One thing I do when travelling but won’t do at home: Prompt 11 of #indie30

travelling with a hat

Prompt #11: Tell us about a time you did something, something you knew you probably shouldn’t do, while traveling.

In SPM examinations in Malaysia (kind of an exam in between O- and A-Levels), non-Muslim students have to sit for a subject called “Moral Education” (Pendidikan Moral).

It doesn’t actually test how moral you are but how good you are at memorizing exact phrases. I’m telling you this because I scored a “C5” for this subject. (A1 is the best anyone can score and F9 is “Fail”.)

Based on my results, you might judge me as being an immoral person: someone who steals candy from babies and stick “Kick Me” signs on old ladies.

Well, I like to believe that I’m a moral person and that I’m moral at home and overseas.

So I won’t be sharing any scandalous stories about myself because I’m practically scandal-free.

Instead, the thing that I would do overseas but not at home is dressing like a tourist.

I love the idea of wearing hats. But to actually wear a hat in Singapore or Malaysia, I probably won’t do it unless I’m at a fancy picnic party where 5 other people are wearing hats.

That’s why I only wear hats when I travel. I already look different from the locals, why not milk it all the way.

What about you? Is there something that you do overseas but never at home?

This post is part of 30 Days of Indie Travel Art Project.

I love train travel and you should too: Day 4 of #indie30

YQ Travelling About Me liau yun qing

Prompt #4: What is your favorite method of overland travel and why?

I didn’t mind bus travelling a lot but after being violently car sick in Peru, I’ve decided that my favorite overland travel is by train.

With train travel you get to:

  • skip traffic jam
  • go at a slow pace with not as much sudden turns (so you won’t get motion sickness)
  • see cute babies
  • have more leg room than a plane or bus
  • eat train bentou (Japan and Taiwan have these)
  • sleep on beds (To be fair, China has long distance buses with beds too. I slept in a bunk next to the toilet before.)

It’s unfortunate that KTM (Malayan Railway Limited) has removed their private 2-bed bunk on their overnight train. I really wanted to try one.

 

This post is part of 30 Days of Indie Travel Art Project.

My travel style: Day 3 of #indie30

Prompt #3: What is your travel style?

I’ve mentioned in the blog a couple of times that I’m an introvert who doesn’t make a lot of friends while travelling because I prefer enjoy being alone.

But in an extroverted world, I feel ashamed to admit that in real life. When I tell people that I prefer to be alone when travelling, they usually give me strange looks.

Once, someone asked, “What do you do to have fun? How do you share the moment that you were having?”

Luckily, smartphones and social networks take care of this part about sharing the fun.

Once in a while, I would make one or two friends on the road. These people usually end up being more than just the regular hi-bye friends that you add on Facebook and promptly forget.

It’s important to travel the way you are comfortable with. While I was in Peru, I forgot how awkward being in a homestay is. When I switched to a private room in the hostel, I was the happiest person on that part of the world.

Don’t let other people discourage you from travelling the way you want.

It’s your life, take the steering wheels.

This post is part of 30 Days of Indie Travel Art Project.

My travel origins: Day 2 of #indie30

at hong lou meng park

Prompt #2: When, where, what, and with who is the story of your travel origin?

I used to hate travelling when I was a kid. I didn’t like that I couldn’t sleep in my bed. I didn’t like having to meet strange new adults whom my mother seem to know.

I rarely went for any sleepovers while I grew up so I ended up terribly homesick in the first year in university. Almost every evening, I would secretly cry in my room.

It was a tough time. Then I decided to end it. Enough was enough. Crying is a tiring business and I really need to stop.

So I did. I stopped crying for home and decided to enjoy life.

My very first solo trip was when I was on student exchange in the second half of my second year at university. I was studying in the south of China in Xiamen, Fujian. I really wanted to visit Shanghai so I made it a goal.

I did my research and memorized Shanghai’s map. I booked one night’s stay in a hostel and stayed with a friend for the other nights.

Since I was still a beginning solo traveller so I signed up for a local tour around east China, covering Nanjing, Suzhou and Hangzhou. I had the chance to walk around alone during our free time. I discovered that walking around alone in a new city is very pleasant.

Zhouzhuang China

In Shanghai, my friend had school so I visited the sights on my own. One of them was the Dream of Red Mansion theme park. The park was built for filming  and left for tourists to visit.

I wasn’t as familiar of the story as I would like but I recognized some of the crude models of the characters from the novel.

At Dream of Red Mansion park

I was also during this period that I discovered ways to take selfies when travelling alone.

This post is part of 30 Days of Indie Travel Art Project.

Changed worldview: Day 1 of #indie30

Prompt #1: How has your view of the world changed because of travel?

One question that people like to ask me after my round-the-world trip is: So, what did you learn?

I think they expect some profound answer that links back to the creation of the universe. Unfortunately, I didn’t have that sort of answer for them.

I usually reply, “I discovered that we are the same all over the world.” Then the person who asked the question would give me a weird look which said, “You spent 130 days travelling and that’s all you have?”

The more places I go, the more I realize that we are the same. Every human being faces the same sort of problems no matter where they are.

Are you stressed about making a living? Well, the people in South America do too.

Do you complain about your government? Well, the folks in Turkey do too.

When we watch other people through a lens or through the news, we think of them as different species. We think, “Oh, that would not happen to us. Oh, we’re so different.”

We think that we’re unique snowflakes. But the truth is, we’re more similar than we are different.

Cats are most alike throughout the world.

This post is part of 30 Days of Indie Travel Art Project.

Share your favorite travel blogs

blogging

Surprise Thursday post! How has your week been?

Tomorrow, I’m heading to a travel event, called SG Travel Cafe, where independent travel enthusiasts in Singapore gather to listen to other indie travellers’ tales. I’m thinking about volunteering to present in one of the next few sessions.

Just before I leave you to your end of the week work, tell me which are your favorite travel blogs because I want to follow more people.

If the comment section is giving you a hard time, you can send your favorites using this form too.

Thanks.

And if you don’t have any favorite travel blog yet, check out 11 travel blogs from Asia to follow.

Happy 2nd birthday, YQtravelling.com

hints of cava

Tomorrow, January 8 is the second birthday of this blog. *insert trumpet sound* Since I blog on Tuesdays and Fridays, this birthday greeting comes one day in advance.

Three cheers to YQtravelling's second birthday.
Three cheers to YQtravelling’s second birthday.

I know it kind of kills the mood when I don’t talk about travelling. But but but, it’s once a year so bear with me while I talk about the past year for a bit.

Travel wise, last year was pretty crazy and writing a post for each day of my RTW was crazy too.

As for other highlights of the year.

  • I was on Runaway Juno, talking about my hometown, Kota Kinabalu.
  • I started my newsletter list in January 2013. (Check out the very first edition here.)
    As a birthday wish, could you sign up for the newsletter, please? You’ll receive future updates from me sporadically.
  • I started posting on Instagram in April in Sri Lanka.

Top posts in my second-year

Last year, I did a recap of the Top 5 posts at YQtravelling during its first year. This time I’m extending the list to Top 10 because too many old posts are still in the top 5.

No 10: Tips to maximize your trip to Genting (February 2013)
I spent a great weekend at Genting Highlands last year and did a post to help save time and money when visiting the resort. Unfortunately, a few months afterwards, the outdoor theme park was closed and they are now building a new foreign-branded theme park.

No 9: Why visitors should get the Singapore Tourist Pass

No 8: How to book AirAsia Free Seats

No 7: Don’t date a girl who travels (February 2013)
The day before Valentine’s Day, I wrote a post that will secure me in the ranks of perpetual singledom. You are welcomed.

No 6: Chilli Padi Nonya Café: My favorite high tea buffet in Singapore (February 2013)
One of my favorite place for high tea in Singapore. The food is yums and the price affordable.

No 5: Cheap eats: Changi Airport Staff Canteen (Terminal 1) (March 2013)
If you are in Singapore’s Changi Airport, do check out the staff canteen where the food is cheap and the atmosphere cheerful.

No 4: Choosing a bus from Singapore to JB

No 3: Exploring Tokyo’s red light district at night

No 2: How to beat AirAsia’s b***s**t extra charges

No 1: Tips on taking train from Singapore to Malaysia

How has your 2013 of travelling been? Share them in the comments below.

With love from Singapore + postcard giveaway

i love singapore postcard

Hello everybody, it’s YQ writing from Singapore. Yes, I am back in the land I am most familiar with. Yes, I’m more familiar with Singapore than my hometown Kota Kinabalu.

It’s been more than a week since I came back and I am now in full job hunting mode. I’ll update you guys on my job search if I have any happy news. Oh, if you know anyone in Singapore hiring writers, do drop me a mail at hello@yqtravelling.com.

I am actually very glad to be back in Singapore, for five reasons:
Check out the rest of the post…!

Choosing transportation for Weekend Travel [Weekend Traveller series: Part 3]

where to go

Welcome to part 3 of the Weekend Traveller series, a fortnightly segment where I share tips and strategies for travelling during the weekend so you can travel more without using your work leave.

Last week, we talked about deciding which places to go for the weekend. Today, we will learn the pros and cons of different transportations for your weekend trip.

Planes are great for long distance travels
Planes are great for long distance travels

Plane

For long distances, planes are your best bet but the ticket prices can be quite expensive if you do not do a lot of planning. I usually buy my air tickets for budget airlines about 6 months in advance when there is a sale. I try not to buy full price tickets because it’s not worth the money.

Pros of planes for weekend travel:

  • Fast
  • Comfortable (compared to 6 hours of bus or train)
  • Not affected by traffic jam

Cons of planes for weekend travel:

  • Expensive ticket price [Solution: Buy tickets only during promo periods, do not buy luggage for budget flights.]
  • Terrible arrival/departure timings [Solution: Check other airlines or skip the destination]

Trains for weekend travel are usually bigger than this.

Train

If you have good train connections to the places you want to visit, taking the train might be a good option. I love taking night trains because I save on the cost of a night’s accommodation.

Pros of trains for weekend travel:

  • Relatively cheap prices (at least in Malaysia)
  • Not affected by traffic jams on the road
  • Trains with bunks==better sleep

Cons of trains for weekend travel:

  • Limited tickets for weekend travel [Solution: Buy your tickets in advance]
  • Shaky train, snoring passengers==not enough sleep [Solution: Sleeping pills? Deal with it.]

Night buses are not the most comfortable but they are cheap.

Night bus

I put night bus instead of I figure that you will need night buses for long distance travels.

Pros of buses for weekend travel:

Cheap

Cons of night buses for weekend travel:

Bad sleep [Solution: Even I cannot solve this. I just suck it up]

Affected by traffic jams [I was once 5 hours late because of a massive jam. Lesson learned: Take the train ]

Beware of pedestrians when driving

Driving

My mom and I had a mini road trip to the most northern part of Borneo island [LINK: Kudat Marina]. I would choose trains and buses over driving for a weekend trip because it’s more tiring. But if the place you are going to doesn’t have good

Pros of driving for weekend travel:

  • You have a car to drive around

Cons of driving for weekend travel:

  • Driving is quite tiring, especially for long hours

The deep blue sea awaits.

Boat

If you’re planning an island getaway for the weekend, taking a boat is probably your only choice so I won’t go into the pros and cons.

I haven’t been on any island trips for the weekend but the planning process should be the same: pick a nearby place and a good package so you don’t spend too much money.

Check out the rest of the series here:

Part 1: Pros & cons of weekend travel
Part 2: Where to go for Weekend Travel?
Part 3: Choosing transportation for weekend travel
Part 4: Travel planning for weekend trips
Part 5: Make your own travel guide for a weekend trip
Part 6: How to pack for a weekend trip
Part 7: How to use Foursquare to plan a day’s travel
Part 8: Why a weekend trip is the best time to start solo travelling
Part 9: I’m going to Melaka for a weekend trip

Where to go for Weekend Travel? [Weekend Traveller series: Part 2]

where to go for a weekend trip

Welcome to part 2 of the Weekend Traveller series, a fortnightly segment where I share tips and strategies for travelling during the weekend so you can travel more without using your work leave.

how to choose weekend trip destination
How to choose your weekend trip destination.

Last week, I talked about the pros and cons of weekend travelling. Today, we’ll be looking at how to choose a destination for your weekend travel so you save on travel time and cost.

Back when I still had a job during which I took quite a lot of weekend travel, the destinations that I chose were based on the challenges that I gave myself and the availability of cheap air tickets from AirAsia (Bangkok, Jakarta and Kuching are a few examples).

Unless you have similar self-imposed travel challenges, you’ll most likely choose the destination based on places you actually want to visit. (I’ll admit that there are some Malaysian states which I’d rather not go at all.)

Main factor for choosing a weekend travel destination

To choose a weekend travel destination, you must keep in mind the how much time you will be able to spend there which really means the time of arrival and departure. To enjoy a place, I’d say you need a minimum of 24 hours of visiting time.

So when you are making travel plans, you have to see that the transportation timing is right. It’s better to travel 13 hours on a night bus on Friday and reach on a Saturday morning than it is to take a 1-hour plane ride that reaches the destination at 4pm on a Saturday.

What you can do now is list down a few locations that you want to go for a weekend trip. Next you should do your research on what transportation there are for you to get there. (Coincidentally, transportation choices is our next discussion topic.)

Good weekend travel destinations from Singapore

Since I was based in Singapore when I started my travelling craze, I’ll list down a few places you can consider visiting for your weekend travel:

  • Bangkok, Thailand
  • Every capital city on the peninsula of Malaysia (That’s 11 of them!)
  • Kuching, Malaysia
  • Jakarta, Indonesia

Sadly, my hometown Kota Kinabalu does not make a good weekend travel destination from Singapore because of the bad AirAsia flight timing. Boo hoo.

Check out the rest of the series here:

Part 1: Pros & cons of weekend travel
Part 2: Where to go for Weekend Travel?
Part 3: Choosing transportation for weekend travel
Part 4: Travel planning for weekend trips
Part 5: Make your own travel guide for a weekend trip
Part 6: How to pack for a weekend trip
Part 7: How to use Foursquare to plan a day’s travel
Part 8: Why a weekend trip is the best time to start solo travelling
Part 9: I’m going to Melaka for a weekend trip

Can you think of places you can go for weekend trips? Share them in the comments below.