One day in 2009 when I was traveling oversea in a big group with my friends, we visited a glamorous giant casino and suddenly separated into 2 groups. One group, including me, walked around the place, played some games, took photos and so on. The other group, to my disappointment, was only sitting and talking each other in Starbucks. Come on, what’s so special drinking Starbucks in this country, not even a local coffee? You could find many Starbucks cafes in other countries, even in our own.
Fast forward to 2012 when I was traveling solo in Tokyo, I was walking around Asakusa, Ueno, Ginza and Akihabara in one day. In Akihabara, I suddenly felt tired and then entered…. Starbucks. I suddenly wanted to drink a good coffee that I used to drink. I just wanted to sit down, take a rest, write my journal there and watch those local people in the busyness of Akihabara. There were more places to visit, hence I stopped there and enjoyed my peacefulness.
In 2013 when I went to Kuala Lumpur (KL) for business trip, I had one free day to walk around KL before meeting my colleagues. I already planned to visit some places I hadn’t been to, such as KL Tower, Zoo and Bird Parks, some lakes and museums, and even Batu Cave which is quite far from the city. In the end, none of them was accomplished, haha!
Before arriving in KL, I contacted a friend there (read the story here) and made appointment to meet up. Fortunately she was available for the whole weekend and taking me around with her car. Instead of visiting above mainstream tourist places:
* We passed by a luxurious hotel where our favorite Korean celebrity once stayed there during his concert in KL.
* We had her favorite Japanese dessert.
* Since we both love Korea, she took me to Korea Town in Ampang, where we had Korean foods for dinner and I bought my favorite Korean instant coffee.
* We went to IKEA.
* She drove and showed me around Bukit Damansara and Bukit Kiara, suburb areas where the wealthy Malaysians live.
None of them related to tourist attractions in KL, right?
We also went to KLCC to see the beautiful Petronas Tower and Lake Symphony. This is a favorite tourist place, but I had visited it before with my husband. As I told before, I usually didn’t go to my been-there places. But now I know, there will be a different experience in each visit with a different accompany. It felt different watching the lighting musical fountain with my husband, and with my friend (and later with my colleagues). With this friend, I bought some fruits from convenience store, had a picnic along the lake, and talked about our life. I love visiting above places where my friend often goes in her daily life: Korea town, her favorite Japanese dessert (which to me tastes like all common bubble teas mushroomed in Jakarta right now), her rich friend’s house in Bukit Kiara hehe… I really enjoyed it, and I didn’t feel disappointed at all to miss all KL tourist attractions I had planned to visit before.
What I am about to say is, I finally realized that traveling is not all about the destination, it is more about the journey. I am still listing down places to visit when I go traveling (in case I have enough time and money :p), but I won’t be disappointed if I cannot go to all the places. If I know friends living there, I prefer to meet and chat with them, rather than finishing my to-visit-list. I prefer letting them, rather than me, decide where to go because they are the locals. I may know more about the places from books and internet, but they understand more the local culture. I go slowly, not rushing my time. If I find myself enjoying one museum, I will let myself be in that museum for long time.
If I find myself enjoying Starbucks coffee in a new place, I will sit and enjoy my Starbucks.