About 18 months ago, I posted an article about my apprehension, or even downright fear, of travelling alone. It was hard to share those anxieties and put them into words, and it was even harder getting on the plane and jumping into exploring solo. Inevitably there have been questionable moments along the way, but the moments of humanity outshine them. This is one of them.
Last night in KL I was frazzled. The weather was humid beyond belief and I was slowly tiring of the Chinatown heckling of “where’s your husband?” and “why are you alone? You looking for someone?”. There was a street-side eatery full of people (which is a good sign for any roadside feast) which I decided to give a go.
When it comes to meeting new people, the introvert in me comes out and I get pretty shy and awkward tbh. So you can imagine that this inner introvert was rather displeased when the frantic host gestured to the last remaining seat which happened to be at an intimate table for two opposite a lady halfway through her meal. The social anxiety crept in…
She must’ve picked up on my discomfort and struck up conversation: “where are you from?”. And, as per usual, all my fears instantly evaporated and I felt stupid for ever worrying about it in the first place. She asked me all the usual stuff: “why are you alone?”, “aren’t your parents worried about you”, etc. This then delved into one hell of a conversation spanning life in Kuala Lumpur, the history of Malaysia, and even the best secret foods at tucked away restaurants. At the end of the meal, despite my insistence, she paid for the plate of noodles and now-warm cup of Carlsberg, and said she wanted to show me something at the market.
We peeled ourselves off the restaurant’s plastic stools out spilled out into the heaving lantern-filled market place. She weaved through the crowds with innate skill until we reached a smouldering chestnut stand. She bought a paper bag of roasted chestnuts and taught me how to eat them (I still don’t get it though, not going to lie), before wishing me luck in my travels and disappearing into the smoky, crowded night. And just like that, she was gone. Yet the encounter had morphed me from a tired, frazzled frown to a warm smile.
I don’t exactly know why I felt such an urge to share this moment, but it just summarises my experiences with solo travel so well. Sometimes there really are sh*t days, and there are definitely a whole lot of days that are anxiety-provoking, but the days you actually end up remembering are the ones like these. These are the days that remind you that no matter where in the world you are, there is humanity, and that these little moments of kindness go a long way.
WANT TO KNOW WHAT ELSE HAPPENED IN MALAYSIA?