If you had asked me a year ago if I would ever take a surprise vacation, my answer would be a vehement ‘no’. I can be quite the planner, packing our itinerary from arrival right up to departure. I’ve even had a friend who once asked me when we were in Kyoto, “Can we not wake up at 9am to go to the Kimono rental store?!”

But people change, and so does one’s travel mindset. This year alone, I had already been to five countries and six cities. Despite feeling like I needed to go somewhere, I just didn’t know where else I could go. Throw in a resignation notice, and you get a very chin-chye (Hokkien for 'anything goes') me that decided: since I was already taking that step into the great unknown by opting to leave my job, I might as well bring that attitude to my travels.

Stepping Out Into the Unknown

And so, I booked my trip with Anywhr - but not after reading traveller reviews, media stories, and stalking past travellers on the #GOANYWHR hashtag. The moment my friends and family knew I had booked such a trip, reactions ranged from the incredulous to the sceptical. Some wondered if Anywhr would send me to somewhere dangerous, or somewhere I’ve been to; while some others sneered that it would probably be Malaysia, given that I had chosen the budget option and a short duration.

A week before the trip, the envelope arrived and my mother, who still could not believe that I had trusted complete strangers with my entire vacation, egged me to open it. I remember coming home late from work that evening, holding up that envelope against the light, deciding that I wasn’t going to open it, and chucked it into my drawer. 

The Big Reveal

D-Day finally came and my worrisome mother came with me to the airport, asking, “Still not gonna open?” We walked up to the departure hall, I took a deep breath, and opened the envelope.

Well…

Destination X’s country wasn’t that much of a surprise to me, but Destination X itself was. First thoughts: where on earth is this place, how am I going to get there and what could I do there?! Anywhr truly lived up to their name of sending you to explore off the beaten track, even for such a short trip like mine. When I texted some friends who were anticipating the great reveal, one remarked, “You would have never chosen Destination X! It’s way too chill for you!”, which just added on to my worries – did Anywhr forget that I had also requested for a dash of adventure?! 

*Related Post: The Anywhr Traveller Spirit Animal Guide: What's Yours?

Adventure with a Dash of Chill

Turns out, I needn’t have worried. Getting there itself was an adventure in its own. When Anywhr told me that I had to take a car/van to Destination X, I wasn’t expecting to board a ferry! Plane, car, and ferry - all within a span of less than six hours. This was turning out to be an adventure indeed!

Source: Sarah

Source: Sarah

Once I got to Destination X, I grabbed some hearty nosh and started finding out things to do.  I realised that four days wasn’t enough for all these activities on the beautiful islands around me - so I messaged the Anywhr team and ended up extending my trip to one whole week!

*Related Post: Anywhr's 2018 'Leave to Travel Optimiser': 14 Days of Leave, 10 Travel Adventures

Activities Galore

Throughout the week, I hopped across eight islands. To my delight, the islands didn’t offer only snorkelling; I got to climb a skull-shaped rock formation, swim through a pitch-black cave to a secret beach, kayak around limestone caves, and of course, snorkel in the clearest waters.

Source: Sara

Source: Sara

Source: Sarah

Source: Sarah

Beyond island-hopping, my week there meant that I had more than enough time to explore  and step out of my comfort zone through the missions assigned by Anywhr - such as travelling to a local night market for some of the BEST local snacks.

With some encouragement from my new-found friends, both fellow travellers and locals, I also rented a scooter to ride around the island, sunburning myself, and finding a secret beach and a rustic, seaside town in the meantime.

*Related Post: Solitude Isn't Loneliness, Travel Solo to Learn the Difference

Source: Sarah

Source: Sarah

The Grand Finale

To top everything off, I had the fortune of witnessing one of the most amazing sunsets - something Destination X was best known for.

By the end of this week-long solo trip, I realised I didn't have to worry if I’d be bored of being alone. I made a new friend for each day I was there, and left a piece of my heart in my surprise destination.

*Can't decide between a Getaway, Adventure, Experience, or want the best of it all? Go on a Wildcard Trip and tell us what you like!