The TTG editorial team had our fair share of fun and adventure this year. Hear about our most daring acts – no holds barred!
I’d say it’s more stupid than daring. We were hiking in the Swiss alps in summer, but due to bad weather conditions, made a swift change and went to the French Alps resort Courchevel, not realising it’s not a summer destination. There were few tourists, shops were mostly closed and only one or two cable cars worked.
Despite my intuition telling me not to hike, we went up 2,738m via a cable car to La Saulire and thought we’d hike down from there. I was fully-equipped with my hiking gear, yet I fell and injured myself badly. The lessons for me were: to listen to my intuition and never leave home without doing proper research on a place.
The bravest thing I did this year was to press on with my 12-day trip to South Korea in November with my fevered 23-month-old boy, and to trust my instinct that he would be well by the third day.
I was confident that we would do just fine, as South Korea is a modern country with advanced medical services. All we needed to do was take things nice and slow, and have a list of accessible hospitals with 24-hour emergency departments at my fingertips. So I tossed out my precise and ambitious travel itinerary, and took each day as it came.
True enough, my boy recovered by the third day and we got to see and do most of the things we had planned for in Busan, Gyeongju and Seoul.
Editor, TTG Asia
I was worried about travelling alone with my baby daughter when she took her first flight at five months old.
But having flown with her alone a couple of times since, it’s no longer a concern. I’ll make sure to pack her comfort books and treats along in the carry-on bag, wipe down the area around our seat and tether her to me with the infant seat belt at all times.
That said, I still dread it whenever she poops at 30,000 feet in the sky. Trying to remove a soiled diaper and clean a wriggling toddler within the confined space of a tiny aircraft toilet is no easy feat – I just pray there’s no turbulence when I have to do that!
Paige Lee Pei Qi
Assistant Editor, Singapore
Skydiving. I still can’t believe I actually checked this off my bucket list – all 15,000 feet of it, in the picturesque Queenstown in New Zealand. I flew above the Wakatipu Basin before leaping out of the aircraft and plunging into the skies surrounded by dramatic mountains and lakes.
During the initial 60 seconds of free fall at 200km/hour, it felt like my stomach was turned upside down. The only way I could protect myself was to ensure I was covered by insurance, and thankfully I didn’t have to utilise any of it.
Exploring the Dark Cave of Batu Caves in Selangor with a group of people. The half-day tour took me through seven chambers, some so small I had to wiggle my way through an opening and through the chamber.
It was dark inside, and on a few occasions I shone my torchlight on the ground and saw what looked like millions of active, fat cockroaches scuttling about!
I stuck with the group throughout this adventure. I also made sure I wore a pair of track shoes with good grip.
I did not partake in many adventures this year, but one of the most daring things I did was trekking to the Cunca Rami Waterfall in Flores.
While the trail was quite flat and easy, the route passing through the river to the waterfall was slippery and quite treacherous.
I brought a waterproof bag and wore trekking shoes. However, my best protector was the wise local guide who led us on safe paths, choosing steady stones to step on.
Rachel aJ Lee
Travelling solo. While I believe that I’m an independent millennial, I couldn’t help but feel a tad apprehensive about whether I can be friends with myself on the journey.
Still, the trip was an empowering one as it allowed me to explore a new destination unfiltered by anyone else, and challenge my own fears and insecurities.
While on the road, I protected myself by keeping in constant contact with my family and friends, ensuring they know my general location. In the rare event something happens, they will have an easier time locating me. I also never travel without travel insurance.
One of the more imprudent things I’ve done recently is attempting to explore the beautiful island of Phu Quoc on a scooter. If being accident-prone and an inexperienced rider weren’t enough to make a recipe for disaster, choosing the monsoon season for the misdemeanour did the rest. Fortunately enough, the only casualty in this was a sandal that I lost to the rain-pelted dirt track while trying to get my scooter unstuck.
Travelling with more seasoned riders (who clearly made better footwear choices) as well as making frequent rest stops ensured we stayed safe during the ride.
Travelling to the Philippine island of Siquijor on a whim. I took the four-hour drive via southern Cebu to the ferry that brought me to Dumaguete. I then hopped on a tricycle that led me to another ferry that finally brought me to the island known for witchcraft and white magic.
I returned to Cebu from Dumaguete, sailing 11 hours on board a rickety ship. In comparison to the rest of the adventure, the sleeping quarters on the ship were forgettable.
Correspondent, Hong Kong
I signed my daughter up for the 10-month Ashoka Tree Youth Personal Growth Programme, which aims to improve the mental wellness of youth through Buddhist theories and the practice of Chanwuyi at Tsz Shan Monastery.
This required the full participation of parents. I’d never taken this kind of course before, and the toughest part for me was the Shaolin Kung Fu session. The first lessons taught just the basic moves but those already left me with sore feet and back. I asked around for advice on how to remedy this but was told there’s no shortcut and practice makes perfect.
Senior Correspondent, China & Special Projects
In Kunming, I couldn’t get a cab back to the hotel after an interview at a travel agent’s office. It was rush hour and raining. I saw two young men who looked like they were using a ride-hailing app and asked them to help get me a car too. I kept asking if it was safe and they reassured me. I was hoping to get into the first car and not be left stranded on the road. The car for me came shortly and it turned out to be the first day for the driver who happened to be an off-duty cop.
I am afraid of heights and would feel wobbly whenever I get too far above ground.
I was again reminded of this phobia when I visited the Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden in Chiang Mai. My daughter and husband were eager to try the canopy walkway, the longest of its kind in the country at 400m in length and 20m above the ground.
Never compromising when it comes to caring for my child, I had no other choice but to step forward hand-in-hand with my little daughter, only to be hit by a feeling of vertigo. But the tiny hand I was holding and the smiling face of my little angel were a good cure. I had enough strength to keep walking, making sure to never look down. Mother Nature was kind enough to give rain, which cut short the canopy walk to less than 100m.
In the eighth month of my wife’s pregnancy, we grabbed our last chance for a couple’s getaway and headed to Kanchanaburi on the cheap tourist train. Neither of us had been on it before, and we weren’t exactly prepared for the cramped sideways seating or the slowness of the journey. And it was unseasonally hot. Pretty as the scenery was, by the time we got out to the waterfalls we were sweaty and uncomfortable.
An hour before departure, we had enough, hauled our luggage from the train and lugged it to a bus. We arrived in Kanchanaburi city, had iced coffees and relaxed. After seeing the train pass through two hours later, we felt glad we chose to travel our own way.
I have spent a lot of time in the Cardamom Mountains in Cambodia this year. While the remote and expansive jungle is stunning, it comes coupled with several dangers. Dengue and malaria mosquitoes are common; scorpions, snakes and scary spiders live there; and access to medical care is non-existent.
I always ensure I have a good first-aid kit, strong DEET repellent, up-to-date health insurance and that my friends know my itinerary.
I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the most daring traveller but I did give indoor skydiving a go during a trip to the Gold Coast in June this year.
The team at iFly Gold Coast provided pre-flight training and a protective flight suit, helmet and goggles in preparation for entering the wind tunnel and a qualified instructor guided me through the minute-long flight.
The most daring thing I did this year was river rafting in Rishikesh, a city in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand. This got my adrenaline pumping and was overall a very enjoyable experience.
Apart from booking the trip with a reputed company, I followed all the instructors’ advice on dos and don’ts. As a non-swimmer, I was extra cautious throughout the expedition.
Correspondent, Sri Lanka/Maldives
In Dubai earlier this year, I visited the tallest building in the world – the Burj Khalifa, a standard must-do for any travel writer. I had visited it last year too but my interest was piqued again after the observation deck was moved up by a few floors.
However, this time, when I looked out the window on the 148th observation deck, I instantly felt my feet wobble. I have a fear of heights so why on earth, I wondered, did I have to visit this twice.
Trying to avoid a medical emergency, I gulped down water and food, and was the first to wait outside the elevator for the return ride before staggering out almost on all fours. No more Burj Khalifa for me!
Close to where my parents live, in a small town at the foothills of the French Alps, there is what locals called the Sky Park, with ladders, ropeways, death-slides and other hair-raising obstacle courses.
We have been going to this part of France for years and I’d never wound up the courage to give the most challenging route a go. But as my parents are moving back to the UK, this was my last chance.
Being afraid of heights, I listened intently to the instructors’ advice, wore the obligatory hard hat and made doubly sure that the carabiners attached to my harness were securely on the safety line at all times.
The course required me to leap a couple of metres into a net and then ride a surfboard (honest!) way above the forest floor, but I made it, a few scrapes and bruises notwithstanding.
This article was first published in TTG Asia December 2016 issue. To read more, please view our digital edition or click here to subscribe.