In 2017, The Travel Intern ran our very first TTI Bootcamp in Penang. Intensive training, travelling with other creators (who were strangers before this) and working on crunch time forgoing sleep — sounds intensive? It is. But it’s also the perfect setting for everyone to build bonds. Read on to find out what magic can happen with 15 strangers and three days in Penang.

Since this, bootcamp, we’ve run two bootcamps a year for every batch of new interns. Read about the other bootcamps here!

Day 1: Like-Minded Strangers

Call time 6am: I dragged my heavy bag and made my way to Changi Airport. It’s a Monday, no one in their right minds should be awake that early.

I wiped the tears pooling in my eyes and hurried my footsteps, hoping no one would notice the designer bags under my eyes. “Stop yawning”, I told myself, delivering a yawn at the same time, as best at multitasking as I can go.

Thoughts filled my head as I walked, who am I going to be seated next to on the plane? Would I have to make awkward small-talk? What if I don’t understand millennial slangs? #OLD

Oh no, what if my assigned roomie snores? What if I snore? The worries then got drowned by anxiety after the other ambassadors of the boot camp started streaming in one by one.

iBook3 Airbnb House - TTI Ambassadors Boot Camp in Penang
Photo credit: iBook3 Airbnb

Fast forward an hour, we touched down in Penang. Checked in to our Airbnb and was pleasantly surprised how homely it felt.

iBook3 Airbnb Living Room in Penang - TTI Ambassadors Boot Camp in Penang
Photo credit: iBook3 Airbnb

The bungalow had six bedrooms in total, a very spacious living room (our office for the next 24 hours), six decently furnished bedrooms, and a neat little kitchen.

After the welcome speech, we got to know each other a little more through a round of icebreakers. We were also given a content crash course and brief for the next day’s challenge.

It was really nice meeting like-minded ones from all walks of life. Especially when most people are still in school or just got out of school, they are storming the world with zest and fervour, to do what they love with power and passion, chasing their dreams. The next day, we will understand what poet Johnny Ox once said, “She dreams more than she sleeps.”

That night, we had BBQ and great chats as though at an old friends’ gathering, it felt great.

Day 2: The Challenge

My roomie left the room at 6am the next morning, to film the sunrise. I wanted very much too, but my old body struggled to get out of the rudely comfortable mattress. My teammates and I left next at 8am, when it was still all nice and cool.

Foodies Team pic - TTI Ambassadors Boot Camp in Penang

We spent a whole day at the historical core of Georgetown, the Capital City of Penang, also a UNESCO Heritage Site since 2008. Since our group’s challenge was to promote tourism in Penang using “food”, we decided to map out a route which will pass by some famous sights and eating spots in Georgetown, making the best use of our limited time to get the most out of Penang!

Spirits were high as we started our food trail, searching for great local eats hidden among the maze-like streets of Georgetown. Each time we found one, we gleefully check it off the To-go list.

Hong Kee Wan Thun Authentic Street Food in Penang
Photo credit: Jiaqin. The famed Wanton Mee from Hong Kee Wan Thun

The idea of eating our way through the day just seemed too good to be true. #truth

Photo credit: Jiaqin. Traditional kuihs from Moh Teng Pheow

Eating never felt more like a chore to me. We hopped from one cafe to another, gulped down coffees like we’re dependent on them. Slurped down wanton mee, laksa, curry mee, and forced char siew and fried tofu down our throats. Gluttony is a sin, but eating so irresponsibly is an entire different kind of crime altogether.

Gentrification -
Photo credit: Ler Jun

A self-proclaimed foodie, I’ve always seen myself as one who lives to eat. There is, however, only so much the human stomach can handle. My teammates and I went to seventeen different places for food in a day. Some months, I do not even leave my house seventeen times!

Bagel from The Mugshot Cafe
The most sinful bagel at Mugshot Cafe

We raised our white flags and called it a day by 6pm, just when people were getting ready for dinner. The four of us hopped onto an Uber and made our way back to our Airbnb. Located right next to the beach, we were able to catch a glimpse of the sunset too.

Tanjung Bungah Beach - TTI Ambassadors Boot Camp in Penang
Sunset in Penang

We took some pictures of the burning orange in the sky and went back to our abode to start on part 2 of the challenge — turning collected data into useable content that could hopefully, influence~ hurhur. After all, the purpose of this boot camp is to learn to create awesome content with new like-minded friends!

Content writing, for me, is something new. I write all the time but in the form of tweets, IG captions and birthday cards. Honestly, I have never written anything important before, besides the resignation letter to my previous employer.

A huge bulk of my time was struggling with my slow aged laptop, and also how badly taken my photos were. Unknowingly, I entered into panic mode. I glanced at the clock, it was almost 2am, and I had barely anything done. SHUCKS.

Old street in Penang - TTI AP Boot camp in Penang
Walking down memory lane through the old streets of Georgetown.

While I was drowning in a sea of my own cold sweat, I looked around at my fellow comrades. Heck, everyone was drowning. We were all in that one big pacific of an ocean together, far from home, drifting in helplessness as the clock continued ticking.

We were, however, a lot more fortunate than the drifters of Titanic, as our help was nearby. S.S TTI remained close to us, offering us aid whenever required. Captains Hendric, Cherie and Nina were at our disposal, constantly checking on us and helping us with the littlest things such as resizing photos.

Soon enough, it was the break of dawn. Many of us routinely took our toothbrushes to the washroom to wash up and start a new day, only that this new day was a mere continuation of grinding work from the night before. We were like zombies typing fervently into our computers, while gobbling down noodles and bread S.S TTI sent us in humanitarian aid.

Day 3: Presentation Time

Presentation Time - TTI Ambassadors Boot Camp in PenangEveryone gathered in the living room to watch what each other had prepared throughout the long night before. And wow, was I amazed! High standards of work delivered, although everyone looked like they barely survived a zombie attack.

Indeed, passion drives people to accomplish great things. Crunch-time mayhem may have taken a toll on us, but it also brought out the best in us. So, never underestimate yourself and what you can achieve, as long as you put your heart (and willingness to sacrifice some sleep) into it!

Outdoor Team - TTI Ambassadors Boot Camp in Penang
The winning team who was tasked to entice outdoor/nature lovers to Penang (not the easiest theme to work on).

After the presentations, we had a little reflection session. Aww, the cheesy part.

Besides gratitude, there was also appreciation, for it takes everyone’s cooperation to make this boot camp a success. It was definitely a great opportunity for people passionate about their craft (in videography or writing), work together, showcase their talent and learn from each other.

Group pic in living room - TTI AP Boot camp

For me, my take-away for this boot camp is how amazing the human body is. Not only did we not die from having so little sleep, so much food, so much pressure within such a short time, we managed to push our limits and got not-too-shabby work done in such short period of time!

TTI’s motto “To inspire better, smarter, and braver travel” definitely resonated amongst the ambassadors after this three day boot camp in Penang as we all become better, smarter, and braver versions of ourselves.

AP Boot Camp in Penang- Temple Roof
Roof details of Kuan Yin temple in Penang

Happy moments pass the fastest, before we knew, it was time to leave Penang. We boarded the plane with heavy hearts, knowing that this might be the last time seeing the faces of strangers-turned-comrades once we all get back to our own routined lives.

Penang bootcamp (grp)-1
Group photo of the ambassadors of TTI Boot Camp.

We bade each other goodbye before heading back home, wondering what just happened in the last 72 hours.

That’s all for TTI’s first ever Ambassador Programme boot camp! Ending with a Visual Postcard from Penang.

Interested in joining us for the next bootcamp? Let us know in the comments section below!


  1. Greetings! I’m Hadi Sufyan, a visual enthusiast. Tbh I’ve been eyeing to have the opportunity to join TTI. I so so LOVE the concept and everything about it! I’ve had a few shares of travelling with strangers and I loved every second of it. It would be a great honor to be in the bandwagon with all you people! Would be a splendid and definitely an engaging story to write about! I have a site where I share my stories too! None can find exposures like as what TTI’s known for. Kudos!

    • Great to hear your enthusiasm Hadi. Do drop us a mail! Applications are currently closed though so we will have to see!

  2. Hello there!

    Count me in! Thirst of this soul will never end here. Can’t wait to make next steps to the corner of the world. To learn and radiate the hidden beauty of various human, culture and practices across the world. Tamilvaani Annamalay, a typical Communication Broadcasting Student landed on Marketing Field is now searching for a much needed break in life! #wannabetravelerdiary


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