Travel Journals

What’s Abd?!!

I have a dream to travel around world.

I’m sure many of us have expressed at some point of time that we want to travel around the world. Going around the world is by no means, no longer considered impossible. Men have traveled around the world in various ways, hot air balloon, plane, sea and many more.

That is probably a dream that is shared by almost every single person on earth. Unfortunately, not everyone gets to live that dream. Most of the time, those who are lucky to see travel the world either have a job that takes them to achieve their dream (air stewards, pilots, sailors, captains) or they just have lots of money.

My dad is one such person who can proudly say that he has traveled around the world. Not only has he traveled the world, he has also been to the deepest part of the oceans. He was a captain of a vessel and he was also a diver before he decided to stop sailing to be with his beloved family. I was only 8 years old back then and I never knew what my dad worked as. All I know was that he was rarely home and when I saw him leave for work, he would be decked out in a power suit, something that I will never him wear in this current time.

While my dad traveled the world over the deep sea, I had my eyes set to do it through the clouds. Unfortunately, I’m probably just not ready for it yet. My luck with being a pilot or an air steward has not been rosy having tried since the age of 17 years. Blame it on 9/11 for my first attempt but I have only myself to blame for not acing the Singapore Airlines Pilot Interview.

Nonetheless, despite such setbacks, I had a crack at what life would be like to sail the seas like how my dad did but even better. During this time last year, I was packing my bags for my first sea voyage. Not just any kind of sea voyage though. It was a voyage as a Singapore Youth Ambassador or better referred to as Singapore Participating Youth (SPY). I would be sailing on the rough seas that my dad had once sailed past but I would be making courtesy calls at my port-of-calls. I was then a member of the Ship for SouthEast Asia Youth Programme (SSEAYP).

I was in the 34th batch of participating youths and was honoured to have been given the opportunity of a lifetime to be officially, an ambassador. Previously, I was an ambassador back in 2000 representing the Singapore National Cadet Corps (Air) to Victoria, Melbourne, Australia. This time however, was even more special because I would be spending 52 days with 300 other youths on a cruise ship travelling from Japan to Singapore to Indonesia to Malaysia to Thailand and Vietnam before finally ending the sail back at Japan.

If I couldn’t travel the world, I was at least satisfied to know that I would get to travel to Japan and some of the ASEAN countries that I had never visited before. But it wasn’t about the countries, it was the experience that I was looking forward to. New friends, new faces, new experiences and most important of all, in search of a new me.

I still remember the first time we arrived at Narita Airport, Tokyo, Japan. It was in the early evening and already the weather was cold. The announcements were foreign to me and the signboards, didn’t convey much English. I was truly lost in a foreign city. We were a big group of 27 Singapore youths. Our backgrounds were wide-ranging from students to scholars to assistant directors to civil servants but we were all together as one.

Japan, the land of the rising sun, the land where the kinkiest of shows existed and manga lived. They were however simply people who maintained strict self-discipline and had a high integrity in what they pursued. Forget those Japanese porn because those are just mere fantasy in studios but perhaps only the selected few managed to experience what it was like to hear a Japanese girl moan the word, ‘Kimuchi’, and well I wasn’t part of that few.

The Japanese is also well known for their technological advancement and it was mentioned that the Singapore market would only get products released from the Japanese market 3 years after it has been released there. I’m not that much of a tech geek to really bother such stuff. I was just keen to live my life like a Japanese now that I was in Japan. I wanted to be that Japanese who was never late for an appointment, to be that Japanese who ate with such voracious speed, to be that Japanese who walks like he needed the toilet oh so urgently and finally to be that sushi, soba, unagi and wasabe fanatic.

I had spent 10 days in Japan with 3 days in Kobe with a foster family and the remaining with the other 300 youths from the programme. I had learnt that Japanese laughed heartily when they are truly happy, wasabe is not supposed to be eaten like how Singaporeans loved to (my foster parents said I was crazy when they saw it), I knew how to wear the ‘Yukata’ properly, I found Japanese food a little too sweet for my liking and I discovered that Japanese pimps don’t bother non-Japanese.

Of all the things I remembered most about Japan, it was the fact that the service staff were absolutely friendly and they were just cute to talk to because they’d laugh at me when they couldn’t understand what I was talking about. I also remember clearly that I was contemplating eating MacDonald’s Pork Burger but had decided to go for the Shrimp Burger instead.

I didn’t see any Ninjas or Shoguns although I visited their castle. I did however learnt the Japanese Tea Ceremony when I visited a high school open house.

Anything else interesting about Japan?

There’s just so much more but I’ll leave you to some videos that I recorded during my stay in Japan. And, I need to go back there cause my backpack is with my friend there!!!

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