Well, the world is pretty big you know. And my long-term goal is to travel the world before I die, starting here – down under. My most recent trip was to a neighbouring city – Sydney. Not only was it my first time there, it was my first time traveling alone. It was brave, adventurous, somewhat lonely and the best thing I had ever done.
I wanted to attend a one-in-a-lifetime regional conference in Sydney, and my sister would have gone with me but she had to study for her final year exams (she is going to be a brilliant dentist) and I initially thought I didn’t want to go anymore. It scares me a little – travel alone. This is not like going shopping alone at Woolies or Coles, this is alone. There were moments of uncertainty, but because “no one could go with me” is a lame excuse, I’m glad I went for it anyway.
I landed safely at 8.20am. The day was gloomy on the first day. Registration started at 4pm and I had no idea what I was going to do until then. It was rainy and I had to find my way to the railway platforms. The signs were pretty clear without Google Maps, so that’s a good start. And so, I took aimless public transport rides and aimless city walks that day until then. The conference center was an hour away from Sydney CBD and I was so glad I was able to find my way there without any trouble.
The conference went on for three days. From day one, I literally DID NOT know anyone except the guy whose mum suggested I attend the conference. At the end of three days, I got to know so many amazing like-minded people like me. I am a natural born introvert, I would usually avoid crowds and speaking directly to people. For some time now, I am trying to be a extroverted introvert, if that makes sense. I still value my alone time a lot, but I have learnt to deal with crowds and other humans.
My flight back to Melbourne is two days after the conference so I explored Sydney. It was amazing as I get to go to places in my own time and in my own pace. I have known to be a super indecisive person but I had to make decisions for myself – where to eat, where to go, what to do… I had to do a lot of walking and winging on my sense of direction. Sometimes I panic when I made a wrong turn or missed a sign, but otherwise, I have come to know a lot about myself – I totally despise historical sites.
Some more eye-opening facts I discovered on my journey:
1. History is history!
One thing with tour groups that bug me is bringing tourists to all those “famous museums you must go to”, those “historical palaces you must go to”, those “most beautiful tall/special/green/(other adjective)-est buildings in the world”, or those “rock formations you have to see” that happen to look like a dragon but I often struggle to see any resemblance.
While I am okay with walking long distances, nature parks, landmarks, iconic buildings and all, I would 100% ignore historical suggestions on the map. I’m not really interested in dates and wars. I’m more of a experience-it-now person and I soak up different cultures through food ;p (LOVE trying out different cuisines) Now that I am on my own, I can choose to skip places that I have no interest in without worrying about where a group would want to go together.
2. Why not?
Everything is up to me. I make quicker decisions on my own and I don’t need to worry what other people think. No more dilly-dallying asking the whole group if we should all get ice-cream together, or deciding where to go first. I ask myself “Why not?” most of the time. Since I am here, might as well just do it – try that weird looking dish and Oh My Gosh! I want to do that!
Why not indeed?
3. Rely on strangers.
Pictures are documented memories and it is important to me that I appear in some of places I’m at. There is one teeny tiny problem though… I need someone to take a picture for me ever so often. It is a little awkward to ask strangers to take a picture for me. During those times, I appreciate how easy it is to take pictures together with friends, because we can work out which angle works and do silly funny poses.
4. Not afraid to be alone.
I don’t care if you give me looks of pity. It does get annoying when the waitress repeat “just one?” I love doing things by myself, it gives me all the time and space I need. I find it silly to wait for someone when you are starving to death just because you’re too afraid to go to dinner yourself. I have watched movies at the cinema “privately” too. It’s good because I can focus on the movie without anyone whispering comments into my ear and missing one whole scene because we were discussing the previous scene in hushes.
Going solo on this trip has been great and I remind myself again and again that I should travel alone more often. I like being in control of my own itinerary (not to mention budget), and I’m a more confident person. I’ll save up some more money and look forward to my next big city. I am not afraid to face the world on my own.