Discover more from Letter from a learn-it-all
😆 Ten Flops & Ten Fun Times While Traveling
If you are new here or missed last week's edition, you can catch up on the past letters here. If you are reading this for the first time, I’d love you to sign up below to join the other learn-it-alls:
As a heads-up, I’ve added a whopping 32 photos in this email. In case this email cuts them off, you can click at the top of this email and view all of them online :)
Aloha fellow learn-it-all 👋
Greetings from Singapore!
I flew in yesterday and leave tonight so I’ve got a full day of walking ahead of me. I tried some of the best chicken satay I’ve ever had last night on “Satay Street” at La Pau Sat. I had a lovely evening stroll around Singapore as well plugged in with some of my favorite albums of music from Noah Kahan, Maggie Rogers, and Matt Corby. It left me feeling recharged and grateful to exist. It felt homey for me to walk around such a foreign place while listening to sounds and words that feel familiar to me. Highly recommend!
Now, let’s dive into letter 155 from a learn-it-all. Enjoy!
❓Question to think about
How’s your first time going so far in Southeast Asia?
To simplify this grand adventure so far, I’m going to reflect on some moments as flops and fun times. Since I last wrote you when I left on on this trip seven days ago from Honolulu, Hawaii, I have now been to two new countries and on five different plane rides. Oy vey it’s been the best of times. Time has also been the wonkiest thing to perceive accurately being ahead of most of you on the other side of the date line. It’s felt like two lifetimes in the past week. I’ve captured some moments that make this trip come back alive for me.
🤦🏻♀️ Ten flops:
Taking the Express train into Seoul even though it cost double the subway and is a tourist trap
Being severely dehydrated after my first flight and then chugging 3 Liters of water at the hostel and needing to get up every hour to go to the toilet.
Booking my hostel in Seoul, South Korea for the wrong night but luckily made friends and talked someone into checking out early so I could get their bunk to sleep in
I had to withdraw Korean Won to take the train from an ATM and an extra 10% was taken off of it
My only meal on my 21-hour layover in Seoul was sweet & sour chicken at the airport, where I also accidentally left my sleeping mask
Going to five malls the following day in Kuala Lumpur to look for a new sleeping mask. Malls have everything and simultaneously never what I am looking for
The takeaway Bangladesh food I got for dinner is super duper spicy so I ended up eating a banana and eggs instead
Being deeply grateful to have a Westernized meal of toast and German raspberry jam after feeling a bit malnourished with too many foreign foods that my body didn’t agree with
Not knowing that the Hari Raya holiday would mean that the ferry and bus would sell out to go from Tioman to Singapore. So, I booked a flight back to KL and then to Singapore. This is totally out of the way
The Grab (what is used for Uber in KL) took only 30 minutes to go from Subang airport to KLIA. Google Maps said it’d take 2.5 hours so I could’ve left 2 hours earlier, but AirAsia does not let you shift time before 48 hours. (I booked this flight 24 hours before getting on it though 🙈)
💃 Ten fun times
My portable charger is a lifesaver. It was one less thing to worry about when my phone died
My new hostel friend Andrew from the UK in Korea let me tag along on his adventure to watch the change of the guard at the Gyeongbokgung Palace and wander around the Bukchon Kanok village area filled with 14th-century homes
Taking a sleeping pill to finally catch some Zzz’s to get on a more normal sleeping schedule on my fifth day (still working on the bowel movements)
Flying into the tiniest Tioman Island Airport on the tiniest plane with 15 other passengers. Finally feeling like I could breathe again touching down on Tioman Island after a few days of being overstimulated in foreign cities. I forgot how much I loved a slower lifestyle
Driving alongside in the sidecar on Tioman Island like in the Disney Aristocrats movie. The breeze was beauteous. I saw whole families with children in front of their father and the wife behind on mopeds in gorgeous printed outfits to celebrate Hari Raya. This means of transportation reminded me of how the Dutch bike around in the Netherlands with the whole family
Beautiful bodacious bananas. I flopped and never got any photographic evidence of the bananas. Allison and I even got better at bartering and got four for three Malaysian ringgit(!)
Finally getting thank you in Malay down by saying Terima Kasih properly (with the thanks to friends)—> thank you
I asked my new French 12yo friend Michelle on the plane to take a photo of me in French. Merci Madem El-Hosni for being such a stickler and drilling some French into me in middle school. She took the shot of me down below. I took this candid of her:
Scuba diving is magical. It is one of the most epic experiences a human can have to pretend to have gills for a short while. The coral in the Indian Ocean is much more lively than what I’ve seen in the Pacific off of Hawaii. The fish weren’t afraid of me. I’ve never stalked so many schools or clownfish in my life. Their lives were mesmerizing. I can say for a fact that those 50 minutes at the bottom of the sea were the calmest and most meditative I have been in the past month. It truly is a gift from God to be in control of our breath and be able to slow down and live in this beautiful moment we have at hand. There was one point going through two boulders where I felt like the Little Mermaid with clams pursing their lips and schools of angelfish dancing around me as I surfaced out. The vibrant colors made me gasp for air as my head tried to wrap around how they were natural. I was in such a euphoric state of bliss that created a head high that I got overwhelmed by the beauty and had to focus even more on my breath to rile myself down from it.
I cannot wait to find some scuba diving to do next week when I am in Uluwatu on Bali! :)
Deciding that I had a whopping four days to be in Kuala Lumpur this week and impulsively decided that I wanted to go check out Singapore from the raving reviews I heard. There’s so much of SE Asia I still want to see and I am already marking my travel dream list for making it to Thailand, Vietnam, and Japan next time (whenever that may be)
🌟 Quote to inspire
“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust (First Part), 1780
📸 Photos of the week
🇰🇷 Seoul, South Korea
🇲🇾 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
🇲🇾 Tioman Island, Malaysia (on the east side)
What is the purpose and would you believe it?
Would you believe it?
If you knew what you were for
And how you became so informed?
Bodies of info performing such miracles
I am a miracle made up of particles
And in this existence
I’ll stay persistent
And I’ll make a difference
And I will have lived it
This song “Aloha Ke Akua” gets me every single time. It’s a beautiful ten-minute song by Nahko And Medicine For The People. The phrase itself in Hawaiian mean the “love of God”. I’ve felt very blessed recently so this song resonates deeply with me.
To my childhood friend Allison Mobley for hosting me in Kuala Lumpur. I wouldn’t have had the bravery to come this far out to the other side of the world unless she was out here to open her home to me.
I appreciate you reading this!
Never stop learning 😁
PS - if you missed last week’s Issue 154: 👋 Farewell to the known world
If you’re reading this because someone shared this newsletter with you, welcome! I’d love it if you subscribed: