For 3 years of constant traveling, this never happened to me before

I was already touring Europe in the summer of 2013, I’ve been in and out of European countries, crossing borders without any hassle or being questioned. But it happened to me in the day I was flying on December 31st 2013 from Bangkok to Paris, with a very short transit in Delhi, India. It never occurred to me before that such transit could be so terrifying. The flight to Paris CDG was already delayed for about 1/2 hour, and the security measurement at Delhi Airport was the worst that I’ve been through. It was a madhouse, according to JF. We were standing in line for ridiculous body and luggage check while on a very short transit, competing not just with the passengers bound for Paris, but also 3 or 4 more international flights around same time of departure on that day. After such hassle for over 45 minutes, I was in big relief, thinking that we are ready to board the plane. The walk to the boarding hall was very long. Then I saw another security check at the end of the travelator (the horizontal escalator) to the boarding hall and I said “Here we go again.” They went through my passport then I realized that I am in trouble when they called the lady, some sort of an airport security manager. They were questioning about my face on my passport, I simply looked different because I was wearing headscarf in the photo. They asked me to take out any physical evidence to show that I am the person in the photo in my passport. I took out my expired driving license (no longer driving in Malaysia), my Uni I.D, my My-Kad (Malaysian I.D) and a photo of me and JF from last summer trip. They were being ridiculous when they said “Your driving license is expired. This is not you.” How could one travels with other’s this many I.Ds anyways? For that , I was denied boarding. I was mad, sad and disappointed. I too, like other passengers on that flight, were dreaming of being in Paris for New Year’s day. I felt like I was being harassed. I started swearing upon my religion and God’s name that I am the person in the picture and that I am the bearer of the passport, and the passport is valid for another 1 1/2 year. When I shout “God Almighty, I am Muslim!” They gave back all my I.Ds and my passport, putting their hands down, and gave up harassing me. It was clear they have some sort of prejudice, almost bigots, because they understand very little about a young Muslim woman from a developing country who just wants to travel. That was the day when I felt, even with so much freedom of travel, you must expect the unexpected. Obstacles in traveling are inevitable. It took more than courage. You need not to panic or cause panic, but at the same time, staying rational without having to break down is difficult.

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From my Instagram account: The day I boarded the plane, apparently, some travelers must board with hassles.

The view from my seat window of a Dreamliner flight to Paris from Delhi, so much for a dream

The view from my seat window of a Dreamliner flight to Paris from Delhi, so much for a dream.

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Traveling and its downsides

Quoting my favorite traveler’s blog, Nomadic Matt : “When I meet people and tell them about what I do or how long I have been traveling, their response is usually something like, “Wow! That is so awesome! You’re so lucky! I wish I could do something like that!…Finally, you get tired. Really tired. Of traveling. Of everything. After a while, everything becomes just another “one of.” That 100th church, 100th waterfall, 40th hostel, 800th bus ride, 600th bar… it’s not the same after a while. It loses its charm and luster. Travel becomes unexciting. Ask any traveler – at some point, they hit that point where they are sick of traveling. They just need a few days or weeks to recharge their batteries.”

This is from my personal experience:

Traveling is great, but I learned from my trip with JF that if you don’t want to get tired of traveling, do it slowly. Don’t go out and see 100 temples in one day, then go to another 100 cathedrals the next day. I still have to plan what I am going to do on the trips but not flooding a day with so many things to do. Some travelers tend to have this “race” on their schedule, thinking that they have to compete in “Who Went to 30 countries in One Month First”.

You want to be able to do things you want to do, to see things you want to see. If you do it slowly, you will be able to see everything. Trust me, traveling needs so much patience, flexibility and independence although I agree that you don’t have to be rich to travel well. Long term traveling also needs plans, if not, a draft of what you are going to do. Unless you are in a tour group, which usually, you just have to pay, sit down and relax. I am not sure if I can count that as being a traveler. I wrote once on my Facebook status — “Tourists see things they want to see, travelers see everything.” For 3 years of constant traveling, I am living with this.

I struggled on my first trip outside South East Asia which was to Europe, spending summer of 2013 in Turkey, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Germany and Holland. I am a bit lucky I got supports from my boyfriend, but still, I struggled, BIG time. We fought on the way, we fought about where to eat, simply because there are too many choices but very different individual taste. We fought about should we walk or take the train, and is it worth it to purchase weekly train passes for that you have to also decide if you should stay that long in one city. I never knew that traveling could be so hard. You have to separate expenses, you have to sacrifice something you are dying to do (in my case, sacrificing Gondola ride in Venice because it was TOO expensive) and have a backup plan, in case you have utter heartbreak when you get to your dream place, only to know that you cannot afford this and that (I found a very nice cave in Postojna, Slovenia, got there after long train ride, only to know that the place is a big tourist trap). This might not be applicable to travelers or tourists with thick pockets, they might not need advice anyways.

ImageVenice: The gondola ride I dreamed about all my life, that I have to sacrifice, MYR 320 for 1/2 hour is not worth it.

Sometimes, in some cases or base on my experience (my winter trip, skiiing in Azuga, in the middle of nowhere in the Transylvanian Carpathians of Romania) the most depressing thing is there is not much information online about places you plan to go, and for this you just have to “gamble”, be there and see how it is going to be, while on the way you will think about yourself as being irresponsible and lack of a planner. But I compensated for everything that I sacrificed in my past trips with JF (example above) by planning and executing the most amazing ski trip in Romania, despite very little information can be gathered from online forums about this particular place.

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Azuga: Nice, but really in the middle of nowhere with very little information, even about how much the snow is falling.

Being constantly on the run could be sweetest escape, especially if you had been dreaming of doing so for long time. But you have to be mentally prepared, that should be on top of your bucket list.

Bangkok is not what you think it would be

September 2013.

Sawasdeeka.

Whenever I decided to take a break from traveling, I will park myself in Bangkok. My home country is Malaysia. Since I am no longer employed, I can no longer find good reasons to stay in Malaysia, but to go back once in a while to visit my family. People would say stuff about Bangkok; busy, crazy, notorious, and dangerous. Truth be told, it is none like the above. Contrary to popular belief or hearing from someone who only sees Bangkok for 3 days, serious cases almost mostly happened when you are TOO distracted or looking unconfident. Opportunists love taking advantages on travelers or tourist like this. I am sure we all have heard of tuk tuk drivers coming to tourists and ripping them off in this situation but this thing is totally avoidable. 

I had lived in Bangkok for good 5 months in autumn and after my winter trip to Europe. I feel safe and comfortable living among Thais. I am not a fan of big city, but Bangkok is exceptional. I’ve been to NYC and these cities share equal amount of excitements. 

While in Bangkok, one can actually afford to stay at a very nice, fully furnished apartment with just $300 a month, but I chose not to do that. I want to able to make friends and meet other travelers. Since I don’t like or not practicing going to clubs or even drinking, I stayed at a hostel that I think the best hostel in Bangkok, Boxpackers Hostel (should totally check this place out). Whether you are a shopping freak or not, this place is the best place to rest your head after a day out, venturing the busy streets of Bangkok. Also, I mentioned shopping freak because there is huge fashion mall across the street of this hostel that is ever alive and lively with people from all around Asia and the rest of the world! The hostel is also pretty close to train station, if you can count 10 minutes walking as close. In Bangkok, you don’t really have to worry about paying a lot for public transportation, I promise if you stay there for a week, you’ll get the hang of it, by all means, walking or riding tuk tuk or even the boat on Chao Phraya!

ImageThe dorm of 6 : That’s my backpack, and my Ripcurl lightpack

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 My pod or box, where I usually stay for months!

I have made so many incredible friends along my stay at this hostel. This is not like conventional hostels with bunk beds where people can see you even when you are picking your nose. There will no drunken people banging on the door at night. It is a place where you can actually feel “educated”. I love Khao San road too, but it is safe for me not to stay there. I had once stay there in year 2011, for 2 nights I cannot get to sleep and I heard stuff next door like an old man bargaining for a “company” and then ended up fighting and beating her. That and other things I am sure those who were also there know. The price of a hostel room at Khao San Road could be as low as 1 Euro, but I’d rather pay extra 10 Euro for extra extra comfort, and safety!

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 Rita from Taiwan: First friend I made the first time I stayed at Boxpackers Hostel, Bangkok. She is also traveling the world. Suddenly this place is not so strange anymore.

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 Roman & Jeremy from France and Germany: The last people at Boxpackers Hostel made bestfriends with before I left for Europe 2013 – 2014 winter trip

There are so many things you can do in Bangkok, not just visiting temples, in fact you’ll never run out things to do here as long as you are enjoying your time. I have no troubles being alone, I also have no troubles having great companies. I filled up my time learning Thai and making friends with locals. If you shall come to Bangkok, write to me, perhaps I can help with your itinerary. Songkran Festival for example, is a great time to be in Bangkok, the city has never been lovelier. And yes, while in Thailand, learn Muay Thai. It’s incredibly cheap and it’s incredibly great. After all, Thailand is the best place on Earth to learn this famous martial art.

ImageThis is me, doing muay thai (Thai boxing) in November 2013 at 13 Coins Gym. About USD 10 for a session of 5 rounds of intense punching and kicking, GREAT thing to do while in Bangkok.

Give it a chance. Bangkok is a great place to learn how to live a life by yourself. 

Till next time.

Viva la Italia!

June 28, 2013

Buongiorno!

Probably too late for that as it is 6 pm in Malaysia at the moment. I left Turkey and all the kebaps for this country of pizza and pasta. Rome is expensive city in this expensive country of Italy. Like in Turkey,they also have tramvay in the city, and also cat park. I have had among the best pasta, or probably the best pasta in my whole life in Rome, and they taste different than ones I had in Malaysia. I forgot to take photos of my meal though because I was too enjoying them.

I went to the great Colosseum and having to feel like gladiator and finally got to see Fontana di Trevi, the famous fountain of Virgin Roman Spring and yes, a visit to Vatican City. There were thousands of people queueing to probably see the Pope, but I was just there chasing after pigeons.

Going to Naples or Napoli today, the land of Mt Vesuvius and Pompeii ruins.

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Amazing Istanbul

June 20, 2013

Shisha, cherries and olives.

I am traveling to the land where you can find cherries, olives and shisha in every nook and cranny. For two mornings I had new kind of breakfast where they served bread with hard boiled duck egg, two types of olives, sour cherry jam, cheese bar, with fresh cucumber and very succulent tomatoes. I found it strange somehow but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

I discovered a very cosy cafe along the street of Gulhane in which they had served flavorful shisha and Turkish coffee. I’d say do not skip Turkish shisha while you are in here because it tastes different than ones I usually had in Malaysia. After breakfast yesterday I walked up the hill to huge market and had my very first fresh cherries, and found among the shiniest, most plump tomatoes, sold by the 2 friendly men who asked for their photo to be taken. Stumbled upon this very beautiful mosque just next to the market. The area is surrounded with parks with benches and yes,cat house. I met this lovely ginger tabby which I named Seymor. He literally made love with the cat food given instead of eating them;so weirdly cute and adorable.

Later in the afternoon I took the tram to the north, to Karakoy. I went up the tower, the Galata Tower and had enjoyed the breathtaking view of Bosphorus and surrounding area. It was worth 13TL (Turkish Lira).

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Lost in watermelons.

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I love the cool breeze blowing on my face, but not the sun having to set at 9pm!

Merhaba

June 17, 2013
Merhaba.
It means hello in Turkish. Day one in this small town of Fatih and Beyazit was very warm and enchanting. Everything that I saw was just new and different. Beyazit is crowded,but kind of crowd that I am willing to walk through because it was local people crowd. I had trouble adjusting my sleep time for the sunset was at nearly 9 pm yesterday.
My first meal was a scrumptious eggplant (terung) kebab. Turkish people are very friendly, making me feel less like a traveler but more like one of them.
I was spending my afternoon under a tree sipping warm breeze of Mediterranean sea, watching youngsters jumped off the cliff to swim in the sea. I’d say summer in here is still not as hot as in Malaysia and definitely not humid. I walked miles but sweat a little, which I love the most.
Cats really made my day yesterday. The stray cats in Beyazit have medium to long hair. I patted almost every cat I met and thought that they didn’t understand my Malay Meow because they seemed to be ignorant but docile at same time. What a great day it was.
Some of my photos might be upside down or not rotated, but I hope they are still viewable.
Warm greetings from Istanbul.
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I was lost and hopeless.

I suffered a silver jubilee crisis in mid 2013; I was jobless and hopeless. I sat and talk with my parents about how desperate I am to fly really far and travel. In the end, I did. There was a strike in Istanbul, Turkey and I decided to go there. My first time being so far away from home country yet I was so psyched and not even close to being scared. These are the excerpts from my post on Facebook, describing how wonderful to be in Turkey, the bridge between Asia and Europe.

June 18, 2013
First photo: street of Aksaray near Topkapi, Istanbul. Second photo is Turkiye Bankasi, a Turkish bank building. Time check here is 735am. I had Turkish delight, baklava and cherry juice for breakfast which was delightful. Morning sun in Turkey and everything is on the right side. Reminding myself not to look at wrong side while crossing the road. LRT is excellent and faster than in KL. Turkish people look very handsome and beautiful. Currency: Lira and 50euro is about 150 lira. Mosques are incredibly beautiful in here and cannot wait to hear the call of prayer.
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A recap for year 2011 and 2012

I started traveling around my neighborhood of beautiful South East Asia in year 2011. It was a week trip in wonderful, hot, summery April with my former partner and at that time I just got my first passport, just for my supposed-to-be first trip ever outside Malaysia, which was to Indonesia, with my family. I ended up going to Thailand first and it was great nonetheless

the border gate; northern West Malaysia, Bukit Kayu Hitam and Southern Thailand, Sadao

the border gate; northern West Malaysia, Bukit Kayu Hitam and Southern Thailand, Sadao. I took a gruesome 17 hours bus ride from south to north.

I went to the 2004 tsunami town in Thailand, Ko Lanta

I went to the 2004 tsunami town in Thailand, Ko Lanta

distracted, psyched and all smile on my first tuk-tuk ride in Krabi, Thailand

my first time riding the moped and...

my first time riding the moped and…
...I crashed my moped. …I crashed my moped.

bugs are delicious in Krabi

famous Mr Blowfish in fishing village near Krabi.

my very own secluded beach in Ao Poh, Ko Phi Phi

this basic but beautiful bungalow facing the secluded beach in Ao Poh was my pad in Ko Phi Phi, costed me a good 800 baht.

this basic but beautiful bungalow facing the secluded beach in Ao Poh was my pad in Ko Phi Phi, costed me a good 800 baht.

the first part of island in Ko Phi Phi that got the first tsunami wave back in 2004, I am talking about this pier.