I have always loved traveling. It doesn’t have to be to places that are far from my home. I am equally happy even when I travel 30 minutes just across the causeway, over to my neighbour, Malaysia. Or even a 45 minutes boat ride out to Indonesia. Every time I find myself anywhere but my own country, it gives me this funny feeling of excitement – feel-good emotions. To be away from work, away from datelines, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday routines. Basically, just away from reality.
I remember the last trip I had with my family. It was to Australia. And it was the best trip I have ever had in my life. We did a 10-day coastal drive from Sydney to Melbourne. Now, for a fact, Singapore is obviously nothing like any other countries in the world. We are small. We are crowded. We are an entire city by itself. That being said, you can hardly find a spot to chill without having people screaming over your head. We are so crowded like that. And these screaming people aren’t even my people. They are people from all around the world. They take up space in my country, they take up seats in the train, they fill up the airspace with their morning breathe, they show the world their unshaven armpits, they scream into their mobile in language I don’t understand, they lack basic courtesy. And they aren’t tourists. They are permanent residents, and for most of them, they are new Singaporeans.
When I was in Australia, I remember seeing a lot of Asians. But I won’t touch on that. What got me during my 10-day trip was the abundance of space I had there. There was never a day in down-under that I had to wait in line to be seated in a restaurant, or for my turn in their public toilet. No one was screaming above my head; everyone was so polite.
That aside, I remember clearly how the drive from town to town looked like. It was a quiet scenic drive with occasional views of cows lazing around. Being the nature-deprived Singaporean I am, I often persuaded my dad to stop by the side of the road so I could have my photo taken with the cows (at the background). The towns in-between were really small and cute – I am sure everyone knows everyone there. The scene felt like it came right out from a storybook. Little sleepy town, small population, friendly people, rows of shop houses, school bus, school kids, you know the drill.
In Singapore, driving from one end to another end is like driving around Melbourne city 10 times. You see nothing but shopping centres, high-rise flats, schools, universities, more shopping centres, fake trees. WHERE ARE THE PASTURES, WHERE ARE THE COWS. Don’t get me wrong. I love Singapore more than you would ever guess. But I love traveling to places that are not like my own. It gives me sheer joy just to be able to marvel at the beauty of other countries that my own home lack. That, and also the fact that I am on a holiday.
I am turning 25 next year. That is like a quarter of a century old and ohmygod, is that old, or what? I have big plans – plans that even I am a sceptic of. I have always celebrated my birthday at home. So then I was thinking, maybe I should celebrate it somewhere else this time. My heart is telling me: Paris. And gosh, I am head over heels in love with that idea. Is that possible, even? I thought maybe a London-Paris trip would be good. 10 days, maybe? I wish I have friends there, then maybe planning wouldn’t be so hard. I might even be able to couchsurf! For now, I guess I have a lot of financial savings to do…