Tell us a bit more about yourself.
I’m an office worker in a company that insures ships and vessels, and I’ve been in this industry for more than 10 years now.
Outside of work, I like to learn new languages and watch movies and dramas (laughs).
What are you currently watching?
I’ve been watching old, 1990s Hong Kong movies recently, like Young and Dangerous (laughs).
I also like to watch Japanese crime shows and movies. There’s this series that I really like called AIBOU: Tokyo Detective Duo. It’s been running for 20 seasons so far, and the 21st season is set to be released very soon, so I’m looking forward to getting back into the series.
What about languages? How many different ones can you currently speak?
I would say four—Chinese, English, Japanese, and Korean. I would say Thai as well, because I spent one year studying abroad in Thailand, but I’m not very good at reading it.
Tell us more about your year in Thailand.
Back in 2010, I was in Bangkok on exchange at Thammasat University, and I enjoyed my time there very much!
At the time, the bulk of the political Red Shirts protests had ended, but I could still see some protesting on the streets, which was quite an interesting experience. I also made a lot of local friends, who were so chill about life, which influenced me to relax more in school and take the opportunity to travel around Southeast Asia (laughs). So I ended up visiting Myanmar, Laos, and other neighbouring countries.
What was the most memorable trip you went on back then?
I would say my trip to Myanmar, because I was quite stupid in hindsight (laughs).
Back then, Myanmar still wasn’t fully open to tourists, so there were quite a few restrictions and measures in place for visitors that I didn’t really do much research on. All I had on that trip was the cash deposit that I got back from my student accommodations, and an old backpacker’s guide to Myanmar that I got from a secondhand bookshop (laughs).
So when I arrived in Myanmar, I realised that foreigners had to pay taxes and other fees like city entrance fees, and fees to visit certain tourist attractions. These fees weren’t much, about USD$10-20, but everything had to paid in cash, and there were no ATMs around, or at least none that I could find.
Towards the end of the trip, I even had to borrow cash from other backpackers. It might sound like nothing, but iBanking wasn’t really a thing back then, so I had to give them my contact details and address in Thailand and just give them my word that I would pay them back when I got back. Some of them were nice enough to trust me and lend me some cash, which I kept in a dictionary because crumpled or folded notes can be rejected by officers (laughs).
To top it all off, I took a long-haul bus ride there, and was sitting next to a broken window for 10 hours, and ended up falling sick and running a fever for about 10 days. It was so bad, but a lot of people helped me out during that trip, and the scenery was so beautiful there, so it made up for it. I was still sick by the time I headed back to Thailand, so I just knocked out immediately on the plane, and when I woke up in Thailand, I panicked because I thought we hadn’t left Myanmar at all (laughs).
Are you looking to travel anywhere now that borders are opening?
Yeah, I want to go to Japan and Korea! A lot of my friends have been going to Bali and Thailand, but I’ve already been there so many times, so I would like to explore other places now.