One-word Prompt: Tourist

Photo credit: Martin Vorel – “Childhood friends”

How romantic would it be, if you would say to me, “Be with me, get a one-way ticket, and let’s explore the world together”.

We could go backpacking, like high school graduates taking their gap year. Like high school sweet hearts, feeling excited and nervous on our first overseas trip. Our hearts and minds filled with curiosity and anticipation, wondering how the “outside world” look like. We are young and free. We believe we can take on the world – it’s us against the world. There’s nothing we can’t achieve, as long as we have each other. We don’t need a lot of money because there are many things tourists can do without spending any or much money.

We prefer to be identified as “travellers” or “adventurers”. “Tourists” sounds superficial. As if it’s a word for people who go abroad just to check off famous landmarks off their lists so they could show off to their friends and family through photos. Cheap thrill of saying, “I’ve been there” or “I was here”. They bring nothing but weight and souvenirs back home. Nothing concrete. Nothing tangible.

We aren’t like that. We love to learn about different cultures and meet new people. We make friends everywhere we go – with fellow couples, groups, or even solo travellers. We believe everyone has a story to tell, and we hope ours inspire them, as much as theirs inspire us.

Sometimes we travel by a rented car, singing along to One Direction’s “Live while we’re young” playing loudly in the radio, yelling our lungs out to the lyrics, because we want to. Sometimes we hitchhike and travel with people we would never expect to meet. The group of musicians heading to their next gig, that truck driver on the way to make deliveries to the supermarket, that adorable old grandpa that love sharing life lessons so much. At times on trains where we talk to random families sitting beside us or join in the fun of a party group heading to some cool cities. At every place we are, we are never tourists. Instead, we belong. We are part of that community, even if it’s for a short while.

We go to parties, festivals and concert with our newly acquainted friends and make more friends. We sing and dance along to the good music provided by the bands. On some occasions, you let me sit on your shoulders so I can have a better view, because, as what you have always said – “you’re short”. We meet new people, make music, photos, fun and love together. When I said “make love”, I don’t mean like sex but more of spreading positive vibes through our laugher and inclusivity. Anyone can join in the fun with us, can sing and dance along to music. No judgements. You can be who you’re in front of us and we’ll accept you for that. Despite being in crowds and among people, we know that we are still very much paying attention and looking out for each other. We make sure that we both are having fun and never have a moment when one of us is neglected. Perhaps we talk more to the people around us than with each other, but we know, we always have each other in mind. Even in the crowd, we still shine so brightly and stand out so much in each other’s eyes. We communicate, not through words, but the small gestures. Like you putting your arms around me bringing me closer to you even though you seem to be engrossed in a conversation with some other people. Me casually putting my hand and leaning my head closer to your chest even though I am laughing at some jokes someone else has made.

At other times during our trip, we would travel like newlyweds, living in our own lovey-dovey world, without a care of the world. Sometimes stealing kisses of each other, and sometimes falling into long passionate kisses – stopping mid-way while walking down the streets with shopping bags or ice cream, while waiting for the trains, any time (basically every minute and every second because you’re too irresistible and we are so in love). As if time has stopped, we travel at our own time and pace. The world around us continues to turn, while we freeze in time sealed with kisses. We thought ourselves as superstars and everyone is probably envious of the love we are sharing. We travel around the city or region on a rented Ferrari. Running at 190km/h on the German autobahn, with the wind blowing and sun shinning on our faces. Playing in the car are some random songs from the radio stations. Occasionally, I will ask you to play one of my favourites. The one that you introduced me to. Cro’s “Einmal Um die Welt”. I love the lyrics, like you telling me to just go on a world trip with you without a care. And when I ask you to repeat the song, you would go “Whattt?!”, but still play it nevertheless.

You are the one driving because I don’t have a license. You always ask me to get one and when I said “no”, you would say I’m full of “Ausreden”. We bicker about little things like this, but I know, even if I’ve a license, you would love to still be the one behind the wheels. You love control because you’re “the man”.

We walk into stores selling household materials, like IKEA, Muji, and that famous one in Copenhagen which I’ve forgot the name of. We would buy a thing or two for our new home, maybe more. We walk into the section selling kitchen ware. You remind me of your favorite Asian dishes, “Beef Redang”, and asked me to learn to cook it. I said “no” and you made a sad face. I pinch your cheeks and try to change the topic, but make a mental note to learn it and surprise you when you’re back from work one day. You said I should “manage the household”, because, well, you’re “the man”. Although I always value gender equality, I wouldn’t want it any other way for the power dynamic in our relationship. For you, I’m willing to be the woman behind supporting you. I guess that is love. No wonder people said “love is blind”.

Sightseeing and having dinner at luxurious restaurant.¬†Perhaps on one of those sky high restaurants with a view or one over looking the Hamburg harbour that offers a great view of the sunset. Next, we drive up to the hill top to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the city. The lights shine brightly in the dark like million of stars. We look up to the sky only to have thousands of diamonds looking back at us. We don’t need to talk. Because, again, it’s sufficient to just have you by my side. We’ve the world when we have each other.

We try to keep ourselves silly awake so we can catch the sunrise in the morning. Sleepy we might be, it gonna be worth it when we are greeted with the beautiful view at the breaking of dawn. And it feels great to be the first person each of us see in this beautiful brand new day.

On other times, we travel like old couples, enjoying life after their retirement. We travel at our own pace. We will check into what the Germans called “Pensions” and enjoy the serenity quiet towns could offer. Hand in hand, we sit by the lake watching the ducks. Weather has been cool even though it’s spring and soon going to be summer. Finally we get to enjoy a bit of the sun. We share an ice cream together.

We will swap the Ferrari with a more classic model. Maybe a Mercedes C class or a mini cooper. We still love listening to Cro’s “Einmal um die Welt” in the car during our road trip. Maybe it’s just me and you just go according to my wishes, even though you said you love control. On more sentimental days, I request for “Country Road”.

We walk down the busy streets slowly, as if we are in another space that is separated from the he active individuals rushing pass us. We are not envious of them for being young, because we were young once. Instead, they are envious of us, for being able to love for so long, and still loving each other as if we are falling for the first time. Age doesn’t equate to maturity. While we might be more matured in our thinking and world’s view, sometimes you’re still pretty childish. You will still tease me for being short and tell me, “let me know if I’m walking too fast because I’ve way longer legs”. You still get annoyed when I tell you that you are abit sunburnt on your cheeks. Except that we don’t challenge each other in running on empty streets anymore. At this point, we prefer not to disturb the tranquility of the place and just walk and explore slowly. Still with your hand in mine, of course.

We have been on our first road trip and I hope we have the next. Yet in our first road trip, I’m more of a tourist, where you drove me around and show me your country. We are tourists in the places we visited somehow.

And while I hope we could be closer, at the end I realised, I am still alone. Still a solo traveller. Still a tourist.

I’m waiting for someone to stay in my life, and me in his. Not to just be a tourist.

And before that happens, if that ever happens, I need to continue to travel.

And I hope one day, I will no longer be a tourist, but a dweller, with someone who would say to me, “Be with me, get a one-way ticket and let’s explore the world together”.



The ones that got away

(Photo credit: Martin Vorel – “People in Metro Station”)

A colleague brought up that I was reading a German book on the plane during our company trip the year before. Another colleague followed by saying that the reason why I did was “trying to impress”.

I’d and have no mean to impress anyone by reading a German book. There wasn’t anyone from my company to begin with. I brought the book along as I love reading when I’m travelling, especially during journeys on trains and planes, And that book happened to be the latest one I bought then.

This conversation, however, reminded me of an incident. I think I was in the 2nd year of University. I was holding my German textbook when I boarded the bus because I was catching up with my homework while waiting for the bus and thought that it would be easier if I just hold it then to put it back into my backpack.

On the crowded bus, I happened to stand beside the seats of two, who I thought, German guys, with my back facing them. I was learning German and wanted some German friends to practise German with. During the journey, I was hoping that they would talk to me when they see that I was holding on to a German textbook. And they did! They asked to have a look at my German textbook and I think they also wished that I could be more welcoming to a conversation that day. It was one of those moody Monday mornings so talking and having smiling expression weren’t really something I could activate at an instant. And then they alighted and I’ve never seen them around campus ever again. I’ve put this incident behind me, although with much regrets in the past and blaming myself for not being so approachable. Yet, I was reminded of this incident after the above-mentioned conversation. I wonder how they are doing right now, were they expecting to start a conversation with me back then, would we have become friends if we’ve talked, and so on. So many questions, but they are futile because they have already been determined to have no answers. They are just two random guys I’ve met on the bus. The one(s) that got away.

I think sometimes I tend to idealise strangers. My lack of knowledge and interaction with them give me ample space for the possible “what-ifs” and “could-haves”.

I recall another incident that happened also during my undergraduate days. Actually, there were quite a few similar incidents, which I’ve probably forgotten.

I met this exchange student from Amsterdam in the library. We shared the table twice and we would smile to acknowledge each other’s presence whenever we saw each other. Probably less than 5 times that I saw him in the library actually. No big deal. I remember he was a tall guy, wearing a really nice pair of grey sneakers and really nice cologne. (On a side note, I notice I’m attracted to people who wear grey sneakers. Or rather, the people I’m attracted to just happened to wear grey sneakers. It was the same with S and it made me want to own a pair of similar pair). Back to topic, the cologne the Dutch was wearing was not the super manly kind; it was more like a woody mist kind of fragrance. I can’t really remember the smell now but it was unique then. There was once we finally talked. But that day wasn’t my day (again). I was sick and I was going to have my mid-term. I got to know that his name is Sebastian/Bastian (or however you pronounce it in Dutch) and that he was from Amsterdam. Well, we didn’t talk much after that because I had to continue to study and he went off to buy coffee, which I reckoned he was planning to stay there for long. I can’t remember if I actually returned to the library or headed home because I was unwell; all I remember was I didn’t see him until a long time later when it was close to the end of the semester. It was also the last time I’ve seen him. An encounter with chance for more conversation but I kind of blew it (again). That day was the day when I had to submit my final-year thesis. I rushed to the library to print out my thesis. On the way down the stairs, I saw him and he saw me. We paused for a short second and looked at each other. I said “hey!”, and he did the same. Then, I just quickly ran off to print my things because I was running out of time. My infatuation for him lasted for quite a few months, and he was partly the reason why I got interested in visiting Amsterdam during my grad trip. He, too, was one of the ones that got away.

While typing this entry, I remembered another guy. I’m pretty surprised that he popped into my head as I didn’t really think of him much. I met him on a rainy day. I needed to get from one place to another in campus, which was only a small road across, but it wasn’t sheltered, so I would get drenched by the rain despite the short distance. I saw him walking in front of me with an umbrella in hand. I ran up to him asking him where he was going and if it was okay if he could shelter me across. He was heading left and my destination was straight ahead, but he agreed. We had a little chat. He was a business student from Copenhagen and we talked a little about Denmark. That the rain in Denmark isn’t so strong as it is over here and him telling me how could I not have an umbrella when I’m living in a place with such strong rain. Well, short distance. As I was meeting a professor with another few course mates and was close to being late, I quickly said goodbye to him after that and boy, I wish I asked him for coffee. He was such a nice boy to shelter me across. We could have become good friends. And yup, that was the only time I’ve seen him. I might have bumped into him or some sort after that without me knowing, but yup, I would say that was the only time I’ve seen him. And he too, is one of the ones that got away.

From these experiences, I’ve seen the need for me to open up and be more sociable. But still, the ones that got away will forever leave some question marks in my life, and at random times when I thought of them, I can’t help but regret that I didn’t attempt to get to know them better and form a friendship. Even when I meet new people in my life.


(Photo credit: Martin Vorel – “Lovers on the Beach”)

Ausrede – the German word for “Excuse”.

That was the word you taught me. You said I’ve too many excuses and that I keep making excuses not to do something. I thought you were right. And, I think you are right.

I’ve been prostactinating too much, even right now when I’d rather be here penning down my thoughts for this post than to do anything else. I’ve also been so tired out by work recently.

There are things I want to do, been wanting to do, and even right now but I’m just putting it off. Mainly packing my room and preparing the CV for the position in Germany. And, making changes to my life to live more productively in general. I told myself next weekend, next weekend because I was always so tired after work, but a month or so have passed, and it is no where near completion.

I will get the CV done by end of this month. It seems like a better future and environment, and it doesn’t help when your manager is a shadow figure due to personal issues and the company doesn’t want to rope in any other person to deal with whatever she needs to do during her absence (well, probably because she’s still a headcount). It’s utterly unfair that people have to cover for her job during her absence. It’s really a self-serving world where every man is for himself. Being one of the people who have to deal with some of her work, it’s kind of tiring me out amid working with colleagues who are so unmotivated, just watching the clock and doing the barest minimal.

I wish I’m working in a dream team with motivated people like myself or people I’ve meet. People who at least could hold a conversation beyond talking about entertainment, gossip, and other superficial talks. At least the team I’ve met in HQ seems great.

Keine Ausreden mehr! Thank you for waking me up. I don’t know if I would think what you said make sense if you were somebody else. But I just like listening to you. And, I thought perhaps this position might get us a little closer. Maybe I just need a strong reason… And the reason is – you.

And, I miss you. Sometimes.