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What I learned from travelling the world

I love travelling. Those who know me can probably attest to that. I’m thankful that I’ve had the means to take a plane out of Singapore a few times a year, and I always love exploring new places that I’ve never been to before. This year is particularly exciting, I just came back from a trip to Hawaii, and will be heading to South Africa in the 2nd half of the year!

From planning my holidays to doing navigating during the trip, searching for food places and simply enjoying myself, I’ve felt like I’ve grown through each travel adventure and just thought I’d pen down some of the things I’ve learned.

Travelling made me realise how big and wondrous the world is, and how small me & my human problems are

Shipwreck beach at Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii

Shipwreck beach at Poipu, Kauai

I love exploring vast, open spaces. My happy places are those where I can soak in the views of the wide expanse of the ocean, when I’m at the top of a mountain or watching huge waves crash up against steep cliffs. In this picture, I was looking down at the majestic waves swirling below me, and it was terrifying, yet electrifying at the same time. My heart was pounding in my chest as I imagined the waves swirling up and carrying me down into their depths, but at the same time I was transfixed at the views of the sea. It was a juxtaposition of emotions – a fear of the danger of the waters against the feeling of peace from the rhythmic pounding of the waves against the cliff.

Though Singapore doesn’t have much nature to speak of, travelling has opened my eyes to the wonders of God’s creation. Standing at the top of a mountain, I see the beauty that He has spoken into being. It puts life in perspective. Spending time amongst nature has often helped me to shift the focus away from myself, and then I realise that my problems aren’t so big after all if I don’t make a big deal out of them. Take a step back, take a deep breath and be filled with a sense of wonder about the world.

I learned where the East and West is

Sunset at Haleakala Crater, Maui, Hawaii

Sunset at Haleakala Crater, Maui

Haha, this is kind of a joke. You might be thinking how bimbotic I sound to be even writing this down. But honestly, I never realised how important it was to know which direction was East and West until I started planning my travels and chasing sunsets while I was on holiday. My husband thinks I’m nuts because of the effort I put into catching the sunset at the end of (almost) each day while we’re travelling.

I just love sunsets.

I love how the sky changes in colour as the sun slips down from its peak. How the sun rays pierce through the clouds, dazzling my eyes with its brightness; and as it continues to descend, softens to a warm glow, turning the sky orange, red and pink. Every sunset is different, and I revel in its beauty.

Sunset at Ho'Okipa Beach, Maui, Hawaii

Sunset at Ho’Okipa Beach, Maui

Since the sun sets in the west, this makes it especially important to differentiate between the two directions to choose the right spot to end the day. I’ve realised that it’s possible to view the sunset from the north and south as well (in fact, it could yield nicer photos as well, since the sun is not “in your face”), but I completely missed the sunset one evening when I chose a beach on the eastern side of Kauai, Hawaii. Likewise, I’ve missed sunrise when it came up from behind our roof while we were expectantly waiting for it on our balcony facing the west. So if you’re hoping to catch a beautiful sunset (or sunrise), learn where your east and west is. And it also comes in helpful when you’re navigating around whichever place you’re visiting. Google Maps is such a lifesaver.

Travelling made me more acutely aware of how much waste I generate during each trip

Açai in a reusable coconut bowl

Açai in a reusable coconut bowl

Since a year ago, I’ve become more mindful about my environmental footprint, and I’m taking baby steps to be more sustainable in the way I live my life. In Singapore, I quickly switched to bringing my own utensils and using a glass bottle instead of a plastic one. But I realised that it was quite a different story when I travelled to Tasmania last year. Eating out, often on-the-go, meant using lots of single-use plastic bags, containers, straws and utensils. Each time I used one, I felt a tug of guilt knowing how much waste I was generating. Some countries have potable tap water, but many don’t, which means buying bottles and bottles of mineral water which again uses so much plastic!

On my recent trip to Hawaii, I decide to make a more concerted effort to minimise single-use products and waste. I brought along my entire box of reusable utensils from a fork and spoon, to a metal straw and chopsticks (for poké!). I was pretty happy that I managed to use my fork and spoon quite a number of times, though I often forgot to tell restaurants that I didn’t need a straw for my cocktail when I ordered it! Oops!

Hawaii is pretty advanced in their environmental consciousness, probably a result of them being surrounded by nature. I only came across one restaurant that used plastic straws (the rest all used paper straws, though still single-use) and some even clearly stated on the menu that they would only provide straws upon request which was great! I was also super stoked that I finally managed to get my hands on a coconut bowl!!! It came “free” when I ordered an upsized shaved ice, and I immediately washed and used it for a bowl of açai after that.

Hiking with my Purefree Amico water bottle

Hiking with my Purefree Amico water bottle

Also brought along my reusable bag which was perfect for grocery shopping and my Purefree Amico water bottle. I did a quick google before my trip and was happy to know that the tap water in Hawaii is drinkable! And it tasted pretty good too, nothing like the hard water in some other parts of USA. It was great to easily refill my water in this bottle, and I love how this bottle is completely plastic-free. It is made from borosilicate glass which is known to withstand heat better than other kinds of glass (which is great for me because I like mixing hot water with room temperature water) and comes with a colourful silicone sleeve that protects the bottle from breakages (and protects you from the heat if you fill the bottle with hot water). Hawaii was the Amico bottle’s maiden trip overseas and I’m sure I’ll be bringing it overseas more often.

These are just some of the little musings I had after my travels. Hope you enjoyed it!

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