The happy wan­derer

A Malaysian back­packer has launched an on­line crowd­fund­ing cam­paign to self-pub­lish her first book.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - People - By BITRIN SOLUNGIN star2@thes­ For more in­for­ma­tion, visit my­luck­y­o­

DE­TER­MI­NA­TION and courage is all you need to step out from your com­fort zone.

Lum Weng Haan did just that, when she de­cided to quit her job and start back­pack­ing to travel the world.

Her bold de­ci­sion proved worth­while when she man­aged to ex­pe­ri­ence things that were be­yond her imag­i­na­tion.

“Liv­ing a sta­ble life is good, but a few years ago, I was ea­ger for some changes,” says Lum, 35.

“I wanted to go some­where that I am un­fa­mil­iar with, be­come a no­body, re­set my­self to zero and learn from the world. Through­out the three years on the road and across five con­ti­nents, I’ve gained a lot of un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ence and lessons.”

Born in Sek­in­chan, Se­lan­gor, Lum started back­pack­ing when she was study­ing in Aus­tralia in 2003. Upon fin­ish­ing her stud­ies, she worked for a few years in Aus­tralia be­fore re­turn­ing to Malaysia in 2006; she worked as a project man­ager in telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions.

As she loved to read books about peo­ple who travel around the world with just a back­pack; she de­vel­oped an in­nate cu­rios­ity and wanted to do the same.

In 2012, she trav­elled solo for two months in Sichuan and Yun­nan, China.

Equipped with no plans nor clear ob­jec­tive, she found the jour­ney to be amaz­ing, and was ea­ger to do more back­pack­ing by her­self.

Re­ly­ing on her own sav­ings, she man­aged to travel all over Asia, Europe, Cen­tral and South Amer­ica and Africa.

“To be hon­est, I didn’t ex­pect I could go so far. Be­fore I ex­plored Europe, I thought I’d fin­ish spend­ing all my money. In the end, I was able to go to Latin Amer­ica and Africa as well,” says Lum, who is presently work­ing as a se­nior project man­ager in Aus­tralia.

Lum recently launched an on­line Kick­starter crowd­fund­ing cam­paign to self-pub­lish her first book.

Ti­tled My Lucky Odyssey, it fea­tures her back­pack­ing trav­els and in­cludes the sur­prises, shocks, hard­ship and touch­ing mo­ments she en­coun­tered along the way.

Lum, who is mar­ried to a Bul­gar­ian Couch-Surf­ing (hos­pi­tal­ity service) host, ad­mits that the whole process of writ­ing and self-pub­lish­ing her book has been chal­leng­ing. It re­minds her of all the hard times she en­coun­tered on her trav­els.

The book, which will be avail­able in Man­darin, con­veys the mes­sage: “The world is not per­fect. As long as we are brave enough to ex­plore it, we will get nearer to our dreams.”

Ac­cord­ing to Lum: “My first book is in Man­darin be­cause that’s the lan­guage I can express my­self best in.”

Learn­ing that “ev­ery­thing is pos­si­ble” on her solo trav­els, she hopes that the book will in­spire read­ers.

She started her crowd­fund­ing cam­paign on July 1; it will end on Aug 9. If the cam­paign is suc­cess­ful, the book will be dis­trib­uted in November. Funds col­lected will be used for lay­out and de­sign, edit­ing fees, print­ing and dis­tri­bu­tion.

“If there is sur­plus from the fund, I will do­nate it to Kiva to help more peo­ple who need fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance,” shared Lum. (Kiva is a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion that lends money to low-in­come en­trepreneurs and stu­dents in over 80 coun­tries.)

At the mo­ment, the only way to get Lum’s book is to make a pledge via her Kick­starter cam­paign.

— Pho­tos: LUM WENG HAAN

Lum in Turkey. She took a bold de­ci­sion to quit her job and travel the world.

A jovial Lum helps to clear snow in Ja­pan.

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