When my good friend Mabel asked me to accompany her on a walk one early January morning, I never thought that by the end of the day, I would have bought a flight ticket to Nepal due to leave in two weeks!
It’s been a while since I last saw her. Truth be told, I was still avoiding meeting people at the time.
Leaving the corporate world meant answering a lot of questions from well-meaning friends and relatives. Not really a good thing when out of everyone, I was the one who was most afraid.
In the beginning, people would say things like, “Well done, it’s very brave of you to leave and pursue something meaningful.”
Then it turned to, “So what are you up to nowadays? Still goyang kaki?” (Goyang kaki is Malay euphemism for bumming around and wasting time).
Eventually, it came down to, “You’re not really getting anywhere, are you? Perhaps it’s time to return to corporate life. I know someone who’s looking for a candidate just like you…”
As Mabel and I huffed and puffed up the steps to our usual trekking area, I mulled over my career options. Persevere or go back to black suits? I had already bought this website and planned to write about my travel experiences, but there were no concrete plans yet.
Then she dropped the news. She knew a professional photographer. Nepal. Recce trip. Small group. Not open to public. Excited.
Here’s something you need to know about Mabel. She is one impressive kick-ass lady. Within one year, she trained herself from knowing nothing about cameras to becoming a full-fledged newborn baby photographer. Like me, she also left the corporate world and (unlike me) hit the ground running with her photography business.
On the side, she travels the world to inspire mothers everywhere to love themselves and not let motherly and wifely duties dull their identities.
Mabel exuded this amazingly positive attitude and such infectious enthusiasm that after 10 minutes, I asked her if I could join. I had always wanted to go to Nepal. Beautiful mountain range. Colourful people. Interesting food. Bungee jumping…
I have acceptable knowledge on how to handle a DSLR. I’m decent on Photoshop. I write well and I love travelling. And… I just bought a website meant for travel writing.
Imagine what I could learn on the trip from a small group of travel photographers?
I didn’t know what, but something felt right. I felt like I was on to something. By lunchtime, Mabel called me to say the group was okay with an extra person.
At the time, I was having lunch with my mom at my local favourite mamak haunt. When I received the green light, I scrambled to buy a flight ticket from Malindo Air at the same time as everyone else before it got too expensive. To add to the drama, my credit card decided to go stupid on me, so I begged my mom to pay for it first and then harassed the mamaks about the slow internet connection.
(Mamak usually refers to Indian Muslims in Malaysia who run cheap delicious eateries across the country. They are well-loved by Malaysians of all age, race and stature.)
With flight ticket secure, I went to apply for a Nepal visa on the very next day. Luckily, it only took one day.
With everything in order, all I had to do was break the news to my family. By hook or by crook, I was going to Nepal.
The scariest one was Darth Father.
It’s a bit too much drama in one post, but let’s just say it escalated to screaming. The sudden Nepal trip was the last straw on his patience and he unloaded his bottled up toxic combination of worry, exasperation and I’m guessing many swallowed remarks directed at his yet-to-be-medically-certified-bipolar, stubborn (I prefer strong-willed) daughter.
I did all of the screaming. Not because I like to scream (I’m usually very calm okay, honestly), but because through the torrent of tears, my voice wouldn’t come out unless I raised my voice. So scream I did.
My communication skills worked amazingly well even under emotional stress. What got to him basically was me saying that despite knowing that it was going to be a fight, I told him anyway because I love him.
When I stopped screaming, he slowly pushed towards me my favourite steaming hot Twinnings wild berry-flavoured tea in his oversized IKEA mug and I drank it.
After that I started talking about the kind of posts and videos I intend to write (I know, quick change of subject right? But fighting is a great way to release stress). Through this discussion, we somehow landed on something that simply clicked.
I love writing. I love travel. I love to teach. I’m a complete b*tch when it comes to details. I overthink and I love to organise. So I will produce how-to posts and tips to help people plan their own trips and get around.
Yeah, I know. Not the most novel idea. At all. But it clicked. And there can never be too many ‘how-to’ posts on the internet.
And just like that, I earned the focus that I had been searching for the past one year. And I let go of the fears that had been plaguing me for the same amount of time.
You guys like happy endings right? (Except you sadistic people who watch B-Grade horror movies where everybody dies). We hugged and I apologised for screaming at him.
He said it’s okay because I’ve always been stubborn and that I’ve been screaming at him ever since I was a little girl. He’s totally exaggerating though. I don’t scream.
So with Darth Father converted into good ‘ol Gandalf again, I scrambled as much research and preparation as I could in two weeks and was off to Nepal with my appointed mentor, Mabel. I don’t think she knows I’ve made her my mentor yet, but there you go. You know now.
Below is the very first vlog I made in the airport just to get me started. I used my battered Samsung Note 3 phone and downloaded a free video editing app, which explains the annoying watermark.
Turns out I love making videos! I know this one is pretty crappy, but it only gets better!
I already have several other videos which I made on my Nepal trip which on my YouTube channel. So if you like my writing and watching me make weird faces on camera, my YouTube channel is called Sierralisse.
Any support is pure love!