Tag Archives: travel

A note on traveling solo, Part Two

“Hi, do you speak English?” I asked the man. He nodded warily, not before casting a suspicious and puzzled sideway glance at me.

“Will your phone be able to make an overseas call?” I asked quickly, as I watched his mouth open and closed when I clearly answered his un-asked question. He nodded again, this time more affirmatively, while glancing at the red Singaporean passport that I was clutching firmly in my hand.

Perhaps it was the look of desperation on my face or that he was holding a similar passport himself that prompted him to hand me his phone, I will never know. I didn’t have the time to find out because this was an emergency.

What was happening? Well, let me start from the beginning.

As my solo trip to Australia came to an end, I was checking in to my Jetstar flight back to Singapore in Melbourne Airport, when I was unceremoniously informed that I did not opt for the 15kg check-in luggage, which meant I had to pay a grand total of AUD 160.

I could have just paid up, wheezed past customs and boarded the plane back to Singapore, right? Well, that was the best case scenario.

The worst case scenario would be not having any money on me because I spent it all, mostly on souvenirs, a credit card which wasn’t activated back home, hence couldn’t be used for overseas transactions and not having a handphone because I smashed it a few days ago.

Unfortunately for me, that was the scenario I was presented with, two hours before I was supposed to depart for Singapore. As I scrambled around begging my fellow passengers for a phone, I was praying to God that I was dreaming and this was somehow a nightmare. With time ticking down on me, I felt the walls closing around me and thought I would definitely miss my flight.

A flurry of phone calls back to my family in Singapore later, one on my fellow countryman’s mobile phone and the second on another kind samaritan’s mobile phone, I finally had the money to pay my luggage fees and was through customs with time to spare.

When I left for Australia two weeks ago, I never imagined that I would learn anything from my second lifetime solo trip, as the highlights would most likely be skydiving, snorkeling and climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

I was wrong. Granted, all this trouble could have been avoided if I had paid for my baggage beforehand when booking the flight, but I realised that my family and God was all I could think of when I was in trouble. That is why I’m comforted that I have my priorities in order.

However for my next trip, I will definitely keep some emergency money, activate my credit card for overseas transactions and most importantly, pay for luggage beforehand when flying with budget airlines.

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A note on traveling solo

I walked out of Tai Cheong Bakery in Central, Hong Kong, holding a bag of egg tarts, the best I have ever eaten. Taking the escalator up to the Central Mid Levels walkway, I walked from one end of the walkway to the other end, slowly munching on my egg tarts and experiencing the world’s longest outdoor covered escalator system. All 800 meters of it.

It’s moments like this that makes my decision to travel solo worth every penny. I had the freedom to do what I want, when I want and how I wanted to do it. My little “walkway egg tarts adventure” may not make much sense to others, but it was one of the highlights of my trip.

Traveling alone provides you the opportunity to live in the moment too. I did that by taking the Star Ferry in both directions, from Kowloon to Central and vice versa. The 10 min ride allowed me to take in the magnificent and breathtaking view and disconnect from the world for a moment. The sea was choppy and sometimes still, as though it could read the minds of all the passengers on board.

The biggest obstacle was finding directions. Google Maps was almost hopeless, but when technology failed me, the locals were very helpful. That was probably the only opportunity for me to talk to them, given the language barrier. You get a sense of achievement when you finally find a place by yourself or with the help of the locals.

Have the opportunity to travel alone? Do it.

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