Although I have ‘fly solo’ under my bucket list since forever, I’ve never really done it. I did went to Denver in Colorado by myself for reasons I can’t tell you, but it certainly wasn’t for pleasure. I didn’t get to see much of the city, and I didn’t enjoy the whole stay either.
Way before that I actually went to get the materials to apply for a Schengen Visa – just because I wanted to see all of Barcelona by foot. I grabbed the brochures off the Spanish embassy, and I could really see myself exploring the city without end. At that time, I really wanted to get away from everything that was happening in my life, although now that I look back, I’m thankful that my conscience got the better of me (my mother would kill me if she finds out I travel alone to Europe).
That said, being a wallflower doesn’t mean I can picture myself enjoying traveling solo. I love connecting with people and I love learning and experiencing different cultures of the world (think of all the food … ). But when I do get the chance to cross off that item on my bucket list, I picture it would be something like Sophie Hall’s discovery of the love letter in Verona, from Letters to Juliet (2010). I could really do something with the stuff I’ve learned while I’m in that particular city, and if I’m lucky, I’ll make a lifelong friend who’s way older than me (like Claire from the movie).
That is, if my solo destination is somewhere urban. I’m more of a nature lover, you see.
Here, a few ideas for the girl who dreams of trying a solo getaway once in her lifetime, even if it’s only for one weekend:
1. A wellness retreat
I’ve been dreaming about this for such a long time. It’s just you melting your stress away and Mother Nature at her finest. On top of my head is the hot springs of Esalen in Big Sur, California, before my subconscious took over and brought up Ananda in the Himalayas, India, a.k.a. one of top-rated spas in the world. Meditation, yoga, organic practices, tranquil sceneries – it’s all part of the package for you to get the most out of your detox. Another luxe destination I fantasize about is the Kamalaya in Koh Samui, Thailand, which was forged around a cave that once served as a Buddhist monk’s roost to meditate and retreat.
2. A historical walkthrough
Oh how I’d love to take an archaeological tour to Jerusalem, Israel rather than watching the History Channel. After all, it’s where three of the world’s great monotheistic religions were founded, and I’m always fascinated by the underlying factors behind the rise and fall of history’s most prominent civilizations. I won’t even stop there. All roads lead to Rome, Italy, right? While I was taking up art history in college, I could only imagine the minefield of paintings, sculptures, fountains, gardens, and palaces in my head. I really want to see it all in person and realize how small I really am in its context. I think it helps you feel that way much more when you’re going solo.
3. A photographer’s haven
The breathtaking views of the Potala Palace in Tibet, China … and Paro in Bhutan. The peaceful cliff-side landscape, where the Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) sits, should be a a gem in a traveling photographer’s album. Besides, the country boasts itself as the first to let Gross National Happiness (GNH), as opposed to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), to dictate the country’s policies. Equally surreal is the colorful fields of the 190-hectare Hitachi Seaside Park in Ibaraki, Japan. The gardens turn all-out blue, pinks and reds, bright yellows and other vibrant hues all year round, depending on the season. And perhaps a selfie during the rainy season at the Salar de Uyuni in southwest Bolivia, which is the world’s largest salt flat (and perhaps the largest mirror on earth), would be great.
4. A runner’s race
This is another dream I know I’ll turn into reality during my lifetime. As much as I love Indonesia, I really miss the lovely air in San Francisco, California. At one point my training includes once-a-week long runs along the pier, and the morning air (and the fishy smell nearby the fishermen) is nothing like you’ve ever felt before. The heavy feeling in my heart just evaporates whenever I run along the pier, not to mention that every single workout I always chance upon eye-candies who’s running long as well.
After more than a year since I came back to Jakarta for good, the biggest regret I’ve had was not having the balls to sign up for the annual Nike’s Women Marathon. But that’s just one – I had four more routes in mind that I’d really like to cover: the Angkor Wat International Half-Marathon in Cambodia, the lesser-known Patagonian International Marathon in Chile, which runs through the Torres del Paine National Park, the Marathon de la Baie du Mont Saint-Michel in France, which is nice because the whole course is practically flat, and last but not least, the timeless Athens Classic Marathon in Greece. Deep in my heart I believe we’re all born to run as far as our minds dare ourselves to go :)
P.S. Regarding how old I was when I started a diary, I have no idea. One clue: I’m not sure when this was written, but I remember this was probably my eighth or ninth diary. The diary was a gift from my big bro, who told me before he bought it that I’d like it. I did, and I’ve written amusing stuff like that ever since.