by Zubaidah Eusoff
A love for storytelling and sharing his experiences coupled together with a fervour for the unknown, for the different, the unconventional, Zafir Zahid is a living embodiment of the saying we see all over notebooks and screens - carpe diem.
We’ve all heard of backpackers, of people with an immense love for adventure. They’d spend their days in shady accommodations, bed bug ridden beds, filthy toilets. Zafir opens our eyes to the beauty behind backpacking and travelling within a budget. Together with two friends, Sayyid Harith and Salihin Masnor, Zafir took on a trip down from China all the way down to Singapore. Through buses and trains, through temples and caves, even the Great Wall of China via land travel only.
Zafir brought his Instagram followers along, thoroughly documenting his trip through his stories.
Many of us are caught up with the paper chase, the next big paycheck, the better internship to take on to improve our resumes, but what we fail to see while being caught up in the rat race is how life is slipping right through us. On the flip side, Zafir constantly reminds himself to get out, live your life while you still can, while you’re still young.
A solid education and stable job are important to him but Zafir believes that it is only through travelling that you truly get to live life. He admits that travelling may not be everyone's cup of tea but for him, nothing beats the first hand - getting to see and experience the world.
While youths now tend to gravitate towards anything fast and convenient, Zafir and his friends wanted a taste of travel, one which was unconventional yet fulfilling. That was exactly what he got. Through 5 countries and 10 cities, Zafir takes his followers on every train and bus ride, giving us reviews on the space, the comfort and the views. His toilet reviews on board trains and in his accommodations were the crowd favourite. Out of all the places that he has been to, Zafir names the Chinese cities as one of the most memorable.
“I went to China with a fairly negative impression. Plagued with the media’s portrayal of that country. But after experiencing its culture for myself, interacting with its people, my impression took a one-eighty. You’d have to go and experience it for yourself to know what I'm talking about,” Zafir says.
The trip Zafir took on was only the start of his journey to satisfy the burning need to explore and see the world. Soon after his trip down Asia, Zafir went on another trip to Narathiwat, Thailand. Before he could take on another destination, the pandemic happened. Even that did not stop Zafir.
Constantly in search of his next spot to explore, Zafir now goes all over the country. Chasing sunrises, going to the last lamp post, the Changi Coastal Road and even taking on the Clementi Forest, Zafir constantly credits his recently acquired bike license which helps him get around much easier, spurring him on even more to explore the world out there.
Zafir has high hopes for the future, with more and more things being added to his bucket list. Among them, he hopes to skydive towards the Australian savannahs, dive through wrecks in the Indian Ocean, surf through the waves of Hawaii and enjoy the view of a sunset by the lonely roads of Iceland in a caravan.
But should he be given one last chance to travel for the last time, the 22 year old dreams of a peaceful and serene last destination to one of the Scandinavian countries with his future wife.
For now, “have the “go je” (just go!) spirit while you’re still young. Live life before you’re too frail to do anything,” he says.