KUALA LUMPUR – While a volcanic eruption would send most people running helter skelter, for one woman the prospect is thrilling.
Rohaniah Noor, who is fondly known as Anie, has a passion for nature and the challenges that it brings along.
During her solo expedition to Sumatera early last year, the 37-year-old visited the base of Mount Sinabung in Medan although the volcano was already spewing smoke and was waiting to erupt at any time.
Though the eruption took the lives of 11 locals, Anie came out unharmed.
“I was on my way to another place the next morning when the ashes came down like rain. It was dark. Mount Sinabung had erupted,” she told Bernama.
The native of Jengka, Pahang, had been backpacking solo and in small groups for the past two years.
What started as a means of escape from work pressure and the daily grind quickly became an addiction for the single lady.
This year, she will be touring Laos, Vietnam and Thailand in March, Mongolia in May and Taiwan in October.
“I love a good adventure. I prefer to go on my own because only then I would be able to better gauge how well I survive challenges. How far I can push myself,” said the property advisor.
She visited Europe, China and Turkey with her family and friends, and explored Philippines, Sumatra and Myanmar on her own.
Besides volcanoes, she also loved visiting places with natural rock formations like the one in Cappadocia, Turkey.
“The rocks in Cappadocia are so unique. It makes me feel like I’m not on earth but another planet,” said Anie who one day hoped to visit the Bungle Bungles Range at the Purnululu National Park in Australia as well as the Yosemite National Park in California, U.S.
It is said that the more a person travels the more he/she learns. Backpacking has taught Anie to think while on her feet and keep calm in times of difficulty.
Backpacking requires flexibility, she said. A backpacker cannot hope for the comfort and convenience accorded to those traveling in a group with a tour guide.
Anie recalled her first time in China where she and her female friends were cheated by several people on rental bikes. They were taken to a secluded area and extorted of their money.
Luckily they managed to escape after one of her friends yelled â€œPolice! Police!â€ which left their perpetrators stunned.
Anie recalled another incident in China where her friend had to assume a squatting position in her bid to ask a local for the directions to a public restroom because she did not know how to ask in Mandarin.
“We were laughing our heads off after that incident. Fortunately the person understood what we meant, but this is how it is when we travel to places where they don’t share our language and don’t speak English. It’s challenging,” she recounted with a smile.
She added that backpacking alone was both mentally and physically challenging.
During a solo trip to Indonesia, Anie had to sell off souvenirs she had bought to other tourists at a much lower price because she was short of money at the time.
She also had to walk alone to the airport for over 30 minutes late at night while in the Philippines after a taxi driver cheated her.
“It is when we are alone and experiencing hardship that we realise God has been protecting us all this while. If we are meant to survive, we will. It is then that I learned the true meaning of having trust in God,â€ she said.
MALAYSIA, A DIVER’S PARADISE
Despite her many adventures abroad, Malaysia still holds a special place in her heart.
“The Malaysian seabed is like a paradise for divers like me. Our corals and marine life are interesting and unlike those found elsewhere,” said Anie, who is a licensed scuba diver.
She is hoping to obtain an open water diving license in the future, to enable her to explore the seabed at Semporna National Park. She also hopes to return to Mabul, Sabah where she went diving in 2011.
For Anie, her experience diving in Mabul was invaluable and unforgettable.
“I was able to view my favourite animal, the turtle, up close. I also saw octopuses and barracuda,” she said, adding she planned to visit 40 countries before turning 40. – BERNAMA