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  • Nabilah from ELEVEN

Reminiscing What It’s Like to Travel

Ah, travelling. How long has it been?

Even though I wasn’t a frequent traveller before COVID-19 struck, I still miss the excitement of going on a trip. The destination doesn’t even have to be far for me to enthusiastically come up with my own packing list (although there’s always something missing, somehow) and lose sleep the night before because I can’t believe it’s finally time. Maybe it’s the idea of leaving everything I’ve ever known, and all my obligations, even just for a little while. My own form of escapism, that I’m sure I share with many others my age, as our hopes, worries and expectations about school and entering adulthood turn to dust for the week.

En route to KL

There’s also the journey. The feeling of being on a bus or a train, looking out the windows to unfamiliar sights, not knowing exactly where you’re at right now. But the airplane is still my favourite way to travel. Sure there’s the additional checking-in time and my eardrums feel like they want to burst during take-off but when else can I be among the clouds? Aching butts and cramping legs from sitting too long, holding in my pee because I’m sitting in the window seat, seatmates that test the limits of my very short patience — oh how I wouldn’t mind all of that right now.

Noksapyeong in Seoul

And finally, we’ll arrive at the destination. There’s just something magical about being in a foreign land — I feel like I’m in this constant state of appreciation, ready to marvel at every little thing this new, shiny country had to offer. Did the skies really look that different overseas? Maybe I can now understand why tourists are amazed by Singapore, even though as a Singaporean I cannot fathom why you would choose such a destination. Even things that would undoubtedly trouble me if I were home, such as the incessant trembling of our Airbnb building in Osaka due to close distance to the highway was referred to as an experience, instead of a concern or an annoyance. Although, I can confidently say I truly enjoyed bringing a warm drink with me on the London subways without getting fined. There’s a novelty in being in someplace unfamiliar (and temporary) — new places to explore, new food to try, new people to meet and talk to, all without the stress of commitments and responsibilities tying you down.

Yeouido Spring Festival in Seoul

Sometimes (re: all the time), I wish Singapore didn’t occupy only a little dot on the map, that it would take hours to drive from one end to the other instead of just 45 minutes. Our neighbours in Malaysia can travel to resorts in Langkawi or Tioman for a quick getaway without crossing borders. But our kind of beach getaway is a staycation at Sentosa, or... a chalet near Changi Beach. We don’t even have natural mountains to hike, just hills. Travelling — the whole process of it — has always been one of the things that make me feel very much alive. There’s just so much to see and experience, but the pandemic has made it almost impossible even if I had the means to, and that thought is pretty stifling. So here’s to everyone who’s missing the joys and woes that come with travelling, we can’t go just yet but I hope this video comforts you and spurs you to keep the spirit of travelling with you, even when you’re home.


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