Photo: Germaine Lim 

In 2010, Germaine heard about the countercultural event, Burning Man. Though the idea of living in the desert for a week with a scarce supply of food and water wasn't alluring for a city girl, it was a spectacle she wanted to experience, as the epic trip would combine her love of music, culture and landscape. And the idea shot to the top of her bucket list

Burning Man is a festival that fosters creativity, cultural exchanges and "radical inclusion and self-expression". Burners (that's what they're called) go and create and experience art in the desert in late summer. 

So seven years later, her friends from London and Singapore started planning the trip, and Germaine was in. She was just out of a "toxic relationship" and had mourned the passing of her paternal grandmother and wanted a perfect escape: "I needed to feel inspired and seek fresh perspectives on life again; I needed to rediscover myself and the meaning of existence." 

 

Photo: Germaine Lim 

She had less than two months to plan "this crazy-ass trip", but friends sorted out the necessities like head torches, hydration packs, LED bike lights, and tons of body wipes (that's desert life for you). She also had to bring the right wardrobe to combat the desert's erratic weather. "In the day, temperatures can go up to 40 deg C; at nightfall, they drop to 18 or below. It's super dusty and sandy, and the air is dry," Germaine, a marketing manager, said. Still, nothing prepared her for the Mad Max scene that greeted them when they arrived in their RV (recreational vehicle). They were officially burners. 

"When we got into the desert, it was not all welcoming; the heat was unbearable! But the incredible barren landscape, stargazing, mind-blowing sunrises and sunsets was worth all the stress. 

 

Photo: Germaine Lim 

"The desert is so surreal in the day: the endless horizon, the playa (alkali) dust fogs the art installations, and burners cycling from afar all look dreamlike. As the sun sets, giant art cars, camps, bikes and people are suddenly lit with LEDs - the transition and experience is sublime!" 

Germaine says there were many events and workshops - plenty to do besides admiring art. "We didn't have to barter for food, there were camps that were giving out food and drinks without expectations of getting anything back!" she remembers. 

She says the trip made her even more independent. She's learnt to let go of unnecessary issues, and see the good in people. "It warms my heart to see that people actually help one another without benefiting from it or expecting something from the other." 

 

Photo: Germaine Lim 

Travel tips: "In total, I spent about $7,000-$8,000 for the entire seven-day trip, including flights to San Francisco, Vegas, tickets and RV rental. Get your tickets online. They sell out rather fast

"We were lucky that the portable toilets were within walking distance of our camp. But there were times when no portable toilets were near the parties we were at, and we had to cycle to look for one. We couldn't switch on the AC in our RV or use the toilets to shower as ewe had to conserve petrol, hence the body wipes!" 

This story was originally published in the October 2018 issue of Her World. 

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