The benefits of solitary travel

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Today, I bit the bullet and decided to rent a motorbike since I was tired of spending money on taxis or being forced to walk (though within the confines of the city it’s certainly manageable). Upon realizing I had no idea what I was doing when demoing how to ride the bike, the woman at the rental shop proceeded to give me an impromptu motorcycle driving lesson behind the store. Small children getting out of school giggled as I proceeded to over pull the clutch several times, much to the horror of the poor woman helping me. “Slowly! Slowly!” she’d cry while holding the rear of my bike. Eventually we were able to ride around the block, with her sitting behind me, hands on my wrist to show me how to slowly pull the clutch.

Despite giving her a few heart attacks (myself included), I got the hang of it rather quickly, and made the drive to Doi Suthep temple halfway up the mountain. The intense stress and copious amounts of sweat were all worth it for this view.

Solitary travel isn’t for everyone. After living in Kuala Lumpur for 10 days with friends at my side, moving around by myself felt a bit lonely at first. But I’ve already lost count of how many kind locals have stepped in to help my day along, whether it was the woman at the shop, or the other woman who stopped her taxi to ask if I needed directions, the guy who reminded me my bike wouldn’t start without putting up the stand, the other dudes at the temple who helped me lock my bike, and the other guy who helped me put petrol in when I couldn’t figure out the latch (if you can’t tell I’m a bit hopeless when left to my own devices) — all willing to help with a huge smile that I never have a problem reciprocating in turn.

The thing about traveling alone is that it teaches you one of the most important lessons about being human: always be kind. I’m constantly reminded of what it means to fall in love with strangers, and why those moments you share together, regardless of how brief, are true testaments of what is beautiful about being human.

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