7 Lessons I Learnt Travelling Solo as a Hijabi

As much as I am not a big fan of the term ‘hijabi’, I cannot deny the fact that in a highly visual world, what I wear plays a big part in how people perceive me.

SAM_5197

Women (solo) travellers aren’t rare nor hard to find. Women hold an equal stake in the solo travelling/backpacking community today.

A hijab-ed solo traveller though is a whole different matter.

I have often been asked: “Isn’t it hard to be a solo traveller with the hijab?” and “Don’t you face any challenges while travelling around, especially in the West?”

My answer has always been the same: Not really.

Perhaps I’ve not really given it much thought prior to this. Truth be told, I’ve never seen myself as any different from the other women travellers I meet on my travels. But you know what?

I AM different.

It took a while for me to appreciate the situation I’m in and the unique learning opportunities I’ve had.

So here are 7 lessons I’ve learnt from travelling solo as a hijabi.

1. The way other people treat you depends a lot on how you show up.

People will naturally mirror your actions. I have learnt that if you are open, friendly and genuine, then other people will treat you the same way. I don’t make my hijab an issue, so they don’t make it an issue. Most of the time, the travellers I meet on the road barely bat an eyelid about my hijab. To them, I am what I am – a fellow traveller, trying to figure things out as I go along.

I have learnt that I need to teach people how to treat me, by doing exactly how I would like to be treated.

SAM_0011

When you greet others with a smile, with an open posture and with a glint in your eyes, you invite others to treat you the same way.

When you close yourself off to others, well, people are too caught up in their own lives to bother prying their way in.

2. The world isn’t the terribly scary place it’s portrayed to be.

Perhaps it’s the traveller mentality – we’re all in this together, so let me help you as much as I can because God knows I might need the same kind of help in the future – that makes it so easy and a lot less scary.

IMG_5092

I have been treated with so much kindness throughout my journey. When I was lost upon arriving in Sevilla late one night, a fellow traveller from South Africa offered to navigate and accompany me to my hostel, and he insisted on nothing in return. In Vienna, I shared a room with a Romanian traveller who would always share with me her bread and jam. In Bali, a female traveller who was in her late forties sat down with me and imparted to me such wise words about life and love when she realised I was struggling internally.

IMG_0044

My faith in humanity constantly gets restored when I travel solo. The world is filled with beautiful souls. All we have to do is to keep our eyes and heart open to them.

3. Other people are genuinely curious about Islam and it is up to us Muslims to be open about sharing our faith.

The hijab is a very real symbol of my faith, and people often get curious. Especially in today’s media-saturated world, it is not surprising how little people actually know about what Islam truly stand for.

Instead of being a hindrance, my hijab has led to many wonderful conversations about faith, religion and humanity.

IMG_6688

In the common spaces of hostels, I have shared about Islam with people from different walks of life and of different faiths. Each time, I walk away with a renewed conviction of my faith and a stronger desire to keep learning about it. It has also made me realise the importance of open dialogue. We are, after all, all humans to begin with.

IMG_7586

I have had many women travellers ask me to teach them how to wear the hijab, and I’d gladly oblige. The wonder in their eyes the very first time they try on the hijab is something I will always hold dear to my heart.

4. The Muslim sisterhood (& brotherhood) is real.

The hijab is like a sorority ring – it’s a physical symbol that screams “Hey, we’re family! Whaddup girl!”

IMG_0126

Whenever I meet a fellow Muslim sister on the street, the smile is instant. If we pass by each other, the salaam will be said.

My travels have been made a lot easier because of fellow Muslims, male and female, who are so giving of their help when they know I am travelling alone.

I have had heavily discounted (if not free) meals at sit-down restaurants given to me without my asking, random shopkeepers would hand me snacks as I pass their stalls, and I have been shown to my hostels many a times by kind Muslim sisters whom I meet while navigating my way from the bus or train stations.

A shopkeeper once told me, “Being allowed to help a traveller, what more a Muslim traveller, is God’s way of answering my prayers.” <3

5. The hijab protects the woman, and is a reminder that Allah is always close.

Often, other female travellers will share stories of how they sometimes get harassed on the streets and by other male travellers. My interactions with the men I meet while travelling have overwhelmingly been respectful. Some occasionally get cheeky but, hey, I appreciate that’s all done in good fun with no malicious intent.

Wearing the hijab means that I don’t get persuaded to engage in activities I may otherwise regret. I steer away from activities such as pub crawling or having a night out in the streets that could lead to undesirable consequences. It sends out a clear signal to others that I’m not to be messed with. :P

IMG_7430

The hijab also acts as a subconscious reminder to me that I am never alone. In moments of despair, of doubt and also in moments of joy, I’ve realised that I will touch my hijab to reassure myself that Allah is always, always close. It keeps me centred. It keeps my vision clear.

Allah is always with me.

6. We are not defined by our circumstances, but how we act within the circumstances.

Admittedly it’s not all rainbows and butterflies on the road. I have had occurrences when ignorant people scoff at me about my hijab.

In Sevilla, an elderly man came up to me while I was walking alone in the national park. He spoke in Spanish, pointed to my hijab and gestured to me to take it off. Taken aback, I quickly recovered and smiled at him. I shook my head, tried to smile as genuinely as possible and walked away.

I was riled up about it initially, and kept harping on the incident as I continued my walk. I started to doubt the journey and my capacity as a Muslim. Should I have fought back? Should I have said something?

But I quickly realised that I shouldn’t make that one incident affect my entire trip or my opinion of people. I shrugged it off, said a prayer for the man, and decided that I was going to enjoy my trip to the fullest anyway. A couple of minutes later, while exploring a fair that was happening nearby, another man gestured to me, held out his hand, gave me a handful of caramelised nuts and then waved me away with the kindest of smiles.

IMG_7981

These back to back incidents were a powerful reminder – you cannot control how things end or how others treat you, but you can sure control how you treat yourself and how you react in the face of undesirable situations.

7. I am more than my hijab. 

Lastly, and a lesson very close to my heart.

I have learnt and embraced the fact that I am a person, with my own quirks and interests, with a mind and a personality to live for.

IMG_0177

My hijab is my obligation to God and an ode to my faith, something I do so willingly from the heart, but it by no means strips me of my person and my ability to give back to the world.

The hijab has added value and dimensions to my identity, not drown it.

Travelling solo allowed me to learn so much about myself. It has opened up doors of insight that had me appreciate the complex being that I am, as I navigate through this world.

I may not know exactly where I’m going, but I’m exactly at where I’m meant to be.

Lots of love,
Atikah Amalina
@thetudungtraveller

——

Feel free to share this with your friends if you found this helpful, or if you know anyone out there who could use the push! :)

P.s.: Travel doesn’t necessarily have to be done alone for it to be impactful – it can be done with friends too! Have you always wanted to travel the world? Are you looking for other like-minded individuals who love to travel too? Are you more interested to travel and learn about the world, instead of just checking off a holiday list?

We would love you to join us at WW Conversations, where you will meet other kindred spirits, and have the opportunity to be a part of intimate and cozy sharing sessions with us as we talk about travel, personal empowerment and food.

Female or male, Muslim or non-Muslim, Singaporean or not – it doesn’t matter. We’re all about building a family of beautiful souls. 

Community

“Ohana means family, and family means no one gets left behind.”

IMG_0111.JPG

Being family means we support one another in good and bad times. It means giving each other the space and opportunities to experience, learn and grow.

Being family means acting out ‘love’ as a verb. It means sharing resources, knowledge and experiences.

It’s saying ‘I trust you’.

At Wandering Wonderers , that’s what we are about. We’re building a family – a community of like-minded people who are passionate about living their best lives. People who understand that learning, unlearning and relearning are part of a lifelong process, that seeking help is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength, and who appreciate that collaboration with other beautiful souls is to be valued above competition.

We’re all given unique gifts and strengths. Male or female, Muslim or non-Muslim, Singaporean or not – it doesn’t matter – it’s time to come together and share the love.

Lots of love,
Atikah & Asha

Rainbows for Batam 2014

R4B 2014

What is this about?

After two successful runs, RainbowsforBatam is back this year!

RainbowsforBatam is a self-initiated project executed by individuals with lots of love to give and lots of willingness to learn, unlearn and relearn.

Like previous trips, this year we will be visiting Nujumul Huda Children Home/Orphanage with the intention to build ukhuwwah (relationships) with the children and guardians, to learn from these beautiful souls and to share the few things that we know and have with them.

To view previous trips, click here or visit TheTudungTraveller.com.

This year we will be taking RainbowsforBatam a step further by collaborating with them to revamp two of the children’s bedrooms!

Why a room revamp?

This decision was taken after multiple consultations with the Director and the volunteers running the Home. We are adamant about meeting a real need instead of just going for a visit this time round, and when they allowed us to take a look into the rooms… Well, it was what called out to us.

So where do I come in?

This project involves painting of the rooms and coming up with decorations such as wall frames, hanging pom-poms and even storage boxes on the first day, and a fun interactive day filled with games on the second day.

If you love interacting with children, would seize any opportunity to do go and give back to the world, get to know other like-minded souls and reconnect with the things that truly matter, then this is the chance for you to join us!

 What do I need to know as a volunteer?

1) Event details

Date: 22-23 November 2014
Venue: Panti Asuhan Nujumul Huda
*Departing Time: Early Morning           Arrival Time in SG on 23 November: Late Evening
To be confirmed nearer the event date upon booking of ferry tickets

 2) What will be provided?

A return ferry ticket, a one-night stay in a twin-sharing hotel room, breakfast and lunch for both days, local transportation and project materials.
Dinner, personal expenses and travel insurance are not included.

3) What is the fee?

You only need to pay $150 to be a part of this project!

4) Can I choose to stay only one day or request to go back to Singapore early?

Unfortunately, due to logistical constraints, we will not be able to accommodate to special requests for early departure back to Singapore. Volunteers will have to stay for the whole two days to ensure the smooth execution of the project.

5) Is there an age limit?

Due to the demands of this project, only volunteers between the age of 18 and 35 years old are requested to take part. Children below the age of 13 are seriously discouraged to attend due to safety concerns.

6) Besides the room revamp and the interaction session with the orphans, is there anything else that will be done?

YES! We will be doing a donation drive for used laptops.

The children increasingly require computers and Internet to do their schoolwork, and the staff has expressed safety concerns over the frequency of the children’s visits to the Internet café. These visits are usually unsupervised and run into the evening, as the home is understaffed and do not have the facilities to match their schoolwork needs.

We will also be running a donation drive to collect monetary donations for the home. This is to aid us in purchasing mattresses and fans for the children.

If you’d love to come on board, hey we’d love to have you join us!

Click HERE to register

Registration form link

Lots of love,
Atikah & Asha

WWConversations – A Tea Party

Hello darlings!

The past few months have been crazy amazing. We’ve enjoyed sharing our stories, reading all your emails and messages, and speaking with you whenever we bump into you outside!

We realise it’s about time we take this to a whole new level!

IMG_0053

Psst, if you’re still not sure who we are, head on over to this entry to get to know us!

As you have heard through our Instagram and Facebook announcements, we will be having our first ever installment of the WWConversations, a series of interactive sessions designed to empower individuals to live their best life through travel, lifestyle and positive empowerment.

The first WWConversation will be all about what we’re passionate about – travel, cakes and positive empowerment!

It will be a day filled with love, knowledge-sharing and food, something that we sure know a thing or two about. ;)

We will be having discussion sessions and Q&A sessions about travelling, a hands-on packing tutorial session and more! Plus, we’ll be having a flea market with a variety of goodies you can get your hands on!

IMG_0754.JPG

Our conversations will be cozy, relaxed & intimate. We understand the importance of having a support system that is nonjudgmental and fair, thus we’ll be keeping it closed-door & the group size small. So make sure you get your tickets before all the slots are taken up! You can also take part in our #WWConversations giveaway on Instagram.

On the other hand, our flea market will be open to the public!

The details for WWConversations – A Tea Party are as follows:
Date & Day: 8 November 2014, Sunday
Time: 11-4pm
Venue: 737A North Bridge Road

We are offering Early Bird Tickets at $12 per person, valid until 26 October 2014. You can also group up with your friends and purchase a group bundle for $55 for 5 people! Normal price tickets can be purchased after 26 October 2014 and at the door at $15 per person!

To purchase your tickets, fill up the form here.

We are extremely excited to let you in our WanderingWonderers family and spend quality time together.

Would you care to join us? :)

Lots of love,
Atikah & Asha

To purchase your tickets, fill up the form here.

A letter to myself: 5 things to note when falling in love again

“To love, and to be hurt often, and to love again — this is the brave and happy life”   J. E. Buckrose

28th April 2014, Maldives

I wake up in the morning, and everything is in place. The world is moving like how it’s supposed to and I move along to it as well. I feel okay today. Unsurprisingly there is a void looming in my heart. Silent; it has no voice, almost weightless yet ironically heavy at the same time. Time passes and the world continues to move. I occasionally think aloud on how silly I was, to cry back then like it was the end of the world. But no, the world is still moving. And I too was moving along with it. I throw my head back and laugh and then I feel it. The lump at the back of my throat. Almost immediately I could imagine, a huge tangled dirty ball lodged right there. Still there. Uncertainty, fear, sadness, anger, disappointment. Hurt.

Throughout my journey of healing and learning from hurt and betrayal, I constantly wrote to myself. It was not an easy process, writing down exactly how you feel, because how does one explain the feeling of betrayal in words? While I was healing, I observed and listened to how people perceive and deal with hurt. I was blessed to meet people who were placed in my way to help me, to guide me through my darkest moments in life. I learnt much about betrayal and how to grow while dealing with it . Let my story be for now; But I am ready to share a letter I wrote to myself.

This is a letter of reminder, a letter of courage and a letter that pushes me to not allow whatever that has happened define who I am.

This is a letter for you beautiful souls who are fighting your battles hard. We will pull through. I promise.

5 things for me to note when learning to fall in love again.

Dear me,

For when that huge tangled dirty ball gets stuck at the back of your throat. Remember this dear heart.

1. Trust me

Love and trust go together. Neither can stand on its own. In order for you to learn how to love another, you first need to learn how to trust. And trust is not seeking another person you can give your trust to. But you. Trust you. Learn to listen to your inner voice. Once you start to learn to listen to your intuition, you have no reason to doubt it.

2. I am worth it

There is no point in beating yourself to what has already happened. Rediscover the things you love and dislike. Know what makes you feel loved and set your standards clearly. Recognize that you are spectacular. For every single day, take active steps to be the best version of you. If you can’t smile, make someone smile through simple gestures. Taking active steps and adding small doses of positivity into your daily life even if you are not at the immediate receiving end will make you realize that you are capable and worthy and you can make a difference.

3. I’m going to have bad days and it’s perfectly okay

The road to healing is never smooth sailing. In fact it is going to be a steep learning curve, if not a rollercoaster ride. Some days you’ll feel like you are not progressing at all. Some days you regress and go back to square one. And it is okay. You are enough. You are doing the best you can. Forgiving does not equate to forgetting. But remembering does not have to include negative feelings. We are all work in progress. One step at a time.

4. Listen and appreciate constructive criticism with an open heart

Quit drowning in self pity on what has happened. While it is natural for humans who go through hurt and betrayal to be defensive, it is not going to help in healing you.  Listen to all criticisms and silence with a pinch of salt. If your loved ones turn silent when you start your stories of what you went through, you know that you are not helping yourself. Learn to listen when people criticize you even if it is not what you want to hear. Reevaluate the criticisms and realize that you are not perfect.

5. Love is a responsibility, not an entitlement

Understand that love is sincere hard work and effort. Everybody has a right to love and be loved but nobody is entitled to love. That includes saying, ” I’ve love you all my heart, how can you do this to me?” You’ve loved with all your heart – it is their loss not yours. Once you start remembering that, you appreciate that you’ve done your best, and that nothing has been taken away from you. You have gained and learnt the real meaning of loving someone.

Feeling hurt is something we naturally avoid given any circumstance. I too, was afraid of being hurt. But I have learnt that getting hurt is an essential life experience that is required to make you whole. I believe now that being hurt and feeling hurt does not take a part of you away, instead it further refines who you are as person.

I am healing and I am learning to fall in love again. I am a work in progress.

Whether it’s losing someone you love or loved or learning to love the same person who broke you. Your partner, spouse or family. I hope this letter gives us courage to continue in our journey in being the best version of ourselves.

154749_10151297439804539_1272623662_n

If this post inspires you, share it with the people you love or those who need it most. Share your stories of strength on Instagram and hashtag us #wanderingwonderers or @ashaadn and @thetudungtraveller

Love and Courage,
Asha.A

 

Savoury Banana Fritters (with a twist)

So lately, I have been craving for bananas. I’m quite certain it must be the Bananas in Pyjamas episode I accidentally watched (Well, i ended up watching 3 episodes) which resulted to a kitchen experiment of combining two of these delectable desserts, Thailand’s Kluay Tod (Thai banana fritters) and Borek (Turkish baked filled pastry).

I’ve experimented (now, I should have been a kitchen scientist) a few variations and this is my personal favourite. I love how easy and fast it is to make especially if you’re always on the go like me. With a comforting combination of sweet and salty, this is sure to impress your loved ones (or your future mother-in-law). So get creative and attack those bananas!

 

Savoury Banana Fritters

serves : 1

duration: less than ten minutes

Ingredients:

1 small ripe banana

1 slice of cheese or  1 tablespoon Mozzarella cheese

2 large popiah skin (spring roll pastry)

Unsalted Butter

Vanilla Ice Cream

Condensed Milk

1 tablespoon Crushed Pistachios

Slice ripe banana half lengthwise and place it to a corner of the popiah skin

Slice ripe banana half lengthwise and place it to a corner of the popiah skin

Slice cheese into half and place it on top of the banana. If you are using mozarella cheese, sprinkle half a tablespoon on the banana

Slice cheese into half and place it on top of the banana. If you are using Mozzarella cheese, sprinkle half a tablespoon on the banana

Fold outer corner ensuring it covers the banana

Fold outer corner ensuring it covers the banana

Roll it gently but firmly

Roll it gently but firmly

Once you're at the  mid section, fold both left and right outer corners in

Once you’re at the mid section, fold both left and right outer corners in and continue to roll till the end. Use a little water to ensure the tip sticks.

Heat saucepan with butter and pan fry on medium fire till it turns golden brown

Heat saucepan with butter and pan fry on medium fire till it turns golden brown

Meeanwhile, grab a tablespoon of pistachios and pound them

Meanwhile, grab a tablespoon of pistachios and pound them

Cut banana fritters into half (I love how the cheese oozes out) Serve with a dollop of vanilla ice cream or any ice cream of your choice. Drizzle with condensed milk and sprinkle the crushed pistachios. Now, I am going bananas!

Cut banana fritters into half (I love how the cheese oozes out) Serve with a dollop of vanilla ice cream or any ice cream of your choice. Drizzle with condensed milk and sprinkle the crushed pistachios. Now, I am going bananas!

Don’t forget to hashtag us on Instagram,  #wanderingwonderers when you try this accidental recipe. Bananas UNITE!

And if it’s not a little too late, I’d like wish all my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters a blessed Ramadan. May this beautiful month bring you an abundance of blessings and may Allah forgive our sins and accept our ibadah :)

Love and Laughter,

Asha.A

 

 

Travel in Style with Us – WW Collection One

“Atikah, where do you get your dresses?”

It’s a common question I get, and truth be told, my dress purchases are often accidental. I’m tall and by Asian standards, I’m plus-sized, so buying dresses is a game of chance. I know how frustrating it can get to see a really nice dress and fall in love with it, only to be told that it’s ‘free size’. Honey, there’s nothing that’s free size. The complete phrase should be “free size between [insert minimum size] and [insert maximum size]”, like “free size between XS and M”, thank you very much. Buying a dress online is even trickier.

Trust me darlings, I know how it feels.

I recently fell in love with chiffon dresses. Asha has too! We’ve been wearing it frequently, no thanks to the facts that it is comfortable for all the travelling we need to do both in Singapore and overseas, it flatters our body shape, and it is oh-so-pretty.

I found the perfect dress one day while travelling, and immediately knew I needed to bring it further. I loved everything about it, from its material, to cut, to colours!

If you follow me on my Instagram (@thetudungtraveller), you’d know this dress is a favourite of mine. I’ve worn this dress for school, for dates, for work, for travel… Recently, I wore it for my flight to Mauritius for my internship stint, and I don’t regret it one bit! I was comfortable throughout the flight, I felt pretty, and it was fit for the occasion. Asha wore hers during her trip to Maldives too! Beside the conventional uses, it can also be used as a modest cover up on the beach! Other plus points – it doesn’t wrinkle too much, and it’s easy to pack. Perfect to fit into your backpack for days/nights on your trip when you feel like dressing up!

Like they say, good things must share right?

So here you go!

IMG_0026

Wandering Wonderers Travel in Style – Collection One

This collection has Atikah’s picks and Asha’s picks – they are of different measurements and cut. Please take note of the measurements before you make your pick! ☺ You can use our pictures as an estimate too. Ribbons are detachable.

Atikah’s Picks

Measurement (in cm) Shoulder Bust Waist Length sleeves Length of dress
Items are measured laid flat, please double for full circumference where appropriate 40 54 50 57 139

IMG_0088
 GRANADA DRESS

IMG_0133

IMG_0132

SEVILLA DRESS

IMG_0152

IMG_0161

JAEN DRESS

IMG_0020

IMG_0019

CORDOBA DRESS

IMG_9995

IMG_0001

CADIZ DRESS

IMG_0007

IMG_0012

ALMERIA DRESS

IMG_0204

IMG_0215

MALAGA DRESS

IMG_0255

IMG_0271

ASHA’S PICKS

Measurement Shoulder Bust Elastic Waist Length sleeves Length of dress
Items are measured laid flat, please double for full circumference where appropriate
41 44 45 (max) 57 136

 

IMG_0076

MATHIVERI DRESS

IMG_0041

IMG_0045

SIPADAN DRESS

IMG_0221

IMG_0226

For this first collection, we are offering it at a special price of $37!

Asha and I personally handpicked these dresses, and to be honest, I want to have one piece each for myself. These dresses are so versatile – we can keep it casual with sandals and minimal accessories, or play it up with make-up and heels. They can also be worn with hijab or without hijab, so hey, this goes out to all you ladies out there!

Plus y’know what? With the Ramadhan and Eid season coming up, it can be worn for terawih, for Eid visiting and hey, especially for those Eid Open Houses during the weekends! You can take it from school/work to Eid visiting, anytime!

To make your order, send an email to wanderingwondererssg@gmail.com with the following details:

Name
Order Details (Dress Name & Quantity)
Contact Number
Address
Normal/Registered Email (additional charges apply for Registered Mail)

We look forward to getting your emails!

We have limited stock for this pioneer Wandering Wonderers Travel in Style collection so what are you waiting for? Purchase your dresses now!

Lots of love,
Atikah Amalina