My first question into everything usually start with “Why?”. There is no right and wrong in life path, it’s usually depends on the intention behind it. For e.g. lying. It is a bad behavior, but how about white lies? What if you lied to your parent because you didn’t want them to be worried about you? And, it is because you know your parent had a lot in their plate already. Or, it was because they were terminally ill and any kind of stress could shorten their valuable time. I can give you more and more dramatic situation, but I feel you get my point.
It was simply because I wanted to. I wanted to travel alone for long period of time. I wanted to know what it is like and how it feels. I wanted to hear what was inside me away from my life distraction in Indonesia. I wanted to see how I reacted when I found something unexpected and new. I wanted to know myself more.
And the best part was I could be a complete weirdo without had any concern. No one knew me and most of the time I didn’t understand the language. If someone looked at me, I just smiled and walked away. So, perfect place to do silly and crazy thing. Don’t worry, my definition of weirdo is not that crazy, only a bit unusual for Chinese Indonesian’s etiquette.
I chose Europe because the it was convenient and safe. I only need to have one Schengen Visa to visit all the countries. Many people asked me why didn’t I visit United Kingdom. The answer was simple, because I need another visa. The public transportation in Europe was reliable and convenient. Lastly, Europe was generally safe. Ok, maybe some of you will react, “What are you talking about?”
Series of crimes, starts from robbery to bombing, happened recently in Europe. But, they were also happening everywhere. For example, in Jakarta – where I live – there was a terrorist attack in the middle of business district a year ago. The location was 5.1 km from I worked and 4.0 km from I lived. After the attack, there was a lot rumors about follow up attack in nearby areas, including my office and house area. At that precise moment, I was traveling to Surabaya, 742 km from Jakarta, but I could felt the fear. The fear was real.
In this decade, it seems that world is not safe, even in your own backyard. I will not talk about fear, it will be another big topic. But, what I fear the most was I missed the chance to do things I wanted. When I was weighing down the my own fear with the other fear in travel safety, well, my own fear won. I chose to take the risk than not living my own life.
This trip began in Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (Jakarta). I unexpectedly met my uni best friend in the boarding gate. We were hanging out a lot during 4 years with other 4 amazing ladies. After graduate, we walked our own path, lived in different cities, and barely met. She and her husband was going to spend their honeymoon for approx. 1.5 weeks in Europe. Both of us were excited. I haven’t seen her in person for years. She looked happy and well.
They went to Europe by a tour and started the trip from Amsterdam to Paris. I was sneaking into the group during the boarding and transit in Istanbul to stay along with them. Luckily, the flight was not full. I even got a whole 4-middle-seats for myself. I was really tempted to call them to join me, then I stopped and said to myself, “Come on. They are on their honeymoon, not a school trip with you. They are currently sitting comfortably in seats near the window. Don’t ruin their moment.” Then, 14 hours later, in Istanbul, we said goodbye because we need to catch different flight in different boarding gate. It was short but a very great coincidence.
Another 3 hours later, I arrived safely in Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. My first stop was actually not Paris, but a little village called Dieulivol, 2 hours drive from Bordeaux or 10 hours straight drive from Paris. I decided to stay a night in Paris to recharge from almost 24 hours traveling time (check-in, immigration, flights, transit, and train to city center). Its because on the next day, I need to travel another 8 hours bus to Bordeaux, 1 hour train to Sta. Foy La Grande, and 1 hour drive to Dieulivol. Yes, that was long journey.
Other than resting, I had my own mission to find post office to post a package. After I resigned, I started to sort my stuff and I found out that I had quite some winter clothes from the time I lived in Melbourne. I was about to donate it to local people in Indonesia, but I wasn’t sure that was the right thing. Average temperature in Jakarta is 22-31 Celsius, who need winter cloth in that temperature? So, instead I search for an orphanage in Paris – perfect place considering my cloth size. I went to a post office near Gare du Nord, but they couldn’t sent it because the electronic scale was broken. They pointed out another post office down the block. Thank you for Google Offline map (I will teach you how to use this!), I found another post office. Despite of all rumors about unfriendly French, the post officer I met in this post office branch was very nice and helpful.
I had a few hours left in Paris and I decided to go to Notre Dame, not Eiffel. Have you heard about a myth that if you step on Zero Point in front of the Notre Dame, you will come back to Paris? No, I was not there to do that. Before this trip, I had been to Europe twice (2012 and 2014) for work. On 2012’s trip, I knew I wanted to go back and really visited the places. I was very excited that time, wish that the myth was real. That was the time I stepped on Point Zero. This time, I just wanted to go back to where it began and be thankful.
That was the beginning: the intentions, the first coincidence, and a bit of nostalgic moment. Oh, if you are looking on more on travel tips and itineraries, this category is not for you. I will soon create it on “Travel Highlights”. This is my chatterbox space. Thank you for reading and I wish you a great day ahead!