When I was still studying at the uni, I had many emailpals 'coz I wanted to improve my English. One of them became rather close to me 'coz we shared some similarities (he's a year older than me). He then had an idea to go abroad together with me, but 'coz he knew I couldn't afford going somewhere too far, he suggested Singapore.
While studying at the uni, I had started earning money by becoming a private English tutor. Back then I only had classes from morning until around 2 pm at the latest and on some days I only had one class, so I had plenty of time to teach after 2 pm. Through word of mouth, I got more and more students as time went by, so once I graduated, I had accumulated some money for travel. It wasn't much, but enough for a 6-day trip to Singapore.
So this emailpal of mine first came to Bandung to visit me for the first time in 2000 and then we went to Singapore together. Prior to his coming to Indo, I naturally had told my parents about our wish to go to Singapore together. My Mom supported me fully, but my Dad was worried. Being a hard-headed person like me, I told my Mom that no matter what I was going to go with this emailpal of mine. So Mom (BLESS HER!!!) became the bridge between me and Dad. If I had to go talk to Dad on my own, we would have had a fight probably. Mom's the best bridge of all time between me and Dad.
For those of you westerners out there, you may wonder why it's this way, but I grew up in Asia where things are different. I lived with my parents until I moved to Finland at the age of 28 years old, so I knew my parents would also consider me as "green" when it came to my wish to go to Singapore at the age of 22 with an emailpal I had never met in real life. However, I was adamant 'coz I wanted to prove to them (and myself) that I could come back in one piece. Why? Because all my life I have been wanting to travel abroad when I have the money and opportunity and if my parents can't trust me enough to go abroad with a friend at that time, they would probably have a harder time letting me go somewhere farther on my own.
In order to appease Dad's worry at that time, I conveyed the problem to my emailpal and he understood it (he has plenty of Asian friends, so even though he's a foreigner, he understands the Asian world). He then had this idea on how he could help, so he wrote an email to my parents (in English) to introduce himself and explain why we wanted to go abroad together. He also stated that we would take good care of each other. After printing that letter out and giving it to Mom (who then gave it to Dad), we got Dad's full permission. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYY!!! :-D I was SO thrilled!
And my closest friends also helped by telling Mom how nice my emailpal was after we spent time with him in Bandung before we went to Singapore together and of course he also dropped by our place a few times, so my Mom could meet him beforehand. I'm sorry to have to lie to my parents by telling them that we'd stay in different rooms, but I just couldn't afford staying in a different room, so we had to share a room to keep the cost low.
But anyway, nothing bad happened. We enjoyed the trip and it was really fun. We almost had a scare when going back to Indo 'coz at Singapore airport, they asked for my emailpal's return ticket from Jakarta to his home country (so the itinerary was he stayed in Indo for a week, then we went to Singapore for 6 days, then he stayed in Indo again for another week). He said he didn't bring it. Finally the Singapore official let him go back to Indo, though they warned him that he might get into trouble in Jakarta airport.
At that time we didn't understand anything about it, so we just disregarded it. Turned out that when we were going out of Jakarta airport, the official wouldn't let him go unless he either could show that he had sufficient funds in his bank account (or credit card) or show that he had the return ticket, he wouldn't let him go out of the airport.
At that time he was still working part-time and studying at the same time, so he didn't have that much money nor enough limit in the credit card. Meanwhile, I had just graduated from university, so I also didn't have any credit card nor too much money in my bank account (in fact, I used up almost all of my 4-year savings that I got from tutoring kids for the whole trip, so I was broke when we got back from Singapore).
We were confused and anxious and worried at that time, but my friend finally decided to ransack through his backpack and ta-daaaa...he FOUND the return ticket!!! He didn't even realize that he had brought it all along! If he hadn't found it, I would have probably have to go back to Bandung alone to retrieve the ticket and go back to Jakarta. Phew!!! What a mess!!!
But all's well that ends well. That trip opened up more opportunities for me to go abroad on my own - such as when I first went to Finland for the first time in 2004. :-)))) I didn't even have to convince my parents anymore 'coz they knew I could take good care of myself he he he...