EVEN though being an air stewardess has brought me to many different destinations, I never thought that I would be travelling alone to somewhere as far as Scandinavia!
But I gathered up my courage, and boarded the connecting flights – some 15 hours in total! – for Stockholm, the capital city of Sweden, a place literally half a globe away.
It gave me quite a shock when I first saw from the airplane window the frozen sea water and surroundings, all clad in thick snow.
However, as soon as I disembarked from the plane, miracles started coming my way.
Scandinavia was everything I imagined, as described in all those videos and magazines. It was so clean, relaxed and safe, though I must say almost everything was on the verge of being expensive!
In total, I visited five countries during my solo trip, each nation incredible in its own way.
For instance, in Sweden, I discovered Stockholm is made out of close to 2,000 islets, and almost one out of 10 Swedes owns a boat.
Bergen is the rainiest city in the world, and it was either snowing or raining almost every day I was there!
Meanwhile, in Finland – where Santa Claus is believed to have come from – its capital Helsinki had the highest snowfall among the cities I visited, and Denmark’s capital Copenhagen, being the birthplace of Hans Christian Anderson, was as magical as all the stories he had written about.
In the midst of my journey from Helsinki, I also took a day trip down to Tallinn, the strikingly beautiful capital of Estonia, together with my new Swedish friend Lennart.
He showed me around Tallinn’s old town, which was dotted with a lot of beautiful churches, museums, government offices, and structures from the medieval times.
While walking through the 17th-century dock and canal in Nyhavn, Copenhagen, I came to know that snow too can come in various textures.
Unlike the flaky variety in Helsinki and the powdery type from Tallinn, snow in Copenhagen is round, hard and densely packed like bullets, so much so I could actually hear the sound of the snow hitting my jacket!
The winter weather was something I had to get used to. It was odd to see the sun setting as early as 2pm in the afternoon. On other days, I had to brave the snowstorms just to get some food.
One day, it was snowing so much that it almost covered my boots while I was waiting for the bus alone by the roadside, and this was while the sky kept getting darker, even though it was only late afternoon!
You might be thinking how mundane these experiences were, but on the contrary, I actually enjoyed doing this very much! I never knew I could be this brave.
I don’t usually take the bus when overseas, but in Finland, I was doing it almost every day!
Though I was travelling alone, I never felt lonely, as I was constantly making new acquaintances who proceeded to enrich my journey even more.
I had almost no trouble along the way, and all the imaginary obstacles that I had placed in my mind previously never came to pass.
How silly I was, I thought, as I recalled my earlier apprehensions about travelling solo so far from home.
They were all dispelled by the smooth connections between all my flights, and the fact that my luggage always arrived safely (one of my primary fears!).
Then, there were the amazing local and foreign friends who were also good at photography, the joyous, beautiful Airbnb homes and hosts, and the different weather conditions which allowed me to experience every weather quirk that was either loved or hated by the locals!
Now, I can’t help but think that if I hadn’t made this trip, I would have felt really sorry for myself.
So girls, my advice to you is this: You should travel solo at least once in your lifetime. Just make sure that it is somewhere safe and welcoming, and Scandinavia is really an ideal place to do so!
I must say I have started to miss mornings where I could wake up to a beautiful, snowy scene outside my window...
The girl_in_sarong_kebaya started her journey as a traveller when she first joined as a cabin crew six years ago. A version of this story first appeared on her Instagram account.