WHERE AM I ON MY BIRTHDAY? Some of my personal data weren’t in my social media including my birthday. I deeply appreciate all the people who remembered, tried to contact me and messaged me on my special day. Even though I wasn’t able to answer that day, I wanted to express how grateful I am with all the personal message, letters via post and video greetings. So where am I on my birthday? This blog is for the people I love and care so much. I wanted to let you know that sometimes, we came to the point of trying to practice the subtle art of detachment, and it’s beautiful. So you don’t need to worry about me. The first title of this blog is Post Quarter Life Awakening because I will be celebrating my 25th Birthday in 2018. yay! I chose to highlight some stories and lessons in this short solo travel and openly share it with you. Enjoy 🙂
One night, in the midst of all the deadlines, exams, job hunting and extra curricular activities in the university, I just realized I wanted to travel in my 24th birthday. In my travel I set the rules: it should be a budget travel, no social media, no mobile data, minimalist travel – only 1 back pack, and it’s a solo one! That night I decided (1 month before my birthday) I pro-actively booked and paid the transportation and accommodation with this itinerary: Denmark ✈Finland ⛵Estonia 🚌 Latvia 🚌 Lithuania ✈ Denmark.
Finland’s Mysterious Fortress
If it’s meant for you, it is for you. Though goodbye plays its role in so many instances, fate will always work. You will always meet the people you deserved to be with. Lastly, never be afraid to say thank you and goodbye.
So this is how Finland welcomed me, a street performer in the Central station stunned me with his powerful voice singing Coldplay’s – The Scientist: “Nobody said it was easy. It’s such a shame for us to part. Nobody said it was easy. No one ever said it would be this hard. Oh, take me back to the start”. The life I chose to live for the past 24 years was never easy, and in all extent, I am trying my best to live it with faith, love, and gratitude. I will be turning 24 after 2 days, and I have to celebrate these remaining days in Finland.
I went to Suomenlinna Island via small boat from Kauppatori, Helsinki. This island fortress was purposely made to protect Finland against Russian expansionism and it’s now a UNESCO World Heritage site. At 8 am I saw a Japanese woman who is a non-native English speaker but could understand it in a way, I asked her if she can take a photo of me (oh, a solo traveler problem). Then, I said, “Thanks and bye.” and we parted ways. One hour travel by land and sea, I went back again to my accommodation and I was surprised that the same Japanese woman I met on an island was there carrying all her luggage and ready to check out in the same accommodation. I waved my hand and said “hello”, I really wanted to talk to her but she is about to leave, and I said “bye”. In the afternoon I have to travel for an hour to the port for I will be sailing in the Baltic sea-going to Tallinn. Then suddenly, I saw again the same Japanese woman sitting nearby the entrance of the port. “Hi! I am traveling to Tallinn 3 PM, via Finlandia, how about you?”, I said. She was surprised too and she replied, “Tallinn? yeah yeah me too, Tallinn.” This is a bit odd and strange for me, she might think I am following her. haha. We were together at the open air passenger space, 5th floor of the huge Finladia ship feeling the breeze of the Baltic ocean and heat of the sun. I never thought Finland will offer me such warmth and happiness. So I introduced myself to her and she was delighted for I have the same name as her daughter. She gave me some Japanese candies and took a lot of photos of me in the ship. We became friends though we didn’t really have a long conversation. At the Tallinn port, I said, “Thanks and bye.”
The Times we had in Esti
My birthday gave me a time travel. From Medieval to Renaissance; From World War to Modern Era. Today is an adventure of a lifetime: a time to reminisce the people I met and the places I visited. I learned to be grateful in all circumstances.
The night before my birthday I had a very fruitful conversation with solo travelers all around the globe: Russians, Estonian, Canadian, Finish, Japanese- Aus. Some of them considered themselves as the citizen of the world and they shared how traveling changed their life in glorious ways. I was there listening to the stories, and that I will forever treasure. No one knows my birthday and I don’t have any plan to let anyone know. 6 am I had a morning walk at the Old Town of Tallinn and headed towards Toompea Hill – “The Times we had”. I found peace at the top of the hill with the overview of the walled, cobblestoned Old Town, defensive towers, gothic halls, ecclesiastical art landmarks. It’s like life, beautiful, sometimes surreal and magical but existing. I love sunrise.
One hour bus from Tallinn I went to the underwater prison camp in GPS coordinates is 59.226397,24.190215 at Rummo. The place is now fenced by a wall and barbed wire, there are some access point and partly wrecked walls but it is forbidden to go, but I still did. The ruins of the abandoned prison camp outside the small Estonian town of Rummu were once a dreaded stone edifice, but are now a beach attraction. The prison was already established in the 1940s by the Soviet Union. It was built in a convenient location: on the tip of a limestone quarry in which the inmates were forced to toil. It is unlikely that the prisoners in this Soviet prison ever imagined that the quarry they were forced to work in would someday become a beautiful diving spot. But it’s a weird world, and time is long. In the past 24 years made me realize that indeed it is a weird world and the time is long, and it’s up to me to see the beauty even in a quarry. I met two Estonians who assisted me on which bus to take for I missed the direct trip. Oops. I love locals and the kindness I receive wherever I go.
On my way home I met an Indonesian (a journalist) and Thai (humanitarian worker) in a Medieval restaurant named Draakon, we hopped in a pancake house afterward. While heading towards Toompea Hill for a good sunset view, I met again the Japanese woman, but this time I hugged her and I said: “Hi, thanks and bye.” She seems in a rush, but indeed a small world. I went back in my accommodation and I brought some cake and shared it to whoever it is in the pantry. It is my first time to celebrate my birthday with complete strangers, the weirdest birthday celebration I had. I don’t want to bother them by making me feel special, but I want to share some sweets. 😀 The day ended, but still, no one knows my birthday and I don’t have any plan to let them know.
Saint-Exupéry feels in Latvia About Plane Crashes
Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith. No more what ifs and I can’t. Once you already perceived the possibility of having the gift, you will just wake up and tadaaaa it’s there, sometimes more than what you ever wanted. It happened because you already visualized it. In the process of receiving, you are feeling grateful of owning the gift, even it’s not yet present. But then you are sure that great things are already on its way. So why are you afraid of crashes? Ask and it will be given. Pray and it will be granted.
I never heard of Riga, up until I was looking for my Baltic trip for its just 5 Euros bus travel from Tallinn. I had a very weird European feeling the moment I stepped into Latvia central station. It was different because I saw and felt the old Europe, the feeling of being in the 1980’s: the people, the train, and the weather. I walked and took some trams that were operated mostly by blonde women!
Riga amazed me because of the open air museums and the beautiful medieval and modern architectures. It was Sunday and I rushed to Riga Aviation Museum, one of the unique museums in the Baltic countries and one of the largest in Europe. Its collection of Soviet aircraft is also the greatest outside of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). I was so lucky to be given an opportunity to go inside each of interesting aircraft (because I am the only visitor that Sunday), thanks to the German guide for assisting, took some pictures and gave some guided tour! I am always fascinated by the beauty of aircraft, sky, and stars. I remember my first ever flight, it was sunny, clear sky, my heart started to tremble but it was amazing. I can compare the amusement to Luffy’s voyage in the sky in one of the episodes of One Piece.
Lithuania’s Illusions and Hot Air Balloons
I found myself walking towards the stairs up in the hill in the city of Vilnius. I didn’t know where it will bring me but I just keep on going. It was sunset, I am in two worlds merged in one – old and new. I guess there’s so much beauty in the bits- and-pieces of life when it is unplanned and pseudonymous.
I arrived in Vilnius, Lithuania in the mid day. My another German friend that I just met in Latvia suggested me to go to the illusion museum. Right after stepping out the door of the museum dozens of hot air balloons filled the Vilnius skyline with splashes of color in the old town. I thought it was an illusion, but it was real. This gorgeous moment was captured, and it still amazed me how beautiful it was. I got a chance to go to a medieval coffee shop and hoped to another medieval restaurant that served traditional food. What I loved in Eastern Europe, in general, is that good restaurant offers cheaper food prices.
Iam in love with sunrise and sunset. In Lithuania, I chose to witness the sunset at the top of a hill where Gediminas Castle was located. Heading towards the north is the clear Neris river and the metropolitan city of Vilnius. Looking towards the south is the old town of Vilnius with amazing architecture and art. At night I just walked around the city center, up until I realized it is already half past 11. Surviving the past days without internet is not that easy, interesting and challenging. But it made me appreciate the place, I tried to practice living in the here and now, and not to mind my virtual world in my little social circle. I was completely reliable in the printed map or a screen shot of the map on my phone. More often I got to talk to locals and ask for help in the directions. I asked some crews in a closing bar about some direction. They were so amazed when they knew that a foreigner lady traveling solo in Vilnius were walking in the “one of the most dangerous” part of the city on her first night. I remember one woman saying, “That’s amazing, I hope I did that when I was younger”. Another Lithuanian guy asked me, “Why are you up in the street alone, it’s your first night here in Vilnius”. I just replied “I didn’t notice the time, I felt safe up until I realized I am lost. haha” This local assisted me, booked me in their local taxi app and waited up until the taxi arrived, for almost 30 minutes of waiting! This experience made me believe more in kindness, and this is what I contiguously experienced while I am traveling.
Experience Hygge in Denmark
Birthdays were made to celebrate life, but we can choose to live it every single day. We can celebrate birthday everyday!
It was a temporary disconnection to the virtual world but it feels so different. I met so many people, listened to their stories, created my story and learned from it. I guess uninstalling social media while traveling is one of the best decision I ever did. Having a minimalist lifestyle, one back pack, not caring about my OOTD, mastery of my camera’s timer and great conversation with people adds a lot of spice in this solo travel. Technology is made to help lives but not to ruin the quality of it, and sometimes its way better to detach from it.
I remember Osho, The Secret of Secrets said, “Remain in the world, act in the world, do whatsoever is needful, and yet remain transcendental, aloof, detached, a lotus flower in the pond.”
I learned to be grateful for what I have and to be excited on God’s blessings that are on its way. Now I understand the importance of loyalty, honesty, and love. And love is that something I shouldn’t be afraid to give. I learned to redefine my meaning of happiness and reconnect my purpose to God’s divine plan, and I continuously seek for it.
So I am back in Denmark, one of the happiest place on earth (as they say). But for me, let’s make every place our feet chose to step in, the happiest place in our own little perspective.