Travellers’ Tales – Meet Ummi from “Ummi Goes Where?”

Meet Ummi from “Ummi Goes Where?”

I created the “Travellers’ Tales” section to give other travellers an opportunity to talk about their travels on my blog. Today I would like to introduce you to Ummi, a travel blogger from Malaysia . She blogs at “Ummi Goes Where?".

I would love to hear about your travels too. Go to “Travellers’ Tales, fill in the quick questionnaire and email it to me with your blog links.

Read about Ummi’s travels here,

1. Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Ummi and I’m a Malaysian solo traveller who has been to 49 countries on a waitress’ salary. I’m practically the opposite of everything you might think of when you think of a solo traveller. I’m a timid, shy introvert who’s scared of pretty much everything, from water to speed to heights; I can’t drive a car or a motorbike; I have no sense of direction and can barely read a map.

Recently, I started a travel blog (Ummi Goes Where?), where I write about my experiences that will hopefully encourage more people to travel the world even if they think they’re not cut out for it.

2. What is your earliest travel memory?

I didn’t really travel much as a child, and only had my first passport at age 20. My mother wasn’t into traveling, and as a single parent, she already had enough on her plate without the hassle of traveling with a kid.

But I remember the first flight I took when I was 7, on one of my mom’s office trips. I cried when I didn’t get the window seat,  and cried again when we were landing because the pressure change was hurting my face. I guess that explains why she didn’t like to take me on holidays.

Note: I’m a much more agreeable traveller now.

3. Where was the last place you travelled to?

In January 2020, just before the pandemic hit Southeast Asia, I went to Bali and the surrounding islands (Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan & Nusa Ceningan).

4. What was the best thing you did there?

On Nusa Penida, I stayed in a treehouse in a forest. It was so high up on a tree that even though it was not near the beach, I could still see the ocean from my window. The treehouse required some hiking to get to. But after checkout, I didn’t have to hike back to the main road. Instead, they sent me off on a zipline.

5. What was your best holiday ever? Why?

This is a tough one. All of my holidays are special in their own ways. But if I had to choose one that stands out the most, I’d choose the time I spent walking on El Camino de Santiago – a pilgrimage that takes you from various parts of Europe to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

It was the year I turned 30 and I wanted to do something epic to celebrate. So, I walked solo from Portugal to Spain, covering 240 kilometres in 8 days. It was a feat I never thought was possible for someone like me (who’s no athlete), but I truly enjoyed the journey despite all the blisters on my feet. It gave me a true sense of achievement, which doesn’t come very often in my life.

Ummi Goes Where

El Camino De Santiago

6. What is your favourite travel destination?

Thailand. I just love everything about it – the culture, the people, the language, the islands, but especially the food, and the fact that it’s only an hour away by flight from my country.

7. What must one do there?

Visit the islands, go to the markets, ride the water taxis in Bangkok, celebrate the lantern festival, participate in water fights during Songkran festival, experience (or learn) Thai massage…and most importantly, eat. Just remember to tell them “mai-ped” (not spicy), unless you’re a bit of a masochist.

8. Who is your favourite travel companion/s?

Myself! I love the freedom of traveling alone. But when I do travel with someone, it’s usually my partner, who is easy-going and independent enough to not require my company all the time. We have very different interests, so there are some days that we go off on our own and do our own things.

9. Name one item you must have when travelling.

Other than the essentials (passport, phone, wallet, international adapter, and chocolates), I always bring a sarong with me because it’s such a versatile item. It can double as a towel, blanket, skirt, headscarf, dress, muffler, beach mat, and can even be fashioned into a tote bag.

10. Your best travel advice?

Don’t wait for other people to make things happen for you. Just go out there and create your own adventures.

11. The one place you want to visit before you die?

Antarctica. That’s one of the world’s most expensive and challenging places to get to, which is part of the appeal. But I really want to see penguins in their natural habitat and do the polar plunge.

Any embarrassing travel moments?

Well, it was more stupid than embarrassing. There was this one time when I missed my flight home from Seoul because my addled brain confused the time. Not the different time zones, mind you, but something an elementary schooler could have known better.

The flight was at 12:15 a.m. on 13th September. And there I was on 13th September happily gallivanting in the city the whole day and only arriving at the airport a few hours before midnight, not realizing that my flight had left without me the night before. It didn’t register in my brain that after 12 midnight is a new date!

12. Your worst travel experience?

In Surabaya, Indonesia, I was taking a long-distance local bus to get to a jetty where I was to continue by ferry to Bali. I was one of the last passengers left on the bus, but I didn’t feel so scared because there was another woman there.

However, night was approaching fast and the driver said we were too late to catch the last ferry. This fact was corroborated by the woman and the only other passenger (a man), who both encouraged me to come with them to the driver’s living quarters.

As it turned out, this woman had gotten friendly with the male passenger and wanted to spend the night with him. She thought it would be fun to find the driver a partner too. I didn’t know this until the next day, but that night, I was forced to share a room with the driver. We were practically in the middle of nowhere with no other building or people in sight.

Fortunately, nothing happened because I insisted on sleeping on the floor instead of sharing the bed with him. But it was definitely one of my worst travel experiences.

13. How can people connect with you?

You can follow me on my blog (Ummi Goes Where?). It’s still considerably new -- less than 2 years old, but growing fast. I’m also available on Instagram, Facebook, and most recently YouTube. Starting a YouTube channel was a scary decision for me, because I’m social phobic and terrified of talking to an audience. I’m still trying to get over that fear. So, if you could support me by subscribing to my channel, it would really mean a lot.

Thank you Ummi, for sharing your fascinating adventures with us!

I would love to hear about your travels too. Go to “Travellers’ Tales, fill in the quick questionnaire and email it to me with your blog links.

Who will I feature next? I’ve got an exciting line-up ahead. Make sure you subscribe to the free newsletter so you don’t miss out on some exciting travel tales.

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