He can be everywhere. Booking flights, flying around in a blink of an eye. Meet the local impulse traveler sharing his lifestyle of flashpacking and his experiences.
Tell Me About Yourself
I’m just a regular Singaporean dude who has a FT job, with bills to pay and wishes he has all the time and money to explore the world. If I’m not travelling, I’ll be rotting in bed, catching up Netflix & TV Series, cooking or exploring new cafes.
As cliché as it sounds, it does broadens the minds. It teaches you things you don’t learn in school or work. It teaches you to trust your instincts and guts more. Make you a little financially savvy- should I spend more for this trip or save the money or another. You make friends easily, you become less ignorant and more sensitive to things that’s happening around you.
How do you manage to consistently travel and how do you fund for your travel?
I fund my own travels through my monthly pay. I don’t really have much vices, as I don’t smoke nor drink; smoking is an expensive hobby to keep up in Singapore. A pack will cost you $12. One pack a day for 30 days is $360. That could pay a short island trip in Malaysia. 2 months and that $720, all expenses paid for your Bangkok trip – inclusive of shopping. And 3 months savings is $1040, hello Hong Kong!
It’s really about how you finance your trip. I was travelling on a quarterly basis even when I’m performing my National Service. It’s really about mentality.
Out of all your travels, which is your favorite country and why?
All travellers knows that this is the toughest questions to answer. Every country, cities, towns, beaches have a different things to offer. Be it food, culture, architecture or local connections.
But if I really have to choose, the top will be New York City – USA
NYC is just NYC. It has always been my dream city to visit, with all the movies and tv series filmed in New York; what’s there not to love. NY will trigger all your 5 senses. The smell of piss along the subways, the sights of the Manhattan Skyline is amazing, the sound of traffic with police and ambulance sirens every 45 seconds, the taste of salty pretzel and hotdog makes you know you belong in the city, add all four senses and you have the NYC experience. THAT NYC FEEL.
NYC has always been on my bucket list. In 2012, I was working for a company and the job was pretty sucky; so I did what any wanderlust did. Quit my job, served my notice, pack up and leave. After I gave my colleague the resignation letter, I went back to my desk and book my flight. On my last day at work, I flew that next morning. It all happened so fast. And I was in NYC for 6 weeks! 3 weeks spring, 3 weeks summer. I rented 2 different apartments. Those 6 weeks, I felt like I became a native New Yorker. I was home.
What is the most challenging part during your travel that you frequently faced?
Packing. I can never pack light. I never understood the art of packing light. I’ll always have spare tops and bottoms, extra jacket with caps and hats. I’ve been travelling independently for almost 14 years, and I can’t pack light for nuts. Even when I backpacked my way thru South America, I have lotsa stuffs with me.
What has been your most memorable ‘out of my comfort zone’ experience?
When I first touched down Brazil. No one speak any English. I flew there in May 2013. It was the Down under weather, so winter in June & Summer in December; just like Australia & NZ.
After 37 hours of flights, with 1 2-hour layover, I was only in my slippers and boots were chucked deep inside my backpack. Arrived Sao Paulo airport around, 3 pm. It was freezing. I was in flip-flop, trying to navigate myself to the hostel with no one speaking English.
Locals were staring at me as everyone wore boots and here is this “gringo”(foreigner) trying to be smart.
Locating the hostel wasn’t easy too. Every one you asked for directions gave you a different route. But alas! I found it aft 3 hours of touch down!
THAT’S IT! GAME ON!
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
Yes! Buenos Aires was the one city that caught me by surprise! When I did my research, travel books constantly mentioned it’s a post-European architectures with rustic streets to explore. But I love the city vibes the very moment I entered Buenos Aires. The warmth of the people, the romance lingered the city, the streets covered with street art & graffiti, and the tango. Theres always someone tango-ing somewhere. So much love for this city.
Have you had any bad experiences while travelling?
So far, nothing major. Haven’t lost any baggage or pickpocketed before. But I remember I felt being stalked when I was in Hongkong. In stayed at the infamous Chungking Mansion. Every traveller should know this place. Its dodgy as hell. But it’s cheap. Like dirt cheap. It was another solo trip. So when I was about to board the lift to my room, 2 guys came in and they did not press any of the elevator buttons. I felt something was wrong and the moment the door opens, I ran to the reception and strike conversation with the housekeeper. The guys were still hanging around, which soon they took the elevator down. Maybe I’m paranoid, but you know, better safe than never.
Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?
I wouldn’t say any city/country is bad. Maybe it has nothing to offer. No values add; in terms of location, places of interest, or the hospitality of the local.
I would say, Montevideo, Uruguay is a city I don’t think I’ll visit again anytime soon. Hahaha it’s by far, the most expensive South American city I’ve visited and I was couch-surfing in this city. My stay there was innitally 5d4n, and I stay at the living room of a local friend, Sofia. We’re Facebook friends for at least 3 years as we collaborated on some photography project. So when I went to Uruguay, I stayed over her place. She’s nice. But she knew there’s nothing much in Montevideo, so I cut short one day and head to Argentina earlier than planned. Best. Decision. Ever.
Can you imagine life without travel?
No I can’t. I call myself the Impulse Traveller cos I buy flights on impulse. Even if I have 2 trips coming up in the next few months, I’ll seek the time to squeeze in one or two more. Everyone knows I’m crazy. But I know they are living off from my adventures via my social media platforms.
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
I’ve always been into creative industry. Probably pick up full time photography, complete my paintings, and create some DIYs.
But that’s one thing I know for sure that if your Full time job requires you to travel. Do not envy your friends who travel for work. It’s not fun, you’re there for work and rarely have time to sight see.
if you need to travel, do it from your pocket money. It’s more fulfilling. Especially when you’ve save the whole year for that one epic trip.
If you could travel back in time, which era and place would you go to and why?
Late 70s & early 80s. Every single one bothers to dress up to travel. We may be travellers, backpackers, jetsetters, globetrotters, but I always believe in dressing up proper for flights. Wear something decent and comfortable. I wear flip-flops too. But you know, wear it with a proper pants and nice top. I know when you’ve been on the road for so long, you don’t really care, but that’s the thing, we should care, care for our grooming, at the very least. But this is my personal opinion. Heh.
What the best savings tip you can give to anyone trying to save up for travel?
Save up all your coins. On a daily basis. I did this trick since I’m 18. I know some save up $1 & 50c coins cos of the monetary value, but I say do it all. Throw them in a big bottle and you’ll be very surprise the amount it can hold.
One of the bottles that I use to keep the coins can save up $90-120 worth of coins monthly.
3 months and you have $360, which can easily cover your flight and hotel to Siem Reap – Cambodia. And you did not even use your monthly savings, just coins.
What has travel taught you?
Travel taught me a lot of things. Humility, not taking things for granted, exposure to cultures and customs, do not be judgmental, make friends, lotsa of international friends, who know one they will visit your city. and life is short, enjoy.
What’s your advice for aspiring travelers?
Do lots researches; ask around from friends and family for tips and advices on places to go, what to eat and how to get from one point to another. Ask locals too. Be flexible and learn how to adapt to changes as what we plan that day, may not be concrete. Go with the flow and don’t forget to enjoy yourself.
Plenty of travelling experiences from this guy. He is almost around the world. More travels for you! Catch up on his travelling adventures on his personal blog @ www.hakimbolism.com and also on: