Travelling is something that has the power to deepen your perspective and expand your imagination. For Yanni, who is from Hong Kong, her love for travelling was sparked when she was in college. While the people around her were constantly trying to make a mark, Yanni felt empty. She craved something that would fuel her imagination. And backpacking around the world was just that.
Do you remember the first place you travelled to? I can’t remember my first trip but I can share my most memorable one. Back in my college days, I felt empty and wanted to do something that had plenty of room for imagination, like writing a message in the bottle and let it flow anywhere. That idea led me to find a penpal. I found a penpal website and found a connection to an Egyptian boy.
How did it grow from there? Over six years we explored almost all means of communication. Though we never actually talked about our lives, you could always find bits and pieces of clues from our little discussions and map out what was bothering us. One day, I asked what he was doing. He replied, “I’m making an ice-cream cake!” He sent me a picture of it. “Would you save one for me if I come to Egypt?” I said casually. And this promise brought me to Egypt.
When you go on your solo trips, what is it that you’re usually looking for? Whatever life gives me, I’m always ready to discover more. I’m excited about the people, the culture and the unknown.
What kind of lessons have your travels taught you? This was on a trip with my travel buddy; we were in a shared taxi going back to our hostel after a trip to a village in Iran. The driver tried to cheat us; the scam was only less than 1USD and I would have let him go. However, my buddy insisted on pointing out his dishonesty and said: “If this time he succeeds in ripping us off, the next tourist who gets into his taxi will suffer.”
Travelling solo as a woman can be daunting, so what are your few tips you can give on staying safe? Knowing your capacity, learning to say no, and be adaptive.
A snap from Santiago, Cuba
“Whatever life gives me, I’m always ready to discover more. I’m excited about the people, the culture and the unknown.”
From top: Yanni’s host preparing for annual paragliding competition in Iran; Street scenes in Bangladesh
TAKE IT FROM YANNI
1 THE BEST FORM OF ACCOMMODATION? For me, I couchsurf most of the time.
2 HOW MUCH MONEY IF WE WERE TO BACKPACK SOLO? It’s more about how attentive you are to your budget and spending.
3 HER GO-TO MODE OF TRANSPORT? Hitchhiking!
4 HER ONE THING TO HAVE WHEN TRAVELING SOLO? An open mind.
5 BEST ADVICE FOR FEMALE TRAVELLERS? Always be confident to speak up for yourself and deal with it head on if you have to.
TEXT AND INTERVIEWS AINA NUR SARAH PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF YANNI YELLOW