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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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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Dawei Myanmar

Discovering Dawei

Mornings in Dawei city start with a hearty breakfast at our hotel.

 

At Shwe Moung Than hotel, the $18 per night price tag not only offers a lovely double-room with a private bathroom, but also daily breakfast at the highest floor. The breakfast menu varies so everyday is a pleasant discovery of local Burmese dishes. The van driver who drove us from Htee Khee border town to Dawei sure knows the best places to stay in.

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view from the van_banner

Overland Crossing From Thailand Into Myanmar

As the bus slowly approaches Ban Phu Nam Ron, the Thai side of the border between Thailand and Myanmar, Chris and I, survey the aisle. The passengers on the bus have somehow dwindled to just two other locals and us.

“Myanmar! Myanmar!” the driver motion to us. We flash him a thumbs up, drag our bags off the rusty overhead luggage compartment and hop off. Ahead, we see large blue signs that mark the end of Thailand and a little immigration office where we will head to for our departure stamps.

The day is now dry, still decidedly humid but slightly cooler, unlike the initial downpour that had kickstarted our journey from Kanchanaburi Bus Station.

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wanderlust tiny wanderer

Doing Wanderlust (By Opening Up Your Heart To The World)

SOME TIME IN 2009…

I unscrewed the large metallic screws that held my cabin’s porthole tight and looked out. The real threat of Somalian pirates has passed-we’re free to enjoy the transient but majestic ocean vistas once again. Looking out from Deck 3, the ocean appears close; occasionally a whiplash of water would graze the surface of the porthole. The night was jet-black, the horizons indistinguishable except for the lash, swash and slosh of the waves against the vessel, illuminated by the neon on the promenade deck. I pressed my face against the porthole, unable to take my eyes off the constant motion of the ocean and thought, “I never want to stop wandering.”

What exactly is this insatiable wanderlust that has urged me to throw myself into the maelstrom of romance and ‘consummation’ of far-flung lands? I am not an explorer, a historian nor even an avid tourist, yet consumed with a certain kind of restlessness, I had packed my bags and had set out for the unknown.

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How I Was Denied Boarding at Bangkok International Airport in 2007

My journey around the world didn’t begin with a round-the-world ticket. It didn’t even begin with a ‘I-will-quit-my-job-and-travel-around-the-world’ thought. Such thoughts were too ambitious for a 23-year old Malaysian girl possessed with fervent wanderlust. I had some cash to my name but not enough. No worthy assets that I could sell to fund my travels. No rich parents to loan me some. No credit cards for emergency usage. No travel insurance. Nada. The only things I have, of real value were time, health and some spunk.

So mine begin with a simpler thought: I will take one step, and then another.

I never knew where I’d go and where the road will lead me to. I only planned to keep pushing boundaries and see how far that would take me.

And as the story goes, my miraculous round-the-world journey somewhat kick started with denied boarding.

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Why did I go to Albania? (Tirana in photos)

“Why do you want to go to Albania for?”

An Italian friend sneered after I told him of my backpacking plans across the Balkan Peninsula, where the plan was to start from Albania and finish in Turkey (in 2009). Travelling time: however long it takes.

“You want to see Albanians? Just go to Italy…so many of them. Dangerous people. Thieves, some of them.”

The plan came to fruition when Tim, an English friend, proposed of a slow journey across the isolated fringes of Eastern Europe, when he knew that I was about to finish one of my ship contracts. I didn’t know anything about the country till then but I jumped on the invitation right away. The less I know, the better. Far-flung countries with strange names compel me most. How am I supposed to know how dangerous the place is if I haven’t experienced it myself? Besides, British Airways had a special deal going for less than £100 one-way from London to the capital city of Albania, Tirana. It sounded just like the perfect place to explore and to kick off the trip.

“If you don’t hear from me on Facebook, then call 911,” I told my skeptical Italian friend.

The verdict? Check out the pictures of Tirana here.

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Waitressing In Melbourne (And How You Can Do It Too)

One of the most frequently-asked-questions on my blog is: How did I find jobs in Australia? Was it easy for me to find one? Did it pay well?

There are a thousand ways to land a job in Down Under but I can only share with you whatever I know from job hunting in Melbourne. My knowledge can be limited and the lessons that I’ve gathered from my experiences may not apply to everyone but let me tell you that it was an easy and painless process: I got a job in 4 days.

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