A Travellerspoint blog

Two is company, three's a crowd. So whats one ?

“No one can deceive you unless he makes you think he is telling the truth. " Cs Lewis

Many people have asked me about traveling and a simple answer for me is to just go. If possible for long,better still alone.

Now here comes the widely discussed topic about whether to travel alone or with someone.
( im sure there are many travel blogs that also write about this issue and many differing opinions available) I ll just share some observations from my personal travels as well as from what i have heard or read. Most of the issues below can work both ways for example when i say you will meet more people individually, if you travel with a friend who is a people magnet, you might end up meeting even more people than if you were alone....

As mentioned in my previous post, i spent 3 months in Europe traveling in the companionship of Jason ( a good friend i have know for 7 boy am i old...) This year again im in europe for the same amount of time but alone.

Advantages of traveling with someone:

1) Lower cost- sharing of rooms, taxis.... It works both ways, depending on the budget of both parties eg if one party wants to walk but the other is insistent on taking the bus, you might end up spending more...

2) Easier preparation and sharing of burden- its alot more practical to prepare food for 2 people than 1, sharing of stuff eg, one bringing soap and shampoo, the other toothpaste and face soap ( carrying stuff also, one tent for both, medicine and even guidebook) taking turn to do the dishes and chores...

3) Its safer - your friend can take care of you when you are sick or take care of stuff when you need to take a quick dump...with two people you can beat up more thieves than 1....haha

4) Someone to laugh with and share memories with - So people have said "some places are too nice to go alone" If you read my earlier blog post you will realise that there were many almost perfect moments where i was extremely happy but also sad that my best friends or family was not sharing it with me...It was also fun to have another friend in funny moments to share a laugh with or even share some stories and thoughts with ( Jason was the only singaporean in a hundred miles who understood me ( in a cultural context) and we could discuss our observations about the different cultures and perspectives immediately.)
Along with this, when you are finished with your travels you can reminisce the experience with your travel companion...Even now i constantly seek advice and continue to share about my trip with Jason as he is probably the one of only person who understands the situations i face well without me explaining much.

5) less stressful and scary- Your travel companion can help you with coping with cultural shock or with handling touts or even with food that you cant finish ( I dont drink as much and jason helped me alot last year haha, and we could taste more variety :) )

Advantages of going Solo

1)More challenging and exciting - You have to plan everything yourself and be really independent, if you are lost, no one will help you.
This might seem daunting in the start but is necessary and good for your personal development. Relying on people all the time is not always a good thing and with experience you can be the person rely on in times of need. Great for self confidence, there is a great sense of achievement and fulfilment when you realise you have overcome something challenging yourself

2) You meet more people- People generally find it easier to approach a single person than a pair/group. Its also easier for people to invite a single person to a dinner than a pair/group... Solo travellers might find it easier to approach people than two travellers. strangers might be kinder to you.

3) Immersion - You are really thrown into the culture out of your comfort zone, instead of speaking your local language with your friend you are forced to speak or interact with the real locals...Less nonsense talk eg what flavour jam to buy...

4)Freedom- You can do anything you want, you dont have to compromise on anything and you are not forced into doing anything against your will...No time wasted on arguements, tears shed, awkward silences or even cold wars...There is something amazing about arriving in a place where no one knows anything about you, sometimes fun when you are bored of your own identity..haha

5)Solitude, peace and quiet You have more time to reflect, do your own things, shoot photos or even shower. One of the important things humans posses is the ability to reflect and think. Sometime solitude encourages this behaviour and allows you to get to know yourself alot better. Solitude can afford you the opportunity to enjoy embrace nature and the environment There is a difference between loneliness and solitude and you will find out the difference when you have experienced either :)

6)Easier to tell crazy lies about yourself to impress the girls that you meet - Im just kidding :) or am i.... ;)

Well as mentioned earlier, many points can work both ways depending on who you are and who your travel partner is. My old and wise friend Sis Christine had advised me earlier in life to travel with the girl i planned to marry as from there i could see the "real side" of a person. Yes, travel does bring out the real, if not different side in everyone...She gave the example of a guy where no 1 else was looking would still open the door for a girl or when extremely hungry and tired would still be a gentlemen and look to the needs of a girl before himself. I realised last year also that your travel companion is also going to be the person you spend the most time with. Yes, Jason was the person i spent alot of time with ( 24 hours a day, 7 days a weel,3 months) Even my mother had never spent so much time with me consecutively...you cannot escape your partner once choosen...so choose wisely, Just remember, depending on the both of you, travel can sometimes make or break a relationship----

In retrospect, i hope this has helped you make an informed decision whether solo travel is suited for you, i ll tell you about my case when i end my travels in August. However, if you are sitting there and reading this, have no intention of traveling at all, the more important message i'd like to say is... Alone or with a friend can affect your travel...but the thing is...To travel.
:)
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Posted by shawnified 14:09 Tagged travel james lee solo shawn_lee shawn justinn justinnjames leong shawnlee solotravel Comments (3)

Going in a circle

I cant stand living without a leg ;)

As some of you might know, I was travelling with Jason last year. It was my first "travel" for such a long time (3 months) and i returned a changed man...(you can read my earlier post to find out some of my thoughts)
I found myself constantly encouraging people to travel and i start to wonder why do some people not have wanderlust or at least curiosity to see the world but instead choose to remain in their comfort zone. I know of people who often think im crazy( i know i am just a little but probably in a different aspect) It was always amusing to see the faces of people they asked me where i was heading and i replied no idea. The same goes for how long.
Singapore(where im from) is a relatively affluent nation and most people can afford to travel (like the europeans, aussies, kiwis and the americans) Unfortunately, traveling in Singapore is often replaced with Holiday/ vacation eg 5 day cruise, 6 day guided tour in korea, driving to malaysia). There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but people often do not realise that traveling and having a holiday are really 2 different things.

Now to perhaps enlighten some, let me share something from someone who feels the same way.

“People look at me like I’m an insane person. Do you know what I think is crazy? Waking up at 6am, eating breakfast, getting in a car and sitting in traffic for an hour on your way to work, sitting in a box for eight hours, sitting in traffic on your way home, eating dinner in front of the TV and then going to sleep. Then repeating that process for the next 60 years of your life until you retire and then die.
I think that’s completely and utterly insane.” – Jebb Corliss

I rather be crazy than boring :)

Posted by shawnified 12:16 Comments (0)

Sepak Sepak than Lepak

Die Ultimative Lebensqualität :)

semi-overcast

With the help of Bettina, I managed to find 2 Boulders in the vicinity of their house, so i took the bicycle and went on an adventure :)
After sometime, i managed to find it :)
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Unfortunately, it wasnt as fun as it shouldnt have been as i didnt note the routes down, and i was alone...
When i came back, it was almost evening and time for a picnic beside the Thunsee ! :)
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View from the picnic spot (some looks unreal, but all photos are taken with my iphone)
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Mischu, Bettina and Nadine :) (Mischu learning the meaning of Lepak )... haha The sun setting soon, shedding a red hue on the mountain summits :)

The next day, Bettina had a wedding to attend to so it was Boys day out :)
Mischu and me chilling by the lovely river aare....Biggest view of the Niesen
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We than proceeded to a spot by the Thunsee to chill and go for a swim ! haha
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It was by far the coldest water i had ever swam in..."Some thing is really small right now" - Mischu ;)
Over the course of my stay i have collected several legendary quotes from Mischu, i cant remember all, but they will come gradually haha.
Here's the 2nd one... After our swim while we were relaxing and having a really nice time lying on our towels and staring into the sky. Mischu suddenly said.... "I could do this professionally"- Mischu.... haha ! Ich auch, ich auch...

Soon, we recieved a phone call and it was Flavi who had suddenly came back from Stuttgart for the weekend, and we rushed to his place for a chat :) It was really nice seeing Flavi's house again. Reminding me totally of my first time last year and how me jason and daniel were sitting there speechless at switzerland....
The environment rarely changes, your perception does more and that affects how you feel and behave.

Right after it was time to leave again and we all went to meet Bettina at another part beside the Sea to Lepak ! :)
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Yes that was our dinner after a long day.

Mischu quote of the day" i did nothing the whole day, but i feel so tired"
Yes, we spent the entire day chilling beside the river, than the Lake, than at flavis house and than at the Lake again but we were exhausted :) A good day spent lepaking :))

Posted by shawnified 06:15 Archived in Switzerland Comments (1)

Lenk and more :)

Hat der Niesen einen Hut, wird das Wetter schön und gut

Bettina arranged a trip to Lenk ( a valley with many holiday resorts and a waterfall) with her sister (Nicoll) and her mother ( Charlotte).
The journey was slightly less than an hour and it was interesting to see many cars speeding past at more than 120km/hr which is almost unheard of in Singapore.

When we finally arrived, i went for a walk to the Lake and went to fed the ducks :)
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I met the both of them again and we went to a Waterfall together :) It was the biggest and tallest waterfall i have ever seen in my life ( My first also !)
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We were really fortunate as the wind was blowing in the opposite direction and we remained dry :)

Bettina's mum was also super kind and lovely and brought us to Kemmeriboden ( a farm house turned hotel) to eat the Locally famous Meringue !!
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The hotel and one of it's special rooms.
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Nicole was flying to South america for a 5 month holiday so we had a fairwell dinner for her. I am extremely blessed that my two friends, Mischu and Bettina always include me in their plans and i never feel left out. ( i struggle to understand what they are saying though, hopefully i learn soon ! )

Bettina's Mum cooked a really delicious dinner. There was also a super nice dessert Birne mit Schokocreme.
Hungry hungry :)
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It was a great ending to an excellent day and tmr i will be exploring the boulders in Thun :)
Psyched ! :)

Posted by shawnified 07:52 Comments (1)

Thun with Miube :)

Loherehöri and more !

The next day...Mischu and Bettina called their friend Chris, to bring us on a "Introductory" hike as it was my first day...

Unfortunately, their super fit friend remembered the total time to be alot faster as he went down with the bicycle haha !

Before that, we poped by a boulder ! The first Boulder i've seen outside Singapore ! haha
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The hike begins !
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Age has really caught up with me, ( ok i haven been exercising consistently also)
I really wish i was younger and had more energy... A sign of your loss of youth is when stretching becomes more and more necessary.

The view was really great along the entire way and brought back sweet memories of the first time i went hiking in the swiss last year :)
I was reminded once again of how fit the swiss people are :) Mischu and Bettina didnt seem to have much difficulty and i sincerly believe that Bettina is way fitter than most of the girls i know ( Singaporeans dont exercise as much and often do not have the opportunity to :( )
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Soon, (super fit) Chris decided to hike barefooted

I started Rock climbing last year and am loving it, ( it has consumed my life :) )
However, I am really afraid of heights and when we finally arrived at the top i was flushed with fear and terror but at the same time excitement and happiness.
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There was a cross on top and a summit book which now has my name inside haha :)

There were many clouds that day ( which added mystery and a different beauty to the entire place) The cloud often dwelled on the peaks and at times pass us by when the wind was blowing. The temperature was almost perfect and not too cold.

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Decending and having a picnic by the lake :)
As mentioned earlier, the descent was alot longer than expected by chris as we were going by foot instead of bicycle haha, and when we finally realised the time, Chris had to run the last hour downhill get the car and drive a little backwards to pick us as it was getting late haha !
We than went home for dinner and i finally got to meet Bettina's 2 sisters
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Watching Euro at dinner time ( 12 am SG time ) hahahaah :)

Posted by shawnified 00:08 Archived in Switzerland Tagged hiking backpacking greatness Comments (0)

Mischu and Bettina ! Switzerland

Swiss ! Alles andere ist Beilage !

It was a long and tiring journey...about 18 hours by bus from London to Basel. Right after i got off at Basel, i got on to the next train towards Thun ! ( thankfully, it was a short wait and journey)

Finally i arrived in Thun :)
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I took a little time walking to Miube's house as i had forgotten how the route last year. Soon i arrived at their house and i immediately saw Bettina ! I was super elated to see her and it felt like yesterday when we were at their house ! Their house looked and felt exactly the same ! Just as beautiful and welcoming :)

Soon Mischu arrived home and we went for a walk in town
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Mischu and Bettina than suggested that we go for a cruise in the Lake of Thun. Best idea ever !
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"Nature's own half pipe"- Mischu
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Dinner on the boat :)
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Handsome Mischu and Lovely Bettina :)
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Cloud eats mountain

Sorry for the picture spam, but sometimes pictures are the closet description when words do not suffice...
I cant believe im in Thun with Mischu and Bettina ! :)))))

Posted by shawnified 09:38 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

London

Your perception changes faster than the environment

There has been a major disruption in my travel plans due to unforeseen circumstances

  • Warning* Schengen Visa holders are only allowed to stay in the Schengen area for 90 days within 180 days !

Unfortunately, my total travel days are 94 days ! Bleah ! This essentially means i will be an "illegal immigrant" for 4 days and my potentially be faced with a ban of entry. Lesson: count your travel days and remember how long you can stay !

With respect to above, i had to take a "detour" to the Lovely London ( as i remembered a year ago)
I had no choice but bust my budget on two bus trips (Germany to London 14 hrs, London to swiss 18 hrs)
Why not fly ? Well, due to the last minute nature, flights were considerably more expensive and 20 pounds saved is 20 pounds of food gained to feed my stomach. haha

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This picture describes my state in London aptly.
Apart from this, this time London was extremely crowded (Queen's Jubilee ) Rainy and alot more expensive than i had remembered.
Almost everyday of my 6 days were raining !

I arrived on the 3rd and took a long walk to Vishwa's place where i stayed. It was an interesting experience to meet his group of friends (all from LSE) very driven, wise, practical and bustling with potential. I was a little tired the 3 days and didnt do as much sightseeing. The weather was also very bad and i knew i had more time.

Unfortunately, there was some miscommunication between Richard (My first CS host) and i had to find another emergency couch.
To which, Mouhamad came to my rescue thankfully. It was a crazy experience ! 9 Couchsurfers sharing a Flat and hosting many other couchsurfers. Here's the link to his profile where u can read more about their house haha
http://www.couchsurfing.org/people/mouhamad.ajmal2/

There were 2 other couchsurfers that arrived at the same time as me Fadel and Kenan.
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Interesting and funny guys ready for an adventure. Unfortunately the bad weather spoilt our excursions...many times i found myelf walking back home in the rain (dripping wet)
There was a day where, i was really far away and was super tempted to take the tube, but after seeing the ridiculously expensive price, i decided i would just walk (run) back again in the rain....I ran till my face was numb and i couldnt laugh or smile as my cheek would have cramped. It was torturing but funny on hindsight haha.

We spent 2 days cycling and hanging out together, visiting all the touristic sites in London as it was their first time in London :) We had really interesting talks about the middle east, Palestine and America.

I had the great opportunity of meeting other Csers like Nuno, Sasha and Koray who i spent quite a considerable time talking to. They were nice , interesting people from diverse backgrounds and a with a really nice personality.

The real highlight of London for me was when i went to Borough's market which i cant believe i missed last year !
It was a really interesting food market with tons of local products, unfortunately i did not have any money to eat anything so following a fellow traveller went around feasting on samples :) haha. Unfortunately the limited space and weight i had for my bag prohibited me from buying back some lovely and unique Jam.
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IMG_1313.jpgUnfortunately, i did not have the time/opportunity to visit the really big super markets and couldnt buy anything back...which got me quite irritated when i left London...oh well a 17 hour bus ride to switzerland awaits !
Super stoked to visit my super friends Mischu and Bettina !!! :)

Posted by shawnified 23:55 Archived in England Tagged london wei leon yu ambrish kian pin borough Comments (2)

The weekend where everything changed

House of Joshua (Diane`s)

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Every Program has its defining moments, whether good or bad, it is the the thing you remember most when you attempt to recall the experience. As David Kahneman explained, everyone has 2 selves, a remembering self and an experiencing self. While your experiencing self might be unhappy, if your remembering self remembers the event entirely as a happy one, it will be a positive experience.
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Wilson, Valerie and i decided to visit a church which i though never existed (My host family told me there were no christian churches in münster) It was really refreshing and great at the same time to see fellow believers worshipping God. Unfotunately my german was so bad, i could hardly understand the sermon.
Surprisingly, we met Druga's host mum Diane who very kindly invited us to lunch at her place !

Over at Diane's place, time just flew by. We spent our entire time talking during lunch and before we knew it, we were having dinner haha.IMG_1111.jpg
Unfortunately, i was spoiling the mood the entire time as i was very stressed about going back home as
1) I didnt have a key (someone had to stay up to open the door)
2) I only informed the host mother at the last minute
For me, one of the finest pleasure in life is to sit with good company, outdoors, enjoying each other presence, with nothing to worry about. (even better when good food is involved :) )
The entire atmosphere was very similar to my first time at Flavi's place with Mischu and Bettina.
Thank God i managed to catch the last bus home and arrived back at 2. Thankfully Aretha was still awake and opened the door for me. Thanks Aretha :)

Unfortunately, the next day the same thing happened again. I was convinced that i would be back by 8. However, believe it or not i was decieved by the sun. ( The sun here sets much later during summer)
The entire illusion was shattered when Druga suddenly said "i cant believe its 9pm)
A wasve of dread, panic and anxiety swept over me and i quickly rushed to pack and ran out, arriving home at 10.20pm...
Boy oh boy were their faces mad....haha

"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather is one of those things that give value to survival."
- C. S. Lewis

Cheers to the new friends, and to my dear friends back home. I miss you guys here.

Posted by shawnified 00:25 Archived in Germany Tagged parties germany wei leon yu valerie diane wilson ambrish kian pin münster lepak Comments (0)

Leaving Münster

On the road

There were 3 excursions in the course of our immersion Program.. Bremen+Norderney, Köln and Amsterdam.
I found the first ecursion quite boring...
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The highlight of the two days for me was to watch the match between Bayern Munich and Chelsea which unfortunately did not end well...

In between we had an international student buffet where all of us attempted to cook some Asian food for our host...
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Köln wasnt much better except i got to climb the Dom which was both terrifying but exciting at the same time ( it was really narrow and very long !)
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I was looking forward to Amsterdam as it's one of my favourite places but wasnt very excited at the same time as i was really hoping to go to Hamburg instead... In the end, i decided that i would spend all my time in Jordaan, searching for my favourite sandwich and ice cream store :)
I had the wonderful pleasure of having Druga, Wilson and Valerie join me on the hunt... I really hope they dont regret it one day and look back in hindsight saying " All i did in Amsterdam was look for a sandwich" haha. It was also Druga's birthday ! :)
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Posted by shawnified 08:13 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Europe 2012 :)

German immersion and lepak :)

This is my first entry despite being on the road for 2 weeks haha, have been too caught up with travelling and chilling too much :)

One mistake many people make while overseas is noting down every moment, taking so many pictures and keeping in contact with everyone back home to the point where there is almost no difference in environment...it is important to walk the line and smell the roses basking in the sunshine and enjoying the liberation of travelling.
It is inevitable that photos are important as memories sometimes fade, but when one spends half the time photographing everything he sees, the question of whether the person or the camera is the one on holiday.

To paraphrase my friend Andrew who is on an even more epic adventure this year "Last year all i could remember was staring through the camera half the time... this year im learning to enjoy myself more..."

The journey this time is slightly longer than the one last year and with alot lesser money haha, mainly because i have exhausted my savings on last year's travel and this year the german immersion im going for cost alot ...Well, lets see if i survive :) haha

Frankfurt- May 7
Kôln May- 8-12
Münster -May 12-June 2

This is the initial plan...

Everything has been ok so far....Frankfurt was a big busy city...I realised after being out of europe for a year, abit of the culture shock retuned haha :) ( a pleasant one though)
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Andrew and i had an early morning route march to the train station as there were no buses :) ( not as fit as last time though, haha)
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Kôln, was a really beautiful city.. All the hype about the dom was finally justified when i arrived at the train station... I have to admit i was quite blown away... The place we were staying at was out of the city ( about 5.5 km away) Hence everyday we had to walk to the city, around the city and back, exhausting ? very...haha
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Busted my budget by having a mega schnitzel with Andrew and Ryan haha...Himmel und Äad ( german for heaven and earth) as well as a rheinisch sauerbraten in a Bierhause as it was our last day together.90_IMG_0519.jpg90_1IMG_0536.jpg90_1IMG_0537.jpg

Münster where i would spend the next 3 weeks staying with a host family and learning german :)
My host family is... ;)IMG_0558.jpg
My classes are super slack...i honestly haven learn anything for 2 weeks but have been really busy nonetheless, the school has organised many social and sightseeing activities...haha oh well, i can only make the best of the current situation.
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Throughout this entire time, i believe God has been slowly teaching me contentment in him. Envy that stems from pride leads only to discontentment, disappointment and unnecessary dissatisfaction...
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Well time and tide waits for no man, it is almost the start of the 3rd week here in münster, hopefully i learn something haha. :)

Shawn's quote of the day :)

They say you are what you eat, well seems like i've been having too many nuts ;)

Posted by shawnified 14:12 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

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