Why I travel
In the last few months, I have sang solo on the street for fun in multiple countries, made a fool of myself dancing the Dangdut (type of Indonesian music) in front of 200 laughing audience, gone to a bar just to talk to people, “flown” on a flying fox, jumped off a 12m cliff, went tubing down a cave and a river, fell down multiple times in multiple places, hung out with the mafia of a community and sang with organized street singers.
It might seem like ordinary activities to some, but not for me.
When I was in 2nd grade, I was so scared to ask the teacher for permission to go the toilet that I held it in and wet my uniform… In other words, I was a painfully shy child who was too scared to do anything and it lasted through my teenage years even up to college.
After graduating in 2010, I took a short trip to Malaysia (KL), Laos, Thailand before going on to volunteer-teach English in the Thai-Burmese jungle. It was the first time I had traveled within my own region – Southeast Asia – and met so many wonderful people who touched my life. It was the beginning of a spark I didn’t know of yet.
I got a job in Singapore in the beginning of 2011, had a stable income but was frustrated by the lack of time to do anything else with a schedule of 9-6 (add commute and you have 8-7). I planned a short trip at the end of the year to visit my students and thought that would help with the frustration.
August 2011, my application to a 2 week media camp on journalism, video journalism and debate in Thailand was approved. I had been waiting to enter that camp for a year since meeting a few of the alumni during my 2010 trip. My 2 weeks unpaid leave request was rejected; I quit my job the next day.
The camp gave me my identity of being Southeast Asian, one I didn’t know I had all along. I started doing online volunteer for different organizations in Indonesia while carrying out freelance web design. I spent the end of the year and new year in Thailand as planned and thought I would return to the 8-6 working world.
I was wrong. The few short travels I’ve managed to experience has given me a taste of how much more I was learning and growing.
And so here I am, realizing that travel isn’t really about seeing new places or eating exotic food. It is about the people, the friendships made and the stories and laughter we shared. Beyond that, it’s also about challenging yourself to do things you’ve never dared to do before.