Friends of Travel-Trick.com share true and inspiring tales of travelling without the security of their mobile phones.
Remember the good old days when travelling was actually tricky and people didn’t depend on Google Maps to navigate their way around a foreign city?
Those days practically died out with the advent of the mobile phone. Not that there’s anything wrong with that amazing device and all the wondrous technology it boasts! It’s just that we at AsiaRooms.com can’t help but wonder what it’d be like if we relied on pure instinct and – God forbid – an actual physical map during our travels. Inspired by that thought, we asked our favourite globetrotters to share their experiences of travelling without the security of their mobile phones.
Outward Bound Experience in Brunei
I was 19 when I signed up for the Outward Bound experience in Brunei Darussalam. Upon reaching the base camp deep in the jungles of Temburong, my friends and I had our mobile phones taken away from us. It felt strange at first, but I soon began to realise that having the phone confiscated for the duration of my stay offered a sense of freedom. Instead of being engrossed in a piece of technology like any city kid would be, I was sleeping in a longhouse, tumble-rolling down the river, embarking on a three-day, two-night hike up a mountain, and even spending a night alone in the jungle. That last exercise actually required me to make my own tent, a task which would’ve been easy if I could have just done a simple Google search on my phone. Still, it was a great experience, and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.
Finding the Lantern Village in Taiwan
When I was backpacking through northern Taiwan, I wanted to visit the famous lantern village in Shifen. To avoid carrying heavy travel guides, I decided to take a screenshot of a locality map. Sadly, it started to rain when I reached the mountainside, and my iPhone got soaked and just short-circuited before I could pinpoint my exact location. I found myself in the middle of an empty highway, surrounded by lush green mountains hidden by great tufts of grey clouds. I wandered for hours until I found a village where I practised my very rusty Chinese to communicate with the locals. Although it was pretty scary at first, it eventually turned into one amazing adventure in Taiwan I’ll never forget. I was invited to join the villagers for a tour and morning tea before being taken to the station where my train to Shifen departed.
Backpacking through Australia
I’d scheduled a whole month of backpacking through Australia; but, my phone battery just had to die on me a few days into the trip. Crazily enough, I kept it dead at the bottom of my backpack and remained disconnected from the online world. Intent on collecting meaningful memories, I watched the sunset in the horizon, shared a few good laughs with local baristas, started lovely conversations with fellow travellers who brought me on spontaneous trips, and even befriended locals who told me all about secret spots to check out. When I came home, I thought about the many amazing moments I would’ve missed out on if I had revived my phone. To this very day, I can still hear one of my Aussie friends saying, “Turn off your phones ya buggers and talk to each other!”
Experiencing North Korea
In today’s wired world, I can almost always depend on a mobile phone and a decent network no matter where I go. An exception however, would be during my trip to North Korea where I didn’t have any mobile network for a whole week. I was totally out of touch with the outside world, save for the BBC channel with its delayed broadcast in my hotel room. It was like living in the 90s again, where the only available mode of communication I had with the outside world was via snail mail or an expensive IDD call. Surprisingly, it was a refreshing experience not being constantly bothered by phone calls and SMSes. North Korea is a fascinating country in every sense of the word, and I believe that my appreciation of the country would have been different if I had a distraction in the form of a mobile phone with me.
Digital Detox in Iran
I found myself in Iran where access to social media was banned. While I had my phone, I was also stripped of decent Wi-Fi, which is more or less the same as not having a phone. Yet, I saw this as a good thing because I could finally enjoy a digital detox. I did not have to regularly text the people back home and had more time to relax and explore. I was able to capture and document everything around me without having the pressure of sharing content with my online audience in real time. This ultimately meant that I had a treasure trove of experiences stored up to share afterwards. The limitation in connection worked to my advantage – it had built up more suspense and curiosity amongst my readers, family and friends.