To more solo trips?

Around last year, I created a tiny “Things to do before 30” (didn’t express it in this blog, poor neglected blog) list. The list only had 2 simple things.
1. To embark on a solo trip
2. To volunteer

For #2. I actually volunteered at a soup kitchen and distributed food to the needy/homeless. However, that was just one off and the soup kitchen seems to have enough helpers now. Just need to find another avenue to volunteer my help then. So, I suppose #2 can never be struck out and will forever be something that I’ve to do.

#1 however is easily achieved but will I be brave enough to travel alone? All my trips before this (even when I studied in Australia for a year) were accompanied by friends. Travel with friends if of course safer, you get to rely on each other, more fun, builds relationship, so on and so forth….

Traveling solo however is a whole different thing. I made the wise decision to embark on my first ever solo trip to Taiwan and had this ambitious task of circling the entire Taiwan in 12 days. My itinerary was as such

  • Day 1 & 2 – Sun Moon Lake 日月潭
  • Day 3 – Alishan 阿里山
  • Day 4 – Alishan 阿里山 (Stayover at Kaohshiung 高雄)
  • Day 5 & 6 – Hualien 花莲
  • Day 7 – Jiu Fen
  • Day 8 to 12 – Taipei

“What? So packed?” That’s what most of my friends said when they found out about my itinerary. There were also a lot of questions on “Why Taiwan?” Why not? It’s safe, it’s easy to travel, it’s relatively cheaper than my other choices of Japan and Korea, communication should be alright (I speak pretty basic mandarin), this should be a breeze!

All in Mandarin. I'll take forever to figure out which bus I need to take.

Stops have English names but the other information are all in Mandarin. I’ll take forever to figure out when the next busis coming.

Research was easier than expected. They have a lot of information in English available. However, I noticed that the Chinese version of some sites are more informative. I even saw a hotel having different prices in the Chinese and English version of their website (not very ethical there). Since reading the sites in mandarin will take forever for me, I just read the English ones. Should be substantive enough. Traveling around was also smooth sailing and in Taipei particularly, even the buses announce the stop location in Mandarin, Taiwanese (similar to Hokkien), Japanese and English. I could go on forever about how I planned my days but I shall skip you’ll the boring decisions.

So to get to my main point, here are my thoughts on solo traveling, which also sort of relates to life…

  • Choices are all yours to make = Freedom!

Basically, the World is your oyster! (Ok… maybe not the world but just Taiwan) Every decision you make is well, your choice. What you eat, where you want to go, what you want to do, where should you visit. Too much freedom can be a bad thing because if there are too many choices and you’re torn between 2, there is no one to add weigh to a particular choice.

Some of these decisions were a bit difficult to make but most were a breeze. I chose to make Sun Moon Lake 日月潭, Alishan 阿里山 and Taroko Gorge 太鲁阁 must visits. Which was kinda difficult because the first 2 are on the west side of Taiwan while Taroko Gorge is on the east side. There is no public transportation across the island. Hence, my need to circle the entire Taiwan and make a scheduled overnight stop at Kaohshiung 高雄. I don’t regret it though. I ended up having more time in Kaohshiung 高雄 than expected and it was good fun (also links to being open point). The experience was good and I’m very amazed by Taiwan’s railway connectivity.

One of the many

One of the many “male & female” art installations at Kaohshiung’s Pier 2 Art Centre, which was surprisingly nice.

  • You set your own pace in life

Kinda linked to the above point. At times I realised I was rushing (walking too fast, anxious if I could make it on time) and then I thought “Why am I in a rush? What am I rushing for? I paid to be here, I should enjoy every moment of it and take my time.”. Same goes with our usual lives, why are we always rushing? Time is of course valuable but we should take the opportunity to enjoy every bit of activity that we are doing. I.e, reading, watching the television, conversing with people…

The street market in Tamsui 淡水, which I didn't browse through cause I was rushing to catch a sunset and a train to Shihlin Market. Big mistake. I just tired myself out.

The street market in Tamsui 淡水, which I didn’t browse through cause I was rushing to catch a sunset and a train to Shihlin Market. Big mistake. I just tired myself out.

  •  Be open

I suppose being on this trip. I wanted to try out what it would be like. I guess I was open to a lot of things, suggestions from other people, and multiple changes to what I was going to do, other than things that I thought would be dangerous, i.e., walking around alone after 10pm.

– I rented a bicycle from a breakfast place’s owners friend

– I drank beer at a kiosk and chit chatted with the barkeep

– Walked a path suggested by a guard (there were other people, so it was pretty safe)

–  Randomly took a bus to another part of Yang Ming Shan 阳明山, turns out there was a Calla Lily Festival there. 😀

– Sat a Taiwanese lady’s rented motorbike around Taroko Gorge 太鲁阁

– Met and spoke to quite a lot of random people. From the temple worker to other travelers. Quite a lot of them were surprised that Malaysians can speak mandarin. And the younger China travelers are actually quite adventurous (traveling alone, lots of them) and are much nicer than their tour bus counterparts.

One of the farms at Yang Ming Shan's Calla Lily Festival

One of the farms at Yang Ming Shan’s Calla Lily Festival

  • Stepping out of your comfort zone

I’m not saying that You need to be the exact opposite of who you are, but just change how you usually act a bit. I’m personally an introvert. Making the first move to talk to strangers can be a bit difficult for me. In previous travels, I wouldn’t be the one making friends with other travelers. I enjoy my own free time, but I know that if I travel without talking to anyone or engage in conversation with anyone for 12 days would be a waste of an opportunity to meet all sorts of people.

So at hostels, I tried to greet my fellow roommates (if I had any) and most of them were quite eager to meet other people too! We shared stories and where we have been in Taiwan. Very surface level sort of conversation but it was good. Changed my general perception of China tourists definitely. Funny thing though, the first thing that most of us ask first is not “what’s your name?” but “where are you from?”.

  • It’s nice to have some familiarity

Stepping out of comfort zones aside. Having a bit of familiarity is also good (yes, it’s quite contradicting to the above point). In the first 8 days of my travels, all I spoke was mandarin. Back in Malaysia, I barely speak any mandarin. Even if I do, it’s mixed a lot with Manglish and Canto. Once I checked in at the Taipei hostel, I finally gotta speak English with 3 Germans and a Singaporean. On my last night at the Taipei hostel, I finally got to use my lahs with fellow Malaysians too! How exciting!

The above are are of course my main thoughts on traveling solo. I’m sure there are a lot of other things that cropped up in my mind. The 12 days will forever be etched in my mind and although I just left Taiwan 2 weeks ago, I have been entertaining the thought of returning. There’s just too many things to see.

12 days was definitely a bit long for my first solo trip. A fellow Malaysian, whom I met at a dorm in Taipei, was surprised that I took 12 days to travel alone for the first time. I initially wanted 14 days, so I was only 2 days short. There were definitely downer days. I.e., when it rained the entire day when I reached Hualien 花莲, the occasional thoughts of “wouldn’t it be nice if I could share this (trip) with someone?” and the tiredness. Once I reached Taipei or rather Jiu Fen, I felt tired. Must have been all the moving about. In that 12 days, I stayed in 6 different accommodations. The longest was for 4 nights in Taipei. But once I started walking around the attractions, I felt rejuvenated. Especially at Yehliu 野柳, where you get to enjoy the cooling winds of the Pacific ocean.

Reaching the top of the filial piety hill in Yehliu Geopark. Such a nice breath of fresh air, although the wind was slightly dying down then. Bummer.

Reaching the top of the filial piety hill in Yehliu Geopark. Such a nice breath of fresh air, although the wind was slightly dying down then. Bummer.

To sum it all, I had a blast in Taiwan! Met quite a number of random strangers along the way. I kinda enjoyed the solitary moments, although there were definitely times of loneliness. Sharing food was difficult as was taking pictures. Moving around was a breeze because transportation was great and I didn’t bother with a huge luggage! Furthermore, the Taiwanese people are so helpful and friendly! (Everyone I met in Taiwan also said the same thing) 9 of 10 people there will be helpful and friendly. 9 of 10 people in Malaysia will be the exact opposite. I would most definitely return. “When?” would be the most appropriate question.


1 month in a foreign land

Always wanted to join a Contiki tour to Europe before I turned 30. Although I’m still a few years away, I think my perception has changed somewhat. Oh! I still would want to travel around Europe, but I was curious what it would be like to spend a month in a country like Japan or Korea where there’s just so much to see, do & absorb. Maybe I should do that before I turn 30, but financially, doubt it would work.

I also thought it would be interesting to travel alone. But perhaps, I do not have the courage to move around alone in a foreign land where the language used I cannot comprehend. Or rather, I may be overwhelmed by the loneliness.

Thank you 2013. Happy 2014!

Thank you 2013 for all the memories, good and bad, and may 2014 be a happy and peaceful year for all. Personally, a new beginning for me.

I normally recap on what happened during the year. Wasn’t much great things that happened in 2013 but I shall try to highlight the good times!

February – Chinese New Year and had an awesome buffet at Renoma Cafe. Really tasty stuff. May consider going again.

Foie Gras. Never tasted it before this. Pretty tasty stuff.

Foie Gras. Never tasted it before this. Pretty tasty stuff.

– White Water Rafting & Canyoning at Sungai Kampar

Finally crossing things off my “To Do List” while I save money to head on over to Greece.

July – US Tour (Vegas, San Fran, NYC)

T’was an awesome trip. Such a beautiful country. Will very likely re-visit.

Vegas Baby! Where I really absolutely behaved.

Vegas Baby! Where I really absolutely behaved.

"The Crookedest Street" at Lombard Street.

“The Crookedest Street” at Lombard Street.

Times Square!

Times Square! Forever bustling with people.

– Dining in the Dark KL

No pics cause well, it’s dark. Eating in the dark was surprisingly easier than expected cause the restaurant actually compartmentalised the food for the diners to eat it easily. Nevertheless, it was an interesting experience. Helps in eating in cinemas in the future.

September – The Killers Battleborn tour

Finally was able to see one of my favourite bands perform. Dream come true. Brandon Flowers is still good looking in my books ❤

If only Mr ipad at the front would take his ipad down for a moment throughout the concert.

If only Mr ipad at the front would take his ipad down for a moment throughout the concert.

– Standard Chartered KL Marathon

2nd time running the 10km and I recorded a slower time. Bummer. Must practice harder for 2014’s!

Prefer last year's medal to this one. But, it's still a nice medal to keep. :D

Prefer last year’s medal to this one. But, it’s still a nice medal to keep. 😀

– OneRepublic Native tour

No pics of this one cause I was standing a little far too take a good clear shot.

I must say that Ryan Tedder’s voice is Amazing! If only the sound system was better I would say the concert would have been awesome! Couldn’t hear his voice in quite a fair bit of the songs. Sound was good during quieter moments though.

31 December – Official last day at my workplace. Bittersweet feeling but leaving was inevitable, it was just a matter of when? Time to move on to a new beginning.

That was a pretty quick recap. Now time to get to more serious things. Well, wordpress has this annual report on wordpress blogs and well I only blogged 4 times in 2013! And entries before 2013 had the most hits during the year. Those aren’t very good stats. Seeing as I don’t have much to blog about these days, I’m considering pulling the plug on the blog. If I continue writing/blogging, 2014 would be my 10th year blogging. I don’t blog much but 10 years is a long time! Until when I really wanna take this offline, I shall just blog like usual. 😀

That’s a little sad news to start the year. Well, to have a new beginning, something somehow somewhere has to end. To New Beginnings in 2014!


When the Airasia sale begins, I start to dream of all the places to go and then get disappointed due to the lack of funds. =(

Ah well. Dreaming is free =)

I’ve been dreaming of going to India for awhile now. Mainly to see Taj Mahal and the wonderful colours of “Incredible India”!

Now to add to the places to visit in India is…..

Jodphur (Blue City, India)

Man, I feel blue.

Looks pretty eh? Fascinating… I wonder why they picked blue. To blend in with the Sky?
To be honest, “Finding Mr. Destiny” made me wanna visit this place. Never knew it existed before.

Added to my list of places to visit. =)


I think I partially fail as a blogger. 10 entries in a year? (not including the welcome 2011 one… ) 10 is…. ok at least I’m roughly at an average of 1/month. Not bad… I suppose…

Anyway, to get things started let’s talk about the weather. Sweltering hot this days. After bathing, you sit under the fan and you’re still sweating. Crazy hell. Today a sudden burst of rain happened albeit only for 1-2 mins but it still reminded me of the time in Cambodia where the sky suddenly just became dark and WHOOSH! The rain started pouring. So…. I shall get straight into the topic of the day.


Brief History:

Siem = Siam (Thailand)

Reap = Defeat

Siem Reap is named as such because eons ago the Thai army was defeated at this very fine spot. Hence the name Siem Reap.

Siem Reap is THE place to go to if U want to visit the Majestic Angkor Wat! It is truly majestic and a rich source of history I must say.

I said today reminded me of Siem Reap because it practically rained everyday when we were there *Not surprising since we travelled in August during the rainy season*. Everyday without fail there would be


Raining on the first day.


Raining in Angkor Wat

And… you guessed right! More RAIN!

WHAT!? We’re walking through there? But it’s flooded!

Although the rain made the weather pretty pleasant. At least it wasn’t burning hot. It was pretty fun walking/running in the rain too. Exciting!

Anyways Day 1 at Siem Reap saw us exploring the town of Siem Reap. Checking out the tourists area, the Central Market, the old market, pub street…. etc. I must say those scarves are pretty cheap. Cambodian? No idea.

Day 2 saw us waking up in the wee hours of the morning to catch the sunrise at Angkor Wat.

Sunrise at Angkor Wat

Yeeeaaap! We didn’t get to see the bright orange Sun shining straight into our eyes because it rained a lot and the clouds covered it. But the pink hue on the clouds were nice!

After that we had a tour around the Bayon area, which includes Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm, the one with the Tomb Raider tree, and of course Angkor Wat.

We hired a guide Mr. Be, he’s english is good, interested peeps can email him @ (HAHAHAHA I’m advertisng!)

He gave us an in depth explanation about the history of Cambodia. I forgot which King built Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat and which one was for his Mum and which was for his Dad. I do remember that there were a lot of wars back then most because of religion I suppose. Hinduism then Buddhism then Hinduism again ultimately the Khmer people are mostly Buddhist. Because of this warring, there were quite a lot of carvings carved out from the walls of the Angkors (I think it was the Hindus that carved out the carvings that depict Buddhism).

Enough of words, how bout some pictures?

Ta Prohm

A very cool Spung tree taking over the ruins @ Ta Prohm

Angkor Wat from the East Entrance (I think)

Day 2 also introduced us to some fantastic tasting Khmer soup. It was chicken soup in their menu but it tasted like a non spicy Tom Yum. Yum! Yum!

On Day 3 we went for a bicycle tour to the countryside. The ride was pleasant. The tour brought us through smaller paths into the countryside. Along the way, you can catch a glimpse of the life of the Khmer people. A lot of the people will say “Hello!” and wave to you.  There are a lot of paddy fields too. As it’s the rainy season, the grass is lush green. Very soothing for them eyes. We stopped by a countryside market. Boy things look pretty unhygienic there. The local delicacies which our guide was explaining to us was constantly attacked by flies. We visited a lotus farm too.

As I was cycling, I can’t offer you any soothing green pictures.

At night we headed to Temple! (A Restaurant/Bar) because they offered free Apsara shows for people who dine there. Apsara is actually a celestial beauty but the Apsara Show includes local dances like the coconut knocking dance, Apsara Dance and Peacock dance.

Apsara Dance

We had front row seats. My suggestion would be to reserve ahead if you want front row seats.

Day 4 was the day we went to Tonle Sap Lake. Boy is this lake brown but huge! We went to the Lake through a river where the floating village was. When we were at Tonle Sap Lake, we couldn’t see any land! That’s how HUGE the lake is! Wow.

The floating village was quite an eye opener. The villagers practically living off  the lake. They even take water from the lake. That’s why they are born with a lot of sickness the boatman said. Sad really.

Children happily rowing about in basins

I’m pretty sure any adult that uses a basin to row about will sink once they get in.

After that we headed to the Cultural Village where we caught a performance of a Khmer wedding.

Khmer Wedding with a very Korean looking groom

Through out our vacation we had a good walk around the markets (Angkor Market, Siem Reap Market, Old market, central market), all of them mostly sold the same things, scarves, local handmade goods, t-shirts, local jewelry,clothes, souveniers). Stuff are considerably cheap if haggling is involved. However due to baggage constraints I didn’t get much stuff.

Alcohol is also dirt cheap with draft beers going at USD 1 and some cocktails at USD1.50. Who’s gonna drink plain water?

We also came across a very refreshing drink (but very fattening I assume)

Coconut shake!

This is yummy after a long walk and of course when one is hot and needs some cooling down.

Overall, the Khmer people are extremely friendly and helpful (maybe because they haven’t been truly introduced to commercialisation). The service at the hotel was exceptional. The food, mmmm yum! Shopping not bad! Massage? 2 thumbs up! Will I come again? Maybe after a few years…

Oh anyone looking for a tuk-tuk driving that speaks Malay you can contact Mr. Nasir @ . The dude worked in Malaysia before so he understands Malay and speaks pretty good english too. His prices are good too! Better than our hotel’s.

To end this entry I shall throw in a lame joke

Tuk tuk driver: “Hello tuk-tuk.”

Tourist: “Do I look like a TUK-TUK to you?”