My meeting with Frida Aisha was brought by our mutual love of traveling and empowering other women travelers. She hails from Indonesia, likes to write, hike and, of course, embark on great trips! Her writeups can be read at her blog #FidaWrites and her Instagram.
Do you have a support group that helps you to achieve your dream of traveling the world?
I don’t have a formal group. But I have a few friends who usually have the same travel bucket lists so sometimes we would accomplish them together.
My traveling buddies are all diverse, depending on the places I go to. If I travel to cities, I have several friends to go with, if I want to the beach, can go with other friends. Most of the time each one of them helps me achieve my dreams of traveling!
What is the most essential part of planning your trip?
For me it’s knowing the destination and booking the ticket as early as possible. The itinerary and hotel bookings can wait till the last minute ????
What do you on the trip to make it more a mindful travel?
I am usually a very observant person. I like to watch people and observe their actions. In many parts of the place that I travel to, observing people helps me to be mindful of my surroundings and adapt to the local customs if I need to.
I also try to learn the history of the place that I visit, because you can tell a lot about people when you know their back story. And through the history you will know more about why those people are who they are now.
Have you had any encounters of unexpected kindness and how did you pay-it-forward?
Nepal is, unexpectedly, the most amazing country I’ve ever been to. I can still recall the kindness of the people and the topography of the place. I couldn’t imagine beforehand how amazingly kind the people of Nepal are, despite of their humble living.
One time in Nagarkot, the hotel owner mentioned a lot about how he is very happy to see travelers from far away places. He didn’t expect any Indonesian to come all the way to Nagarkot and his hotel. He told my friends and I where to go and eat near the hotel, and assured us that Nepal is a very safe place.
He was also very fascinated about Muslim travelers. He even asked me about the direction of the Qibla’ because he wanted to renovate his hotel and make sure that the bathroom doesn’t face the Qibla’ so his Muslim guests would be comfortable at his hotel.
It’s a 1-star hotel but with the exceptional hospitality and a beautiful landscape it was built in, it felt a lot more like a 5-star hotel!
It was hard to pay it forward, but I always give the best ratings, comments and recommendations about this hotel so many people would visit too!
What is your view of Muslim women travelers as the group that can combat Islamophobia and promote more intercultural understanding?
Through my travels as a hijabi, Alhamdulillah I never had a problem about people harassing me.
I feel that the hijab has become a representation of who I am and it protects me. People abroad who understand would made me aware if their food isn’t halal, which feels amazing when they know and I respect that.
When a group of Muslim women travel I think it is a form of empowerment. People would realize that Muslim women are not oppressed, they are given all the rights there are to travel the world and show that we are just like everybody else.
And Muslim women from Asia and the Middle East have very different type of traveling styles and even their clothing styles, so it will generate understanding to the world that, though Muslims, we are not all the same and that people don’t need to be afraid of us.
How do you deal with disappointment and hurdles during your travel?
Whenever I experience unexpected disappointment during my travels, I always try to see the positive output from it.
For example, when suddenly our flight got delayed, although it was annoying, but I’d rather have it delayed than have to forced to be on a flight and then some bad thing happen.
Also, whenever I got lost somewhere during my travels (especially when I have to walk) it sucks because it is tiring but on the positive note, I got to see other parts of the place i didn’t plan to see. Sometimes it is amazing what you can find when you got lost.
Thanks and safe travels, Frida!
This interview was done by Wan Nurul Hanani.
About Hanani: Inspired by her parents who wrestled their way out of a very rural area to obtain national scholarships and to have a high-flying career, Hanani believes that everything is possible once you set your mind into it. She has embarked on solo travels and treks to Peru, Iran, New Zealand, Turkey, Morocco and other countries since 2009. Her love of mountains has taken her to the likes of Mount Yong Belar, Mount Semeru to Annapurna Base Camp on which she proudly donned the traditional baju kurung or kebaya.