October – the beginning of the last quarter

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Hello World.

How has it been for you thus far? We are finally now in the last quarter of 2022 (somehow I’m starting to use this quarter thing more frequently because it is a pretty common term I use as part of my work), and I’m not sure if it is the time of the year to push for the last thing you want to strive for, reflect upon what you have done for the year and perhaps make some plans for 2023? Sadly, although I’m suggesting those 3 things, I am not fond of any of these and I prefer to live my life with complete freedom and autonomy, at least until that day I can’t be so spontaneous anymore. Ouch.

It has been about a month since I last published my last entry – which was a really brief sharing of what my post-covid visit to Japan was like. Guess what, shortly after I returned from Japan, the government announced that visa-free travel will be resumed approximately a month later, from October 11. In a way, I count myself lucky to have experienced what ‘non-visa free’ travel was like cause who knows, this unprecedented nonsense should not be happening again right? It was also a lovely experience to walk the streets of Tokyo knowing that locals were the vast majority and I believe my ask of ‘English?’ did scare and catch those service staff off guard (since they probably didn’t need to use English for more than 2 years). It was a short and lovely trip and I’m pretty sure I’ll be back in Tokyo soon (like next year I hope). Yes, I’ve been rather conservative and unadventurous about my travel plans in recent years because as I got older (and hopefully more mature), I no longer see it as a goal to visit every single country in the world. Neither do I want to force myself out of my comfort zone for the sake of ‘challenging’ myself and the ‘me’ right now, just want to do things that I want to do or feel like doing, with no pressure and ignoring comments from naysayers questioning me on my travel decision (i.e. haven’t I been bored of Japan/Korea?). No idea where that whole selfish ‘self-empowerment’ came from but I’m glad that my mind is now free to not be bounded by other people’s comments. (For now, at least.)

For the past few weeks (since my return from Japan), I’ve been itching for a next trip/holiday again and then I paused and started asking myself why was I so addicted to the travel bug. Post-Japan trip, I did have a few nights of emptiness from the travel vacuum of not having any planned trips and I started thinking about why and what was it that made me upset and want to travel so badly. There were several answers that came to me and I believe one of the reasons was that I was still living at home (with my parents). I think I’ve mentioned before in one of my earlier posts that in an asian family, it is very normal for kids to be staying with their parents until they get married and this happens for practical reasons and perhaps a sort of ‘filial piety’. While it is nice to be taken care of with the smallest touch ever (like preparing breakfast, and ensuring that I have water in my room), there are times that I wish I could own that responsibility of taking care of myself. That being said, as much as I don’t want them to do such small and minor things for me, I know they can in fact derive joy from doing those things. I derive joy from spending money to buy things that my parents like to eat and many times it is not because they can’t afford it but because they just don’t feel right that I should splurge and I guess it is the same for them. They probably derive joy from knowing that I am eating my favourite food or that I won’t feel thirsty at night and you know it is so hard to tell them to stop. Somehow this ‘comfort’ makes me miss the ‘discomfort’ and mess that could happen as a result of my decisions which happened whenever I am overseas alone, without my family. I think I felt it the most when I was in New Zealand for 9 months where I learned that my experiences were the outcome of my decisions (which could be stupid or wrong) at times. If I know I had to go to work at 6am the next day but still decide to hang out at my friend’s place till midnight? Well, the penalty that I had to suffer was 3-4 hours of sleep with gross unwashed hair plus yawning the next day at work. There are many household chores which require a lot of discipline and somehow if I get lazy and procrastinate on it, they will magically still be done so sometimes l miss having a tiny bit of disruption in my life which.. comes more often when I’m abroad.

I think I am slightly different when I’m overseas as compared to when I’m in Singapore. One thing for sure was that I sleep a lot better when I’m overseas. Perhaps it was the bed/mattress of the hotel overseas or another more convincing reason is that when I’m overseas, I walk so much that my whole entire body is tired and when you are tired you tend to rest better. In my most recent Japan trip, I also made use of the bathtub to soak in hot water every night as an attempt to soothe my tired legs. That being said, my sleep quality right now has improved slightly as I used the iPhone sleep reminder which notifies me that I need to get to sleep and automatically turns on the DND function where notifications are switched off. This reduces my phone usage slightly and I’m trying my best to sleep between 6 to 7 hours every night (for weekdays). At the same time, I’m also restricting my water intake in order not to be awakened in the middle of the night because of my full bladder. As simple as these things sound, I realise that it takes a lot of discipline and reminders to make it happen :/

When I’m overseas, I tend to be out every single waking moment (okay that’s a bit of an exaggeration but you get it) but in Singapore I don’t know why I am so lazy. 2 years ago, where we were just recovering from the covid lockdown, I tried to explore Singapore whenever I could (even though we had to wear masks) and even went for walks around my neighbourhood but now that the restrictions are pretty much lifted, I find myself becoming a homebody more and more. To be fair, a reason could be that my ‘free and available’ friends are dwindling as many start getting married and becoming parents and that I don’t exactly made new close friends in the recent years plus some of my friends are traveling constantly due to work/leisure and you add up all the reasons together and that explains why I have no one to hang out with. This makes things rather weird because I am perfectly happy to solo travel and hang out outside when I’m overseas. What is with this awkward differentiation between the me at home vs me overseas? I wish I could figure this out.

Then again this ‘love-hate’ relationship for solo travel has been making me think a lot lately. To be fair for most of my solo vacations, I did not make an intention to make it a solo trip but I just couldn’t find anyone who has the right frequency, style, budget and free time to make plans together. When I was a lot younger, I did want to get attached because it made traveling much easier but time went by and solo travel trends emerged and I guess the past is history. I still remember my first solo flight – it was in 2012 – and I was flying alone to Dublin via Dubai on an Emirates flight for a self-declared grad trip because I was graduating one year earlier than most of my friends for refusing to do honours. The friend that I hijacked was not graduating, but completing her exchange in Ireland. During that trip, I remembered going on a solo day trip tour and small talk with the person beside me but nope we didn’t keep in contact and I don’t even remember his name anymore. That’s one thing good about being overseas – you get to make fleeting conversations with no obligations and the meeting ends there and that. The next few solo trips had been media trips and it was when I had the luxury/scare of staying alone in a hotel room. To be honest, my first solo hotel stay had been awkward as I was undecided on many things – should I keep the lights on the whole night, should I flush my luggage to the door so that if anyone enters without my knowledge the noise would wake me up? These thoughts do fly very often whenever I am on solo travel and sometimes it annoys me to be so paranoid but better to be safe than sorry I guess. As time went by and I got older plus perhaps the nature of my then job, it became harder and harder for me to ‘block’ long leave in advance and sometimes I just got so disappointed with asking around ‘who wanted to go with me’, and at that point in time, I thought that it would be fine to just solo, yolo. Thankfully, I build up some friendships overseas and this made me more confident in my solo travels as I could meet up with them when I’m there. Lonely, but less lonely 😉

But as time goes by, I also do feel like it is harder and harder to find a travel companion because I grew more aware of my own preferences – what I like, what I don’t. Plus, it got harder to make leave plans (especially when you’re hoping to do group travel), and in addition if I minus off the married and parents friends, I’m pretty much left with close to no options for my overseas travel >< As a result, solo travel becomes the only option left but sometimes I still feel the pinch of not being able to share the cost of the accommodation.

Anyway, it is hard to deny the fact that I’m traveling too much int his post-covid world. I have been on 4 trips (excluding JB) and the 5th one is lined up as well. I was thinking if this was the ‘travel revenge’ that the media is talking about but when I look back, traveling this number of times a year (most of which are short trips) is actually the norm for me in the pre-covid era. I guess life has indeed return back to normalcy for me and I can finally stop complaining about covid.. But I do have a tiny greedy wish – that the ukraine war will end soon and that the stock markets will recover. It has been in the red for far too long ><

How has life been for you? Are you feeling the normalcy yet?

^^ Cya till I’m back again with my trip report 😀

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