It may take awhile to unwind fully when we travel. Find ways to linger, says Lee Siew Hua

Raja Ampat, Indonesia.
Raja Ampat, Indonesia. --ST PHOTO: LEE SIEW HUA
Nozawa Onsen, Japan.
Nozawa Onsen, Japan. -- ST PHOTO: LEE SIEW HUA
Lisbon, Portugal.
Lisbon, Portugal. -- ST PHOTO: LEE SIEW HUA

When I travel, I like to rate each place on a Relax Index.  That’s my totally personal ranking of how relaxed a city or enclave makes me feel.

Coming from Stress Capital Singapore, it isn’t always easy to live in the moment or linger, even on holiday, right?

That happens to me. But I try to decelerate with a couple of spontaneous hours here and there to linger in a café, walk lots, or connect with locals.

To linger and relax, we simply have to know what delights us. Is it strolling along a river like the Thames? Relishing café culture in a new city? Wandering in a local market?

These three episodes ranked blissfully high on my Relax Index in the past couple of years when I became a travel writer:

1.    Nozawa Onsen, Japan
 In a ryokan,  the dancing snowflakes outside my picture window mesmerised me as I sat at a low, heated, skirted  table (kotatsu) and sipped tea. Walled in by snow, I lingered in a white world.

2.    Raja Ampat, Indonesia
On a speck of an island on the far eastern edge of Indonesia, there was much lingering after scuba diving. I loved the solitude in my bungalow, on my huge verandah. I settled on a chaise longue or peered at the perfectly clear water below to spy baby black-tip sharks and fat neon parrotfish.

3.    Lisbon, Portugal
On a radiant afternoon, I popped into the sublimely named Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown. This gorgeous biomedical complex was a bit of a secret in Lisbon’s historic Belem district.

Time was suspended as I walked slowly on a massive pathway to the unseen, whispery ocean just ahead. Then suddenly the boundless Atlantic loomed. I thought of Portugal’s past and its explorers who sailed from here into the unknown, reaching Asia and everywhere.

For me, lingering takes many shapes. Often I'm alone when I linger, with either the sea, snow or great outdoors as the invigorating backdrop. But I can also linger in a crowded metropolis, whether in a tiny café or on the exciting streets.

I also like these tips from AFAR magazine, which lists five ways to slow down on a trip:
Can you remember a time when you lingered in a place on holiday? Share with me and our readers.

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