Tag Archives: traveler

Traveller of the Week: Helpful Locals, Labouring in Laos and Staying Young

Name: Berkan Öztürk (friends calls me ‘Turkish’)

Age: 28

Nationality: Turkish

Time on the Road (this trip or general outline): 11 years

Funds (saving/working/’freegan’/mixed): Working

Berkan and his favourite reptile
Baby Crocodile

What initially inspired you to travel?

Getting out of my comfort zone. Initially, I was travelling for a self-oriented growing experience, to raise my awareness of different aspects of life. It was a case of self-inspiration.

Before travelling, I used to do the same things, experience the same emotions, the same behaviours. Depending on the day, I might have done things in a slightly different order. I used to get those habits, emotions, movements, and thoughts which were growing into me and making me very comfortable.

The first time I took myself out of my comfort zone (in other words, the first time I travelled) I realized that I was doing new things and creating new connections – which felt to me like it was keeping me young.

They told me that I might be the first Turk in the Vltava River, Czech Republic
They told me that I might be the first Turk in the Vltava River, Czech Republic

How have your inspirations to explore the world changed since you began travelling?

The selfish beginning eventually evolved into a style where now I am constantly looking forward to contribute to the places which I visit (especially in poor and rural areas).

What has been your most memorable experience abroad?  

I will never forget the help I received in South Thailand. Thank you guys. You are awesome! I had to catch my flight which would bring me back to Europe. I arrived to the city where I was supposed to get a bus to the airport but the bus was not there. Local people told me that it would arrive in 2 hours. I asked them if it would be possible to catch my flight with that bus. They said no. The bus company people were very friendly to offer another solution. The lady working for the bus company bought me a minivan ticket, leaving from Surathani to Phuket. I asked if it is possible to get a ticket for the minivan which was leaving in 10 minutes. She said it was full. I thought I could try to ask people on the bus if maybe there would be one person who would be willing to exchange their ticket. Five minutes before the departure of the bus, I went to the minivan. I explained my situation. There was a Thai woman who looked about fifty years old. Spoke perfect English. She explained my situation to people in the minivan. Suddenly, three people wanted to leave the bus to make a space for me. I tried to tell them that only one space is enough. But those three left. I thanked them. Everybody was smiling. Had a very entertaining minivan trip where I was showing pictures from my trips.  Words are not enough to tell how much I appreciated what they did for me.

A capture from my seat in the minivan, Surathani, Thailand
A snapshot from my seat in the minivan, Surathani, Thailand

What would you say has been your most difficult or testing experience whilst travelling?

In Laos, I was labouring in an organic farm during the day and teaching English to the children in the evening. I am a knowledge worker and I realized that being a farmer is very difficult work!

It is incredible to see how many people have to care before they can bring food to our tables. My mother and father used to work in the tobacco fields for living until they were 18-20 years old. They were always telling me stories starting with something like “When I was at your age, I was picking this and that…”. To me, it was always some kind of story. I never actually tried to understand what it meant until my time in Laos. Now I understand how difficult can life be on some people. The good news is: this is the challenge of our generation. To make things better and fair for everybody!

Learning with young Lao people in Vang Vieng, Laos
Learning with young Lao people in Vang Vieng, Laos

Where are you right now?

I am working in Berlin, Germany.

Do you have any survival advice for new travellers in this country?

Germany is probably the most organized country ever. Not much can go wrong.

My favourite city, Berlin, Germany
My favourite city, Berlin, Germany

If you had to recommend one place in the world to visit, where would it be?

Goa, India. All you need there is: Tent, sleeping bag and a scooter to explore remote places…

Where do you plan to visit next?

I am planning to be in South India in December 2013.

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Traveller of the Week: Chelsea Smith

Name: Chelsea Smith

Age: 27

Nationality: United States of America

Time on the Road (this trip or general outline):

This is a hard one. Well, I’ll try an overview everything: six months combined travelling in North America, five months combined travelling in the Mid east/South Africa/North Africa, six months combined travelling in Europe, 4 years in England/Greece, 3 years in Germany, 1 year in South Korea, five months combined travelling in Asia.

Funds (saving/working/’freegan’/mixed):

In some places abroad I was working (eg: Greece, Sweden, South Korea, England), but sometimes I was travelling on savings (eg: the Middle East, South East Asia and some European trips.

A visit to Damascus, Syria A visit to Damascus, Syria

What initially inspired you to travel?

A love of learning about new cultures, a curiosity about the world and the call of the wild. That and food.

How have your inspirations to explore the world changed since you began travelling?

I think I used to enjoy shorter trips to more places, whereas now I enjoy spending more time in a country and getting to know it better by working there.

Buddhist temple stay at Bogeunsa temple in Seoul, South Korea. Buddhist temple stay at Bogeunsa temple in Seoul, South Korea.

What has been your most memorable experience abroad?

Too many. I would say going to South Africa when I was 19 opened my eyes to how wonderful travel could be outside of my comfort zone. At the time I was young, had only been to Europe and North America and it was a stretch for me.

As far as a memorable experience go, I could say Palmyra, Syria, the most beautiful Roman ruins I’ve ever seen. Sadly, I believe the war has affected them. That and fulfilling a life long childhood dream of seeing the Angkor temples in Cambodia and the Luxor temples in Egypt.

My sister and me at the Pyramids of Giza, Cairo, Egypt. My sister and me at the Pyramids of Giza, Cairo, Egypt.

What would you say has been your most difficult or testing experience whilst travelling?

A string of horrible things happened in Budapest. I got fined for an improperly validated subway ticket, I got bed bugs, a machine ate my ATM card, and I had some horrible experiences with men. That made me question why I travel at all. While I love many aspects of India and would return in a heart beat, I would say it is a challenging place to be a traveller, especially as a woman. It is exhausting to deal with the sexual harassment and scams in India, but I could say the same thing of Turkey and Egypt. There isn’t an experience or country visited that I would take back, however. I enjoy many aspects of all of those countries’ cultures.

Where are you right now?

San Francisco, California! And loving it.

Do you have any survival advice for new travellers in this country?

Don’t forget to eat and drink enough water! I forgot this often at times during my first Asia trip, which was three months around Cambodia, Thailand and India. I lost a lot of weight and I think the worst times on the trip were related to me not taking care of myself enough. Basically, be kind to your body, take care of yourself and you’ll be in better spirits to enjoy the trip more! That – and don’t be afraid. You will survive.

A walk through Chefchaouen, Morocco A walk through Chefchaouen, Morocco

If you had to recommend one place in the world to visit, where would it be?

This is hard. I would say the Mid east, particularly Syria, but I was fortunate enough to go before the Arab spring. Syria was a really special place when I visited, a magical place with castles and temples from my childhood imagination, and an honest kindness from the people that I haven’t experienced anywhere else.

Otherwise, I would say California. I’m endlessly delighted by the diversity of cultures, people and landscape. Well, also Morocco has a rich culture of art and design, as does India, as does Czech Republic, as does Mexico… I’ve loved many places!

Where do you plan to visit next?

Iceland! I’m doing an artist residency there in June 2014.

The Gyeongbokgung Palace Gardens in Seoul, South Korea The Gyeongbokgung Palace Gardens in Seoul, South Korea.

You can stay up to date with Chelsea via her current blog: http://chelseaelizabethsmith.tumblr.com/

Traveller of the Week: English Nanny in Kentucky, USA

KO koala

Name: Kirsty Owers

Age: 27

Nationality: British

Time on the Road (this trip or general outline): I first started travelling back in 2009, but have spent some time back in England between trips to recover savings.

Funds (saving/working/’freegan’/mixed): Currently working as a nanny.

What initially inspired you to travel?

Since a young age I had always wanted to travel so that I could challenge myself in completely new corners of the world. I had never really pushed myself out of my comfort zone before. When a long term relationship came to an end  I decided I should take the opportunity to get myself out there and see the world. I saved every penny I could and headed for Australia first, where I combined some travelling and exploring with a bit of work, which included fruit picking.

How have your inspirations to explore the world changed since you began travelling?

Travelling quickly proved a lot more fun than I had ever expected. My family seemed very proud of me for gaining this new independence which gave me a real confidence boost. Meeting so many inspiring people on my travels definitely opened my eyes to new things and I started to feel that I my life was becoming much richer in terms of my general ideas and attitudes. I wanted to inspire other people to travel too.

KO elephant

What has been your most memorable experience abroad?

There have been so many but I would say my most memorable would be travelling Route 66 across America with my best friend! On one day we were shopping in Chicago, the next we were watching a Baseball game in St Louis, then had fun writing on upside down Cadillacs in Amarillo. We drove through the wildlife parks of Arizona, rode horses in the Grand Canyon, gambled away in Vegas before relaxing LA and finally reaching our final destination: Santa Monica in California! Everyday was so different and we were able to see so many different American states in such a relatively short time.

KO route 66

What would you say has been your most difficult or testing experience whilst travelling?

When I was in Australia I worked on a fruit picking site. The first day was so hard; planting melon seeds all day in the blistering Australian heat was really tough and I was sure that I wouldn’t last until the end of the week! However, six months on and I was saying goodbye to the ranch. I had learnt so much and made some very good friends there. There are some situations you face while travelling that seem impossible, but if you try to stay positive and persevere, you will often find these the most rewarding experiences.

Where are you right now?

I am in Kentucky, USA. I’m working as a nanny; looking after two twin girls and a four year old boy.

Do you have any survival advice for new travellers in this country?

Don’t be afraid to ask the locals for help and advice on anything.  I am finding the local people here extremely friendly and helpful, much more so than I was expecting!

If you had to recommend one place in the world to visit, where would it be?

Monkey Mia in Australia.  It is a small resort 10 hours north of Perth, I worked in the restaurant there and it overlooked the beach. Dolphins would often swim to the shore and in the mornings they would be fed by the conservation staff, who would also invite members of the public to help feed them! It’s a  great opportunity to see some beautiful Australian landscape and get really close to wildlife.

Where do you plan to visit next?

There are so many places I want to visit including Asia, but right now I plan on applying for Camp America next year.

KO ayrs rock

Out Tomorrow!

Traveller of the Week

We will meet a young Canadian girl who has just completed her solo journey up the East Coast of Australia!

How To: Find the cheapest taxi out of Bangkok Airport

This requires a bit of patience if you are really watching the pennies, as most touts will promote a ‘special offer’ of around 500THB. However, it is possible to find a taxi ‘on the meter’ at Bangkok International Airport to take you on the 45 minute journey into the city for around 300THB (about £6.25/$9.62). On good days the total price on the meter has been under 270THB!

The best way to do this is to head to Departures, as there will be taxis here who have just dropped someone off, and will be heading back to the city anyway. They are the most likely to accept the meter fare.

They will expect you to pay the two toll fees on the way so make sure you have some change. The total cost of taxi & toll fee will still be less than a fixed price, which is often 400-600THB.

Throughout Bangkok you will see many fuchsia pink taxis, which are very famous! Look for them. They also have taxis that are red and yellow, which look a bit old-school, but all legitimate taxi drivers will have a licence set inside the left of the windscreen, which is most important especially if traveling alone.

 

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