I always get asked how did I come to know TREKKUP and why I think it's the best thing ever after the discovery of chocolates.
2017. I wanted to do something different, travel with more authenticity, more back door attraction, less on the cliches, less attention on the unnecessary, perhaps not after what is comfortable but more on the experience.
I saw one of their posts regarding a Sudan trip. Something about the Tree of Life looking like that tree in the Avatar movie. There was something about having proper encounter with Tribesmen. It really looks like one of those unique, once-in-a-lifetime kind of trip. I cannot remember why I didn't sign up but perhaps because the trip was intimidating for an adventure-newbie like me and I didn't have any more vacation days from work. I did not sign up for the trip but did join the group.
I remember receiving announcements of trips after trips each coming weekend, admiring the descriptions and dreaming of being there, wherever they will be.
Then one day, I saw a trip to experience Sunrise at Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka!
I remember on a date trip to Sri Lanka with Joseph the year before, there were talks in the hotel about Adam's Peak. I said perhaps next time because there was not enough time. Upon my return, my boss also asked if we climbed Adam's Peak. Seeing that there's a trip to Sri Lanka and Adam's Peak of all places, I thought how fitting that I have my first Trekkup Trip to Adam's Peak. Which I did! I have no idea about what Adam's Peak was all about, all I knew was everyone's talking about it and it's on a weekend.
A really unique experience for sure. Although it was not really for beginners like me, my knees suffered the brunt of the descent. I truly felt that the mountain conquered me more than I conquered it. I managed to reach the base in one piece but I might as well have smashed my knee caps a million shards. It was such a humbling experience.
I honestly thought I'll be banned to join any more trips as I felt I miserably failed the trip having seemed to have injured my knees. But a month after, I saw a post about cycling trip in Bangkok and an overnight stay in a quaint quiet riverside rafts in Kwai. "What's the worst that could happen if I ask to join the trip?' I found out that the answer is none! They welcomed me and this time there were no busted knees, just a blast of wonderful and extraordinary experience!
My latest trip with TREKKUP was two weeks back. Almaty Kazakhstan for a weekend ski. This time my husband joined me. It was fun and without a shred of a doubt, memorable.
The common theme of all the trips so far is that it's unique, back to basics, contra-concrete jungle, work-vacation-days friendly, reasonably priced and considerably safe with an unconventional mature social setting. A 5-star accommodation definitely goes against Trekkup standards. It happens in freakish rarity and usually comes with an apology from the orgaisers :)
Trekkup culture fits any personality. No judgment, no personal or specific details asked or shared if you are not comfortable to do so. If you want to mingle, you do, if you want to observe (like the omnivert me) quietly (not creepily), do so. If you want to leave and be on your own, feel free to do whatever it is you are comfortable with. The trips are so liberating, it's hard to explain. It's one of those things in life where, "you have to be there to understand".
Once you sign up on a trip via the Meetup page, you'll be added to the Whatsapp Group for the trip along with the rest of interested members. Questions will fly around, cut-off date will be discussed, travel manual with important information will be sent via email. A signed waiver is also a prerequisite to join the trip.
Mobile numbers get added and deleted depending on each prospective member's plan.
Once you pay for the trip via bank transfer, you are then confirmed to be part of the trip.
You'll get to know if the destination requires visa on arrival, visa free or prior to arrival. All prerequisites must be satisfied before the trip. You are responsible for your own arrangement.
Trip usually starts on a Thursday night and you fly back on Sunday morning, ready for the work day. That way, your precious and valuable vacation/leave days remain intact for family plans and events.
As of today, there are 5,408 TREKKUP members. Each trip varies between 4 to 20 participants. The chances of meeting each other again in the next trip is pretty slim, if you do though, it sure will be fun.
The first time I joined, I was highly anxious because everyone was a stranger. We all meet up in a coffee shop, usually Costa in wherever airport terminal we are flying off. Strange thing to hunt for the familiar faces posted in Whatsapp and start with a one word question "Trekkup?". They say "yes", you shake hands and do a little intro. Sort of assuring the stranger in front of you to trust that you are not some psycho, same goes for the other person to you. I learned that the anxiety was only at first. It is replaced by excitement as the number of trips increased.
Once checked-in, you may separate from the group and do your leisurely stroll towards Duty Free sections or stay with the group. No expectation. It's not a group that will instruct you to follow the leader or be herd like sheeps. It's pretty much, "you do you and I do me unless you want to hang out with me, let's meet up in the plane when we board". What a refreshing culture!
For two days, you bond like old friends that has no history. Tabula rasa, a clean slate to draw or write what you want. You do the activity or the purpose of the trip then bring home memories. You then fly back home feeling a bit more familiar with each other. Some will keep in touch but really there is no obligation to do things because of expectations. That is one of the many beauties of TREKKUP.
It's perfect for me as I am not like Joseph who thrives in an active social setting. It is already a stretch and a stressful thing for me to meet a stranger at the airport, let alone travel and spend a weekend with. So to not be obliged to keep in touch is a truly wonderful set-up. My circle of friends is Joseph's friends. If you are my friend before, great but I am not one to create new ones. I like alone time with a book, or playing UNO or on social media or writing my thoughts to ether. Until I met Trekkup, I couldn't picture myself seeing places without my little family. They're like my security blanket. Thanks to Trekkup, I have since had a trip with friends with another one coming up. The world is a safe place and it's okay to venture into the unknown.
Be, how you are
While in Kazakhstan, Joseph and I left dinner early on our first night, he asked "is it okay?" All I can say was, "Trekkups are big boys and girls, just as long as you are not purposely being rude, it's no big deal."
We have a chat group in Whatsapp. We send photos of where we are at particular moments, anyone who wants to join, join. If you prefer to do anything else, no dramas. Everyone knows you joined the trip for "you" not "me" or "us". How un-superficial is that!
It is understood that you didn't join the group to devote your time trying to tip toe around people's sensitivities at the same time looking out for dramas to unfold or purposely waiting when you can be a complete arse. You joined the group for you and there's nothing selfish about it. No one will hold it against you, if anything, we respect you for being true. Just really, don't be intentionally rude.
We all join trips because there is benefit and safety in numbers. Once you are comfortable with the environment, you can tag along with every single activity or you do something else if you wish to. A signed waiver already absolves TREKKUP, ultimately, you are responsible for "yourself".
On our last night in Kazakhstan, 3 or the members went to attend a birthday party in Almaty for a Kazakh they met that day. They invited us but we all decided to decline. We met them at the airport and we were genuinely happy they had a blast while we managed to rest up since we have a long day at work the next day.
TREKKUP. Unique experience without the BS. If you want drama, go watch TV.
We used to flip through the pages of glossy magazines or colourful webpages, drool and gawk at gorgeous places we only dreamed of seeing. We used to daydream over the idea of food we might never get to taste. Wondered how each destination feels.