Taiwan: My First Solo Travel Experience
I always knew that I want to travel but definitely not alone. However, due to conflicts of schedules and priorities, I cannot find someone to travel with me. So many opportunities passing by, so many seat sales wasted. I know I’ll eventually have to do it because nothing will happen if I keep waiting for someone to do it with me.
I recently traveled in Taiwan and it was my first solo travel experience ever. It was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. I was scared of course but overcoming the fear made me become stronger, braver and even more sure of myself. I’ve been fantasizing traveling solo a long time ago ever since I got my first job and my passport. It took some time before I was actually able to do it.
Impulsive Booking Decision
It was a normal workday when I suddenly saw an ad about PISO FARE and another in Taiwan having a low base fare. Out of curiosity, I took the bait and clicked on it. I saw the one-way flight only costing around 1700 PHP. I checked how much the roundtrip fare would be and it was only around 3000 PHP.
It’s a good find! And of course, Google is so smart about placing ads, I saw a sponsored post about Taiwan’s extension of visa in 2020. I researched about Taiwan, what to do, where to go, what to eat and the articles of fellow bloggers and travelers recommending the little country are too much to be able to refuse.
And so I booked it! Filed for vacation leave for 6 days. No regrets!
On Your Own
And so I ventured alone I walked in the streets, used a bike when I felt too tired to walk, I explored every corner, watched and observed. I was just seemingly enjoying each moment.
I wasn’t much of a planner though I listed down all the things I want to visit, foods I want to try but there wasn’t much of a solid plan at all. I just go whenever I feel like I want to and go wherever I feel want to go. This is how I would enjoy it. I don’t want to cram my schedule and rush things and end up being too exhausted to enjoy the experience.
The beauty of traveling alone is you don’t have to wait on anyone or to even vote whether you should go here and try this and that. You can do whatever you want at your own pace.
Meeting New Friends
Luckily, my fellow countrymen are present almost everywhere! I swear on every corner I can hear Tagalog words. On my first day, I went to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial where I heard a group of people talking in Tagalog. They were trying to take pictures. I walked to them and offered to take their pictures but in return, they will also take mine. Haha! How else are you supposed to get good pictures?
I tagged along with them since we mostly had the same itinerary for the day. Thanks to them, I got great pictures that I can show off on Instagram! Haha. John, Belle, and Nikko are incredibly nice and funny, it made my experience more enjoyable and suddenly, I don’t feel so alone anymore.
On my second day, I met a new group of people in the Northerncoast Tour from KKDAY. Two girls Phine and Kim who are also Filipinos. They turn out to be also friends with John, Belle, and Nikko. What a small world! We all met again at the Yehliu Geopark where we took more photos.
At Jiufen, we also stumbled upon a solo traveler from Vietnam, Andy. We tagged along as we explore the old street. Andy turns out to be an excellent photographer and most of the nice shots I got were taken by him.
What I learned
It’s not as scary as you think
I was all alone and that’s what I fear the most. I was in a strange, little country where they speak a language that I don’t speak. I made sure that I know how to say the basic phrases like Hello, Thank You and Do You Speak English? Because I am the foreigner there, I should be the one who should adjust.
I was praised once for my excellent Chinese pronunciation by a guy who works on 7-eleven. He even said I could pass as a local. Haha, it’s either that or he was just being too nice. But even if I don’t fully speak their language, I was able to communicate through other means. I used my phone’s translator and google maps if I feel lost.
I realized I can handle being on my own. I thought that I could not because I’ve never experienced being on my own before. Especially not in another country. But it’s not as scary as I think it is. It was just fear that is holding me back.
You’ll learn more about yourself
I am the kind of person who rarely leaves my comfort zone. I realized, I just needed a little push and I was amazed at learning what I can actually do and what I am capable of.
Who knew that I would actually be excellent at budgeting? Haha. Despite my shopping habits, I only managed to spend 15000 during my whole trip in Taiwan. I even had spare changes left that I kept as a souvenir.
I became less shy and more confident. I was a bit shocked that I could even bring myself to approach people without fear. I am an introvert and mostly, I do not talk to people let alone random strangers. It was really nice how traveling enables you to make new friends and make new connections.
Experiences are more valuable than material things
The experience cannot compare when you shop for new clothes, buy new gadgets and so on. Not even when you eat at an expensive restaurant that serves Taiwanese dishes, it’s nothing when you’ve actually visited Taiwan and eat authentic dishes.
It’s an eye-opening and life-changing experience so far. The strength and confidence that I discovered within myself made me even stronger, braver and willing to try new things. I thought that I would just do this once for the sake of experience. I initially thought solo travel wouldn’t suit me. But I was wrong. I was hungry for more and I’m gonna do it again.