time.
In the beginning, it was all about seeing the famous sights, like the Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, Machu Picchu in Peru, etc. It was also about the solidarity and fellowship with other backpackers; how we came from different countries but in search of the same thing – the thrill of life on the road.
With time, my love of travel hasn’t diminished but the reason for it has changed. I travel now mostly to get to know the culture. I am intrigued to know how different society works; how people from different background think; to find out our similarities and differences. I don’t remember places I visit as well as the people I’ve made deep and meaningful connection with. I might not return to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower but I will return to visit a friend.
I have many favourite travel moments. But one that always warms my heart when I remember it happened in Cairo, Egypt in 2007. It was Ramadhan and I was traveling with a friend. Every evening we would go out into the street for buka puasa, as the restaurants set up tables and gave free food.
One day, we were late and all the seats were taken. We walked up and down the street without finding an empty seat. Just when we heard the call the prayer to break fast, a hand pulled us down at the street side.
There were a woman and three men. They gestured for us to share their food. We didn’t know what the food was but it was really delicious. We gathered that the woman had cooked the food at home and brought to break fast with her family. She must have seen us walked up and down the street and decided to share her food with us, strangers. When we finished we wanted to show our gratitude by giving her some money but she politely turned us down. Since then no meals, no matter how expensive, have come close to this one. It was truly unforgettable.
Kavitha, 38, Malaysian, on a career break
“I am glad that I decided to change my ways, be bold and experience the world for myself. I would have missed out on a wealth of stories, memories and the wonderful kindness of strangers.”
Despite being inspired by countless National Geographic magazines, there was a time when I was fearful of travelling. What if I made mistakes? What if I got lost? What if I won’t enjoy this whole travelling thing? I was too afraid and too much of an introvert to see the world I was longing to see.
When I turned 30, I knew something had to change before it was too late. So, I took the plunge and started to travel.
Best. Decision. Ever.
One of my favourite travel moments was when I was in Johannesburg for the World Cup in 2010. My friend and I were wondering how to get back to our hotel and stopped a family of a brother, sister and their mom to ask where we could get a bus or taxi.
Without hesitation, they offered us a ride back to our hotel. Luckily for us, it was close to where they lived. Or maybe they took pity on us in that cold, wintry night. Whichever way it is, I was so grateful for their kindness.
We had a great chat about South Africa, our World Cup teams and the biasness of the international press. Before I knew it, they found our hotel, we thanked them (profusely!) and said our goodbyes.
I may not remember the names of the family members, but I will always remember the kindness of these lovely South Africans. At a time when everyone was warned to be careful of people and their surroundings, they treated us without suspicion, they treated us like family.
I am glad that I decided to change my ways, be bold and experience the world for myself. I would have missed out on a wealth of stories, memories and the wonderful kindness of strangers.
(Read more from Kavitha at RedBohemia)
Why do you travel?
Some people travel to escape the confines of routine. Others travel to explore the world outside their own. Why do you travel? And what’s your favorite travel moment?