When it comes to travel, I’ve been a “leecher” – NOT lecher – meaning I don’t involve myself in planning at all. It has been the case for past family trips and volunteer trips. During the selection interview for my Laos volunteer trip this May, I actually asked, “What’s R&R?” Perhaps travel doesn’t entice me very much.
This time, though, I had to take on the mantle of itinerary planning.
There was little direction, besides needing to accommodate the needs of elder relatives who are touring with my family. Right after exams, I scavenged TripAdvisor for reviews of the top attractions in Hong Kong and Macau. I compiled my findings – closest MTR, entrance fees, travel routes (non-city areas) – in Evernote over 2 afternoons.
I did my research the way I tend to approach academic readings: extensive but not focused. In school, it means not being critical. On travel, it means not being personal. I didn’t zero in on places or activities which appealed to me. Well, that’s because I had to meet the demands of my group. I don’t want to be responsible for any whiny aunties kicking sandcastles at the beach!
Most people my age want to travel with complete autonomy. This often means 1) no package tours, 2) no conflicting travel mates. The latter is indeed broad, for it depends on one’s propensity for handling disagreements. Travel is hard-won escape, and some people would happily travel alone to seek the pleasure and peace they cannot find with the obligations of normal life.
Is disagreement all bad, though?
It will be very annoying if one fails to meet one’s objectives. Fortunately, I had few. I didn’t plan to buy clothing, and I didn’t. That’s fine. I didn’t plan to catch cable television, and there weren’t. That’s also fine. But I did look forward to a day trip to Lantau Island, and if that didn’t materialize, I would flip my bed. Except with HK’s land scarcity, there isn’t enough space to flip the bed LOL.
Even so, there were moments when I thought to myself, if I were alone I would go to the museum, I would go to the beach, I would stay at the bookstore longer, etc. Perhaps these are things I should regret not doing, but since when can we see or do everything within a week on foreign land? There remain unseen sights in my own neighbourhood!
This more concessionary attitude allowed me to enjoy the trip despite the disagreements. Instead of an ideal I had to fulfill, I saw it primarily as an opportunity to learn the basics of traveling. When we got tickets to the wrong ferry terminal in Macau, I knew which hotel shuttle buses were the best alternatives. Yet I still had the shuttle bus WiFi to thank, if not we wouldn’t have access to Google Maps for the way to our inn.
I must say I was appalled when everyone turned to me when things went wrong. For someone who feels lost along Orchard, I sure did fine.
But there’s still so much to learn.
I hope to write more about my travel experiences, not just abroad but within Singapore. This doesn’t mean I’d become a travel blogger; my sharing will probably be more introspective, meaning certain elements may be prioritized and others omitted, for thematic discussion. This means they won’t be as time-sensitive, which fits me.
Travel is not just about fun. It also expands our perspectives in a multitude of ways. I don’t tend to travel places, so hopefully that will change in the coming year. Then I can become more fitting for life’s functions.