Doing what we do, we not only have the pleasure of meeting many interesting locals, but also folks from all over the world. Well, it was just our luck that we got acquainted with Andrew some time back, when he had newly moved to sunny Singapore. Hailing from the Big Apple, the Corporate Strategist of South Korean descent has called many cities home—Seoul, Beijing, New York, and other parts of the United States. Still, having just arrived on our shores, he’s ventured to many more destinations since, sometimes merging work stints with leisure time. We managed to catch him back in town and sat down for a chat, eager to find out where his travels will bring him next.
You’ve been living in Singapore for almost a year. Where’s your favourite spot in the country so far?
Funnily enough, my favourite place has actually been Pulau Ubin, an island off the mainland. I spend most of my days within a 15-minute radius of the Shenton Way area where I work and reside, so I find that Pulau Ubin is the best place to spend some time away from the city centre.
I particularly enjoy looking at the trees and houses there, which give a glimpse of what Singapore was like before urbanisation. I’ve also brought friends who visit from abroad there too!
Amidst all your moves and travels, how do you stay connected with your loved ones?
I’ve formed strong relationships with my family and friends, both in the States and South Korea. Besides paying each other a visit once in awhile, we don’t need to speak every day to be reminded of our ties, and we’ve come to peace with being physically apart for extended periods of time.
Thankfully, I’m still surrounded by close friends in Singapore, like my roommate, colleagues, and girlfriend, whom I met here.
Does your travel style change when you go for work trips versus leisure trips?
With work trips, my daily expenses are typically covered, so you can say that I get to live the good life (laughs). When I’m alone, however, I prefer to travel more simply. I don’t need to do anything extravagant or stay at fancy hotels, just riding around on a motorcycle and observing how different people live is enough for me.
Is there anything you’ve learnt on your travels that you’ve applied to your work and/or life?
I think this comes more so with living and working abroad than going on vacations, but I’ve learnt to find common ground with the people I meet and open my mind to different perspectives.
Oftentimes, we have negative reactions to worldviews that are in conflict with our own just because we don’t understand them. But after experiencing different realities that people live in, I’ve come to realise that we all make sense of the world differently; it doesn’t make one more right than the other.
Tell us about a memorable place you’ve visited and your experience there.
I travelled to Indonesia for the first time in 2017 with two of my family friends, who were from Malang. We took a week-long road trip down to Bali, climbing two volcanoes and visiting one of their homes on the way. That was a really special experience because I had never been around Indonesians before at that time, so it was nice that I got to spend time with them and their families on such an intimate level.
More recently, I took a spontaneous day trip to Batam. I had been curious to go there since I moved to Singapore as I can see the city from my apartment, so I decided to take the ferry down one Sunday morning. There, I took a taxi to a beach I found on Google Maps that was an hour away from the port. The view was amazing, but I soon realised I had no way back. After waiting around for awhile, I bumped into three locals, who so kindly picked me up and showed me around Batam, and eventually dropped me off at the port! We didn’t speak a word of each other’s language and yet had a great time together.
As a frequent solo traveller, how do you ensure your own safety, especially when going off the grid?
One thing I always do is physically trace out the maps of places I’m going to beforehand, either a map of the whole country or smaller parts of it. The act of drawing allows me to study the area thoroughly—visualise places of interest, transport routes, landmarks—so that I can get a better sense of where things are located in relation to one another, and what to expect when I’m there.
How do you typically pack for your trips?
Apart from the obvious essentials, I always have with me earplugs, eye masks, and Melatonin supplements, even at home, as I’m a very sensitive sleeper (laughs).
When it comes to organising, a good luggage comes in handy too. My Samsonite suitcase has been a great asset for my travels on that front! I’ve been using it for about two years, typically on my business trips, and have benefited from many useful features that I never knew I needed before, like a mesh cover that keeps things intact and compartments for smaller miscellaneous items.
So, where to next?
This year, I’m hoping to explore more remote regions neighbouring Singapore. Not many know this, but there are so many untouched places very close to us, I’m thinking islands off the west coast of Sumatra and in Borneo.
Andrew was previously seen here.