Story Time: The beginning

As we all stuck at the home at the moment due to the worldwide pandemic of the coronavirus, I thought about doing a category called Story Time. Reliving the beginning of my early travel days. Thinking back where everything started. Even that my parents traveled with my sister and myself in Germany and Europe, when I was a kid, the real travel bug did not get me before my first trip to Asia.

The trip is easy to be explained, 3 weeks with 4 girls in 3 countries and not a lot of planning ahead. We packed into the trip, 4 Days in Kuala Lumpur, 4 Days in Singapore and 10 Days in Bali. The trip happened in September, which was still raining season. In Bali that did not matter that much, as it is usually the same temperature all year but in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore we had a lot of humidity.

FRIM
Forest Research Institute Malaysia

Let me start from the beginning. We flew into Kuala Lumpur, took the train to our hotel and first had to realize how hot and humid Asia is. After a 10-hour red eye flight we had to wait in a shopping center, which was freezing 15 degrees, in order to get the keys for our hotel room. I will never forget the picture. Outside it was around 35 degrees and 80° humidity, and we were sitting in a small coffee with our jackets in order not to get a cold, while waiting for our rooms to get finished up. So the start to my Asia experience was a bit rocky. It got better after we could get into our room and fresh up. After that we explored a bit the city of Kuala Lumpur. As our hotel was near to the Petronas Tower, we took a walk there.

We quickly realized that 4 days for Kuala Lumpur alone is too much. With that in mind we searched for something to do nearby. In the tourist information we got the tip to visit the FRIM. The Forest Research Institute Malaysia. It is a more or less a Forest park, which has options for hiking and biking. We went there by train and enjoyed a day off the city. As we went there in the week, we nearly had the park on our own and only saw staff of the park the whole day,

Our next station on this trip was Singapore. We planned to take the night bus from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. This was already a journey on it’s own. We needed to take the train from the Kuala Lumpur city center to the bus station, where all overland busses left. We managed to get the station, by luck, as a local was telling us which train to take. Challenge was to be in the right wagon as the train was splitting up. Not every tourist was that lucky, which made the bus wait for 2 hours – as not all passengers were there. Long story short we made it to Singapore by 4 am. Not thinking about how we could get from the bus station somewhere in Singapore to our hotel. Luckily just when we left the bus, a taxi was driving by. The driver was really kind to take the 4 of us and all our big luggage without being complicated. This, was one of two times at this trip, that told me the lesson to always travel light.

The city of Singapore was great, there are so many things to do. It is easy to be there for 4 to 5 days and seeing every day something new. The two things that totally stick to my head been: see the Formula 1 test drives from the Singapore Flyer, as well as eating the first time traditional Indian food in Asia. As my sister and her friend were living in Bangalore (India) for over one year, there were doing the ordering of the lunch. It was amazing. Tasty, traditional Indian food in Little India in Singapore. This was the second lesson I learned on this trip. Even that I may realize it much later in my life. A trip is defined by little, amazing moments. We should not only focus on the big things, the small moments are mostly what is shaping an aventure.

After the time in the cities we wanted to end the trip with beach time in Bali. With that said we took a cap to the airport of Singapore and wanted to fly out to Bali. Here the fun began. At the counter the women look at us and then at our suitcases. Somehow we had a “standard” ticket, which only included carry-on. Nearly one hour later, in a line with a guy which ticket was booked by someone else, we been able to change our booking. Remember this is all 12 years ago and online booking was in the early days.

The flight itself was interesting. It was full of Australian Students from Perth, which also had a beer party in the airplane. With being mostly bumpy, but not dangerous, we been happy to land. Besides having a great beach time in Bali and seeing a couple of things, two things stick to my head. Even if you are tired, know the currency exchange of the place you go. As 1 Euro was around 17.000 IDR, we got mainly confused at the beginning. We needed a taxi from the airport to our hotel and in our head it was something by 100 Euro. At the end we paid what they said but at the next morning we realized that we got the currency completely wrong and we only paid 10 Euros.

Second thing that was interesting to realize is, that nature is not treated everywhere the same in the world. We saw a lot of trash at the side of the road, not only in Bali and that came as a surprise to me. Remember this was my first trip outside of Europe. It is one thing knowing something but another seeing it with your own eyes.

Even that this whole trip had some bumps at the road, it gave me the travel bug, which sticks until today. It mainly told me, that the world is big, different and that there is so much more. We just need to go outside your comfort zone and be willing to accept that life can be lived in so many ways. Without being judgmental about what is the better one.

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