My Very First Solo Trip

Posted by : foongpc | Friday, April 24, 2009 | Published in


This is the first time I went on a holiday all by myself. Previously, I always went with friends or family members. And I always got to stay at good hotels or at least comfortable 3-star ones.

However, I was inspired by people like blogger QuaChee and also some of my own friends who like traveling alone. Besides, I wanted to experience a solo backpacker way of traveling.

My mom have always insisted that I do not travel alone. She said, where's the fun in traveling alone? And you look like a fool all by yourself! Well, am I glad I didn't listen to her advice! Sorry, mom! : )

By now, you would have probably known that I went to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah or more famously known as KK for my holidays. This was absolutely my first time there and I was thrilled!

My original plan was to go with my friend to climb Mount Kinabalu. We had planned for this since last year. I still remember it was sometime in November last year. I was about to book the lodgings at Mount Kinabalu when my friend called to say he had to cancel the plan due to a personal reason which I won't disclose here. That was such a disappointment!

But I have already bought the AirAsia tickets for us both! What to do? It was then that I thought, why not just go by myself? And experience solo travel for the first time. Since it was my first time to KK, I decided to see more of KK instead of climbing the mountain.

Backpacker image courtesy of

Now that I'm back, I have to say that I did not regret traveling alone at all! Although sometimes, it would be good to have a travel partner whom I could talk to or discussed with, I think making those decisions and choices during the trip all by myself have given me a new sense of freedom. I also don't have to put up with my partner's likes and dislikes. I enjoyed the freedom to do whatever I wanted without having to discuss with my travel partner first.

As for looking like a fool backpacking alone, I sure don't feel it that way. I have bumped into many solo backpackers in KK and made friends with them. Making new friends during a trip is sure a nice change when previously, I used to keep to only my travel partners or family members. Having said that, I don't make friends with every backpacker I met cos some of them were sort of weird. So it's better to stay away from such travelers.

Traveling alone this time gave me an entirely new experience which I don't think I will get to experience if I were to travel with others. I was more observant with what's happening around me.

Take for instance my flight with AirAsia. Every time before take off, AirAsia will always announce some of the do's and don'ts. I normally ignore such announcements as I would be too busy chatting with my travel partner or family members. However, this time, since I had no one to chat with, I was all ears.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

When I heard that you should keep your seat upright during take off and landing, I was wondering why.

And when they announced that the window shades must be kept up and open during take off and landing, I also wondered why. It's incredible I just took these things for granted previously!

And then they also dimmed the lights during the landing at night. Why do they need to dim the lights? And allow people who wish to read to switch on the reading lights? And what's with these avid readers who could not sacrifice a few minutes of their reading time during landing? Come on!

OK, I have to admit that I am a pretty ignorant bastard when it comes to air travel, but well, at least I dare to admit it! Haha! I sort of went through these questions in my mind while in the plane and I think I have some logical answers to them. But first, let me hear from you all. Do you know the answers to these questions?

I have to say that despite watching the flight stewardess demonstrating how to put on the life jacket numerous times in the past, I have never ever mastered it! Even this trip I did not succeed in learning it. Guess I'm a slow learner. Haha! In any case, if there's a real need for the life jacket in an emergency, I think I would be too panicked to remember the steps!

I also noticed that they kept reminding us not to use the handphone for the duration of the flight. But we were allowed to switch on our laptops, iPods and CD players during the flight, although not during take off and landing. I wonder how important these rules are, and if the use of handphones have ever caused a plane to crash before.

Sitting in the plane for 2 and a half hours with nothing to do, I decided to browse through the in-flight AirAsia magazine called Travel 3Sixty that was provided at every seat. Was I glad I found a good website that could answer most of my questions. If you are interested, check out this 'Just About Flying' site!

You can also submit any questions you have regarding flying and air travel on this site. Now if you are thinking of searching for the answers to my questions above, do think them over first and see if you can come up with the answers yourself.

Coming up in my next post - My First Day In KK


(64) Comments

  1. Anonymous

    First solo! Good on you :)

    April 24, 2009 at 8:15 AM
  2. Anonymous

    I have been to KK and loved it. Climbed the mountain, visited the hot springs, island hop and ate some really great seafood. I intend to revisit again :)

    Travelling alone has its perks too you know. But I have yet to do a solo thing. For guys it's easier to travel alone than for women.

    April 24, 2009 at 8:18 AM
  3. lina said...

    Morning you two early birds! Early post from foong & early comments from Mei Teng and I still have yet to drink my coffee. :)

    April 24, 2009 at 8:52 AM
  4. lina said...

    If I said I've yet been to KK, Zaini will correct me. Have touched KK soil (airport only lah) but yet to explore the beauty and wonders of KK. Looking forward for your posts soon!

    April 24, 2009 at 8:55 AM
  5. eiling lim said...

    The only thing I can understand about flying is why we have to switch off the electronic gadgets because it can interfere with their intermission.

    April 24, 2009 at 9:02 AM
  6. day-dreamer said...

    There's a first time to everything. Haha. Looking forward to your posts about your KK adventures!

    April 24, 2009 at 12:02 PM
  7. _el@i_ said...

    oh, my! i thought i'm going to make it this time :(

    it's good to have a solo trip once a while, i envy you there

    April 24, 2009 at 12:02 PM
  8. foongpc said...

    mei teng, I guess solo travel is not that safe for women. But if you take some precautions, I think it can be done. Yes I agree KK is a wonderful place and I've fallen in love with it! : )

    lina, good morning! Oops! Now is afternoon already. Haha! Have only touched the KK soil? Oh, you must go visit - it's a lovely place! But probably not as good as Japan lah. LOL!

    April 24, 2009 at 12:33 PM
  9. foongpc said...

    eiling, so you don't know why they ask you to straighten your seat and keep the window shades up during take off and landing?

    day-dreamer, yes there's a first time for everything. Will post on my KK trip in my next post. Stay tuned! : )

    el@i, don't envy me. You can do it too! : )

    April 24, 2009 at 12:36 PM
  10. Nick Phillips (15/03/1967 - 04/11/2022) said...

    Sounds like you had fun :D

    April 24, 2009 at 12:37 PM
  11. foongpc said...

    nick, I did! : )

    April 24, 2009 at 12:54 PM
  12. _el@i_ said...

    oh, foong, it takes a lot of courage and i think i don't have that much .. ;)

    April 24, 2009 at 1:10 PM
  13. TZ said...

    Dude, I usually travel alone... I like the piece of mind. But some places is nice to travel with others ... :) Anyway, i'm glad you were enjoying your first solo trip... i have friends that not enjoying solo trip.

    BTW, I like to make friends during the trip... I had made so many ppl during my past trips and we still kept in touch in FB :)

    April 24, 2009 at 1:13 PM
  14. iamthewitch said...

    For seats to be upright, my guess would be so that the people outside could see you through the window in case of any crash. If it's reclined, then they might not be able to see you at all. For the windows to be opened, it's the same reason. But I don't know why lights have to be dimmed though... let me check the website now:)

    April 24, 2009 at 1:13 PM
  15. suituapui

    I love KK...expensive but beautiful place, super delicious food! Drool!

    April 24, 2009 at 1:49 PM
  16. [SK] said...

    yeah, there's just nothing wrong to travel alone, the biggest advantage is that you have all freedom to do what you like without having to take care of your travel companion.. the only bad thing is that there's no people to take photo of you, haha.. anyway, stay alert when you're travelling alone though..

    all those things you were asked to do when take off or landing are for safety.. this will make you able to see if anything went wrong to the plane and shout for help!! (eg: you see fire on the wings of the plan from the window - that's why shades must be up)

    April 24, 2009 at 1:52 PM
  17. LifeRamblings said...

    i'd very much like to conquer MK one day.

    April 24, 2009 at 2:24 PM
  18. Merryn said...

    u r suppose to put ur sits upright coz in case of crash, the ppl behind have more space to swing infront? dim da lights so that u wont see monsters landing? hmm... errr... u think those back packers are weird... maybe they think the same towards u? hahahahah.. just kidding! congrats on surviving ur first ever solo trip!

    April 24, 2009 at 2:49 PM
  19. eastcoastlife said...

    You went alone?

    I plan to visit KK.

    April 24, 2009 at 3:09 PM
  20. eastcoastlife said...

    Your travel post to KK would be a good resource and reference for me. :)

    April 24, 2009 at 3:10 PM
  21. Lisa said...

    of course one can always go traveling solo-ly :D

    glad you had great time

    April 24, 2009 at 3:17 PM
  22. Medie007 said...

    oooo i lurrvvv KK

    April 24, 2009 at 4:08 PM
  23. JL said...

    I read every paragraph and enjoyed it. You had an interesting story there on your solo travel and it's something I'm sure I could use in the future. Lol. Anyway, feel free to accept the International Bloggers Community "tag" from me at this post. As I'll be blog-hopping for now I can't do your questions yet so I'll do them later. :)

    April 24, 2009 at 4:35 PM
  24. .:: Ant ::. said...

    Felt good to have time only to yourself right? :) You should try farther places for your next destination. Europe is great to backpack. I'd do china too but i think i need a companion who speaks mandarin coz there's so much history to learn. My huayi sux big time!


    April 24, 2009 at 4:44 PM
  25. khengsiong said...

    So how do you feel traveling solo? Lonely? Maximum freedom?

    I'm used to doing that. I have backpacked to Thailand 3 times and Bali once - all were solo trips.

    I enjoy the freedom of traveling alone. Back here, I always think that married men are the lucky ones. But during my trips, I feel that being single has its advantages too, LOL...

    P/S If the seats in the plane are not upright, the passengers seated behind will have difficulty to escape during an emergency.

    April 24, 2009 at 4:48 PM
  26. Borneo Falcon said...

    I used to travel alone too and it is a good thing as one had freedom and can go at your own pace.

    Well, things changed after one get married (like me) although I still travel frequently on business trip

    Travel alone is OK. The only time when one might look like a fool is during dining time. Well, at least that is for me

    April 24, 2009 at 6:40 PM
  27. Che-Cheh said...

    Cool man traveling alone. I dreamed of traveling solo but cannot la. The safety part.

    Yes KK is a wonderful place. I want to go there again.

    Can't wait to read your first day.

    And yeah I kinda know & don't know why we must do all those stuff you mentioned. Just guesses.

    April 24, 2009 at 7:31 PM
  28. Angel said...

    Travel alone is always fun and challenging. It is a way where one can learn to be independent.

    April 24, 2009 at 10:02 PM
  29. bluedreamer27 said...

    hey what does KK means??
    maybe i should find it out in your next post
    just dropping by here
    have a great day and happy blogging

    April 24, 2009 at 10:56 PM
  30. Shionge said...

    Sometimes I love to travel alone, own time own target, plus own agenda too :)

    Glad that you've enjoyed your solo trip and for me, I realised I get to make new friends as when you travel with freinds, we tend to stay in a group.

    April 25, 2009 at 12:11 AM
  31. Cashmere said...

    Tralled to KK alone for the first tme?? Wow!! I really wish I can travel alone but I think everybody around me will disallow it cos they wouldn't want a girl to be travelling alone and it's not safe for me.. lol! The most I will do is to have an all-girls trip. Now that would be fun.. :D

    April 25, 2009 at 6:35 AM
  32. Ayie said...

    Glad you had a great experience on your trip. I never travelled solo, not allowed coz my parents were too strict that time. The only solso flight i had was without any family members. Had to go a friend's resort for business matters.

    As for the flight rules, I also wonder why! haha

    Guys brave more to go solo travel but I met and became friends with this brave girl during our china-hk trip. She travelled by herself!

    April 25, 2009 at 7:05 AM
  33. eastcoastlife said...

    Some places are not safe for women travelling solo. I do travel solo too.

    April 25, 2009 at 12:17 PM
  34. eastcoastlife said...

    Happy weeknd!
    waiting for your new post.

    April 25, 2009 at 12:17 PM
  35. foongpc said...

    el@i, maybe you can try it on short trips closer to home first?

    TZ, yes it's good to make friends during solo travel. And it's true that some trips are better off with friends. Since you always travel alone, then I have to look up to you for advice in my future solo travels! : )

    April 25, 2009 at 12:27 PM
  36. foongpc said...

    iamthewitch, the seats have to be straightened so that in the event of a crash, we won't suffer from neck backlash, so impact on injuries are minimised. Also, the passengers behind you can move out of their seats easier.

    As for the window shades to be up, it is so that in the event of a crash, we can look outside and be aware of our surroundings and orientation.

    Now for the lights that are dimmed during landings at night, it is so that our eyes are used to the dark. In the event of an accident or crash, we will be able to see outside. If the lights are on, the glass window will reflect the lights and make it impossible for us to see the condition outside the plane.

    I hope I got the reasons correct. Anyone want to add to this?

    April 25, 2009 at 12:28 PM
  37. Anonymous

    you went solo traveling? cool man..
    but i usually go with a bunch of friends, i think that's more fun.. have people to talk to.. haha..

    April 25, 2009 at 2:41 PM
  38. HappySurfer said...

    Sounds like you had fun, Foong.

    Going on a solo trip is like going shopping on your own. As much as I love the latter, I'd prefer to go on holiday in a group. Besides, for a lady, it's not as safe. Also, guys can stand anywhere to water the plants, ladies can't. But I digress..

    April 25, 2009 at 3:02 PM
  39. HappySurfer said...

    Oh I forgot to add, looking forward to reading your adventure.

    April 25, 2009 at 3:03 PM
  40. foongpc said...

    suituapui, yes it's a beautiful place alrite : )

    SK, I guess there are pros and cons of traveling alone. You are right - the biggest advantage is the freedom to do anything I want and not worrying about my travel companion/s. No one to take photo of me? No problem - I just ask any passerby who are kind enough!

    Yes, all the rules are for our safety. But I don't hope to see fire on the wings of the plane! : )

    life ramblings, me too! : )

    April 25, 2009 at 3:18 PM
  41. foongpc said...

    merryn, dim the lights so don't see monsters landing? Hello, what are you talking about? Aliens? Haha!

    Yeah, maybe the other travelers also think I'm weird, who knows? So we just think each other weird and go our own way lah. LOL!

    eastcoastlife, oh you plan to visit KK? When? I'm sure you'll like it there. Will be coming out with posts on KK very soon! : )

    April 25, 2009 at 3:22 PM
  42. foongpc said...

    lisalicious, thanks! : )

    medie007, you do? Then you must go there again! : )

    JL, glad that my post will be your reference for your own future travels! Btw, thanks for the tag though I've received similar tags from Monica and Mariuca! : )

    April 25, 2009 at 3:24 PM
  43. foongpc said...

    anton, yes it feels really good! Love traveling solo! I will try further away places next time. I think I'm like you. My Mandarin sucks too, so that's why I need someone who can speak Mandarin to go to China with me! : )

    khengsiong, I don't feel lonely at all. Instead it's a feeling of complete freedom and lots of fun! Hmm, I think I will be like you - go backpacking to Thailand and Bali next time! Only China I need companion who can speak Mandarin, cos my Mandarin sucks big time! Haha!

    April 25, 2009 at 3:30 PM
  44. foongpc said...

    borneo falcon, you feel foolish dining alone? I used to feel like that too last time. Not anymore. Nowadays, I actually feel quite comfortable dining alone. In fact, sometimes I prefer to dine alone while sms-ing on my handphone or reading a book. It's bliss! : )

    che-cheh, I guess it's a bit more difficult for ladies to travel solo because of safety reasons. You like KK too? I will be posting about my trip any time now!

    angel, yes traveling alone is fun and challenging at the same time. And of course it teaches us to be independent, which is great! : )

    April 25, 2009 at 3:36 PM
  45. foongpc said...

    bluedreamer27, KK stands for Kota Kinabalu, the place I visited during my holidays. Happy blogging to you too! : )

    shionge, yeah, traveling alone has so many advantages I love it! And making new friends is definitely one of the advantages! : )

    cashmere, I guess an all-girls trip would be fun for you! : )

    April 25, 2009 at 3:40 PM
  46. foongpc said...

    ayie, never travel solo before? I guess it's not very safe for ladies, but there are brave ladies who do travel solo!

    To know the reasons for all the flight rules, you can go to the website link I recommended in my post. Also refer to my reply to iamthewitch above : )

    eastcoastlife, you are waiting for my post? Oh, sorry to keep you waiting, but it'll be coming out any time now! : )

    April 25, 2009 at 3:44 PM
  47. foongpc said...

    kenwooi, I agree going with a bunch of friends is a lot of fun. But traveling solo is no less fun. Just fun in a different way. You should try it and see! : )

    happysurfer, guys can stand anywhere to water the plants? Haha! I try not to!! Wait till I tell you I almost wanted to do big business in Kinabalu Park forests! Will talk about that in one of my future posts! : )

    April 25, 2009 at 3:48 PM
  48. iWalk said...

    Welcome back!

    I love travel solo as well as travel with friends.

    Fortunately, I often can enjoy both of them during every holiday. Some days solo, and some days with friends.

    I love to meet strangers!

    April 25, 2009 at 4:21 PM
  49. foongpc said...

    iwalk, hope I can meet up with you one day! : )

    April 25, 2009 at 9:27 PM
  50. Johnny Ong said...

    i'm one of those who will on the reading light as i'll be reading while taking off. what to do as the mind is still active then

    April 25, 2009 at 11:14 PM
  51. Anonymous

    maybe one day i'll try traveling alone.. haha =D

    April 26, 2009 at 1:25 AM
  52. foongpc said...

    johnny ong, so you are one of those avid readers with nothing better to do! Haha!

    kenwooi, oh yes try it and let me know how it feels OK? : )

    April 26, 2009 at 10:04 PM
  53. Monica said...

    Foong, I have never traveled alone :-D

    April 27, 2009 at 8:19 AM
  54. jam said...

    I also never really paid attention to those instructions by the stewardess. But I am a good boy so far, do everything they ask although I dun know what it is for.

    April 27, 2009 at 11:38 AM
  55. foongpc said...

    monica, never? I guess ladies normally don't travel alone cos it's not safe?

    jam, haha! So good boy ah? Maybe you should break the rules sometimes and see what the stewardess' reaction will be. Then when she tell you to straighten your seats, or open the window shades etc, you can ask her why and test if she know the reason or not, or she is just following instructions like everyone else! LOL!

    April 27, 2009 at 3:30 PM
  56. Neo said...

    I don't travel alone because i scared I will get lost! :)

    April 28, 2009 at 1:09 AM
  57. Ayie said...

    Thanks foong...i read it all and it makes sense!

    April 28, 2009 at 3:39 AM
  58. foongpc said...

    neo, haha! You must be kidding me! : )

    ayie, it does? Well, that's good to hear! Haha!

    April 28, 2009 at 9:47 PM
  59. Rozella said...

    You know I truly believe that there is nothing better in the world than travelling solo. You just see the place differently and you just meet so many interesting people.

    I actually just got back from a solo trip to Indonesia a couple of weeks ago as well. :) It was so awesome. If I had the money, I would take off again right now on my own! Hehehe

    May 5, 2009 at 8:37 PM
  60. foongpc said...

    rozella, yes agree with you totally! It's different from traveling in a group or with friends. If I have the money, I will go off again to other places too! Thanks for dropping by! : )

    May 13, 2009 at 11:09 AM
  61. Rozella said...

    I just purchased my tickets for another solo trip early next year. Hehehe But hopefully, cross fingers, I get to take one at the end of the year too.

    For me, money can buy a lot of material goods, but there is nothing more worth it then experiencing the world.

    Plus, I have to disagree with a few of the earlier comments. It is safe for a woman to travel alone. I think whether you are male or female, it depends on the intention you have when you're travelling. If your heart is in the right place, everything will just follow suit. :)

    May 13, 2009 at 8:52 PM
  62. foongpc said...

    rozella, wow! So nice! Hope you have an enjoyable trip and blog about it! Where will you be going next year?

    I agree with you that experiencing the world is worth much more than money!

    So you travel alone regularly? Most people think it's dangerous for a woman to do that. I guess you prove them wrong! : )

    May 13, 2009 at 10:25 PM
  63. Unknown said...

    hey foongpc, sorry not been here in yr blog for a while. been a lil too tied up with work. but i remember u said u were going kk. and glad u did. see some familiar places u went hehe. anyway, im happy to have inspired u on going to the trip. think u might just be another travel blogger soon :)

    May 14, 2009 at 11:00 PM
  64. foongpc said...

    quachee, it's OK. Must be really busy huh? Yes, you inspired me to go on my very first solo trip. It was a really enjoyable trip for me. Will I be a travel blogger? I don't know about that. Time will tell : )

    May 19, 2009 at 2:59 AM