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.
Due to my petite stature, my Italian friends have nicknamed me Piccola, which translates into little Ying. If you’ve seen a tiny girl standing at an armpit height of a Dutch giant, clutching a pint of Amstel that is probably larger than her hands, or find yourself thinking that you thought you just saw a walking backpack sprouting two legs, disappearing into the crowds, then you’ve probably seen me.
I was born and bred in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia yet I have left the good old shores of home so many times that I can’t really remember when I first did so. The most mundane reason for leaving was to pursue my degree in Australia and the most exciting was my first solo-backpacking trip to Myanmar.
I’d return when I ran out of money but at some point in late 2006, I left my job as a PR consultant and bought a one-way ticket to Myanmar. It has been 8 years now but I’ve never regretted my audacity and impulsive decision.
When people hear what I’ve been doing, they often arch an eyebrow and give me that look.
One that says: “You? A world traveller? But you’re so small…and so very ordinary!”
I wasn’t brave and I definitely didn’t have enough money in my bank but I’d left anyway. Working in Malaysia didn’t help in the savings department and my nationality didn’t automatically open all gates but I was indomitable and was lured by the unknown.
I’m a wearer of many hats: a writer, a trainer, a teacher, a photographer, a waitress and many more but the biggest hat that I wear is of a traveller’s. My perpetual hunger for new experiences propels me to continuously wander and explore. I enjoy getting lost and finding stories. Conventional notions of success bore me but unfortunately, it drives my poor Malaysian Chinese dad up the wall that I wouldn’t conform to status quo. “Why can’t you be normal?” he’d ask. Sorry, dad.
Curious about I quit my job to travel the world at the age of 23 and without a trust fund?
It has taken me far too long to stay consistent to keep a travel blog but it’s never too late. Here, you will find honest accounts about my current adventures and previous journeys. With insights discovered and lessons learnt, I hope you will find this blog amusing, entertaining and perhaps even mildly inspiring.
Here, you will find more treasure trove of narratives inspired by the foreign lands or seas where I once was. They document my musings, the certain feelings that developed during that particular time of travel or the sort of misadventures that I got into. I’m not that sort who tells you where to go or give you a list of reasons why you should visit Indonesia or Iceland. I suspect you already know all that. You’re here because you need someone to tell you that, it isn’t really so difficult to travel after all. You’re here because you have big dreams and so many plans. You’re here because if I can do it, so can you!
Living it up, as a cruise ship crew (Catalina Island, Dominican Republic)
The Tiny Wanderer is best read when you have a cup of tea by your side and all the time in the world to dream.
I also hope to connect with like-minded travellers, and with those who aspire to be one: especially those who haven’t dared to take the leap for fear of lack of savings, the wild unknown or lack of a golden passport.
To all those who found it possible to wander, despite the obstacles and personal circumstances, I’d say, travel on and keeping walking along the open road.
Where are you now and what are you doing?
Since June 2013, I’d traded freedom for a pay cheque. I now pull daily cubicle shifts as a Senior Copywriter at an advertising agency in Singapore.
(latest update) I’m now freezing my ass off in Hermsdorf, Germany. I’ve now traded back the pay cheque for freedom and have all the time in the world, to write, to muse and to ponder.
I’m now learning German full-time and a freelance writer(or at least trying to be one).
I’m by default shy though talkative when prompted
What’s with the bits and pieces of Italian?
For the past five years, I’d finance my wanderlust by working as a crew trainer onboard several Italian cruise ships. Having to survive daily onboard where Italian is generally used as the common language (depending on the route of the cruise ship), I was forced to pick up Italian and gestures quickly so that I could communicate easily with the crew. Naturally, making new friends over a glass of wine became easier and I was no longer perceived as unapproachable. Till now, Italian phrases are still at the tip of my tongue and occasionally they roll out faster while my brain struggles to find its English equivalent. I now speak English, Italian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Malay and un peu Français. I’ve also signed up to learn German. I’m picking up as many languages as I can because I hate sobbing into my drink while everyone around me is having a good time, speaking a language that I don’t understand. So far, avoiding isolation is a strong motivation.
Fine print: I used to blog at Where Is Ying Now? (but it was appalling so I’ve taken it down) and am hoping to put together my cruise ship adventures into a novel. Meanwhile, for fresh, up-to-date goodies, please subscribe to this blog and stay with me on this joy ride.