Determination and courage is all you need to step out from your comfort zone.

Lum Weng Haan did just that, when she decided to quit her job and start backpacking to travel the world.

Her bold decision proved worthwhile when she managed to experience things that were beyond her imagination.

“Living a stable life is good, but a few years ago, I was eager for some changes,” says Lum, 35.

“I wanted to go somewhere that I am unfamiliar with, become a nobody, reset myself to zero and learn from the world. Throughout the three years on the road and across five continents, I’ve gained a lot of unforgettable experience and lessons.”

Born in Sekinchan, Selangor, Lum started backpacking when she was studying in Australia in 2003. Upon finishing her studies, she worked for a few years in Australia before returning to Malaysia in 2006; she worked as a project manager in telecommunications.

As she loved to read books about people who travel around the world with just a backpack; she developed an innate curiosity and wanted to do the same.

In 2012, she travelled solo for two months in Sichuan and Yunnan, China.

Equipped with no plans nor clear objective, she found the journey to be amazing, and was eager to do more backpacking by herself.

Relying on her own savings, she managed to travel all over Asia, Europe, Central and South America and Africa.

“To be honest, I didn’t expect I could go so far. Before I explored Europe, I thought I’d finish spending all my money. In the end, I was able to go to Latin America and Africa as well,” says Lum, who is presently working as a senior project manager in Australia.

Lum recently launched an online Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to self-publish her first book.

Titled My Lucky Odyssey, it features her backpacking travels and includes the surprises, shocks, hardship and touching moments she encountered along the way.

Lum, who is married to a Bulgarian CouchSurfing (hospitality service) host, admits that the whole process of writing and self-publishing her book has been challenging. It reminds her of all the hard times she encountered on her travels.

The book, which will be available in Mandarin, conveys the message: “The world is not perfect. As long as we are brave enough to explore it, we will get nearer to our dreams.”

According to Lum: “My first book is in Mandarin because that’s the language I can express myself best in.”

A jovial Lum helps to clear snow in Japan.

Learning that “everything is possible” on her solo travels, she hopes that the book will inspire readers.

She started her crowdfunding campaign on July 1; it will end on Aug 9. If the campaign is successful, the book will be distributed in November. Funds collected will be used for layout and design, editing fees, printing and distribution.

“If there is surplus from the fund, I will donate it to Kiva to help more people who need financial assistance,” shared Lum. (Kiva is a non-profit organisation that lends money to low-income entrepreneurs and students in over 80 countries.)

At the moment, the only way to get Lum’s book is to make a pledge via her Kickstarter campaign.

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