9 September 2014

What I can bring to the Big Blog Exchange 2014

So, after having pestered literally every other man and woman who's crossed my path in the last 1½ months and 2,852 votes later, I've made it to the final of this year's Big Blog Exchange at the second time of asking.  With that hectic bit over, I'd like to now take a moment to expound on what I humbly feel I can bring to this year's exchange if I am selected as one of the 16 winners.

1.  Living proof that one is never too old to hostel.  How time flies; I can't believe I've been hostelling for nearly 15 years already - starting in New Zealand in autumn 2000 and most recently in Australia last spring.  Approaching 50 and with an established coffee shop of my own, I can and am ready to show the world that, whatever stage of life one is in, it really is okay for older folks like me to choose hostels as their accommodation of choice when on the road.

Over the years, I have been actively advocating the hostelling movement - notably Hostelling International (of which I am proudly a life member) - to family, friends and customers alike, all the time trying to break the unfounded stigma attached to hostels as being only for young and/or poor people or party-types.  If I am selected as a winner of this year's BBE, the exchange will provide the perfect platform for this ol' fella to drive home on a significantly larger scale what he has been preaching all these years.  Give me the chance to do so.

My wife and I at Canberra YHA - "the fun & funky place to stay" -
during our visit to Australia in autumn 2001

With my wife and friends at YHA Tauranga, New Zealand in winter 2002

2.  A different kind of insight.  Going on the winners' exchange carries with it great responsibility; I'm acutely aware of that.  This isn't going to be - as many will no doubt believe - just any freebie, all-expenses-paid holiday.  Winners will have an important duty to perform - that is to actively partake in their given itineraries and share their experiences with uncompromised enthusiasm and clarity.  As the vast majority of the contestants in this year's BBE are young people, I feel I can share mine (if I win) from a different perspective.  My approach and objective will be to prove to the world with no less enthusiasm that, no matter what one's age is, he/she too can likewise participate in and enjoy without fear everything the world has to offer; this I promise you.  So whether it's camping rough in Patagonia, zorbing in Rotorua, glacier hiking in the Sognefjord or cage diving with Great Whites in Cape Town, I say bring it on!  As British novelist C.S. Lewis so aptly put it, "Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again".

Me tandem paragliding over Queenstown, New Zealand.... just do it!

At YHA Zermatt, Switzerland in spring 2008 - not 2007

3.  Unbounded generosity and enthusiasm to share.  One of the things I do most enthusiastically and with greatest rigour (apart from making coffee) is encourage people - both young and not-so-young - to "get out there!".  This is something I strongly believe in.  Apart from the obvious gains in knowledge, exposure to the world beyond our front doors opens the closed mind; it helps people relate to and understand one another better, and contributes towards making the world a better place for all.

If I am selected for an exchange in this year's BBE, I can and will, through my reasonably sound writing and photography skills, wholeheartedly impart - as I always do - to the people around me (and beyond) a message to come out of their shells, see the world and understand other cultures.  Given the opportunity to experience the exciting itineraries put together by Hostelling International (HI), I am confident I can reinforce this message with good, detailed clarity and, at the same time, create awareness of HI as well as the organisation's role in promoting travel with goodwill.  It will also give me the chance, as ambassador of Malaysia, to share the unique colours, flavours and cultures of my beautiful country to the people I meet along the way - locals and travellers alike - and encourage them to visit sometime.

Enjoying the beauty and serenity of Lake Windermere
at YHA Ambleside, Cumbria in spring 2010

I'd like to extend my congratulations to HI on yet another successful BBE campaign.  To my 99 fellow finalists (especially Allan, Belen, Hazel, Karien, Swati and Yuki), with utmost sincerity I wish each and every one of you the best of luck.  And finally, to the panel of international jurors of the Big Blog Exchange 2014, I humbly ask, please accord me with the privilege to represent my beautiful country, Malaysia on an exchange, prove all that I've said here and come home with a backpack full of experience to share with all.  Long may the blogging and hostelling communities continue.  Malaysia, anyone?

P/S  I humbly dedicate this blog post to everyone who've taken the time to vote for me during the past six weeks.  You're all legends!


  1. You'll be SUCH a worthy winner, Vince. Sincerely hoping that you'll be one of the final 16!

    1. U're too kind, Karien. I hope u win too - always have. U can feed the orangutans here while I swim with the Great White sharks! Congratulations, my blogger friend.

  2. Well written Vincent. Good luck.

  3. Petra Ulvaeus (Stockholm)7 September 2014 at 22:25

    U have put together here a compelling case for yourself, Vincent. Well done and good luck.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Petra. Pray for me; need all the help I can get - in whatever form they come. Glad to have you back commenting on my posts again. Have a great week ahead.

  4. Hi Vincent ! i'm sure you'll be a great winner !! hope you'll be part of the 16 (as i hope i will too :)

    1. Merci beaucoup, Agrippine. This is my second attempt at the BBE; I pray it will be second time lucky for this old chap. I too wish you the very best of luck. Wanna visit Malaysia?