There’s a wanderlust deep in Chong Wei-Hsiang, one that sees him packing his passport and heading for the airport often. “There are many reasons why I travel – and it’s something I do often – from challenging myself to learn and expanding my perspectives, to getting in touch with myself; from using it to gain a better appreciation of my own life, to building and strengthening relationships and friendships,” he says.
Travel, ultimately, is a necessity for Chong. “Travel is knowledge – it does not have to be a luxury as, with good planning, travel can often be cheaper than we think,” he adds. “A perfect trip is one that features a return to simplicity and is not embellished. In this digital age, because there is so much competing for our attention, we have stopped being mindful. Travel is about finding balance from being able to catch our breath. I recently spent 10 days in Kausani in India to disconnect, reboot and deepen my practice of being mindful. It was a journey that allowed me to be still, present and knowing.”
It’s hard for him to pick out any one particularly memorable trip, however. “Every trip is – and should be – equally memorable for different reasons! All it takes is a constant reminder that we really should appreciate every moment of every trip. I am so very fortunate to be in a position to travel and I continue to remind myself of this fact.”
Having done it so often, planning ahead has come second nature to Chong. “This month, I’m off to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and then the Ice Hotel in Kiruna in December. Additionally, Nnemba Island in Zanzibar, Sal Sails in Exmouth and Pikaia Lodge in the Galapagos are top of my 2017/18 list.”
While new places are always a joy to discover, Chong does have his favourites: “The Island of Misool in Western New Guinea is where I return to year after year. This is where I go off the grid for up to two weeks. Not only is Misool truly eco-luxe in nature, it also serves as the launchpad to some of the richest, most diverse (and protected) marine ecosystems in the world. But best of all, there is no phone signal or WiFi – no communications with the outside world. No FOMO. And, therefore, nothing to distract me from being present.”
Destinations might change but some things never change. “With travel, one must be willing to take the good with the bad – to keep cool when flights get delayed or cancelled, or when bags go missing! One thing I’ve learn is that, when you travel, patience is an essential item to bring along. That, and an open mind.”
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