Every once in a while, The Island Logic will feature a jet-setter, world traveler, social influencer, adventurer, or just someone with lots of desire to escape into the world of wanderlust. Today, it’s Mina Karin, an ambitious 22 year old Oceanographer to be and an avid PADI Divemaster from Brunei, currently on vacation in Maldives.
Mina was able to spare me some of her precious time to have this short interview. Maldives surprised her, but certainly not in the most pleasant of ways. Let’s hear her side of the story.
When did you shoot-up with your first dose of wanderlust?
I first started traveling when I met my ex-boyfriend, it was a long distance relationship and we always had to meet up somewhere in the middle. It grew my interest to explore and visit many other destinations and during the process, I learned how to find cheap flights and planning budget travel. He was also a frequent traveler, and taught me how to do things right, how to stay safe, maybe that’s what made me travel so much today.
How did your family & friends respond to your unconventional lifestyle?
It was nice, and was something new. I didn’t get to travel when I was young because my family didn’t get a lot of money. My father is very supportive and when he sees me traveling today, he is very happy, because I am able to do something that he couldn’t give me then. So he enjoys looking at my snaps on Facebook and Instagram and would ask me many questions about the places. My friends are very much interested in going to many of the places I have been to, they also follow me on social media and would often ask, “Where is this?”, How do I get there?”, “How much is it?”.
How has your addiction to underwater changed you?
It definitely changed me a lot! before I learned to swim I didn’t know the ocean had so much to explore, and before I set my mind to be an oceanographer, I always wanted to be an urban planner. The moment I learned to swim and dive, it changed my life completely. In terms of travelling, I always wanted to go to a dive or beach destination, somewhere close to the sea.
What other dive destinations apart from Maldives have you been to?
I have been diving in Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Gibraltar near Spain and the United Kingdom. The one place that I always wanted to go diving was Iceland, it will be an incredible experience to dive between two continents.
From all these places that you have been diving, which one of them do you find the most beautiful?
All of these places are very beautiful and nice, but I think my favorite is the Gili Islands. They are three small islands off the northwest coast of Lombok, Indonesia. Even during a single dive, you could see ten to fifteen turtles.
Can you tell me about your biggest travel regret?
Morocco! I arrived there on a four hour flight from London and within fifteen minutes just after I got off the plane, the Immigration Officer told me to board the same plane and go back to London. I didn’t have a visa to enter Morocco and I didn’t know that I would need one. So it was another four hour journey back to London with lost energy, time and a lot of money. If Morocco provided visas on-arrival, it would have been my lucky day, but they only issue it in London.
Has your travel addiction got you into any trouble?
Maybe my trip to Maldives, the Immigration Officer at London Heathrow Airport asked me how long I would be staying in the Maldives and I told her 26 days, and she told me Brunei nationals are only allowed 15 days tourist visa on-arrival in Maldives. So I bought another air-ticket then and there to fly to Colombo from Malé after 14 days and re-enter again. Apparently the female Immigration Officer at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport accidentally stamped my passport 30 days on-arrival visa, in fact she was not sure even after checking the system that nationals from Brunei are not granted 30 days. So maybe I could have actually landed in a lot of trouble or even got myself deported, but I am lucky.
What’s your next destination after Maldives?
I have to go back to University and start summer break which is four months from June to September. I will be going to Lanzarote, a Spanish island, in the easternmost of the autonomous Canary Islands for 11 days with my best friend. We will be diving together, she’s also a diver and after that I will be doing a three-week dive course in Malaysia, mostly marine conservation related.
Have you seen a whale shark in the Maldives?
No! I have never seen one, but I have heard they are frequent in certain parts around Philippines.
How does it feel like traveling solo?
I enjoy it, in fact I met another solo female traveler from Philippines last week, she broke up with her boyfriend started traveling solo now – it’s good to meet other solo travelers and exchange travel stories every once in a while, she has traveled to a lot of places and pretty much everywhere. My girlfriends back in Brunei are not comfortable traveling as solo travelers, they would rather want to travel as groups. But, I do have a friend back in Brunei who inspired me to become a solo female traveler.
Thank you so much for your time Mina. I hope your experiences will inspire more women to travel the world and explore the off-beaten track independently. I wish you good luck and all the best with your wanderlust addiction.
Don’t forget to follow Mina on Instagram @monamina29