Our team was fortunate enough to catch Adib Harith for an interview after his trip, which spanned more than 11,000km, from Malaysia to Mongolia by land. Adib has been dubbed as one of Malaysia’s Instragrammer that you must follow when it comes to traveling pictures. Passionate, young and talented, Adib shares with us his thoughts on his most recent adventure and throws us some nuggets of wisdom that he gained.
1. Hello Adib! A pleasure to be speaking with you and thank you for taking time off your adventure to share your story with us. Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
Sure! My full name is Mohamad Adib bin Harith Fadzilah. I’m 25 this year. I LOVE Photography. Been taking photos since I was a kid. I got my first DSLR in 2007. Since then, I knew that photography will be my passion. I’m a freelance designer and videographer on the sides as well.
I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Information System from Universiti Teknologi Petronas. When I graduated, I did not get the chance to work with PETRONAS because I was fooling around during the interview. There are a lot of guys from my batch who got a job with PETRONAS on a contract basis.
It’s a bit saddening that I did not get a job PETRONAS because that was actually my dream. Took me 4 years of study but I did not get what I want. I did feel left out. Eventually, I got a job with Dell as an IT analyst.
2. You named your trip Monsoulia. Any particular reason or would you like to still keep it a secret?
It’s actually from Mongolia + Soul. It’s like soul searching for me. It’s my second dream to be a photographer and a traveler. So, I just made up my mind to f*** my job and go travel. Take as much photo as I can while I do that. When you meet someone on the road, they will usually ask: “What do you do?” and I will tell them: ” I’m a world traveler and a photographer”. That would usually draw a lot of admiration.
Also, once the trip is done, I would like to publish a photo book and have my own exhibition.
3. Tell us more about Monsoulia. Where are you heading, how are you getting there and what do you expect to find?
I started my journey on the 30th of June. Destination: Mongolia. I’m going to be honest. I have no itinerary planned at all but yes, I do have a budget limitation. So the goal is Mongolia by land via Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and China. I took the train, bus, taxi and even hitchhiked to reach Mongolia, whichever is cheaper.
You know it’s totally worth it when you reach Mongolia. It’s like heaven on earth. I love the never-ending hills. Words can’t describe how beautiful everything is. The place, the people, nature, the view, the animals – everything! They told me not to get hooked up there and I finally understand why. Both males and females there looks like they came out from a “good-looks” magazine! They look amazing!
4. What made you decide to do what you do? What made you leave your comfortable job and take such a bold step?
I don’t really know why I did it. Previously, I worked in a local company and they sent me to Guinea, Africa for a month before returning me to Malaysia. To think about it, I was earning quite a lot at that time. It was quite an amount for a 25-year-old guy. But then again, I started questioning myself -“Am I going to do this until I get old?”. That made me quit my job. I said to myself: “Just do what you want, things will work out somehow, someway”
5.Tell us about the places that you already went. How was it and if you have any interesting stories, please do share it with us.
First of all, I’m not too much of a touristy place person. My goal is to arrive at Mongolia safe and sound. So I actually skipped many things, crossing one city after another. But what stops me in my tracks in those picture perfect moments. I love taking pictures and I just can’t help myself.
My first stop was Thailand- Bangkok. It’s more of a party place so I didn’t really enjoy it. Next, I stopped at Phom Penh for a day and before continuing to Vietnam. I was there last month for a volunteer job with Ausrelief so I know my way well. I love the food and the coffee in Vietnam. Highly recommended for all the coffee lovers out there! I took a moto ride from Hoi An to Hue with this uncle that I met before last year at the same place! The view to Hue was amazing. Rows of mountains and stretches of beach to feast your eyes on!
I had some communication problem in China. The 21-hour seater train was exhausting for me, but it was a good chance for me to polish up on my foreign language. When all fails, use the sign language! They will eventually get it. *Laughs*
Upon reaching Mongolia, I’ll let the pictures tell the story.
6. Tell us about the people you meet. How friendly are they?
I met a lot of people from my short adventure. I did. Doctor, accountant, engineer, photographer, designer, bar waiter, climber dan so much more! Travelling alone makes you exceptionally friendly towards people. You tend to say Hi to everyone you meet and it becomes a natural. I stayed a lot at backpackers hostel because it’s cheap but also because you get to meet a lot of people there. Start talking to any of them and they will have so much story and experience to share with you. It’s fun just getting to know more people and trust me, the hardest thing to remember would be their name.
7. Finding halal food is one of the big concern for travelers, especially the Muslims. Is it hard for you to find halal food during your trip?
Not really actually. Most of the places that I visited has halal food, but you have to look for it. Seafood would be a common choice. Rice with chicken or beef would be a second best alternative. Always remember to say your prayers before you eat. Best thing to do would be to research for halal food before visiting a place.
8. As a backpacker, what are the things that you bring with you all the time while you are traveling?
There are three things that I will always have with me – a notebook, a pen, and a book. A notebook saves you so much trouble especially when it comes to bringing important information with you. A book will always keep you company when you are traveling.
9. Your photographs are amazing! Can you tell our readers how you picked up such excellent photography skills?
I started photography while I was in secondary school. My parents bought a digital camera which I am the one who used it the most. Bought my first DSLR in 2008 with the help of my dad. I work as a teacher after SPM for 8 months to save up for a camera. Got my first gig as a wedding photographer when I was in university. That was when I learned a lot. My inspiration comes from The Sartorialist -a fashion photographer. I do read fashion magazine like a lot. I love seeing how people dress up and it inspires me to see such beautiful photos. I actually dream of becoming a National Geographic photographer one day.
Don’t forget to share your pictures with people. I love to share. I would give my work/pictures for free to people sometimes. Go to a new place, take a picture, print it out and frame it. That could be best gift someone would ever receive.
10. Money is a big concern as well when it comes to travelling. Do you have some word of advice for those out there who wants to take adventures like yours but are still afraid of stepping out of their zone?
I agree with that but don’t let money control your decisions. If you always think about money, you will not go anywhere. I think people should prioritize experience first. Do it first! Risky but think about how nice it is to be out of your comfort zone for once. Throughout my traveling, I find that Malaysians don’t really want to take a risk. It could be because of how we are educated when we were a kid, how we were taught not to make mistakes. Truth is, making mistakes is how we actually learn. Live your life to fullest. You know you will die one day, so don’t do the same thing until the day you die.
I have a confession. I am moneyless as of now. I have very little money left. I will have to sell my backpack and camera to earn some money to survive for a few weeks in Malaysia before getting another job. But again, when you are in this kind of situation, your mind would start thinking. You start to come out with ideas for solutions. And my idea is to come out with a photobook and do my own exhibition. I don’t know how it’s going to work but I will find out somehow. Confidence in yourself. That’s what drives you forward. If you keep listening to others dictating your life, then your life is basically over.
To see more of Adib’s work, here’s some links that you might find useful: