hatta island

Discovering Zen on Hatta Island (Banda Islands, Maluku)

We had our first run-in with bad luck on Hatta island. But before I get ahead of myself, let me tell you a little about Hatta island–the jewel of Banda Islands.

 

We’ve loved the looks on people’s faces when we tell them that we were going to the Banda Islands for our honeymoon.

 

Huh, where?

 

Eyebrows furrow and blank looks all around. One was even suspicious that I was actually pulling his leg.

 

No one has heard of the Banda Islands before. I don’t blame them. I didn’t too–until I ran a deep search about Indonesia’s lesser-known islands, especially the small ones that deliver huge rewards.

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mount rinjani lombok from air

What the heck Lion Air: How We Almost Never Made It To Bali From Ambon

Indonesia is a beautiful country that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. Like a drug, I keep coming back to explore her mystical far-flung corners. Mostly untouched by mass tourism and usually promising a great deal of adventure, Indonesia can be so much fun but there’s often a price to pay.

 

The price is, you can never rely on its transportation network.

 

Maybe the ferry leaves today, maybe it doesn’t–Depends, the locals shrug. Maybe you lucky.

 

Sometimes, it isn’t only inefficient, it’s also dangerous. If I survive this taxi ride from Tulehu port to Kota Ambon, I’ll call my dad and tell him that I love him. These thoughts race through my head each time I find myself in a taxi or a minivan in Indonesia.

 

And the planes? Don’t get me started. Here’s our recent flight comedy of sorts with Lion Air at Ambon and Makassar airports.

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Waiting at bagan train station

How Travel Taught Me Minimalism

One morning, I’m flicking over one of the weekly shopping brochures. It is from a furniture store not too far away and a reasonable sized wardrobe caught my eyes. We’ve been looking for a wardrobe for a while now but due to our uncertainty over where we’ll be living in the future, we’ve been putting off the need to purchase one. But still, our makeshift wardrobes are now bursting at its seams. Out of sheer practicality, our situation is actually dire.

 

But my typical backpacker self thought instead: Do I need it? Would I die without it? Would my life change if I get one? Old habits die hard.

 

I’ve adopted this line of thinking for most of my time as a nomad. Buying large and expensive things fire off all sorts of cautionary alarms in me. What if I need to up and move again? What am I going to do with it? That’s why, up to this point in life, I’ve never had many possessions. And my need for a variety of clothes and accessories were minimal, so I never had to get a wardrobe. Ever.

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packing for world trip

So You Want To Quit Your Job To Travel The World?

Okay guys, I’m going to say this only once, so listen very carefully.

 

This is going to be the most controversial thing that you’ve ever heard on this blog but to hell with it, you guys need to know the real truth. And what’s that?

 

You don’t have to quit your job to travel the world.

 

(Sighs. I can hear you guys clicking the Unlike button on my FB now, but that’s okay.)

Wait, you say, blinking in confusion. Didn’t YOU quit your job to travel the world? Weren’t YOU the one who kept harping on about packing up and leave to chase your dreams?

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Reflections Of Home (From A Nomad’s Perspective)

The dense and sticky air filled our lungs as soon as we walked out of the sliding doors of KL International Airport. Chris, no longer used to the humidity, felt like he is hit by a ton of bricks.

It was still the middle of winter when we left Germany for Kuala Lumpur. Only fourteen hours ago, we were covered in scarves and three layers of clothes. We’d been dreaming about Malaysia’s tropical climate for a while now. I’d plodded through the snow-decked streets, daydreaming about the day when we would wear shorts and flip-flops.

The blissful warmth and sunshine that played out so wonderfully in my imagination was quickly erased by stark reality: the real 32°C deal was less pleasant than I thought.

It’s only for two weeks, I can do this.

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tiny wanderer in Germany

A Year in Germany (Part One)

Usually friends find it hard to keep up with my whereabouts when I was still clinging on tightly to my identity as a nomad. Texts and emails that start with, “Where are you now, Ying?” are not unusual. It was always fun,and privileged to say the least, to come up with a different answer each day. Yes, last week I was in Dubrovnik and today I’m in Ajaccio—life rocks as a traveller. Traipsing from places to places had defined me. While others had labels like “The Career Woman”, “The Fun One”, “The Doctor”, I was simply called “The Wanderer”. That suited me just fine.

But these days, my answer to the question above is less exotic. I’ve been answering ‘Germany’ for a better part of the year.

Yes, The Wanderer have been living in Germany for a year. And a little bit more. Apart from a handful of short road trips (I consider 2 days to 2 weeks short), I have been a true resident of the quiet Hermsdorf.

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how i afford to travel the world

How I Afford A Life Of Constant Travel

Dear Mum,

I hope this postcard finds you well. It’s been a while since we last heard from each other. If there was Internet in Heaven, you might have probably read here that I’d quit my job to travel the world. Don’t worry, before you get yourself too worried, yes—I’m still in one piece despite having travelled to more than 65 countries.

And no, dad didn’t sponsor me. How could he have afforded to? He had only saved up enough to allow me to finish my degree in an Australian university. I am eternally grateful to him for doing so but I had a hard time persuading him that the world has more to offer than a regular pay cheque. He couldn’t have understood my intentions then but now, I’m glad that he has come to grudgingly accept that I would never be quite the regular Malaysian girl next door.

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Vipassana Meditation Retreat Experience by Tiny Wanderer

A Journey Within (A 10-Day Vipassana Meditation Retreat Experience)

People who know me personally call me animated, exuberant even.

Okay, I admit I can get pretty talkative when it comes to talking about things I care about or to people that I connect easily with. Yup, I’m one of those people who just can’t shut up once triggered. My voice raises a few decibels higher (this is embarrassing normally, especially in a public place), my facial expressions move in sync to match the speed and the passion of my speech, while my hands gesture wildly to complement the whole conversation in action.

So imagine, when I first toyed with the idea of enrolling myself in a 10-day silent Vipassana retreat, friends arched an eyebrow quizzically.

“Really Ying? Why torture yourself?” I pretended they had only my best interests in mind.

So I did it and survived. That was almost a decade ago. Till this day, I still could recall vividly the lessons that I’d learned while struggling through the entire duration. It was one of the ten hardest days in my life. I was almost reduced to tears. But while I didn’t find answers to any life’s mysteries, I caught several moments of clarity. These moments of clarity also helped me stay present and mindful while travelling.

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Life in small-town Germany : Part 1

 WHERE IN GERMANY ARE YOU LIVING IN AGAIN?

 

I‘m growing comfortable living in a little German village called Hermsdorf. To the uninitiated, it’s somewhere in the state of Thuringia, where the nearest bigger cities would be Jena and Gera. Leipzig and Erfurt would be an hour away while Berlin a mere 2.5 hour drive.

 

Still lost? Me too. I knew nothing about Hermsdorf before I got here.

 

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