Welcome to “the school of hard knocks”, where everyone is enrolled. Sure some have it easier, cushier and might go all out to not “go out”, and frankly they’re what experts label as “boring af”. Travelling, however, is best enjoyed with a dash of risk and the spirit of adventure. Don’t believe me? Just ask Arif and his err... battered backside.
You’re Gonna Fall Either Way
If our travels abroad are like riding a bicycle, some countries would be that first bicycle you had with a bell and training wheels, others would be that bicycle that gave the perfect balance of thrill and safety, finally, there are the rocket-powered unicycles. But whatever your preference, when life throws a wrench at you while you’re cruising around, there’s no dodging it.
*Related Post: 4 Ways a Solo Trip Can Change Your Life
Back to Arif’s week-long, multi-city ass kicking off an adventure. Shy and introverted, we found that all that’s needed to get this quiet adventurer going is a nudge and some direction. And that’s exactly what we (Anywhr) did for him and do for all our travellers.
What made our reserved traveller want to send himself on a solo surprise experience trip? In his own simple words “I wanted to get out of my comfort zone”. Arif also admitted to being an overly trusting person, a characteristic that allowed him to go along with what Anywhr advocates — authentic travel — wholeheartedly. And as the email teaser popped into his inbox he began scanning the list of scheduled outbound flights in an attempt to guess his Destination X before receiving and opening his envelope.
Even after narrowing down the possible destinations for his trip, the revelation of Destination X had surprised Arif (the very least we could do). This further fuelled his interest as he explained: “I didn’t know what to expect, and I knew little of the place”. A tropical destination that’s as beautiful as it is misunderstood, shrouded in mystery only because it hasn’t been infested by a strain of influenza known as “influencers”.
The Trusty Travelogue
Prior to his Anywhr surprise trip, Arif’s travel experience had been limited to a couple of neighbouring countries and a trip to Australia, and he didn’t waste any time getting into experiencing what the personalised travelogue had recommended for his week in “Destination X”.
Our “aesthetically pleasing and very well thought out” travelogue as Arif heaped the praise on his experience (we hope he wasn’t just buttering us up), had him reading the little bespoke book filled with tips, challenges and of course ideas for things to see, do and try from cover to cover, putting his mind at ease.
“What’s your perfect image of travel?” a seemingly simple question that we shot Arif’s way. A short pause later, he explained: “I don’t have one specific perfect image”. While some readers may say “the Sun, surf and sea”, “eating and shopping lor” or some other postcard moment — we're with Arif and the notion that no single activity or image could capture travel perfectly, and his stories might just sway conflicting opinions.
Not being particularly outdoorsy Arif decided to take on a mountain that was mentioned in his travelogue, recommended by his homestay’s hosts and spurred on by his desire to overcome and achieve something. With a “go big or go home” mentality, the timid traveller had to be talked out of attempting the higher peak and tackle a more manageable hike. And just as well, as Arif soon found Mother Nature giving him an ass-whooping. “My host came along and helped me when I was too tired” a thankful Arif explained — and later showed his gratitude by treating his host to a meal.
Throughout his trip, various points and moments had Arif thinking “this is what travel is about”. Whether it was having his breath taken away by the scenery at the peak of his hike, exploring waterfalls, wandering through hills to sleep and relax in nature, etc… never being able to put his finger on a singular moment, we could all agree that the perfect trip is what you make of it.
Fall, learn and laugh
He came, he fell, he didn’t die. Arif chuckled and comically related his multiple falls that occurred in miserable rainy tropical conditions. *Splat* Contact. There our traveller sat and lay in mud and rain. In full view of his hosts as they waited to receive him.
In the city, another lesson awaited the unquestioning Arif — a little too trusting remember? Without agreeing on a price beforehand, he went along with a local who showed him around the network of streets and ended up paying more than he’d anticipated. it wasn’t the end of the world and he came out of it a little (street) wiser.
*Read about other Travel Tips and Destination X articles here at: PROJECT #GOANYWHR
Experiences You Can’t Buy
As Arif and so many others have discovered, most people are willing to help. On a bus and with… let’s call him Enthusiastic Uncle, helping him get around, Enthusiastic Uncle soon found out Arif was from Singapore. Now frothing from his mouth in pure excitement that sent his enthusiasm levels through the roof, and probably had Arif a little concerned — he explained that he had a brother working in Singapore.
Handing his phone over to Arif, Enthusiastic Uncle had decided this fate warranted an international call, and insisted our traveller speak to his brother (who was probably just as puzzled). “Hello…” was all the stunned and amused Arif could muster at that moment.
This was Arif’s answer to “Most Interesting person?” a question we ask because travelling is about meeting new people as much as it is jumping out of planes — or in Arif’s case, hiking. You don’t and can’t buy the former.