I love it when life deals you up surprises.
The blogging community is a distinctly supportive community and it is fantastic to have people rally around and provide positive feedback and much-needed help, especially when you are starting out. It is unusual, I think, in a crowded space with so many trying to get their voice heard, that it is far more supportive than competitive.
Even so, given how relatively new our blog is, I was surprised to be nominated for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award.
I’d like to thank Natalie from Mamma Loves Travel for nominating me for this award, which recognises the contribution of women bloggers around the world. I’m very honoured that you nominated me, thanks so much!
Here are my answers to Natalie’s 10 questions:
What inspired you to start travelling?
I think I was born with itchy feet. For as long as I can remember I have been enchanted by different cultures, changing geography and meeting new people. My parents were English and moved to Australia before I was born, so I grew up learning about faraway places. This intrigue was further fuelled by childhood books – Enid Blyton was an early favourite with delightful books about characters running away to join the circus. And other stories such as Heidi, set in the Swiss Alps. It was hard for a kid from Australia to imagine mountains and snow. And then there was my dad’s cousin, who worked in Brunei, which as a child, sounded remarkably exotic and exciting and made me realise how possible it was to live in other lands. My grandmother was also an avid traveller into her 80s and used to tell us tales of bus trips through Europe. And my high school history classes inspired me to travel to the Middle East. Inspiration was everywhere.
How did you come up with your blog name?
There is a blog post on this coming in the near future. Wow, what a drama this process was. The naming – or lack of naming – caper put our blog behind schedule by a month or two. You’d think it would be easy, but it was a nightmare process. It was a lot of trial and error and we had family and friends coming up with suggestions. At the end of the day we needed something that fitted the two of us. Something that could have a serious side for some documentary pieces while also catering to the Joker’s lighter take on life. It was a lot of trial and error and we we came up with some great options and some very random ones only to find that the domain names were unavailable. We were sitting at my sister’s place throwing around ideas when we came up with this one.
What is one destination or experience you have visited or tried that exceeded your expectations?
There have been a few but the most obvious, and most relevant one for the minute, is Cambodia. The love affair with this country started with a fleeting visit in 2009. We arrived in Phnom Penh via a boat up the Mekong River – it’s a lovely way to enter a country. One night in Phnom Penh and two in Siem Reap was a rush and barely enough time to see a few key sites. But those few days were enough to fall in love with the country – it’s beautiful green rice fields and red dirt roads, dusty in the dry and muddy in the wet; the chaos; the challenges. But most of all the people, who have been through so much but still have bright, big, warm smiles and a quick wit. We returned the following year for two weeks and this trip we have been here for four months, with plans to stay for a year.
What are your top three travel bucket list destinations/experiences?
There are a million places I would love to visit but these are without doubt top of my bucket list (the Joker has quite a different list).
1. A trek to see the mountain gorillas in Rwanda or Uganda.
2. The Galapagos Islands.
3. Antarctica. This one will be much colder than my temperature preference and there is the issue of sea-sickness. But I think it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will be worth the discomfort.
What were you doing before you started blogging?
I am a journalist and photographer. Prior to starting this blog with the Joker, I was working part-time for a Sunshine Coast magazine and doing some freelance writing and photography. I have also started several other blogs, including a food blog, which has fallen by the wayside at the moment. And I am still working as a freelance journalist and photographer.
What is your favourite quote of all time (it doesn’t have to be travel related)?
I’m a sucker for a good quote but this one has resonated with me for many years.
If you could pick anyone (dead or alive, and other than your usual travel companions) to sit next to on a long-haul flight, who would it be?
I always struggle with this question. I have been fortunate to meet so many interesting people in my life, through my work and through travel and many of them have been unexpected encounters. There was the gorgeous little peasant lady on a train in Greece, she couldn’t speak a word of English and I couldn’t speak any Greek. But she helped me change trains at the right station and bought me snacks at a stop. It is a memory that stands out. There is the Bedouin man I had sweet tea with on the top of a cliff overlooking Petra in Jordan and the man on a Sydney bus, who had just got out of rehab. These are all encounters I couldn’t hae planned and they are often the most rewarding. But if I have to name someone, I’m going to say Morgan Freeman because frankly, what a pleasant voice to listen to on a long-haul trip. And I think he is an interesting man and I’d love to learn more about his new role as a bee keeper.
What is your most popular blog post?
Our blog is still new, so we are not experiencing major traffic. If I’m interpreting our statistics correctly then our most visited post to date is Why you Shouldn’t Visit an Orphanage.
What do you never leave home without?
A book, a notepad and my camera. I still haven’t adapted to e-readers and I take a book on any long trip. It’s a great way to pass the time. I also take a notepad to jot down ideas, thoughts, blog posts or to draft stories. And my camera goes almost everywhere, although it is big and cumbersome and sometimes I like the freedom of being without it.
What is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
I struggle with this question as well. But really, I think it was from a farmer I used to work for who said simply: “you can do anything you want to.” And I have recently met an inspiring 78-year-old who is excited about “ageing with adventure”. I think it is a great attitude and means there is no excuse not to live life whatever age you are.
Thanks again Natalie, for including me.
MY NOMINATIONS FOR THIS AWARD:
This blog is still very new and finding it’s way. But in a few short months I have found many like-minded women in this online world, sharing their experiences of life, the world and all its challenges and rewards. This online community is a very welcoming one and it is wonderful to be a part of it. I have chosen the following nominees because they have inspired me and/or supported me and I love what they are doing.
I respect that some of you may be quite busy, or travelling somewhere in the world, so please do not feel pressured to participate in the award if it isn’t something you are able to give up your time for.
Sara McCleary from Belly Rumbles
Ayngelina Brogan from Bacon is Magic
Isabel Robinson from Nanjing Nian
Jennifer Johnston from The Travel Bug Within
Lisa Michele Burns from The Wandering Lens
Christine Retschlag from The Global Goddess
Kylie Maree from Polkadot Passport
Sofia from Sofia in Australia
Samiya from The Selim Family Raasta
Louise from Wilunga Wino
1. What is your most memorable travel experience or destination?
2. What is one lesson you have learnt from travel?
3. Why did you start blogging about travel?
4. What is your best packing tip?
5. What is the weirdest thing you have eaten?
5. Which blog post that you have written is your favourite?
7. How do you juggle your time to manage travel, blogging and other commitments?
8. What is your favourite chill-out activity when you are not travelling?
9. What advice do you have for new bloggers?
10. What are the top three places on your bucket list?
I look forward to reading your responses.