It is so hard to choose one country above all others, each place has something special about it. I've recently been back to Japan, 12 years since my first visit so right now that's my favorite country!
WHAT PLACE IS TOP OF YOUR BUCKET LIST?
Bhutan was top of the list for such a long time, but now that I've been there I guess I'd choose Iran, or Italy or Greece - ancient cultures are my inspiration.
WHAT CAN'T YOU TRAVEL WITHOUT?
I never leave home without earplugs and eye mask, and a tub of Trilogy Everything Balm - it's good for everything! But what I really can't travel without is my iPhone and a local SIM. You don't need a guidebook when you have the whole of the internet in the palm of your hand wink emoticon.
DO YOU PREFER SOLO TRAVEL OR WITH SOMEONE ELSE?
I travel alone most of the time which has it's pros and it's cons. The most special memories are of places I've visited with someone special.
WHO IS THE PERSON AT HOME THAT YOU MISS THE MOST?
Facetime has changed everything - I never feel that far away from the people I care about as long as I can make a video call, and Facebook makes me feel close to those who are faraway. The people I miss the most are the ones who aren't online.
WHICH COUNTRY HAS THE MOST FRIENDLIEST PEOPLE?
The friendliest people are in Taiwan - I am half Taiwanese so a little bit biased, but everyone who's been there agrees!!
WHO IS THE MOST INTERESTING PERSON YOU'VE MET SO FAR?
The most interesting person I met was an American ex-banker in Delhi. He believed he was the re-incarnation of a quite famous monk/lama and has left his old life behind - we spent a couple of days together and I learnt a lot from him. He gave me a copy of the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying which I read straight away. This was quite a few years ago, and I've forgotten his name and the name of the lama - to be honest I'm not sure I can really picture him anymore, but I've never met anyone quite as interesting as him since.
Scariest moment was on a train leaving Minsk in Belarus - I nearly missed the train, if it wasn't for the kindness of strangers I wouldn't have made it. My visa had technically expired and the immigration official gave me such a tough time - I thought they were going to take me off the train and make me go back. I was heading to Lithuania, and never been so pleased to be back in the EU - haha! I'll never forget the Belarusian girl on the subway who helped me to find the right platform for my train with only seconds to spare, despite the fact that we had no mutual language - just gestures and body language.
WHAT IS YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT?
I don't get embarrassed easily... honestly can't think of one!
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST USEFUL ITEM YOU'VE BOUGHT?
Is there anything more useful than an iPhone with a local SIM and a data plan?
WHAT'S THE BEST PIECE OF TRAVEL ADVICE YOU'VE RECEIVED?
Learn a few words of the local language, learn a little about the culture so you behave respectfully and take the time to talk to people, say please and thank you and do everything with a smile.
WHAT'S THE LONGEST YOU'VE BEEN AWAY FROM HOME?
My longest continual trip was for about a year, but I've been living away from home for a few years now, and before that took quite a lot of trips of between 3 and 12 months.
WHAT'S YOUR DREAM JOB?
My dream job is to not have to have one!! But if I have to, I'd like to be my own boss… not sure I'm ready for the commitment or hard work that takes yet though!
WHERE WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO LIVE IN THE WORLD?
I don't really live anywhere right now, and I quite like it that way. I think the people you're with are more important than the location.
NAME THE COUNTRIES YOU HAVE VISITED.
Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, China (inc. Tibet), Taiwan, Japan, Korea, The Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Mongolia, Russia, Lithuania, Belarus, Poland, Czech Republic, Ireland, Norway, Germany, Austria, France, Spain, Malta, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, USA, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CHILDHOOD TRAVEL MEMORY?
I remember being on a long-haul flight from London to Taiwan when I was maybe 5 years old. In those days it took about 4 or 5 legs and 36 hours or more, but what I remember from that trip was watching Watership Down on the plane - sharing headphone with my sister -haha!! Still love that film! And rabbits - maybe because I was born in the year of the rabbit!
WHAT'S THE MOST INTERESTING THING YOU'VE LEARNED?
I learned to dive, despite the fact that I've always been scared of water and can't really swim, and now I've dived in some incredible places.
IF YOU WROTE A NOVEL, WHAT WOULD IT BE ABOUT?
I'd try to make a story out of some of my journeys and experiences on the road, but I'm not sure I really have the patience to write a book!
WHAT TRAVEL SCAMS HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT?
I fell for the tuktuk scam in Bangkok once - I'd been there a few times already and knew about it, but this time I was taking my sister to see the Grand Palace and the guy was in uniform and so convincing that the palace was closed - we knew as soon soon as the tuk tuk pulled away that we'd been scammed. It was hard work getting him to stop and let us out though!!
DO YOU CALL YOURSELF A TOURIST OR A TRAVELLER?
Sometimes people who define themselves as 'travelers' over 'tourists' seem to think they are superior somehow - but most of them are tourists as well. I don't think the difference is helpful - there are just different types of tourists. I think all tourists are travelers, but not all travelers are tourists.
I like to go with the flow, but sometimes deadlines make that tricky - also generally you do better in terms of choice of accommodation and flight prices if you are willing to make a commitment in advance. If I do this and don't have time for everything, I see it as a good excuse to go back to that country or place another time!
WHAT'S BEEN THE BEST STREET FOOD YOU'VE HAD?
Taiwan has the best street food - in face the best food full stop!!
WHAT WAS THE MOST CHALLENGING THING YOU'VE DONE?
The most challenging thing I've ever done was just last year. I climbed Mt Kilimajaro - Africa's highest mountain. If anyone had told me how hard it was going to be (or how cold it was going to be!) I probably wouldn't have attempted it; but despite the eight hours of trudging uphill at high altitude through the night while gasping for breathe, despite the tears and the sheer exhaustion - it's an achievement I'll always remember and be proud of. I wouldn't want to do it again, but I also wouldn't change it for the world!
DO YOU THINK YOU'LL STAY FRIENDS WITH THE PEOPLE YOU'VE MET?
I stay friends with a lot of people I meet, but others are just brief glimpses into other people's lives. I like both.
WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING ANIMAL YOU'VE SEEN?
I love the Tarsiers in the Philippines, but recently I went to an owl cafe (cat cafes are so last year!!) and I loved the little owls - especially the Northern White Faced Owl - there's a famous Japanese one on youtube called Popo Chan - look him up, he's hilarious!
WHO IS YOUR DREAM TRAVEL COMPANION?
I just finished a short trip with a good friend who was an awesome travel companion… finding someone likeminded to travel with isn't easy, but it's great when you do. You have to like to travel in the same kind of way, and be inspired by each others ideas about where to go and what to do, and for me it's great to have stimulating conversation about the things you experience. And most importantly, not get stressed or fall out over silly things that aren't really important. It's good to travel with someone who can happily give you space when you need it, and ask the same of you without any issues. Compromise is easy when you're with the right person.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM TRAVELING EXPERIENCE.
I think I've followed my dreams for so long it's hard to say - I'd love to find someone to drive to Europe, and maybe on to Africa with. Get a car, throw our stuff in and just head off - no deadlines, no jobs, no set plan or agenda, just drive from country to country, through continents and finish whenever we've had enough.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN 3 WORDS?
Adventurous, Respectful, and Happy-go-lucky
WHAT CAN YOU ADVICE TO PEOPLE WHO WANTED TO START TRAVELING?
Don't stress about the small stuff - do it, don't just talk about it.
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