The First is something important. The first kiss, the first flat, the first flight. Nothing will ever be like the first of something. No matter how many come after, the first will never be forgotten.
Malaysia was my first time backpacking and it was the best decision I ever made. This is where I fell in love with backpacking and were I had the first time the feeling of ultimate freedom.
I did travel before and not all of my travels where at normal hotels at some beach in spain.
I went a week to Rome with some of my friends, took a plane to visit friends in the states and while being there, I stayed a couple of nights in chicago for some sightseeing and I spent some days on my own in Glasgow.
But I never just jumped on a bus and travelled from one city to the other, with nothing more than a small backpack.
Some people were asking if I was crazy, travelling all by myself, as a girl, through a foreign country. It could be dangerous and I could get lost and so much blablabla.( Not saying it isn’t dangerous at times, but with some common sense you must have really bad luck if you get into trouble, this could happen as home as it could when you travel).
I had the opportunity to travel (my aunt lives in Singapore, which is right next to Malaysia) and I took it.
I planed a tour, checked the buses and how long they would take from place to place, booked my first hostel and bus and off I went. 10-Days just me and the road.
10-Days I faced challenges all by myself, met great people, saw amazing things and grew up a bit more.
Travelling all alone can be a bit scary in the beginning. You know if something goes wrong, you are on your own. Having my aunt in Singapore probably helped a bit, because I knew if something went horribly wrong it would be just a short flight (1hour) or a bus drive for her to help me.
But I didn’t want to rely on this. This was going to my journey, so I would have to handle all the trouble alone.
While travelling I learned some of the essential rules of travel.
1.No matter how good you plan (and I am really good at planning things) there will be at least one major disaster and a couple of small ones.
No plan ever works out exactly how you planned it! Either a bus is too late and your stuck at some place, the hostel made some mistake and didn’t reserve a room for you, the sight you really wanted to see is already closed or much more expensive than you expected (Kuala Lumpur Towers-.- )
No use getting angry. Adapting to the new situation and taking it with a lot of humor makes travel so much more relaxed.
I learned to go with the flow and take things how they come. (For example I couldn’t find the Hostel I looked up, instead of searching, I just asked a tourist coming out of a small Hostel, if it’s clean there and went in
to ask for a room. It was maybe was not as pretty, but clean and incredibly cheap.)
2.No matter how bad the situation seems to be, you can handle it and ALWAYS! have some extra cash with you.
Nothing really bad happened, but I forgot to go to the ATM a couple of times because I forgot that there are not always some around every corner, which could have ended in pretty disastrous situations but I was quite lucky.
F.e. I arrived at the bus stop in the outer city and didn’t have enough money for the bus. First I wanted to walk, but this incredibly nice Indian woman offered to take me in the city. She was a bit older and had her daughter, who was my age, with her.
Usually I don’t just get into other people’s cars, but I really didn’t sense any bad vibe. She was totally amazed of me travelling alone and in the end she said my mother must be a brave woman to just let me go off alone 😉
And that was how I was saved from walking two hours in the heat.
3.There are still good people in this world. We all know that there are a lot of bad people out there, but we tend to forget that there are also incredible nice and helpful people out there.
I was on the most beautiful island, again without enough money (had no time to go to the ATM before getting on the boat, because my bus was horribly late.
So here I am on the most beautiful place of the world eating packed noodle soups. I really wanted to go to a snorkeling tour, so I had to save my money. In the evening a girl from england asked me if I would want to go to the barbecue place with her.
I had to decline because of the money. She just simply invited me. She had been in a situation like this before and somebody helped her out, so she decided it was now her time to help out.
This was a great experience.
I mean ok the meal was not expensive, but still, she just simply gave something to a stranger, without expecting anything, even though she wasn’t rich either.
I still have to pay back that debt to another traveller, but I definitely will!
4.You are never alone, when travelling alone.
During this travel I got to know so many great people. You meet at the Hostel, maybe you are doing the same tour or they are sharing a room with you and because you are alone you have nobody to cling too.
Strangers simply will ask if you want to come along to eat or go out.
Every day I met somebody new, talked with them about god and the world, compared cultures and had a good time.
Some I added on facebook, others I didn’t.
But at that time, in this place they always were the perfect companions.
I have many special memories, with so many different people and I learned a great deal from them. F.e. long-term travel or which sights to see in the next city.
There were lots of great stories told, because no matter who they were, we were all the same. Each of us going their own way and meeting by accident. Each of just simply living their life…
5.Travelling light is possible and the freedom you will experience is awsome.
I had just a small backpack from my uncle. I had two dresses, two pair of trousers (both overknee, but very loose material) a Bikini and 4 shirts, two pair of shoes and a light jacket with me.
I never felt so free in my live. My backpack was not heavy, I could walk with it for hours (if it wouldn’t have been so warm). If something got dirty I’ve washed it in the sink, usually the next day it was try.
No short skirts, no high heels or low-cut top (which are a bad idea in a muslim country either way) but I still had some pretty clothes with me.
All of them were things I felt good moving in and I could mix and match. From there on I never maxed out my luggage limit again (ok just when I went to China, but there I had to live 9 month, that’s a slightly different issue 😉 )
Malaysia helped me to understand that my ultimate freedom is found on the road and it got me addicted. I am literally going sick when I am stuck at one place for too long.
But after all I always have this pull pack to Malaysia. Enjoying my tiny Islands again or hiking through the Jungle.
Can’t wait to get back there sometime soon, simply because it is and always will be my first love, which has taught me what travel is all about.