30th Birthday Reflective Post

After checking into my room
After checking into my room
At Tanjung Aru to watch the sunset
At Tanjung Aru to watch the sunset

Blogging has always been the most effective way to convey my thoughts and views on things that matter to me in life. I started blogging in 2013, when I was in my final semester of university, and that is nearly six years ago.

The first few years had been very exciting moments of my blogging life where I connected with many, many fabulous authors, writer and bloggers across the world. I was also actively writing on Glipho (which is now discontinued), and discovering new friends online. After some time, I went out of the radar for a couple of years as I embark on my job.

Sunset at Tanjung Aru
Sunset at Tanjung Aru

At Pekan Nabalu, on the way to Kundasang

I turned 30 on the 10th of January this year. I planned for a solo trip as I have always wanted to go on a trip all by myself at least once. Somewhere in August 2018, while my brother, my sister-in-law and I were having Briyani for lunch after the settlement of the downpayment for their new home, I browsed through the AirAsia website for a return ticket to Kota Kinabalu (KK), Sabah and booked it without having a second thought. As much as I love my family, I came to terms with the fact that I need to buckle down and be prepared for the transition of staying on my own after having them both moved to their own new house. I wanted to embrace the challenge of travelling to a place that is totally foreign to me and having to enjoy my own company, as I thought it would help widen my perspective on life.

That\’s my silhouette
Overseeing Mount Kinabalu
The Mount Kinabalu from Desa Dairy Farm

Kundasang is a beautiful place located nearly two and a half hours away from Kota Kinabalu, the capital of the state of Sabah. Some of the girls from my university debate alumni team made a plan to visit Kundasang after our trip to Cambodia. However, the plan remains a plan to date. This triggered me to make my own plan for my upcoming birthday.

At the Kipungit waterfall
My tour guide cum driver, Airul
At Desa Dairy Farm

Interestingly, I stumbled upon a post wrote on post on three things to achieve by 30 six years ago. Looking back, I am surprised to learn that I have achieved most of the aims I had back then by the time I am 30. I had completely forgotten that having this post written somewhere in the 2013. Nevertheless, I think these aims were ingrained in my subconcious mind that I am able to achieve most of them without needing to be reminded by a post or a diary.

I wanted to do something else than engineering if I were to further my education, and I completed my MBA at the age of 28. I cleared off my education loan on the very last week of December 2018 since the previous ruling government offered a 20% discount from the total loan for every student who pays off the education loan in a single payment. I also paid off my car loan by the end of 2015 and in the first half of 2016, I secured a bank loan for the house I am living in now. I have created two small businesses (www.internationalbookpromotion.com and www.ibpeditingservices.com), which are based online, and I am looking at ways to bring them both to the next levels at the moment, while actively searching for ways to make passive income. I\’m not there yet, but I will be there, surely! I have not decided where I want to live as of now but that probably is not an issue, at the moment.

Now, having returned from my birthday solo trip, I wanted to write a reflective post on visit. 

1. Trust no one but trust everyone
The scariest thing for any solo traveller is to trust strangers they meet along their journey. When you need to ask for directions, when you\’re not comfortable with the hotel room you are staying, or when you need a lift from a passerby after your car broke down; you need to trust a stranger to an extend to get your journey going. I learned that I should be open to trusting people to an extend but always be wary of who they are and how they behave. I also learned to listen to my gut feelings about someone I meet. Energy doesn\’t lie. If you don\’t feel good about something, do not proceed further with the activity or intention.

2. The universe opens ways for every decision you take
When I was about to book my holiday tickets, I had no idea how I would be spending three days at KK. I only thought of heading to Kundasang. I didn\’t know exactly how and when I\’d be doing it but all I knew was the fact that I\’d come up with a plan that would help me to realize my birthday trip. I think, the decision I made to purchase the ticket made the difference. The holiday destination had been finalized and the rest of it followed through.

I was indeed very meticulous when drafting out my plans as I was very conscious about the teeny-weeny decisions I make pertaining to the holiday due to the fact that I would be travelling alone. My initial plan was to travel using a car rented from Kota Kinabalu and head towards Kundasang. I booked a car (without pre-payment) about two months before my trip. As I Googled, I learned that there are quite a number of places to visit, both at Kundasang and KK. With the limited time available, I was concurrently trying to draft an itinerary to fit in as many worthy places as possible. I also booked a few hotel rooms (without pre-payment) via booking.com at KK and Kundasang so that I could pick the best one based on my finalized itinerary later and cancel the rest.

I read blog posts from other travellers on noteworthy tips while visiting KK and Kundasang. My mind was pretty much occupied on how the trip should go like and as a result, I got a little restless. Not only that, I couldn\’t really decide and stick to anything as I was very concerned on getting all the plans laid out right.

However, towards the end of the year, I stumbled upon a Facebook post about a friend having visited Kundasang and I dropped her a message right away. She shared her tour guide\’s number and little did I know that getting in touch with him would be changing my plans altogether, but for good. I ended up having a tour guide cum driver for the first two days of my trip and having him driving me to places made the trip safe as some roads were a little challenging for new drivers, especially during rainy days since Kundasang is a mountainous town about 1,900 meters above the sea level.

A few weeks before my trip, I got to know that my friend is posted at KK for a couple of months for a project. I stayed with her the last two days and it was a pleasure meeting her after three years.

I was amazed at how everything fell into its place and although my trip swayed from its original plan, I still had an incredible trip and I loved every bit of it.

The Kipungit waterfall
The sunset of 10th Jan















3. Steer clear from noises when you need to gain clarity on life
There were quite a few people who were worried about me travelling alone for my birthday trip like my mom, dad and some close friends. I think despite having my travel insurance booked and assuring them that I\’ve made sufficient research on the trip, they were still worried. Although their fear is totally understandable, at the end of the day, I think I learned to make that leap of faith.

I wanted this trip very badly, not just as a birthday treat, but also as a chance for soul-searching. The need to just stay away from eveything for a bit was so mind-boggling that I had to disguise it as a holiday, and I was sure people around me didn\’t notice the actual intention, which is much deeper than just a vacation. Your soul knows what you need the best; not the people around you.

Sometimes, when you are at the verge of not being able to explain yourself, the best thing you can do is to steer clear from noises as peace would help you to make better decisions. I am glad I took time to do this as I was able to gain clarity on a few things that I was contemplating. In simplicity, you gain clarity. For all you know, the takeaway lesson from journeys like this would help you stay true to your goals in life in the long run.

4. You\’re in control; and one step away from a different life
The ultimate reason why we are often encouraged to stretch out of the comfort zone during the lowest point of our lives is to provide an opportunity for us to learn that we are always in control of our lives and that we are always one step away from a life we want. The scariest and out-of-the-comfort-zone thing to do is the most liberating of all.

Me at the Manukan Islands
During the sunset of 10th Jan

Right from the beginning, I knew that I am one click away from booking a ticket and making my plans happen. But, I had so many what ifs and buts that were already marring my vision and as I gave these thoughts more power, they dominated my courage and the plan remained a plan because I was so focused on how to make it happen rather than just deciding that the plan will be achieved. It is the lack of the envisioning power that deters the entire dreams of our lives.

5. Learn how to enjoy your own company
On the third day of my trip, I had nobody to accompany the day-trip. All I did was to simply get a Grab driver to send me to the places I wanted to visit. I learned to enjoy my own company and the company of people I meet along the way. I thought this was one of the most treasurable moments of the trip as I discovered my abilities to blend with people although being an introvert. I fell in love with solitude, and I knew I would be able to continue enjoying the \’me time\’ upon my return from the trip.

6. Sometimes, failing to plan can lead to beautiful pathways
Despite the fact that I was meticulously planning for a perfect trip, towards the end of the year, I decided to with the flow and stopped bothering much about the places I would cover. I literally had no place on mind for the third day. Island hopping was an activity that crossed my mind but I was tired on the second day. I took all the time I needed to take a shower that morning and went to the lobby to ask for my breakfast. As I was having breakfast, I contemplated on the idea of going for island hopping as I was told that the tide is high. However, it was a bright sunny day and after checking out several things with the receptionist, I booked a Grab ride to the jetty and in no time, I bought my tickets to the Manukan and Sapi Islands. Later, I felt so glad for having visited the islands as the views were breathtaking. At times, letting things go loose could lead to a beautiful journey.

The breathtaking Sapi Islands
The corals at Sapi Islands













8. Learn to trust your decisions when nobody does, and be accountable for them
Most often than not, opinions are just meant to be taken with a grain of salt. There might be a solid reason behind every decision of yours and people around you may have not realized the the depth of thoughts. Do what needs to be done and take accountability for your decision. Even if your plan fails, at least you know why you wanted it in the first place.

10. Take chances
If you\’re young and healthy, now is the time for you to actualize your dreams more than any other time of your life ever. You can surely attain your wishes much later in your life, but the price you need to pay would be greater. The effort you need to take when you are sick, occupied with a busy career or a family life would be more challenging than the times in life when you have lower commitment level. I learned that taking chances in life is so important as it would make you feel satisfied with the achievements you trade.

The view at Sapi Islands
Sapi Islands, near KK
















11. Learn how to take calculated risks
I reckoned that there are risks with everything we do in life and a solo trip is also a risky one, especially if you do not plan things ahead wisely. The planning here refers to your safety precautions and travel tips that you should be aware of before travelling. When you have decided to travel alone, you would be fully accountable of your safety and unknowingly, you\’d read more about what should and should not be done wherever you are travelling to.

I think any trip made alone would teach us the ability to take calculated risks in life and this skill would eventually help us take the leap of faith in making changes in our lives for a better living.

12. Celebrate life
This trip undeniably taught me how to celebrate life! I did that by welcoming my 30th birthday with a friend who called me to wish me happiness. We cracked jokes and ended up laughing hard for an hour. It was truly a trip to remember and I would carry these takeaway messages whenever life pulls me down.  
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I welcome your thoughts and views ! 😀 Thank you for your feedback

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