In interviewing Lash of Lash World Tour, one of the questions I asked her is what inspired her to travel the world.
1) What has inspired you to travel the world?
Is it to see more of what the world has to offer than what is in our own back yards?
Or is it to share your passion for traveling with others that they may be inspired to want to travel too?
Good question! I’m simply thrilled by new adventures and exploring new places. I can’t think of anything more exciting than discovering new cultures, exploring beautiful natural places on the Earth, and seeing amazing arts, architecture, and ways of life. Just seeing a trail into a forest or an open road instantly makes me feel excited and adventurous.
I suppose my thrill of travelling to new places started when I was growing up in the USA. My family was constantly visiting new places, mostly natural places like national, local and state parks. We did a lot of hiking and camping. We explored mountains, rivers, forests, seashores, lakes and any other places my parents discovered. We also visited many big cities, where we usually went to museums, city parks and other attractions.
Those were always fun and exciting times together with my family. So I suppose I associate those feelings with travel and exploring new places.
2) What is your favorite tale (s) from the road from when you started traveling solo in 1998?
Any tale (s) that stand out more in your mind than other ones?
Wow, with over 14 years of nomadic travels under my belt thus far, I have LOTS of stand-out travel tales. Hmmm, hard to chose, so I’ll mention one story that a lot of OTHER people find quite astounding:
I’ve always adored cats. When I lived in the US, and later in Japan, I always owned cats. When I started traveling nomadically, it obviously became impossible for me to own cats, but I always stop to pet and play with cats whenever I do come across them, and I often help out cats that need medical attention, food, or rescue from abuse. Even better for me, whenever I live in a place for several months (like when I teach scuba diving) I adopt a cat or 2 or 3 while I’m living there. Before leaving, I make sure I find a new home for them.
One scuba diving season in Krabi, Thailand, one of my cats had four babies. They lived in a large cardboard box inside my bungalow at the foot of my bed. One night when the kittens were about one week old, I was awakened by mamma cat frantically racing around the room and bed, yelling in panic. Hmm? Her behaviour was really unusual, so I roused myself out of sleep, grabbed a flashlight, and started searching around the bungalow.
When I turned the corner of my bed: Holy Hell! A HUGE python, 3 meters long and the diameter of my cycling thighs, was strung across the room from the window and was in the process of eating one of the babies!
Luckily, I’m not afraid of snakes and I reasoned that the python couldn’t bite me while its mouth was full of kitten. So I promptly grabbed the other three kittens out of the box and put them safely into my bed. Then I decided to take a look at the python’s beautiful scale patterns. I moved in closer, shining the flashlight on it. An unexpected thing happened: the python quickly recoiled from the light, spit out the kitten, and began retreating under my wardrobe!
To make a long story short, I got some neighbors to help me extract the snake, which we did by guiding it out of my room with a bamboo pole. Then I went back to check out the poor victim kitty. To my surprise, he was still alive, though covered in thick slime. I washed him off, dried him and looked him over. I didn’t see any apparent injuries, so I put him back in bed with the other kittens and mama cat. We all fell asleep until morning. The next day, believe it or not, I could not tell which of the four kittens had been in the python’s mouth! They were all perfectly fine and uninjured! The only cat who was ‘damaged’ by the incident was mama cat, who remained psychologically freaked out for a very long time.
3) What made you decide on Bali as the place you would most like to retire to?
It took me several years of traveling to recognize that my absolute favorite places have a blend of local culture and western. They all have abundant nature, great local cultural arts, and are not too terribly developed. Bali is a place where the traditional local culture is very much still intact and apparent in daily life, all the time. No matter where you go in Bali, you’ll see locals going through their daily temple offerings, dressed up in traditional attire. Nearly every week there’s at least one Hindu ceremony or other, during which scores of locals dress up and head to the temple. Then the charming, dramatic Balinese gamelan is usually playing somewhere. Beautifully carved stone statues, traditionally designed walls, gardens and buildings are everywhere. Some places also have a lot of Balinese paintings, wood carvings, traditional dance and other arts. The food is also delicious and varied.
As for nature, living in Bali means mostly living outdoors amidst the lush tropical scenery. Just about every building is ‘open-aired’, including restaurants, temples, and resorts. The only time I’m ever inside is when I’m sleeping at night. There are volcanoes, mountains, gorgeous beaches, terraced rice fields, forests.. . just about every kind of tropical topography that exists.
But Bali also has the modern western touches I enjoy, like espresso coffees, charming cafes, great internet access, and many interesting expats.
4) How important do you feel it is to know certain words in another language such as ‘good morning’ and ‘good evening’ when traveling?
Do you feel it is important to know these words in more than one language depending on how many countries you plan to visit?
I’m not sure I’d say its ‘important’ in terms of being able to get around. Nowadays, international travel is such a huge, deeply ingrained part of nearly every country’s economy, that you really can get by almost anywhere speaking English. There’s always at least a few local people who speak English. (Of course that’s not true everywhere! In China, for example, very few people speak English, even in major cities) But in places where nobody speak English at all, you can still make yourself understood using sign languages, gestures, etc.
Also, local people do not expect westerners to speak their language. They expect westerners to speak English. So, in these terms, speaking local languages is not ‘important’ at all.
However, being able to speak the local language does have many benefits. First of all, locals really appreciate it, so they warm up to you more quickly. If you only speak a few words, they appreciate you taking time to learn their language. But if you can hold a conversation, then suddenly you’re not really a ‘tourist’ anymore. You’re not in the same category as the tourists who are just passing through. (though you won’t really be treated completely as a local, either) You’ll be able to find out information a lot more easily, travel to places off the beaten path more easily, get local prices, eat at local shops, and hang out with local people.
Whether or not that’s ‘important’ is up to each traveler to decide. I know people who live in a country for years and years, but STILL don’t’ speak the local language at all! personally, I find that rather pathetic and rude. But to each his own. On the other hand, I meet travelers who have recently arrived and already know basic greetings and questions.
I guess it depends on what you want out of your travel experiences… and how long you’re going to travel there as well.
Personally, for every country I visit, I always learn to say at least the basic greetings like hello, good-bye, thank you, how are you?, what’s your name?, where is the…? and so on. I just feel incredibly rude if I can’t at least greet people in their own language.
On the other hand, I do speak several Asian languages at conversational levels. It does take a lot of effort and a lot of time to learn. So in more recent years, I’ve decided that if I’m visiting a country for a short time and/or I don’t’ think I’ll return, then I only take time to learn basic greetings like hello, good-bye, thank you and so on. Even with that, locals appreciate it.
5) Any advice you can give to someone who would like to travel long term but they are letting their fear stop them from taking that last step from cubicle life to world traveler?
1. Read any ‘success’ books in order to change your attitudes, get past your fears, and pursue your dreams. |
2. Identify what you’re really afraid of then read about those topics (for your destinations) as thoroughly as possible. Most likely, by educating yourself, you’ll find out you dont’ need to worry. Or else you’ll come up with strategies to deal with the issues.
3. Read travel blogs by people who are already doing what you want to do. They are doing it! So why not you?!
4. Make concrete plans for your world travels, in terms of where you want to go and for how long, how to finance your trip, how to deal with any problems or issues, and so on. Commit to doing it. Then take steps to follow your plans.
5. Read any travel books, guidebooks, websites or blogs that inspire you to travel.