My first flirting with the journey of traveling just happened since 2 years ago. That was the time when my ex introduced me with the happiness of seeing new country. For me, before I met him, my world only in Indonesia, okay I traveled, but mostly only travel to places in Jakarta, for instance Bali, where everyone (yes everyone) go there. Don’t say about the study tour while in school. That’s not the traveling I mean here.
Never in my mind, I will travel to places that not so many Indonesians go there, for instance Nepal or Sri Lanka. I don’t mean to say that I am expert in traveling. No way. What I love in traveling it’s because I always become a “freshman” and need to learn over and over again. But, never also in my mind, that I will able to travel alone, without anyone to depending on. Without anyone to talk with. Just me alone walking in unknown city. Only me, my bag and map on my hands . Walking around in the city that I never step before, people that I never knew before, eating food that I never eat before and see culture I never seen before. Never came in my mind that I will visit 14 countries (up to now). For Indonesian, it’s so rare to see us traveling alone abroad, especially woman. And for me, a woman who almost 29 years only stay in Jakarta, Indonesia, I never think that I will be so in love with traveling (even has a blog about travel!).
Maybe this is what people said blessing in disguise. The relationship with my ex (he is a painter from Netherlands) lead me to know another countries than Indonesia. Believe it or not, I already have passport since 2009, but I just used it on 2012. 3 years after! And that was because of him. Once we have a trip together, that was the first time someone asked to me, “Do you want to go abroad?” I surprised “Yes!” I replied to him. “Where?” He asked me kindly. Then I googled to find which countries I want to visit for the first time. My first plan was to go to Thailand, but later on, I changed it into Cambodia and Vietnam (with a nice transit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Singapore).
Me in Changi Airport, Singapore. My first time travel abroad.
But a silly condition happened to us, once we arrived in Changi Airport, Singapore and want to travel to Vietnam, and nicely we stand behind the counter of Vietnam Airlines, suddenly one of the airline crew question ruined all the plan to go to Vietnam. She asked to my ex, “Do you have a visa?” Oooo.. that was missing from our preparation since I don’t need visa to go to Vietnam, so I thought he also doesn’t need visa. He is from Netherlands, anyway. But unfortunately, he has to have one before arrive in Hanoi. Plus, he can’t apply visa on arrival in Hanoi airport, we should apply it in Vietnam Embassy in Singapore, which takes around 3 days for approval. All the bookings in Hanoi and Saigon should be canceled because of that. Sad. But I able to travel alone to Vietnam one year after.
Later on, the person who indirectly forced me to try travel solo also him. We were breaking up that time and I already had a plan to go to Europe to visit him before we broke up. I thought I shouldn’t go to Europe, too sad for me. But my sister who lives in France told me, “Why not? You can visit me and we will have a road trip together to some countries in Europe.” It was a big decision for me mentally, but rather than sit down at house and weeping over my breaking relationship, I decided to take a long days off from work and visit my sister in France.
But another unpredictable thing happened that time, I should go alone around Europe since my sister and her family can’t go with me. The options that time only 2, whether I spend the whole holiday in France or brave myself to go to another countries alone. I chose number 2 and Hungary was my first country to travel alone. It took 12 hours by bus from Paris to Budapest. I can feel it’s not only me who was nervous, my sister and my brother in law also so nervous. Europe has different thing in every aspects compared to Indonesia. Payment system, money, exchange rate, bus system, language, food, culture, people, everything are so different compared to things I face daily in Jakarta. Especially in Hungary people can’t speak English as their mother language (France as well) and my English also not that good. I felt nervous also excited. My brother in law woke up so early that time, and I can see my bag already full with snacks, cola, yoghurt and some sweet stuff that I could eat on the bus. Sweet! He and my sister both were also travelers before they married (and now too, only with the baby and limited places to go!).
My sister also was the only person in the family who so in love with traveling. She traveled a lot that I can’t count it again. 3 years ago, I was thinking, What is she doing? Spend all the money she has for seeing another countries? Now, the same travel bug catch me too. Compared to her, my countries list is still not that much. She also inspired me a lot and I do enjoyed our time when talking about places that we wanna go or visit. One of the message she told me that I always remember is, “Travel while you can. Travel when you are still single. Because agree or not, when you already married, you can’t travel as much as you want or go to as many as countries you want freely decide. Because you need to think about the baby, about the cost, about the facilities the have, is it child friendly or not, etc etc.”
How about you? Who inspires you to travel? If you don’t have anyone who inspire you to travel and you never start to travel, remember what Lao Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” And “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” Augustine Hippo is so true, isn’t he?