Spurred by a love for globetrotting and adventure, Generation T lister Faisal Ariff has led a colourful life of a worldly citizen. In fact, it was his observations gleaned on the road that sparked the idea for BorderPass, an app that aims to cut down congested immigration clearance queues with an auto-gate system.
Faisal’s startup revolves around a portal that lets users opt to fill in a digital immigration form which is sent ahead to their travel destination’s government. The concept took shape in 2014 while Faisal was on an Antarctica expedition, where he also famously filmed a presentation for the BorderPass idea, surrounded by snow and penguins.
His multi-award-winning idea for seamless and secure journeys sets a new stage for the world of travel. Inspired, we could not be prouder to have him on our Generation T list.
Faisal may be kept busy ensuring BorderPass runs smooth in klia2 for all ASEAN business travellers, but he’s still a nomad at heart. We spoke to him about some of his travel recommendations, including a 24-hour guide to Kuala Lumpur and must-visit destinations – with some terrific photos to prove it.
Where is the one place in the world you recommend everyone to travel for inspiration?
Having done it the other way around, I would recommend getting to know your home country and region first before venturing outside. Europeans spend thousands of Euros to fly over to Malaysia for scuba diving, jungle trekking and mountain climbing excursions. These are things we can do for a few hundred Ringgit over a weekend. Within ASEAN, there are amazing places like Angkor Wat, Borobodur and Bagan, just a few hours away. We are pretty lucky as a country and region.
What's on your bucket list?
There's a gas crater in Turkmenistan called the "Door to Hell" that I've been meaning to see but I can't find any friends interested in going. I have not been to any part of Africa, the Middle East, China or Russia – those are the big ones.
Name your favourite city and share a 24-hour guide to it.
My guide will revolve around where I live – Kuala Lumpur. On a Sunday, a hike up Bukit Gasing would be a good start to justify a breakfast of roti canai with sotong goreng from Raju's afterwards. From there, I would head to Amcorp Mall to browse antiques at the Sunday flea market.
Lunch would be at Village Park Nasi Lemak in Damansara Uptown, then a massage at HealthLand down the road.
Come evening, I would suggest enjoying the sunset on our brand new MRT and get off at Bukit Bintang for a walk.
What are your most indispensible travel hacks?
If you're young, don't break the bank traveling. Stop believing what’s projected on Instagram: half the time they aren't paying for the lavish things on display and spending 90% of the trip trying to take the perfect picture for sponsors. Build your itinerary around the cheapest flight you can get. AirAsia has crazy bargains for new routes: a return flight to Tokyo for RM300 including taxes. Hawaii for RM900 return. Keep an eye out. Skimp on the accommodation because there will be much more interesting things to see outside. Look at Hostelworld if travelling alone and AirBnB if travelling with friends. Avoid expensive package tours, build your own itinerary based on what you can find on the Internet.
At least once in a lifetime, one should attempt to…
Go on a solo trip somewhere. Make new friends. Learn new words. Get lost. Remember to tell your family you're still alive every day.
Of the airports in the world, which one made a lasting impression on you?
I remember being awed by KLIA. It wasn't just the architecture, the wooden ceilings, that aerotrain, the mini jungle. I loved the automated gates, which at the time I did not know was a world first. Those gates really made coming home to KLIA special. It was the only place in the world where we didn't have to queue at immigration. I never thought I'd work in this field.
Scroll below for some mind-blowing shots captured by Faisal on his travels.
Soviet tank graveyard, Kabul, Afghanistan 2012
Farmer's daughter, Sapa, Vietnam 2013
Flower seller and daughter, Mandalay, Myanmar 2013
Tile makers, Friday Mosque of Herat, Afghanistan 2012
Buffalo shepherd, Sapa, Vietnam 2013
Khwaja Abdullah Ansari Shrine, Herat, Afghanistan 2012
Photos provided by Faisal Ariff.
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