Nope. It’s definitely not the initial idea for going solo but for some reasons I eventually did so. As a girl and the youngest in the family who has been protected quite well most of the time, especially by my beloved brother. 😀 it was tough when I have to make a decision to keep going with the plan or leave it. Until a thought came…
“Maybe it is a good chance for me to challenge myself to see how far I could go on my own.“
And many bulbs appeared over my head all of sudden. So…
“Korea, here I come!“
The Lesson I Learnt From Travelling Solo
From this trip – start from preparing till returning from the trip, I have discovered a few things which I might not have found out if I didn’t decide to go for travelling solo.
1. The importance of being independent
Without my friends and family around, I have to think of every single thing on my own. From itinerary planning, accommodation, finding a way to get to the destination, and so on. It was not that I have never planned anything before. If you follow my stories all these while, you may know that I did organise a few trips with IDE members which you can read it more in “The People Behind Indonesia Explorer Meetup Group”.
Somehow I felt that planning with a few people together was still different! At least there is someone to give me feedback or comment so I know if the plan will likely work or otherwise. I was imagining, if all the plans fail, I would be in a foreign country alone, helpless….not knowing what I shall do if I really face any issue there. Worries started to pile up closer to the date.
During the trip, what I fear, yes…it did happen. I lost my way a few times. But, the situation was not as bad as I thought. All was still under control. As some people said, “Sometimes we have a lot of worries in life which most never happened.”
I decided. I took the risk. I learnt.
2. The importance of overcoming the fear of loneliness
In my life, my family takes very good care of me. It is rare to find myself alone at home unless my family go overseas for a holiday with their friends and that won’t either affect me much as I am usually busy with my works. No chance for me to feel alone or probably think of it. In a foreign country that I don’t even understand their language, don’t say about staying alone. Even if I were standing in a crowd but because I didn’t understand the language, I felt a strong feeling of loneliness. I felt I was not part of the place. Empty.
I would have just opted to sleep for a whole day in my room and let the day gone. But, I decided not to let that feeling controlled over me. I have paid expensively for this trip (can say that’s the biggest reason which motivated me :p). So..I might as well do something! I tried to join the city tours. Walked alone in the market. I tried to feel calm rather than lonely. I tried to sit somewhere and see my surrounding. I tried to breathe slower and relax. I tried to feel grateful rather than regret for going on this trip by myself. Unexpectedly, things going better afterwards.
I felt it. I saw it. I did it.
3. The importance of being courtesy and being brave
Ever since I started Indonesia Explorer (IDE) Meetup group, the shy feeling of mine has been decreased by a bit. Ha… Sometimes I say I am shy but the real culprit is actually lack of confidence.
“I don’t know what will people think if I do this or I do that.”
“How if I say this and people not responding?”
“I am not a good-looking girl…will people listen to me?”
And the list goes on.
I used to have very low self-confidence. I don’t speak English well. I am from Indonesia. I am not smart. And…I am not a pretty girl! I just hope that no one feels annoyed with my look the least. :p I encountered a moment where my confidence level was at the lowest point which was when one of my former colleagues told me that he didn’t understand what I was saying in English and told me better not to talk.
Well, Bahasa Indonesia, English…switching between those two languages was a challenge for me, you know! 😀 And not only that, I actually have to switch between 4 languages in a day. I can make a joke out of it now but at that time, I was totally down and thinking, “How can I survive in this English-speaking country if people don’t understand what I am saying??”. The fact, thanks, God. I am still surviving. Although I don’t know how many people have got a heart attack for being impatient with me. I have to move on anyway.
I told myself, if people didn’t understand me, I would repeat my statement until he/she understood. Let them laugh and angry as long as I got what I wanted. I love to read and started to switch from buying books in Indonesia language to English instead. Yawning at first few pages but things getting better. Until now, I am still doing that.
Why did I start with this story? Because the language barrier can be a quite scary phenomenon. As I mentioned earlier, I can’t speak Korean and obviously, this was one of the issues I had during my Korea trip. As again, some people say, “Things happen for a reason”. My past “not-so-good” experience had taught me to be courtesy and be courageous in any situation.
Be courtesy. When I was staying with my first host in Busan. I did have difficulty to communicate with her. She’s a very nice lady and I felt like having another “mom” for those 2 days. Everything was so good but just that she couldn’t speak English well. She’s currently taking an English lesson to improve her conversation skill. But I believe most of us know that it’s not easy to master one new language. Although most of the time, she uses an online translator to find the correct term or word before telling me…but I realise…sometimes online translator goes crazy, too (translate too many words I suppose ~).
I usually have my meal in a rush. But during those 2 days, I ate slower as she also kept reminding me to eat slowly. I tried to have a conversation with her during breakfast time. Yeah…I was kinda playful, asking something I have actually known to her just to get her to talk more. And at night, before I went to my room, I tried to spend some time sitting in the living hall and watching television with her.
I gave some general comments, asked for her advises about good places in Busan and so on. I could tell, with her limitation in words, she tried her best to answer. I was glad and happy. Such a person was respectable. I appreciated her kindness much. 🙂 I just imagined what would the situation be if I were to response her like what my ex-colleague did. There might be one more people got “killed”. Be courtesy. No matter what.
Be brave. Sometimes I have a habit not to ask even though I don’t know the answer. I will keep looking for the answer until I found it. It’s not that because I don’t want people to know how stupid I am. But I am just scared. I am afraid of getting scold if in the class, afraid of the trouble that I would get people into with my questions and so on. If I were to keep my trip with this attitude, I might have ended up using all my times only looking for answers. During the trip, I tried to put aside all those discouraging thoughts.
I put all my guts to talk to strangers, to approach strangers and ask for directions. And the bravest thing that I did on the trip was taking a 4 hours bus ride away from Seoul, up to the mountain. No planning. Just based on the info that I found from the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) website. I am not saying it’s a good thing to do this without planning but what I am trying to say was in such a situation, I have to be brave. I might just end up crying in one corner when I lost my way at the bus station because I didn’t know which bus I should board while the day was getting late. All the signs were in Korean and I couldn’t find people who can speak English up there.
I chose to stay calm, think, and not let the fear overcame me. In the end, I stepped out of the bus station and looked for a taxi instead. I googled the name of the place in Korean and showed the taxi driver and requested him to let me know the cost by using the calculator on my phone. I couldn’t think of any other way. But again, I was glad. All things went well.
“When you are fearless, you are limitless.”
Be courtesy. Be brave. These two attitudes which I found very important to have wherever we go. 🙂 Not only it will make the situation easier for us but we can see that we will make more friends along the journey.
If I were not travelling solo, I wouldn’t have learnt all these. If I were not travelling solo, I might have gone and back with the same friends because most of the times we would be together and got a lesser chance to communicate with others. If I were not travelling solo, I wouldn’t be this sure that the world is indeed so beautiful. This trip was precious. Like one of my good friends said that this is what he called REAL TRAVELLING. 🙂
What do you think? Will you go for solo? Share your travelling solo story if you have one. I would love to know!