solo-travel
* For the people who tend to always get lost. It's hereditary. I guarantee. I got it from my mama.

how to survive alone in a foreign country

I think up to this point, a lot of people are still shocked (my mum & boyfriend being the top of the list of people) that I managed to navigate around cities and travelled without wifi/without data /4G/3G/whatever form of phone internet connection. Judging from how I can get lost with google maps IN THE CITY I GREW UP IN.

I have to say, travelling alone was by far one of the most interesting, fun and special experiences i'll ever have in my life and my GREATEST takeaway from 2015.
Now when my dad and uncles talk about how the bag packed around Europe when they were younger, and how the scrimped and saved to afford a train ticket, I can relate.

tips to survive alone in a foreign country

After travelling for the most part of 2015, I have always wanted to share some of my tips especially for those who are afraid to take the plunge to travel alone or visit places alone.
This post has been in the works (and forgotten about oops)! For a while, and now its time to share!

Here are some easy ways to survive a solo travel, especially for those who, like me, tend to get lost one too many times, and are seriously dependent on WIFI. This is how you beat the odds!

THINK: You’re NOT Alone
When you think it often enough, somehow you end up convincing yourself that you're fine alone. Instead of thinking "What if i get pick pocketed in Paris, what if some one steals my phone in Italy what if I get lost in Portugal all on my own, what if..." think "If this happens, i'll just -inserts a way to solve the issue- after all, I'm not alone".
Tbh, bad things happen, no matter where you live, doesn't stop you from going to the grocery store on your own in your home town now does it? Sure some places are safer than others, and walking in a dark alley can be pretty scary, but just imagine all the people walking around alone in the city/town/place you're in.

You're not alone.
Just be brave, and you'll soon find out that the world isn't as dangerous as people make it out to be.

traditional mountain top house japan

PLAN: Pre-download Maps/Pre-plan your route
Well, in order to survive without wifi/internet connection on your phone (cause that is at least an additional $10 for every city = one good meal!) you need to preplan your routes. At least before you leave. Or make sure you know how to get back to your accomadation.
Citymaps2go, Citymapper, etc. there are tons of map apps out there that don't need wifi to operate pick one, familiarise yourself with it, and you're good to go. Citymaps2go is my fav.

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I lost my phone, thank God that has never happened, but you can always double up with a physical map of the city if you want (I can't read physical maps, so I never use them, but I ALWAYS ALWAYS keep my phone secured).

Japan cut out trees on road trip
Japan road trip trees

DO: Talk To Locals/Other people
Don’t be afraid to talk to people even if you think they wouldn’t understand you. Trust me, people will find all ways to communicate or direct you even if you can't understand them. Once and old lady tried to guide me to the hostel I was staying at and we both spoke in completely different languages with a ton of hand gestures. It worked.
Don't be afraid to approach people. You'll find that there are a ton of friendly people in this world!

STAY: Choose hostels
This goes without staying. Stay in a place where people you meet LIVE in that city, and can give you tips on how to get around. I stayed in hostels during all my travels alone because
a) You meet people of the same demographic locals, students, people who have visited said city multiple times, etc.
b) It's way more affordable, and
c) You get to meet OTHER solo travellers and listen to their stories - by far the greatest thing that comes with travelling alone.

Country side and mountains view japan

PACK: LIGHT.
To be honest, the worst thing you can do to yourself is OVERPACK. Imagine being all alone and having one too many bags to carry whilst you are buying food and holding a tray trying to find a seat. Yeah. Nightmare. It happened to me once while I was halfway through Norway.
I wouldn't say I'm the best at packing light, but find all ways possible to ensure that your things all fit in one bag. Bag pack is the way to go, but if you're fashion conscious, fit everything in a small hand luggage. TRUST ME! IT'S POSSIBLE!

Image of japan at night traveling alone

After writing this post, I'm itching to book a flight and travel solo to another destination. Hopefully in Asia. I'm pretty sure traveling solo in Asia will be quite different from traveling alone in Europe, but either way, here's hoping my adventures (alone or with others) can continue in 2016.

I hope you found this useful, and do share some other tips you have down in the comments below!

How to Survive Alone In a Foreign Country Without WIFI

11 January 2016

Image of warsaw's most beautiful street in poland

When I was planning my trip a couple months back, I initially wanted to do a Central/Eastern Europe route of 3 cities, Kraków, Vienna and Budapest. However, the cost to Krakow was way more than for a flight to Warsaw, so I decided to fly in to Warsaw, spend a night there and take the train to Kraków the following day.

After traveling alone for a few times, and dealing with flying and passport control, you’d think i’d be pretty decent with time estimation by now. But no, when I was planning for my trip, I thought I had given myself half a day to explore in Warsaw, before getting the train to Krakow. Sadly, with passport control, and the bus trip into Warsaw centre from modlin airport, and the 30 minutes i waited to get myself checked in to the hostel (YEA WHAT?! I know.) I was only left with 2 -3 hours for exploring before sun down.

In my head I thought I had to catch the train to Kraków at 1106 the next day, and so I was pretty devastated with the short amount of time I had in Warsaw, especially since I saw how pretty it was!

Architecture down warsaw's most beautiful street, warsaw poland
summer pink flowers and peonies in warsaw poland

Anyway, I tried to make the most out of it, and bolted for the Old Town right after I dumped my bags in my hostel room. I walked from my hostel, passed a lovely garden, down what is known as Warsaw’s prettiest street (because it was rebuilt and redesigned after the destruction during the war), and eventually I made it to the Castle Square and the Old Town Market Square.
The area of the Old Town was lovely! They had beautifully decorated shops around the squares, wide open spaces where people could hang out, nice chairs for alfresco dining. It had such a nice summery atmosphere with the warm evening sun beaming through the sky.

Castle square picture in warsaw poland
Pictures of the old town castle square in warsaw poland
Decorations of the shops and cafes in the old town of warsaw poland

Just around the Old Town, you can find Buskers, Magicians, Playing music and entertaining the crowd. "Ah, I wish I had more time in Warsaw!" That kept repeating over and over in my head.

Accommodation Info | Oki Doki Hostel
+ Near the Main train station, super easy to navigate there.
+ Nice clean rooms, pretty in pink in fact! Lovely ambience.
- WIFI was Bad. Huge minus sadly! :( I need my wifi at the end of the day!

Since wifi was horrid, I spent the whole night talking to a my german in my dorm mate. Warsaw wasn't initially on her itinerary initially, and like me, she came over because it was cheaper, she had extra time, and just thought it would be nice! We were both bonding over the mutual fact we wished we had more time here in Warsaw.
We talked till 12 midnight, and she mentioned how she just graduated from medicial school, was sharing about the whole industry in Germany. Love conversations like these, I feel like I'm building up my general knowledge every single time!

Sunny day in the old town market square of warsaw poland
Pictures of the castle square in warsaw poland collage

So as I mentioned earlier, I thought my train ride was at 1106. I woke up early (well late, because I intended to wake up earlier but early by conventional standards) went for a nice breakfast, walked around for a bit, and headed for the train station.
What a stupid stupid thing to not check my ticket the night before. Partly, because the train ticket was in Polish, and partly due to my stupidity, I went to the train station at 11, and realised 11.06 was the DATE. Not the DEPARTURE TIME. My departure time was a few hours later in the afternoon. Suddenly, it all made so  much sense. I wouldn't have only given myself half a day in a city, even if it wasn't on my itinerary.

OOTD and summer breakfast with flowers in warsaw poland
modern urban architecture in warsaw poland

Low and behold, Rookie mistake number 2. So there I was at the train station with my luggage, and all my belongings stranded, wishing I could go out and explore, but not wanting to drag everything along with me. Walking back to the hostel to leave my things there, and then out again after would just be a waste of time, leaving me not much time to explore anyway. So... I found some cafe, caught up on some internet work, replied everyone that texted me the day before, talked to my mum who was worried I didn't make it (she usually checks up if I arrive at the hostel), and ate nice lunch (I tried this long cake/croissant thing which was really good!) hoping to forget I made such silly mistakes.

warsaw poland Old town market square
Panoramic view of the streets of warsaw poland
Garden during summer time in warsaw poland

I guess no matter how used to traveling one is, mistakes are bound to happen. From this i've learned. 1, Use my common sense, and 2, check check check! Things tend to go wry when I don't plan ahead (thought i'd have learned from this experience, guess not haha!).
So far, it's just losing precious traveling time, Thank God. Things could have been a lot worse. I nearly hopped on the 1106 train without checking and could have ended up who knows where in Poland. Everything was in polish! Thankfully I asked the officers that were patrolling at the platform!
Well, we live and we learn, right? Embrace every moment good or bad. Still, I did manage to see the highlights of Warsaw, so at least there is that!


Warsaw in Photos + Rookie Travel Mistakes (sigh!)

25 June 2015 Warsaw, Poland



Page 46 of 70. Damn. I should really be studying right now, but my brain is not absorbing anything. Instead I'm in a pretty chatty mood at 11.55pm, so I'm going to pre-write this for when I'm too busy to blog (i.e. hell week of examinations - happening as of NOW).

One of most memorable moments during my solo trip to Scandinavia was during the Norway in a Nutshell Tour I took from Oslo to Bergen. The thing about the scenery in Norway is, its pretty hard to get to the beautiful landscapes without a car, or MULTIPLE stops in different cities. Since I had only a short amount of time in Norway, I decided to go with this tour offered by Fjord Tours AS.
It isn't as much of a tour as a booking service where by they pre-book your tickets and route for you from one place to another (in my case Oslo to Bergen), but there is no tour guide or the likes of that.
It wasn't the cheapest, but since I was traveling alone, and was unfamiliar with the country, I decided that a pre-planned route was the best option.
The route was split into 4 different segments, and that in my opinion, gave me the best mix of experiences that I otherwise wouldn't have had should I have attempted to sort out my travel route myself.

Beware: This is going to be a post FILLED with photos. I narrowed it down from 500. I deserve a pat on the back. I was literally snapping non-stop the whole time, because
1) IT WAS TOO BEAUTIFUL, and
2) I couldn't seem to capture whatever I saw as best as I wanted. The scenery in Norway is something one should see for themselves.

THE BERGEN RAILWAY

I woke up early in the morning, and made my way to Oslo's main train station by 8.15am to catch the first leg of my tour; a train from Oslo to place called Mydral on The Bergan Railway. 
The night before, my hostel mate was telling me about how beautiful the route was for The Bergen Railway as she took it to Bergen 2 days ago. Needless to say, I was a bundle of excitement despite having to haul myself up at 6 in the morning. The Bergan Railway is said to be of Norway's 2 scenic railway rides. 

I was lucky that my pre-assigned seat was right by a window - all the photo opportunities! The guy seated next to me had to walk through the cabin to find another free window seat, which he did, but came back later because its occupant came on the train at a later stop.
Anyway, for the first 20 minutes there I wasn't seeing anything special, and was pretty bummed. Then, after leaving the industrial and urban area of Oslo, IT HAPPENED.

Picture from bergen rail - norway in a nutshell
Blue skies and rivers while on bergen railway norway in a nutshell
Bergen Railway Scenic route reflection

The train went by the most beautiful scenery, the sky was an incredible shade of blue, and we saw mountains, lakes, rivers and greenery. My mouth literally dropped when the landscape first came into view. And of course being typical tourists, everyone clamoured to the nearest window attempting to get the best shot (Thank God for my window seat!)

The train ride not only took us through landscapes with luscious green mountains and deep blue waters, after a few minutes, instead of reflections of mountains in the waters, we started to see ice-covered partially frozen rivers and suddenly, it was as if  winter came, and we saw snow capped mountains creeping into view.

The bergen railway scenic route norway in a nutshell image
Norway in a nutshell the bergen railway scenery
Norway in a nutshell scenery from the bergen railway

I was amazed by everything. I literally thought to myself, "Wow, this is beyond incredible!" and I was not even half way into my journey. There are no adjectives to describe the effect the changing landscapes had.
"Beautiful" does not suffice.
As the train passed by the snow covered mountains and various ski lodges, we were greeted by friendly smiles and an occasional hand wave from the skiers below.

It baffles me how the scene can change from clear skies, green trees and blue waters to snow covered hills. I felt like I was watching a movie, where titled - Norway: Sights from Spring to Winter.

Norway in a nutshell going by ski resorts bergen railway
Bergen Railway scenic landscape with mountains and snow

THE FLAM RAILWAY

After getting off The Bergen Railway, I just had to cross a platform and hoped onto another train - The Flam Railway, 2nd of Norway's Scenic Train Ride Routes.

Unlike The Bergen Railway, The Flam Railway was a little more old school. It looked like a vintage 1940s style train, that you'd see in the movies. The interior layout was too unlike the conventional trains that we're used to seating today.
The best part of it all? The windows could be opened! This mean that I could stick my hand out and touch the icicles that were formed on the side of the mountains we passed by, and also, it meant that I could stick my camera out for better photos.

Flam railway from norway in a nutshell
Norway in a nutshell Flam railway scenery
Passing by waterfalls whilst on norway in a nutshell tour flam railway

After we passed by snow capped mountains and winter wonderland with The Bergen Railway, it was back to valleys, waterfalls, and green trees. It is indeed a spectacular route.
The only slightly disappointing thing was that the train ride on The Flam Railway was a lot shorter than that on The Bergen Railway, and we kept going through tunnels which meant it was rather difficult to get proper photographs without having it being cut off.
Nevertheless, the view offsets any negatives.

The scenic views from the flam railway
Norway in a nutshell tour with the best scenic views

Even though the first 2 parts of the tour were trains, the views were surprisingly different. I thought going on both the Bergen Railway and Flam Railway would essentially mean the same thing, but I was wrong. I loved that the design of the trains are different, the routes are different and the sights are completely unique to each railway route.
That is the beauty of Norway I guess. There is something special and something to marvel at in every corner.

The sad thing about train rides is although the views are STUNNING, you don't get to stop and savour the moment/capture a perfect shot. But the landscape changes within such a small time frame is something I thoroughly enjoyed. It is like your eyes are being bombarded with all this perfection your brain struggles to capture mental images of everything!

Not to mention, this was only half the route! Stay tuned for the 2nd part of the trip where I go on the most amazing Fjord Cruise - the view was just. INCREDIBLE. I was so tempted to take another cruise through a different Fjord, but my budget didn't hold up unfortunately - woes of a university student.

Norway in a Nutshell - Perfect Views (Part 1)

30 May 2015 Norway

Outfit of the day and finding a garden In bergen

After writing a couple of postcards, and having visiting most of the (budget-friendly) sights I wanted to in Bergen, I realised I had an afternoon free to myself. I randomly googled "attractions in Bergen" and found a garden that was located 1.9km away - or so the map said. It also said that the only way there was by driving - which should have struck me as something odd, but it didn't.
I thought, "1.9km, thats not far at all, I can totally walk there!" So I grabbed my camera and headed out for part 2 of my day.

I studied the map as I was walking and made mental notes to the various landmarks I had to pass by before getting myself to said garden. "Big park, water body, bridge." I told myself.

Picture of Garden and Park in Bergen
Picture of a Secluded Park in Bergen
Nygardsparken in Bergen
picture of a pond in nygardsparken park in bergen

After walking for about 20 minutes, I was STILL in the big park, and couldn't figure out how to get myself out of the park, because a part of it was cordoned off. The park was located in a residential area of some sorts, clearly slightly outside the central area of Bergen judging by how inhabited it was.

Children were playing in the park by the water, older people having nice slow afternoon strolls, and happy ducks swimming in the pond. There was such a nice spring vibe going on. But, I was set on making my way to the garden, so I didn't stop.

Eventually, after walking a long route AROUND the perimeter of the park, I found myself heading towards the "water body". But there was no way for me to cross it. I couldn't find the bridge and ended up walking along the edge of the canal.

Monochrome outfit forever21 top
monochrome outfit with forever21 and naked glory witch
spring outfit Forever21 and Primark
Picture of a container shipping area in bergen

The lovely thing about Bergen is, you could be lost and clueless as to where you are, but the view you get is just as amazing.
I walked past what looked to be a shipping container/storage area, and even something like that was an image to be captured. With green mountains as its background, there is nothing that can look bad!

Bergen docks
Picture of docks in bergen and a bridge

After about another 10-15 minutes or so of wandering around the area by the waters, watching children ride bikes to and fro, I found the bridge connecting to the other side!

As usual, when I don't do any form of adequate planning, I hardly ever make it to the destination.
Low and behold, the bridge was not meant for human crossing. And then it dawned on me. "No wonder it said the only way to get there was by driving!" How silly.

So I was there, with no internet excess, rather confused, still believing that there would be a way I could get across but had no clue how.
See the thing is maps usually show you the contours and height of things, so people (well, people who can read maps) would be able to figure that there was no walking path across, but, despite me taking O-level geography, I don't have those skills. It's not that I don't try, I just can't... But so far it hasn't pose any serious problems, so I just let it be! Maybe this is why my mum gets a tad bit worried whenever I travel alone (don't worry mummy - I'm always being safe!)






What I Wore
Top: Forever21
Coat: coldwear.sg
Boots: Topshop
Necklace: Primark

In the spirit of just going with the flow, I did what I would normally do in situations like these, put away the map, continue on walking and exploring the area hoping to stumble upon something interesting.

picture of residential area bergen norway
picture of mini football field in a residential area
Picture of colourful houses in bergen
Picture of residential houses in bergen

As you'd expect, it was a common residential area, I was surprised that it didn't have any cafés nearby. There were a couple by the canals, but mostly just wide empty spaces and wooden planked floors. Wouldn't it be troublesome for people if they had to go to the city centre to get stuff?
Well, they had like convenient storers, but how about restaurants and food?
That was what was going through my mind.

Then again it was probably because it was a Sunday (public holiday) which could be why most places were closed. That being said, I wouldn't mind living in this residential area. They have their own soccer field, its near a park, relatively close to the canal, but sufficiently far from the city to avoid the touristic hustle and bustle. It's a nice quiet place to live in I must say.

off the beaten path of bergen


I walked and observed to the point I heard my stomach growl. Realising that there was no food available in the vicinity, and double checking with city maps, I headed back towards the city centre to for a nice dinner - I was surprisingly not far! It took me less than 10 minutes to get back (guess the whole time I was walking in the direction of the city centre even without my maps - going by intuition works for me after all); I had no idea how I got lost earlier on!

Bergen Byparken image

I can't decide if I want to be more of a type A person who plans out her route, or just wing it and do away with plans. I took this holiday to experiment with the "just go with it" mentality (well, basically I flew to Scandinavia IMMEDIATELY after the end of the school term, so there wasn't much time to plan). Whenever I plan for my trips, It feels a bit stressful because I want to go to one too many places, and not spend too much money.

Having a nice leisure stroll around a less populated area turned out to be rather memorable. No doubt there weren't any fancy attractions around, but it was nice to walk by smiling families, kind drivers who don't beep at you when you're in the middle of the road taking a photograph (something you can NEVER get in London. Yeah I was so surprised about that! The drivers are so nice!), just taking sometime to appreciate the landscape, mountains from afar, and having a very zen relaxed afternoon.

I use to plan almost every detail (including food places!), and plot all the locations I wanted to go to on a map before heading to the city, but now, I can see I'm starting to adopt more of the just-go-with-the-flow mentality with my travels. It's a nice change - until I start getting OCD again and go back to planning my routes!

Outfit Diary: Failed Attempt to Find a Garden - Bergen, Norway

25 May 2015 Bergen, Norway

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