This week’s guest post comes from Mei, the Malaysian travel blogger behind Meimeichu.com. Describing her hobby as “collecting experiences”, Mei uses travel as her form of post-graduate education. “Travelling is not about seeing a new place, it is the journey of learning. Every time I leave my comfort bubble to venture into a foreign land, I come home more empathetic, curious, and knowing more than any amount of textbooks have taught me.” Spontaneous and fearless, Mei’s stories are written from the perspective of a solo female traveller. Her stories are relatable, raw and honest in highlighting the joys and challenges of travelling as a single woman. She says “the memories of my adventures are some of my most valuable treasures, I hope it inspires you to embark on an adventure of your own”.
1. What is your name and where do you come from?
Mei Mei Chu’s my name, but my friends call me Mei. I come from a town called Klang, it’s an hour away from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Klang is one of those small towns that people in the big city lights make fun of, but that’s only because they’re jealous of our good food.
2. What sort of traveller are you?
I’m a female solo backpacker, which is a rare breed in the conservative part of the world I come from. I often get unsolicited advice from my aunts to “stop taking risks” but thankfully, my parents have given up on asking me to stay home.
3. How do you fund your travelling?
I’m Asian, so you know, I work two jobs. My travel blog meimeichu.com also doubles as a portfolio for freelance writing projects.
4. Where is the best place you have ever been and why?
Tonga! Tongans are the happiest people I’ve ever met and despite being so poor, they’re also the kindest. One family I met on a boat invited me to stay with them after realising that I was travelling alone. They insisted that I took their room while they slept in the living room. I also love the graveyards in Tonga, they are always so cheerfully decorated as if the family are celebrating a life well lived rather than a life lost. Also, I got to swim with a humpback whales, it was the happiest day of my life.
5. Where is the worst place you have ever been and why?
I honestly haven’t found a place that I absolutely hate yet, there’s always something special in every place. But if I had to pick, I’d say the Temple of the Tooth and the Golden Temple of Dambulla in Sri Lanka. I’m a Buddhist; to see how those big temples are commercialised till they lost the true meaning of Buddhism was disappointing. It was disheartening, but it was also a sobering learning moment about greed and corruption.
6. Do you have a Bucket List? If so where are the 3 top places on it?
Not necessarily the top 3 places, but here are the first 3 places on my list (it’s not arranged in any particular order):
1. See mountain gorillas in Africa
2. Eat jewelled rice in Iran
3. See the sunrise from Mount Kinabalu, Sabah
7. What 3 things (apart from the essentials – food/water etc) do you always travel with?
A notebook to journal my day, a good novel, and a dive mask. I should stop bringing my dive mask though, they always end up going on a free ride without being used.
8. What makes you happy and why?
Sharing my travel stories with people who appreciate it makes me happy. I love seeing the wonder in their eyes as they listen. Sometimes, I accidentally inspire them and they learn something new; sometimes they travel through my words and experience something they would never have the chance to try. We’re all helping each other discover new things in this world and it’s just great.
9. How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
My first blogpost was published on 4th August 2013. The idea for a blog first popped up because I was getting depressed writing about politics, crime and accidents all day for work. There were beautiful stories about travel, people and life that were dying to come out of me. I had to write them down and that was how meimeichu.com came to be.
10. What makes your blog unique and why should people read it?
I’m really anal about the quality of my content (it’s a work hazard), so I make sure every article I write is a good read and not written just for the sake of posting something. I write personal, introspective feature articles not just about the places I visit, but also about the people I encounter.
All my articles are brutally honest accounts of what I see and feel, which is something that gets lost in the slew of influencer marketing. I believe that if I preach the jealousy-inducing gospel of travel, I also have a responsibility to talk about the painful parts of travel, such as being robbed or sexually harassed. Through meimeichu.com, I want to empower other women to overcome their fears of travelling solo and to be smart and safe about it.
From ESLT – thank you Mei for taking the time to answer our questions. Safe Travels 🙂