The world is a book and those who don’t travel is only reading the cover.
Do you remember your first time travelling?
They say that once you’ve travelled for the first time, all you want to do is pack your bags and travel again.
It doesn’t matter whether you were travelling within your home country or overseas, that very first travelling experience is a journey that is often filled with surprises, enlightenment and self-discovery.
We trust that anyone who has travelled at least once in their lives would tell you that, like siblings Zahratur Rasyidah binti Zaman Huri and Muhammad Yusuf Al-Qardhawi bin Zaman Huri.
Zahra and Yusuf had the opportunity of a lifetime when they were invited to journey abroad for the first time in their lives to Taiwan with a travel show called ‘Fun Taiwan First Timer’.
Taiwan has been on the top of their must-visit destination for a long time. So when they got word that they were selected for the programme, it was a dream come true.
We spoke to the brother-sister duo to find out more about what it felt like to get out of their comfort zone and how to have the most fun as first-time travellers.
#1 Be friendly
As an introvert, Zahra can be very shy when it comes to meeting new people. But she quickly realised shortly into the trip that there was no need to be shy because the locals were very friendly and willing to help.
Even a simple ‘hi’ or smile was enough to start a conversation!
“There was one time, we arrived at Checheng Railway Station, Pingtung with a group of local travelers. One aunty kept following us. We then greeted her and ended up talking for a few minutes. We shared what we liked about Taiwan and at the same time shared about Malaysia to her,” the 26-year-old said.
Although they were going around a country that spoke a different language, they didn’t let that stop them from communicating with strangers and making new friends.
“If we don’t understand each other, we can always use sign language or body language to communicate. For me, it wasn’t tough at all,” Yusuf said.
From this experience, the 20-year-old student also understood the importance of communication skills because it can take you to many places in life.
“Don’t be shy to make conversations because after all, this is one way to improve on your communication skills.”
So, be nice to strangers and make new friends!
#2 Try new things
Zahra, who has always been interested in Chinese culture since she was a kid, had done some research on some of the top destinations in Taiwan before their trip. But little did she know that they would be travelling through the country by train!
“It opened my mind and gave me a different perspective because it was something new to me,” she said.
The siblings travelled through Taiwan on the railroad from the city to the countryside, which showed them an unexpected side to the beauty of Taiwan.
They also got to visit lesser known places, such as Nei Wan Station, Mei Feng Farm and Sector Garage Roundhouse in Changhua city.
“I hesitated on trying a lot of things before, but this trip taught me to not be afraid. I learned a lot and did many new things that I never thought I would be able to do before in my life,” Yusuf shared.
So, always be brave and ready to learn something new!
#3 Savour the moment
As they say, time flies when you’re having fun. Zahra felt the same when they were travelling through Taiwan.
“I felt that time moved very quickly during our stay. We got ready early in the morning and within a short period of time, the day was over and we were going back to Malaysia,” she said.
Travelling is an adventure, so it is best to appreciate every moment or get stressed out over unnecessary things. Like food!
“We tried a lot of delicacies during our trip that tasted different from Malaysian cuisine. We have eaten Chinese cuisine in Malaysia before, but Taiwanese food is on a whole other level,” Yusuf added.
“I highly recommend all travelers who go to Taiwan to eat local Taiwanese food. For Muslim travelers, don’t worry. Halal food is available in Taiwan.”
So, don’t sweat the small stuff and take in every bit of your experience!
#4 Take more pictures
Speaking of savouring the moment, it’s true that we should put our phone down at times and live in the present, especially while travelling.
But after having so much fun experiencing a whole different country, the only thing that is left is the memories in your mind.
“The pictures we take become memories that we can keep and I think having a good camera is important while traveling,” Zahra shared.
So, don’t be too concerned about filling your Instagram feed with beautiful photos! Take pictures so that you can look back and reminisce on the good memories.
Ever seen a physical photo album? Maybe this is a good time to start keeping one!
#5 Have good attitude
Be both physically and mentally prepared before visiting a foreign country.
“Prepare the mind and body to adapt into a new country so when you go back to own country, you will become a better person with the right mind and attitude to improve,” Zahra advised.
Each country has its own traditions, culture and habits. It’s okay if you don’t speak the language, but it is even more important to understand the country, the locals and things that are frowned upon there.
“Be a good traveller. Never insult or be disrespectful in someone else’s home,” Yusuf shared.
We all know what happened to a certain famous YouTuber in Japan last year. He may look like he had fun in the video he made, but the consequences of his “fun” were not fun at all.
“There are many good people out there. As long as your attitude is good, people will welcome you to their country,” Yusuf added.
So, always respect other people’s culture!
This may be the siblings’ first travel experience, but from what they shared, it is obvious that it will not be their last.
The best part about Zahra and Yusuf’s trip to Taiwan is that their entire experience was captured on camera! So join the brother and sister as they journey through the heart of Asia and paint a memory that will last a lifetime.