25 By 25

“I remember last year during my flight from Kuala Lumpur to Incheon taking #AirAsiaX. I read this article from #3sixty magazine about a girl who wants to visit 25 countries by the age of 25 and I thought it was pretty cool. I am really glad it has come true for me. I am now here in Sydney, Australia, my 25th country just a couple hours before my 25th birthday. The road was not always smooth, though. Especially in getting the visa. It was quite a fight. I am sure there are a lot of more amazing things compared to this. But yeah, screw them I am happy \(^-^)/”

This was my facebook status update a couple hours before I turned 25. The content was a little bit arrogant I suppose. I was really happy and satisfied. I did not believe that this mission, that I thought I would not do, just happened to be accomplished. Twenty five visited countries before I turned 25.

The first country I visited was the United States of America. It was actually a scholarship program. I was a Fulbright Scholarship grantee for a program called Community College for Initiative Development (CCID). Of course besides studying, I set aside some of my time to travel with friends. I visited many places there for a year. I even visited Niagara Falls and took the boat that goes along the river that separates the USA with Canada. I, geographically, was in Canada. Should it be 26 then? lol.
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South Korea was the second. As well as the my third home, I suppose. I have been living here for 4 years and a half, just half year away from graduation. I am considering to work here and stay longer. South Korea is great. This country has given me many opportunity to travel. This is where I book my tickets, reserve rooms, make itinerary, contact friends. One of the reasons I would like to stay longer here.

My first solo trip: China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia. Two flights, five buses, one train, and one minivan. It was such an experience and thrill. Got free accommodation in Guangzhou, went clubbing in local club in Ho Chi Minh City, almost got robbed in Phnom Penh, watched sunrise in Angkor Wat, crazy cheap bus ride from Siem Riep to Bangkok, first time snorkeling and island hopping in Phuket, almost got raped by a Couchsurfer in Penang, and road trip in Kuala Lumpur, Genting Highlands, and Melacca. Sounds awesome, huh? And that time there when I was in Bangkok, I intentionally left my embarrassing box suitcase, and turned into a backpacker.
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I started to get addicted to travel. Just 3 months after my first solo trip, in one of weekends in the middle of the semester, I went to Osaka and Kyoto. And just 3 months after that I went backpacking again to Europe, visited 12 countries. It was funny because originally I was planning to visit my ex-girlfriend in Germany, but we broke up instead just a day before my visa application was approved. Then we got together again when I met her in Germany, then broke up again several days after I left Europe. OK, this is not a romance story.
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January this year I went traveling with a friend of mine from my hometown. This was the first abroad traveling for him, so I was excited as well. We visited Singapore, The Philippines, and Kuala Lumpur together, but while my friend finished his trip there, I continued my journey to Myanmar, alone. The Philippines was more like adrenaline travel. Swam with sharks, thrilling island hopping, and met several bad temperament people. Myanmar also left very nice memories. I remember after cycling from my guesthouse to Shewsandaw Paya to see sunrise. It was magical, and that time I just realized how content I am with this life, how proud I am with my self. By the way, it was this time, when I flew from Kuala Lumpur to Seoul that I read that article about visiting 25 countries by the age 25.
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I was originally planning to go to Taiwan and probably Laos as my 24th and 25th countries. However, the state status of Taiwan is still questionable. Some said it was Chinese land, some said it was an independent countries. So I turned down that plan. Suddenly a friend of mine invited me to go to Nepal for hiking. I was thinking to visit Sri Lanka before, as I also have friend over there. My friend in Sri Lanka recommended me not to visit because of conflict there. I don’t know, but I felt like unwanted, so I turned down that plan as well. Then I turned my eyes to Australia, the country I wanted to visit actually for working holiday after I graduate. But I think I will cancel that plan, too. Therefore, yeah I decided to book flight tickets to Australia. Which country is the 25th then? I thought it would be nice for Australia to be the 25th … 4th continent. So I decided to stop over a small country on the same island that I lived in in Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam. My 24th country, even though I visited only 2 days, I think that is more than enough.

Well, next is probably 30 by 30? We’ll see 🙂
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_lucky77_

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