I’m just about done packing. Leaving Singapore in a couple of hours for Melbourne to attend the Australian Festival of Travel Writing, which happens this weekend. But also, a workshop on Wednesday that’s the main reason I decided to go for this at all.

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You see, in the summer of 2011, I spent three months in Paris as part of my 9-month trip around the world. While my friend Ning was taking lessons at Le Cordon Bleu (world-renowned culinary school), what I really wanted to do was to attend the Paris Writing Workshop.

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It was the perfect way to spend the summer, I thought. Writing. But it was a month-long course and it cost a fortune. For a backpacker on a shoestring, it was just something I could not afford.

The workshop I really wanted to attend then was Rolf Potts‘ – travel writer, Yale lecturer, and author of Vagabonding: The Uncommon Guide to Long-term World Travel. In fact, I was in touch with him via email and Twitter even back then. But I never made it for the Paris Writing Workshop in 2011. I ended up attending French lessons at the Alliance Francaise in Paris.

Recently, I asked Rolf if he would be in Asia any time this year. And he replied saying it’s not in his radar, but he’s heading to Australia in March for a writing festival. Perhaps that’s the closest to Asia he will be.

And so, almost two years later, I’m finally attending his class.

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In fact, his workshop was the first thing I booked the morning I woke up after finding out about the AFTW 2013. I just whipped out my credit card and booked it on the spot, at A$150.

Then… I booked the weekend festival pass.

And then, finally, my air tickets to Melbourne.

I’ll be bunking in with my Instagram friend Diane (aka @deeleow) for the week. The generous girl has opened her apartment to me, albeit having met me only once. She may just have obliviously invited a serial killer into her home. But I guess I have a trustworthy face (not!).

And so I’m all set. Just to take a shower, throw in the last of the stuff into my luggage, and I’m off to the airport.

It’s exciting for me because learning new things is like a shot in the arm. Yes, I’ve been a journalist for many years. Yes, I’ve published a travel book. And yes, I’ve also been a panel speaker (travel writing) at the Singapore Writer’s Festival last year, but I’ve such a long way to go still.

I often feel like a baby in the established genre of travel writing, a small fish in a big pond. And I’m happy to stop churning things out for a change – stories, blog entries – and to receive, soak in, learn.

There are many similarities between traveling and learning. And one of my favourite quotes is this:

“A good traveller has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu

I think a good learner is the same. He is always on a journey, and never intent on arriving.

See you in Melbourne! x

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