Tiny Traveller: Little Girl vs. World, a 7 year old's Europe road trip

June 06, 2017
Little Girl vs. World, a 7 year old's Europe road trip throughout Brussels, Rome, Florence, Venice, Disneyland Paris, Lucerne, Bavaria, and Holland

The wanderlust is strong in this (little) one.


FIRST, AN EXPLANATION FOR MY DISAPPEARANCE...

Hello, it's me...before I invite you to dive into my archive (arc-dive?) of some of my earliest travel memories, I feel like I owe an explanation for my absence of late. It's relevant to this post, I promise. For the past 3 weeks I've been so uncharacteristically silent on social media that a worried Aftab showed up at my house to make sure I wasn't dead and had my face eaten by cats. I've been sort of in a bad way, mentally and emotionally. Without going in to too much detail (have to keep my head doctors in business, eh?), for almost a month I've been struggling to keep my head afloat in the mire; a perplexing mix of ecstatic highs followed by extreme lows and then apathy, despite having exciting new prospects to look forward to. All of this wild oscillating between both ends of the emotional spectrum have been overwhelming to say the least and not helped by unrelated daunting tasks at hand. As always, I choose isolation rather than burden friends and family with my feelings until I 'sort myself out', so to speak. How very East Asian. 

Little Girl vs. World, a 7 year old's Europe road trip throughout Brussels, Rome, Florence, Venice, Disneyland Paris, Lucerne, Bavaria, and Holland
Me in a more innocent time and with far better eyebrows.

One of the places I've been retreating to is memories of my childhood: a simpler time, carefree and untainted by troubled thoughts, when my greatest fear was not being able to take my favourite stuffed toys - I had 2 plush turtles: a small one with a yellow, red, and blue shell; and a oversized pastel pink one - with me to dinner. In the spirit of #THROWBACKTUESDAY (is that still a thing? I wouldn't know, I've been AWOL from the internet for, like, forever) here are some photos from my earliest travels which might be the catalyst for my serial wanderlust, and also proof that I've been throwing shapes since before social media was a thing. Are travel bloggers born or made? Take a look at 7 year old me, then decide.


Little Girl vs. World, a 7 year old's Europe road trip throughout Brussels, Rome, Florence, Venice, Disneyland Paris, Lucerne, Bavaria, and Holland

Little Girl vs. World, a 7 year old's Europe road trip throughout Brussels, Rome, Florence, Venice, Disneyland Paris, Lucerne, Bavaria, and Holland

I've been on airplanes since before I could walk - visits to Singapore and Australia were commonplace what with the nature of the Chinese diaspora ie. scattered all across Australasia. This trip to Hong Kong is possibly one of the earliest that I can remember. I was 4, which incidentally is the same number of hours it takes to fly from Kuala Lumpur (I was born and raised in Malaysia until I left, aged 19, to study in London where I've remained ever since). This would make a Hong Kong trip the equivalent, distance-wise, of London to Santorini - an ideal 'starter holiday' for the now fully-walking and talking child. According to my parents I was freakishly well-behaved and mild-mannered: all I needed to be happy were my toy turtles (left) which I brought everywhere with me. Twenty six years later I was far less even-tempered when confronted with the chaos of the Fragrant Harbour, which you can read about in my guide HOW TO #DISCOVERHONGKONG IN 24 HOURS.
      24/7 resting bitch face + actual bitch mode



Encouraged by my extraordinarily gentle temperament (which I've long since lost, ha!), three years later my parents braved a 12+ hour long flight from Malaysia with 7-year old me so that I could experience the diversity of the European continent. Guess who went back to school with the best report on "What I did during the Summer holidays"? We covered London, Brussels, Rome, Florence, Venice, Paris, Lucerne, Bavaria, and Holland (plus a few other cities that we just passed through) in what seemed at the time like an epic 2-week road trip. 


Little Girl vs. World, a 7 year old's Europe road trip throughout Brussels, Rome, Florence, Venice, Disneyland Paris, Lucerne, Bavaria, and Holland

Here I am at Brussel's Grand Place, learning how to strike a pose from the figure behind me.

Little Girl vs. World, a 7 year old's Europe road trip throughout Brussels, Rome, Florence, Venice, Disneyland Paris, Lucerne, Bavaria, and Holland

Looking somewhat disapproving of the landscape of Florence (with my pink plush toy turtle in tow!)...

Little Girl vs. World, a 7 year old's Europe road trip throughout Brussels, Rome, Florence, Venice, Disneyland Paris, Lucerne, Bavaria, and Holland

...and again in Florence, having my pose mirrored by a random stranger who decided to join in. Mocked By Strangers, since 1993.

Little Girl vs. World, a 7 year old's Europe road trip throughout Brussels, Rome, Florence, Venice, Disneyland Paris, Lucerne, Bavaria, and Holland

Little Girl vs. World, a 7 year old's Europe road trip throughout Brussels, Rome, Florence, Venice, Disneyland Paris, Lucerne, Bavaria, and Holland

At the Palazzo Vecchio - back then it was called the Palazzo della Signoria, named after the Signoria of Florence, the ruling body of the Republic of Florence - I had my first encounter with the nude male form courtesy of the replica of Michelangelo's David. Oh, David, my first love...

Little Girl vs. World, a 7 year old's Europe road trip throughout Brussels, Rome, Florence, Venice, Disneyland Paris, Lucerne, Bavaria, and Holland

When in Rome, deal with the glaring sun by hiding under a Roman guide book?

Little Girl vs. World, a 7 year old's Europe road trip throughout Brussels, Rome, Florence, Venice, Disneyland Paris, Lucerne, Bavaria, and Holland

Little Girl vs. World, a 7 year old's Europe road trip throughout Brussels, Rome, Florence, Venice, Disneyland Paris, Lucerne, Bavaria, and Holland

Little Girl vs. World, a 7 year old's Europe road trip throughout Brussels, Rome, Florence, Venice, Disneyland Paris, Lucerne, Bavaria, and Holland
I learnt very quickly that St Mark's Square (above) at Doge's Palace, Venice is not the place for a small child to chance upon while clutching a bag of popcorn. Even the hungry cats are intimidated by the hordes of pigeons, all of which will NOT hesitate to attack you for morsels and crumbs. Ah, the days before city falcons...

Talking about traumatic childhood experiences: Venice will always be memorable to me, not for its canals nor gondolas but as the site of my great gelato tragedy. You see, I suffered from asthma as a child and so I wasn't allowed to eat cold, sweet foods. But when in Rome Venice, do as the Venetians do - so my parents let me have a rare treat: a double-scoop of mint chocolate chip gelato (yes, I was an odd child). Barely had I stepped out of the gelatoria and taken my first lick when both scoops tumbled out of the cone...whirling, mid air in slow motion, before hitting the pavement with a resounding finality. THWUUUMPP. Convinced that I'd have to wait another year for another chance to have an ice-cream, I was so distraught that I didn't even notice my father rush back into the gelatoria to buy me another cone.

#JusticeforJasiminne.

Left: Perhaps I am a tad inappropriately chipper, what with the Lion of Lucerne in Lucerne, Switzerland - described by Mark Twain as "the saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world" - being a monument dedicated to the heroic deaths of the Swiss mercenaries at the Tuileries in 1792. But being a kid, all I could think of was "How did that lion get there and why did it turn to stone?"
Little Girl vs. World, a 7 year old's Europe road trip throughout Brussels, Rome, Florence, Venice, Disneyland Paris, Lucerne, Bavaria, and Holland
Little Girl vs. World, a 7 year old's Europe road trip throughout Brussels, Rome, Florence, Venice, Disneyland Paris, Lucerne, Bavaria, and Holland
Little Girl vs. World, a 7 year old's Europe road trip throughout Brussels, Rome, Florence, Venice, Disneyland Paris, Lucerne, Bavaria, and Holland
Little Girl vs. World, a 7 year old's Europe road trip throughout Brussels, Rome, Florence, Venice, Disneyland Paris, Lucerne, Bavaria, and Holland
Striking poses in the German countryside: who did it better, mummy or me?
Little Girl vs. World, a 7 year old's Europe road trip throughout Brussels, Rome, Florence, Venice, Disneyland Paris, Lucerne, Bavaria, and Holland


In the Bavarian countryside, we stopped to see Neuschwanstein castle, the castle that inspired Disney's famous logo - Cinderella's castle. Although I must say that I far less impressed by the original and rather more excited to be in Disneyland Paris...!
HOLLAND, NETHERLANDS: At the tender age of 7 I'm already a natural at posing. Some would even say I'm a SHOE-IN.

Little Girl vs. World, a 7 year old's Europe road trip throughout Brussels, Rome, Florence, Venice, Disneyland Paris, Lucerne, Bavaria, and Holland

Little Girl vs. World, a 7 year old's Europe road trip throughout Brussels, Rome, Florence, Venice, Disneyland Paris, Lucerne, Bavaria, and Holland

Little Girl vs. World, a 7 year old's Europe road trip throughout Brussels, Rome, Florence, Venice, Disneyland Paris, Lucerne, Bavaria, and Holland

Little Girl vs. World, a 7 year old's Europe road trip throughout Brussels, Rome, Florence, Venice, Disneyland Paris, Lucerne, Bavaria, and Holland

Little Girl vs. World, a 7 year old's Europe road trip throughout Brussels, Rome, Florence, Venice, Disneyland Paris, Lucerne, Bavaria, and Holland

Little Girl vs. World, a 7 year old's Europe road trip throughout Brussels, Rome, Florence, Venice, Disneyland Paris, Lucerne, Bavaria, and Holland
CAPTION
Little Girl vs. World, a 7 year old's Europe road trip throughout Brussels, Rome, Florence, Venice, Disneyland Paris, Lucerne, Bavaria, and Holland
CAPTION
Little Girl vs. World, a 7 year old's Europe road trip throughout Brussels, Rome, Florence, Venice, Disneyland Paris, Lucerne, Bavaria, and Holland

At the risk of sounding unworldly - but again, I was but a child of 7, be nice! - Disneyland Paris was definitely the highlight of my Europe road trip. I've since been to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Disneyland California, Disneyland Hong Kong, and Disneyland and Disneysea Tokyo (only the new Disneyland Shanghai left to explore!) but Paris was my very first. For a child who grew up on the movies of Disney's Golden Era this was, at the time, the trip of a lifetime! I had just seen Aladdin in cinemas the year before and lost my little mind when I met Prince Ali himself at Disneyland Paris. Seeing your favourite characters that you've come to love and know from your favourite movies come alive is the most magical thing that could happen to a child. My parents knew this and would take me to a different Disneyland every other year, which is why I have a childlike sense of wonder that I haven't lost to this day - even when the harshness of 'adulting' chips away at the human spirit.

On that note, I honestly believe the saying "Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer". I cannot thank my parents enough for taking every opportunity to expand my world view by taking me to see far and exotic lands every school holiday (honestly, my first 2 passports have more stamps than my latest 3 passports combined). That's good parenting right there. Looking back at how truly blessed I am fills me with the warmth and strength to persevere, in the hope that one day I too will be able to do the same for my future children.

What are your earliest memories of travelling? What is your favourite place that you've visited as a child? 



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