How my dad sparked my wanderlust
From a young age, I was captivated by my dad’s incredible travel tales. He’d journeyed to countless countries and had all sorts of amazing adventures. These stories stoked a fire of curiosity in me that fueled my childhood. Instead of diving into fairy tales, I found myself engrossed in encyclopedias!
Fast forward to my late primary and secondary school years, and you’d find me in a different sort of storybook setting. During every USSR (Uninterrupted Sustained Silent Reading) session, while my classmates were reading novels or comics, I’d whip out my geography textbook, encyclopedia, or documentary journals. Maybe that’s why I always aced Geography throughout secondary school! 🙂
My first step out of the little red dot (Singapore)
Hailing from Singapore, a tiny red dot in the heart of Southeast Asia, I didn’t grow up with frequent flyer miles. Coming from a modest background, my first real experience on an airplane didn’t happen until I was in secondary 1. Before that, my travel adventures were mostly road trips across various regions of Malaysia, our neighbor conveniently connected by two causeways.
Then, in 1997, a significant milestone: my first airborne journey. I flew to Hong Kong, Macau, and several cities in China like Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Guilin, all in a whirlwind two-week vacation with my parents. 🙂
My Transformation Solo Journey
Post-Hong Kong, I continued to explore new horizons with my parents, including multiple visits to Australia and Taiwan. But 2001 was the watershed year for me. I landed an overseas internship and found myself relocated to Hong Kong and China for six months, working with an electronics semi-conductor distributor.
This stint was my first brush with living abroad solo, and it was nothing short of transformative. While the initial loneliness was a steep hill to climb, it was also a catalyst. I developed self-reliance and independence, indispensable traits for any traveler.
The internship was a game-changer. It threw me into the deep end of cultural diversity and compelled me to adapt, survive, and ultimately thrive in unfamiliar terrain. It fortified me with the courage and resilience needed to handle any harsh conditions when there’s no safety net, no one to fall back on. That half-year stint turned out to be the pivot point of my life.
The Evolution of My Travel Adventures
Like many young travelers, I started by exploring neighboring countries while still in school—places like Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. After graduating from university in 2008 and entering the workforce, financial independence opened up a new world—literally.
This newfound freedom allowed me to venture far beyond Singapore’s borders, taking me to Europe and North America among other distant lands. With each trip, my confidence soared, setting the stage for even more daring adventures. From skydiving in Australia and cliff diving in the Philippines to scuba diving in Thailand, I’ve never looked back.
My quests became progressively audacious—living off the grid in Tanzania, parasailing in Thailand, and even paragliding in South Africa. With each journey, I realized that believing in my passion wasn’t just a mantra; it was a lifestyle.
The Unforgettable Day I Realized My Dad’s Legacy
In the past, I thought I was the one who pursued my passion for travel independently, but boy, was I wrong! It turns out, my dad was the one who passed his travel bug onto me. Missing him a lot one fine day in 2012, I decided to dig through some of his old travel photos.
I had a panic attack as I flipped through my dad’s nostalgic travel albums! At first, I was merely browsing, but to my shocking discovery, I realized there were A LOT of similarities between our travel photos—it was kind of a déjà vu moment!
I never had the chance to reference his travel photos since he traveled during the 80s and 90s, and I was just a little kid back then. I’ve compiled some of his photos into a collage, and you can clearly see the uncanny similarities between our travels from there…
I was utterly floored by what I saw—speechless, panicked, shocked, amazed, you name it. What are the odds of this happening? The discovery left me completely awestruck! One photo taken at Berlin’s TV Tower really caught my eye. When my dad snapped that shot, Germany was still divided between East and West. Fast forward to when I took my photo, and Germany has united to become Europe’s strongest economy! But what really got me was how eerily similar our poses and angles were. In that moment, my heart swelled with a mix of gratitude and nostalgia.
Enhanced Echoes of Our Journeys
Discovering this in 2012 was a blessing. It touched my soul to know that my dad has been my travel companion, guiding me through these incredible journeys across the globe. He’s always looked out for me, and perhaps that’s why I’ve always felt blessed on my travels—meeting nothing but kind and amazing people along the way.
I miss him more than words can say.
I firmly believe that my love for travel, inherited from my dad, wasn’t just happenstance; he wanted me to walk in his footsteps and learn the same virtues that guided his life. My father never gave me a manual on living; he simply lived, and allowed me to witness his journey.
To my dad: “Remembering you is easy; I do it every day. Missing you is a heartache that never fades away. I love you, Dad.”
This page is dedicated to my cherished father, who succumbed to illness but lives on as my guardian angel. I find comfort knowing he’s in a better place now, extending his blessings of peace and harmony to the world, just as he imparted wisdom to many during his time here.
In loving memory of my dear father ~ July 12, 2009.