“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.” — St. Augustine
Travelling gives us a peek into how the rest of the world functions while making us appreciate what we have back home. You don’t have to argue the merits of an article telling you to date (or not to date) ‘a girl who travels’. Travelling in itself is a reward that comes with great memories – the only thing that will last until your death, that is, if you eat enough beetroot.
Getting out of your comfort zone opens the mind to different ideas and possibilities. And for workaholics, travelling can help bring peace to you when everything gets too hectic.
JUICE recently held a contest for readers to win tickets to watch the nomadic, Sahara-blues band Tinariwen (if you haven’t heard of them, they’re Thom Yorke’s favourite band) at KL Live this Monday. We asked: What was your most memorable travel experience? What we got from our Malaysian readers (and one from Somalia) was too good to keep to ourselves. While we only had 3 pairs of tickets to award winners, there were just too many good travel stories in our Inbox, so to do justice, we have publish our top 5 picks here in verbatim.
A few years ago, I was lucky enough to travel to Morocco for a semester and do undergraduate research on Muslim feminist activism in the region. It was a seriously cool experience – I learned to surf, interviewed the most inspiring activists, and learned so much about the Arab Spring region. One weekend, a few friends and I decided to do a desert trip.
Moroccan deserts are intense – dry, hot, and seemingly limitless. We packed up our items, drove to a village, and took a camel for a few hours into the desert. Our tour guide was a middle-aged man from an indigenous group in Morocco, who spoke the local Arabic, French, and his native Tamazight. We had trouble communicating, but he was always happy and cracking jokes when he could. Throughout the trip, he was always listening to this rickety old little mp3 player, something that looked like it had gone through many years of wear and had been stepped on by camels in the sand.
One day, we were both walking on the sand dunes together, with the rest of the group trailing a few meters behind. I asked him what he had been listening to this whole time. He pulled one earphone from his ears and passed it to me. “Tinariwen,” he said. “You know them?” My jaw dropped. I smiled and nodded. By that time, I had been listening to Tinariwen for about a year or two. I loved them, and the music they created. I took one side of his earphones, and we both kept walking into the cinematic distance, accompanied by Tinariwen’s desert sounds. It was such a surreal moment. Here was this man, who had grown up in the Moroccan desert, and me, a young Malaysian girl who had grown up in cities all my life.
And we had both found something that spoke to us from the music made by a group of Tuareg musicians from the deserts of Mali. We were connected by the universal language of music.
Regarding my most memorable travel experience, it was when I went to Somalia with my mother in July 2015 and am gonna be honest I was expecting all the bad things that could happen and I believed that I’m not gonna have a good time. And that’s was one big mistake.
The five weeks that I spend there was so amazing and everything was incredible starting from the people, food, attraction places like the beach and road trips where you see a long line of camels walking beside the road in a beautiful way. The food was so fresh, so fresh that they don’t keep anything in the fridge, doesn’t matter meat fish or vegetables everything will be finish on the same day.
In the end I learned a valuable lesson, don’t ever judge a country by the look of it, because there is different perspective in every place you stand.
My most memorable, heartwarming travel experience… Started at this crazy intersection on Sathon Nuea Road in Bangkok where traffic was coming fast from all four directions (don’t ask why we were standing in the middle of it). The flow of cars and bikes didn’t stop and there were no pedestrian crossings. We literally stood with our backs against the road dividers.
Carefully stepping along the side of the main road, hoping that the speeding stream of cars wouldn’t run over our feet while trying to cross, we spotted a man on the other side of the street. He waved over at us, across three lanes of wild and unrelenting traffic. Then he stepped very skillfully, lane by lane, literally ~slowed down traffic~ and ran over to us. He then held our hands and guided us across the road, making the speeding cars stop with his admirably calm disposition. (Although I’m sure drivers were muttering to themselves what idiots we were. The same thing I used to say to myself when seeing tourists straggling on the busy main roads of KL traffic).
Once safely across the road, we were still quite shocked but also tremendously grateful to this kind man who bothered to risk his life to help. We said thank you and he nodded like it was no big deal, then shuffled back to his stand where he peddled newspapers. Faith in humanity restored.
My most memorable travel experience would be getting to NYC by myself. Was there for about 10 days, excluding driving down (on the left side) to Boston, Washington, Atlantic City with some relatives which I met up with later. But aimlessly walking around Manhattan made me realize something about the city – you can’t tell who is actually and originally from NYC.
It is a city mixed with everyone you can find from all over the globe, the cashier at the souvenir store, some dude who brushed your shoulder in the subway, that family across the street, the guy sitting next to you on the curb eating a plate of Halal Guys gyro, or that full dressed guy under the stairs near Bloomingdale’s with luggage and signage saying he has no place to stay – city of the world, city of the people. Which makes you feel really tiny, but can definitely blend in with everyone else.
One of my most memorable travel experiences isn’t of some fancy or popular location abroad but of a local place. I travel around the country often with my parents as they love exploring the many small towns scattered up and down the coast.
There was this time when we stopped by Sungai Lembing in search for some food and chanced upon a quiet tea house. What made it memorable was how unassuming the place was, yet we had one of the best meals and time there. The owners were a friendly old couple and they only serve a limited menu. Their food was made from scratch and we had these amazing noodles made of duck eggs which the wife slowly cooked over a charcoal stove.
Just when we thought that was it, the owner asked us if we wanted durian. He then proceed to open this huge freezer in his shop and pull out bags of frozen durian for sale. The whole experience was quirky, laid-back and was definitely one of the most memorable ones I’ve had traveling around Malaysia.