Hangzhou, Historical, Lynn, Outdoors, Shanghai, Urban, Work, Wuhan

The First Time I _____ Alone

12 Jun , 2016   Gallery

Itinerary: Two Weeks in China

So I really wasn’t sure how best to title this post, given that the experience I’m going to write about was a first for me, but first of what, I can’t seem to pinpoint.

  • Not the first time I got an airplane by myself. I did that for work in early 20s going to Baltimore, Maryland on a conference, and met up with my coworkers there.
  • Not the first time I got an airplane by myself for vacation. I did that a year later.For my grad trip I went to Taiwan and China. But in each city, I stayed with friends or family.
  • Not the first time I took a trip alone. My first solo work trip was in my mid-20s, going to Charleston, South Carolina. This trip marked the first time I went sightseeing alone, ate alone in a nice restaurant and my first time eating with kind strangers.
  • Not the first time I travelled for a trip fully alone. I have never done this. I once booked a trip to Norway, but scrapped the ticket because Waffle’s work trip got cancelled. I’m a coward. Also, I didn’t really care to go to Oslo alone.

 

But I swear this is a first for me, I just don’t know how to word it.

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Generally speaking, if I can, I always take a few days off before and/or after a work trip so I can take advantage weekends and sight-see.

In 2013 I was heading to Shanghai for work. I had previously gone to Shanghai in 2007 and stayed with a friend for a few days  so  I didn’t really need to go sightseeing there again, which means I had a weekend before and a weekend after to prance around somewhere else in China.

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Shanghai 2007 – a part of the first vacation I took solo

The first leg of the trip was pretty easy to plan. I have a friend who moved back to Wuhan and was extremely excited when I floated the idea of visiting her.

The second leg was the scary part. Unlike my work trips in the US, I didn’t have a car to go around and my previous trips to China was completely taken care of by my family and friends so I didn’t have to worry about booking hotels or getting around.

It crossed my mind several times that I could just hang out in Shanghai and get to know the city even better rather than go to another city. But I had done this in Singapore – I was too big of a coward to go to Malaysia alone (it didn’t help that the people I met in Singapore strongly advised against going). Just like Oslo, I booked it, and then I cancelled it. And to this day, I am still regretting this as I later found out I know plenty of people who have traveled to Malaysia alone.

So I resolved not to do this to myself again. If people who can’t even speak Chinese can backpack through China, I, a person born in Taiwan who not only speak fluently but can read and write Chinese should be able to handle this…right…..?

I can still vividly recall the moment when I booked my accommodations in Hangzhou. I was sitting on the ground in an airport, laptop charging at some obscure outlet before my flight, my heart pounding as I entered my credit card number for a non-refundable deposit. For the life of me, I can’t even remember which airport I was in and where I was coming from or going to, I only remember that passing instant of confirming the deposit, and then texting Waffles –

Lynn: Okay, I did it. I guess I'm going to go travel China ALONE!
Waffles: The deposit was only $9, you could still back out at any time, no?
Lynn: IT'S SYMBOLIC!!!!

Waffles was never one for melodrama.

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I suppose we can call this “The first time I took a trip solo for personal reasons” or  “The first time I booked my own hotel alone in a strange city with no one I know” but the title would be whatever the opposite of a click-bait title would be called. If you are curious, here is my full itinerary.

Yes, alone or not, there’s always an adrenaline rush every time I punch in my credit card number and click submit. That moment when I have just confirmed my next adventure, wherever it’s going to be, it’s both exciting and nerve-wrecking. But my anxiety always comes from my neurosis – did I get the right dates? Did I forget to take into account some factors that would affect this trip? Is this the right thing to do? Will I get in trouble for this? Is something going to happen causing me not to go?

So you can see how that the neurosis might intensify when the trip is just me, myself, and I, figuring out where to go, how to get there, with no one to blame turn to if something goes wrong. Unlike Lindsey, I don’t “[feel] the joy of being completely alone” when I travel solo.

I am a complete coward about travelling solo. I only do it when I don’t want to miss an opportunity.

Still, because I was brave enough to do this, I had the confidence to take Waffles to China without a guide (his lack of Chinese abilities were of no help to me), I travelled to Goa alone the second time I went to India, and the next time I won’t be afraid and say no to Malaysia or any other countries unfamiliar to me if the opportunity comes up.

But you know what, even if I weren’t so neurotic, there is still no part of me that believes in travelling alone is better than sharing that experience with loved ones. 

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2005 Cuba – The first time i took a trip with my friends that required an airplane

What about you? Do you like to travel alone?

Itinerary: Two Weeks in China

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