An Interview with a late-bloomer traveler,as he shares his first solo travelling experience taking it as a stepping stone to progress in the journey of backpacking.Check out his solo travelling adventures to the underrated Sarawak in Borneo.
Tell me about yourself
I’m a late-bloomer, Adventurous and Reckless. I love challenges that test my own limitations and I’m full of curiosity.
Why Sarawak, a destination to travel alone?
I’ve been to Sarawak with my family in the 1997-1998 and I regard Sarawak as a stepping stone to travel alone. As a Singaporean Malay, I’m really curious about learning the Sarawak culture in depth. Apart from learning the cultures (especially the tribes), it’s a very layback place to be in. It’s a getaway from the usual urban environment. I really want to challenge myself physically and mentally. As this is my first solo travel, I’d like to brace myself knowing my own limitations.
Best Moment in Sarawak?
To reach the peak of Mount Santubong. It’s a 3km route to the peak. The trek in challenging as it test my physical abilities and mentality. I underestimated the mountain as I realised that it’s getting harder as I progressed to peak. I was about to give up a number of times but the view encourages me to march on as the view is getting amazing as I ascend. My curiosity leads me to get the view from the peak.
Worst Moment in Sarawak?
Short operating hours of attractions and activities. Wind Cave (Bau, Sarawak) in particular was disappointing as I really wanted to do caving but was cut short due to short operating hours (7am-4.30pm)
Challenges in Sarawak and how you deal with it?
- Travel alone without much guidance, insufficient knowledge about Sarawak. Credits to the hostel owner (Marco Polo Guesthouse), in Kuching. I gained a lot of knowledge and information to get around the town of Kuching.
- The other challenge was unreliable public transportation. I ended up renting a bike to get around the town of Kuching. Although it break my budget a little, I’m satisfied as I get the opportunity to see more of Kuching and most importantly at my own pace. I just love the feel of riding a bike there, on a traffic-free road.
Which is the scarcer resource on the trip?
Time, as the shops around the town closes early around 8 pm. The location of my hostel (Marco Polo Guesthouse) in Kuching is quite a distance to places of attractions and etc. and the journey to get there consume quite an amount of time.
How do you manage your money for the trip?
I divide equally of my current budget across 5 days. I always keep track of my expenses and the extras, I spent on quality food on the last day.
What do you like about Sarawak?
I love the environment and surroundings (the view and the locals)
The attractions that Sarawak offers;
- Mount Santubong
- Tasek Biru (Blue Lake)
- Wind Cave
- Bako National Park
- Kuching Town
I like the helpful locals that are willing to help me despite where I’m coming from.
What you dislike about Sarawak?
When night falls, the surroundings seems different compared to the day as there are uneasy crowd roaming around. Options for food was limited as the shop closes early around 8 pm.
Is Sarawak a backpacker friendly place? Why do you say so?
Yes. It is relatively cheap for most of the things there. The locals are friendly and helpful and I feel very welcomed to be in Sarawak.
Recommendations in Sarawak?
A stay in Iban (one of sarawakians tribe) longhouses to experience their culture. If possible head during the period of 31 May – 1 June to experience the celebration of Hari Gawai (different ethnic groups of indigenous people of Borneo festival). With the opportunity to try their cultural dance, blowpipes and their homemade palm liquor (Tuak).
What is your advisable packing list for Sarawak?
I would say it is good to have comfy jacket that is reliable protecting you from the cold. The weather in Sarawak is unpredictable as it rains and shine randomly. A quality outdoor compatible gear (trainers) are highly recommend when you participate in trekking or any outdoor activities as the trek can be challenging as one might lose their footing due to slippery and etc.
Will you extend your stay there even-though it doesn’t deliver anything you are hoping for?
Yes.Additional 2 days. I will utilize that 2 days to explore more food, town and do more photography that I missed out on.
Travel alone or travel with friends? Why?
Two minds is better than one. As strength and weakness of a travelling pairs could be covered for a better travelling journey. I prefer travelling with just a company not in groups because at the same time, exchanging experience along the journey for a better travel.
Advice for new travelers
- Just go with your guts.
- Go where your curiosity leads you.
- Find out what’s outside of your comfort zone.
- Discover places, meet the locals but most importantly, explore who you truly are.
- Safe travels!
What an experience for the late-bloomer traveler! A priceless experience that turns into personal development. Do catch up with him on his social media platform for travel photography