Last night, as I was preparing to go for my walk, Aaron asked, ‘So when do I call the police?’
A few days ago, I had requested, begged and cajoled him to go for a walk with me. (No point even asking the other two.) He had refused. I told him then, ‘if I don’t get home in one hour, call the police, since you don’t want to protect your own mother.’ In my heart, I scolded in Teochew, qi liao bee (literally: feed wasted rice, to have raised unfilial child.)
As I walked, I thought to myself how I’ve always envied people who can travel alone and have always wanted to try it. My fave DJ Cruz recently went to Bali alone and Mike thought he had perhaps 失恋. Somehow people cannot appreciate solitude. A few years ago, 苏心荃 was interviewed in the papers about his backpacking alone. He had said, "我的家人都在美国，我长久以来都是独立生活，自己一个人并不是问题。”And that’s where my problem is. I’ve never been alone. I’m always surrounded by family and friends and the thought of doing things alone is out of my comfort zone.
It’s not that I’ve not travelled alone before. In my last job, I had to travel regionally often, but there was always a host to take care of me at that foreign land. Yet, to go for walk in the night at 8pm feels me with dread. It is not an unreasonable fear. There was a female jogger who got murdered at Bukit Batok Park some years back. Where I jogged at the Ulu Pandan Canal, there were cases of molestation. Then, there is the recent case of the Kallang slashing. All these fuel my dread and I try not to exercise alone in the night, but sometimes it is inevitable.
In that case, how am I ever to travel alone in a foreign country? Do I stay in every night?
I read an interesting article in Oprah where this lady, a maticulous and detailed person, decided to forgo all planning for her vacation. Instead, she would rely on the recommendations of strangers to help set her itinerary. Where to go? She approached a woman in the fiction section at her local bookshop in San Francisco and asked for her favourite vacation destination – Tokyo. Where to stay? The air steward recommended a hostel in Asakusa. The only preparation she made was placecards in Japanese asking, "Where should I eat?", "What should I do next?" etc.
She told herself she would trust the advice strangers gave her and followed accordingly. So she took a train ride at peak hour, went to ‘Dr Fish’ and went to a fish auction in the early morning. Her fear of talking to strangers (conditioned by her mother from young) was proven to be unfounded.
So, here I am, lamenting about going out of my comfort zone yet not brave enough to do so. Anybody wants to accompany me on this journey?