. the independent traveler: flying solo for the first time .

WOW. Where do I even begin?

As everyone would have known by now, 2014 has been an extremely dramatic and life-changing year  for me. The perfect life? It was far from it. Throwing caution to the wind, I decided to celebrate the end of the year by doing something courageous that I have always wanted to do for the longest time. Yet, fear has been the one main factor that prevented me from accomplishing that goal.

With a new-found sense of courage, I decided to embark on my first ever solo trip and usher into the new year alone. Like most people, I was afraid of taking that step out of the well-trodden path but once I did, there was no turning back. It is often said that solo travel allows one to enjoy a country on his or her own terms and through that exhilarating journey, they might learn to re-discover parts of themselves that they never knew existed. For me, I went for this solo trip, expecting to spend the bulk of my time alone. Frankly, I was perfectly fine with doing most things alone because I have always had that independent streak in me and my personal belief is that life waits for no one. Waiting might simply translate to missed opportunities. What I found out, at the end of the trip, was that travelling solo brings forth way more interaction and socializing than one could get, if they were to travel with their family or friends.

During my 4 days stay in Bali, I had serendipitous encounters with people from all walks of life – Locals from the tourism industry, artists, medicine woman, primary school kids, and travelers from other parts of the world. Surprisingly, not only did I managed to gain cultural insights from my conversations with them, but I was also very lucky to foster deep and meaningful connections with some of these people. In fact, 2 months down the road, I am still in touch with some of the people whom I have met during my trip.

My first trip might be short but it wasn’t one without an adventure of a lifetime. On the eve of New Year, I drank a little too much (and that’s because I’m a terrible drinker), got drunk and my vision literally went blank while I was dining alone. Horrors of horrors. Had I been in a shady area, I could have been robbed, raped or kidnapped. Lady luck must have been on my side because the drunk episode turned out to be a blessing in disguise as I ended up meeting the Prince of Ubud, spending the rest of the night with the lovely marketing manager (who is now, a friend of mine) before celebrating the NYE countdown in style with the restaurant crew! Serendipity? You bet. Along the way, I also cooked a Balinese meal with a local family in their home compound, met my own version of Ketut Liyer (for those of you who read ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, you would know what I’m talking about) – an old lady who flashed her boobs at me, had an unexpected lunch with an American who turned out to be working in Singapore,  and played ‘Santa’ to a group of kids in a local primary school.

My decision to start 2015 with a solo trip was one of the best choices of my life. All it takes is 1 moment of insane courage. But a lifetime of unforgettable memories and experiences. And trust me, once you start travelling alone, chances are that you will become addicted to it because it is so much more rewarding and enriching. Now, just remember that life waits for no one … So, take that leap of faith and give solo travel a try! 🙂 

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What does solo travel means to me? 

Freedom. Fulfillment. Self-confidence. Excitement. Being in control – not needing to be accountable to others. Spontaneity. Serendipitous experiences. And more important, a journey to explore more about myself and grow in ways that I can never learn from my school or workplace.

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