The constant reminder from my friends and family that I was turning 40 in January 2017 was closely followed by a question. “What do you want to do to celebrate?”.
The thing was, I had no idea. I knew I didn’t want a big get together with the multi-faceted circle of friends that I have. I didn’t want it to feel awkward. I also knew that I didn’t want the pressure of drinking and having to deal with a hangover the next day. The reality was, I wanted to do something for myself. Something that would make me see how far I’ve come after all these years. I wanted a story of my own that I could be completely accountable for. It may seem selfish to the reader, but to me, at that point in my life it felt like the perfect timing to be just that. Selfish.
The only idea that really stuck to me was the thought of travelling solo overseas. Nothing else grabbed me or felt difficult enough to achieve. So now it wasn’t a matter of what but more a matter of where, I had another decision to make.
For the following few weeks I let the scary idea of travelling completely on my own sink in and churn around with thoughts of which countries and cities I wanted to visit. Every thought I had didn’t sit right with me at all. Cook Islands? Maldives? (nah, too couply), Samoa (doesn’t seem scary enough), Madagascar (perhaps too far?)… then it hit me… Borneo!
I felt sort of silly for not thinking of this sooner. I have always wanted to see the jungle, the animals, and more importantly; the orangutans. An unusual amount of excitement was warming up my entire body. This feeling was then projected by the way of light and sparkle through my eyes. Finally, the decision had been made!
When people asked me about my 40th, it felt unbelievably exhilarating to say, “I’m heading to Borneo!”. The usual response was “by yourself?” and I had mastered to confidently say “yep” while smiling, then quietly gathering up every ounce of courage from within.
I had the what (my 40th), the when (January 2017), the where (Borneo) and the why (jungle and animals) sorted. All that is left is the how? I began researching to ensure I could actually be away on my birthday and scrapped together an idea of cost. From there, to make it feel more manageable, I broke it down into fortnightly payments over 9 months. It worked out to be $200 to save with each pay. Totally doable. I also knew there could be some bonus payments coming my way including tax returns and some extra duties at work. As an INTJ, the crunching of numbers came naturally to me. It was much easier to save when I had a clear sense of direction.
My friends and family supported the idea. They were happy for me without judgement or criticism. This validated I had made the best decision.
In March 2016, my brother and sister-in-law encouraged me further by posting the latest version of the Lonely Planet guidebook for Borneo. They too had considered coming along, however it just didn’t fit in with their budget for the year. Some other friends had hoped to meet me in Singapore for a few days after my tour, although the timing over Christmas and New Year, made it a) more expensive and b) an interference with their own holiday plans. Did I mind? No, not even in the slightest as it gave me the chance to really accomplish something all on my own. I will be pushing past all the fear that is holding me back. I will be doing this all on my own. Hence why the trip became less about the destination and more about the journey.
I was still able to celebrate my 40th birthday from overseas as my friends and family absolutely spoiled me. An item on my bucket list was to experience the Infinity Pool at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. I knew that I would pay big dollars to go up the lift and take a photo from the bar area and leave again soon after. I was prepared and willing to do it. They had a better idea. Generously, all chipping in and paying for a night at Marina Bay Sands Hotel so I could have unlimited Infinity pool access. I had the biggest room, with the biggest bath and best view towards the city. Ah-mazing! I am forever grateful.
Now that I’ve returned I can report that Borneo is truly amazing. There’s so much to offer within it’s multi-ethnic cities between the colourful street markets, the beautiful, kind and friendly people, the cheap and delicious varieties of foods and the jungle that’s teeming with life. I’m talking carnivorous plants, frogs, millipedes, wild pigs, monkeys, vipers, orangutans, hornbills, bats and so much more.
I can hear you asking me, “what was your favourite thing?” and my answer is, I couldn’t possibly choose only one. So why not read through my daily journal here to embark on an adventure that I absolutely cherish and adored.