"Travels of an Independent Woman" yukisanto's Profile
My dream? To travel the world. Not for work, but to explore, to taste the different cultures. And to know the person I am, to understand myself better through these travels.
I guess I could say Thailand kickstarted that yearning. I travelled with a friend, but we did not take a package tour, prefering to explore on our own. Ayutthaya made the strongest impression on me. The cultural history and the relics... I guess you need to understand the history before you can appreciate what you see. If not, like my friend, you'll just find that one historical temple site no different from all the others.
So now I know, I should find a travelmate who shares the same interest, or I shall simply travel by myself. That will give me the freedom to see exactly what I like, doesn't it? And that's also the reason why I shall endeavour to travel free and easy so that I can pick and choose the places I want to see, not what the tour operators say I should see. For eg. Mini Siam was never included in any tour packages I came across. But that's what I wanted to see, not some tiger farm.
Japan was the first time I ever went on a trip solo. It was a short notice trip, and I couldn't find friends to go with me. On hindsight, it was a blessing in disguise. Because I went alone, I could decide what I wanted to see. No need for any compromise. There's the flexibility. So I went anywhere I wanted on a whim, to Irohazaka, to Utsunomiya, and even to the Tokyo Motorshow. I didn't have to go to places I didn't want to, which was mostly all the tourist sites like Ginza and Disneyland.
Not exactly backpacking, but not luxury either. One thing I've learnt - no matter how much I plan my itinerary, in the end, every morning I'll just decide on the spot where I felt like exploring next. That's not to say you should travel without planning. The research I did, the maps I looked up, all helped me in familiarising myself with the place, and I walked around comfortably without a map in hand, because I already knew what was where. I didn't have that lost tourist look, which aided me in blending with the locals, and I was even asked for directions by other people a few times!
Lang Tengah, a almost unhabited tiny island off the coast of Malaysia. This was rather different from my usual trips. How so? Well, I didn't actually plan on going; it was a matter of not passing up an opportunity when my friend invited me to join them. Island fun is certainly meant to be shared with a group of people, not solitude.
So I headed for the island, along with a group of 15 people of whom I only know one person in the whole group and the rest were strangers. It's those friends of friends of friends etc, you know those kind. So it was pretty fun, getting to know new people. Imagine, I discovered that I worked in the same area as one of them. We could have gone out for lunch together during office hours!
My second solo trip. Two weeks in Paris, with side trips to Mont St Michel, Amboise and Brugge (in Belgium). Life is not exciting, but everyday is filled with some simple joy - a walk in the Luxembourg park, people-watching in Musee D'Orsay, going on a patisserie hunt, a ballet at Opera Bastille. Sure I saw the Eiffel Tower, but I was more awed by the concert at Saint Chapelle. I did go up the Notre Dame, but great views are aplenty and going on a trail of heavenly macarons and pastry was much more gratifying.
I say go slow, enjoy life and live it. Walk more, smile more and make bonjour et merci a part of your life.
This has got to be the best trip ever, and it's the people who made it so. All the friends we met in Kansai were so hospitable and friendly! It felt less like a vacation, but more of an outing with friends everyday. We saw temples and shrines, but it's the friends who made it special.
We went to Himeji, Kobe, Kyoto, Shiga, Osaka, Lake Biwa & Mt Hieizan. Places, yeah, but the fun parts were in
1) taking neoprints
2) shopping everywhere, especially for cosmetics, japanese groceries and winter wear
3) going to the onsen (hot spring)
4) clubbing in Osaka and then bunking into a cubicle at a media centre (manga shop) to sleep for 3 hrs before catching the train back to Kyoto
5) the tea ceremony performed by my friend's mom (She's a teacher for tea ceremony actually)
6) spending time with all our new friends
7) Geisha makeover
6) Eating every kind of Japanese food - from the traditional natto set courses to modern jap fusion buffet to street eats to homecooked food.. yummy!
To me, Siem Reap is about Angkor Wat, and also more than Angkor Wat. No surprises there, it's like any other Asian small town, with all the usual food and people and 'oriental' souvenirs. But if you really look carefully, you'll find alot of unexpected stuff. Trust me, the town's really more than just looking at old ruins of temples. You know when you get there.
Yet another island, but very different from Lang Tengah. This is a totally commercialised island with all your modern trappings and packaged "nature tours". Beyond the nice (not stunning) beaches and islands to explore, you can check out the nightlife, the sports and nature reserves. Something for everyone I guess.
I went with a whole group of friends and as there were so many people, it just mutiplied all the fun I had.
But since I went earlier and had a day to myself, I managed to immerse myself in the local culture with my hired personal driver, who really showed me how life on Phuket was like. That knowledge is something I would never have if I had not travelled alone.
So, the best of both worlds. Time for myself and time with friends.
No long trips any time soon, I'll have to build up my travel fund all over again before I can go anywhere.. =D
I wish upon a falling star...
Futher afield would be nice. But I've no specific places I'll like to go. Where the wind goes, I'll go. It really depends on opportunity, being at the right place at the right time. Isn't that what travelling is all about? Or should I say wanderer? =)
Everything in my own time, my own pace...
By now you've probably guessed it, I'm the sort who would rather stay and explore one region for a while rather than a whirlwind hit and run tour of the country. lalala =)
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- yukisanto and Mikebond are now friends.
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