#13 - My first real solo trip

I am writing this while sitting on a sofa in my hostel in Greece. Solo travel has become almost second nature to me. But when I took my first real solo trip to Langkawi, that was not the case.

Since I heard about Langkawi, I wanted to visit. I had done a trip on every weekend of my exchange and I wanted to keep the momentum. The others were not so enthusiastic enthusiastic.

In the end I had no choice. If no one else was going to come with me, I had to do the trip on my own. That sounded scary. I explored Kuala Lumpur on my own but this trip to Langkawi was on the next level. I needed an overnight bus and a ferry to get to the island. It was too far away so I would have to spend a night there as well.

I pondered my options for a week. I calculated that this trip was going to hit my budget hard and troubled me. I had a very tight budget after getting to Malaysia and this was going to rip a hole in it. Suddenly I stumbled on a cliché quote that said “Money spent on travel is money well spent”. That pushed me over the fence.

Stepping off the ferry at Langkawi, I couldn’t believe that I was really doing this. I had forgotten to check the weather before and my heart sank when I saw the dark storm clouds. The rain poured down as I went from the port to the symbolic eagle statue a few hundred meters away. My trip was not off to a great start.

Langkawi didn’t have public transport. So I hailed down a taxi driver to take me to my hotel, the first one that I have ever booked for myself. My driver didn’t know about it but when we got there I was happy to find that it did exist. It was very basic but plenty for me to rest my head on for a day.

As the owner showed me around, he casually mentioned that they rent bikes. This caught my ear. Finally, a way to cut down on the expensive taxi rides. I immediately asked for a map and to rent a bike for my stay. After stopping at the closest sights on the map, I set my sights on the beach. Google maps said that it was 9KM away. When booking my hotel, I didn’t consider how close it was to the sights and it was cheap because it was far from most of them. Despite having never cycled that far or on public roads before, I gingerly hit the road.

There was no traffic apart from the occasional car and as the kilometers rolled by I started to ease up. “This is not so scary” I thought just before a truck overtook me. I should have not thought that.

Many rest breaks later, I pulled into town. Struggling to find a place for my bike, I decided to lock it to a lamp post in the center. I figured it would be really stupid for someone to steal a bike from such a public place. Walking to the beach, I immediately wanted to dive in. But in the excitement of renting a bike, I realized that I had left my swimming trunks and towel back at the hotel.

I really didn’t want to cycle back again. I kept walking until I got to a more empty part of the beach. Now I was thinking what the hell, no one here knows me, I can do whatever I want. So I stripped down to my boxers and dove in. I didn’t know how to swim and this was the first time I went into the water without anyone watching me. To have some kind of assurance, I tried to keep in sight of some of the beach goers.

Without no one else to drag me out of the water, I was in the water for over an hour. Acting “normal”, I rose out of the water and dried myself off with my shirt. Still wet and smelling like the sea, I headed to the next stop on the map which was an agriculture museum.

The only thing I remember about this museum was that it was about rice fields. As usual, I paid close attention to the first few exhibits until my brain froze and pushed me to the exit that lead to a small paddy field. I roamed around, running my hands against the grains and finally getting to the hut in the center. I was tired and seeing no one around, I lied with my back against the pillar to take a nap.

I was out for half an hour. Waking up, I groggily remembered that I had to cycle all the way back to the hotel now. I was already sore from the ride to the beach. Having no other choice, after petting the cute kittens I found by the museum, I hit the road again.

As I rode along listening to random songs, I spotted a sign on the side of the road for go karts. I have gone go karting before and I was intrigued. The price was not too high so I decided to do it.

Leaving the track, I knew that I wanted to do this again. Several more breaks and cycling one handed to stretch my back, I finally made it back. I couldn’t believe that I had done it. It was the longest cycling trip I have ever taken (until then).

Remembering the local food market the owner mentioned before, I set off to get dinner. I was amazed by the variety and the low prices.There was food in all shapes and colors and I had no idea what most of them were. Acting deaf, I pointed to and tried everything that was cheap and looked good. Feeling content, I ended one of the most random days of my life. I have done many more trips since then but that quote remains true. I have never regretted spending for any of them.