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The Interview

Do you remember the moment when you realised you wanted to travel?

Yes. Many years ago I used to visit friends in Brighton, UK. We always used to spend our time in the Marina or on the Pier, but rather than enjoy the candy floss or play on the fruit machines, I was only interested in standing right at the end of the pier and staring out into the distance over the sea! I think I was subconsciously wondering what kind of life was out there, and even then I realised that there was so much more to life than just going on holidays to your local seaside! When I started earning some money, I began my adventures!

What is your favourite country and why? sin6

Singapore. Singapore was the first Asian country in which I ever landed, back in 2011. From the very first moment I left the airport, I loved everything I saw about the country. Some people think it’s boring, and should be used only as a stopover before heading on somewhere else, but I think people like that miss the point. Travel is what you want it to be, and nowadays whenever I return to Singapore I make a real effort to “live like a local”, and this means eating (which is the national pastime!) and enjoying the amazing green scenery with a morning jog, for which the city-state is known!

Are there any experiences from your travels that you treasure more than others?

I don’t think there is one single experience, but every time I return to Singapore I feel as though I am coming back to my second home – only this home is tropical and humid, not wet and miserable like London! In terms of pure one-off experiences, visiting Sigiriya in Sri Lanka was awesome; Cappadocia in Turkey was brilliant; the temples of Bagan in Myanmar were mesmerising; the Roman ruins in Italy were fascinating; and the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, Japan, ranks up there, too. You know sometimes you just “get” something? Well, I “got” Fushimi Inari, and spent a lot of time there pondering life while traipsing through the torii gates. Chichen Itza in Mexico and Iguassu Falls in Brazil were suitably epic, complete with macaws flying above me in the jungle, and what more can be said of the Incan ruins at Machu Picchu in Peru? Wow!

You say you’re a bit of a foodie, so is there any particular cuisine you prefer?

Going bananas for Pisang Goreng
Going bananas for Pisang Goreng

I love Indonesian and Malaysian food! Rojak, satay, and rice dishes such as Nasi Lemak and Nasi Goreng are all delicious. The Indonesian delicacy pisang goreng (deep-fried banana fritters) is probably now my favourite snack food in the world! I also found Korean and Taiwanese cuisines very interesting, and it was nice to search the night markets for snacks! Everybody seems to rave about Thai food, but I am not a big fan. I may be a simpleton, but I find it hard to understand what I am eating in Thailand, as most of the dish names are too hard to pronounce/memorise. Some Indian street food is pretty cool, and there’s nowhere better than Mumbai than to sample the delectable vada pav!

Do you ever worry about travelling solo?

As in all walks of life, common sense needs to come into play when you are travelling. Don’t walk around the streets at night (especially not solo female travellers); don’t flash your camera or iPhone around in “poor” places such as India, Bangladesh, and some parts of Thailand; in countries where taxi drivers may not understand any English, such as China and Vietnam, have your hostel write down your destination on paper so the driver can read it; and take a phone with you at all times, even if it’s just a cheap one!

What country would you recommend for a first-time backpacker?

Without even needing to think hard about this answer, I can say three countries: India, Indonesia, and Japan! If you are prepare for the culture shock, then India will charm you – eventually. There is so much to explore there that you would be hard-pressed to do everything! Indonesia is an amazing country, with so many natural wonders, and the country can be backpacked a budget everywhere (apart from Bali, where it’s noticeably more expensive). Japan is also a fascinating country, where you can explore it from Kanto all the way down to Chugoku on the Shinkansen. Unlike India and Indonesia, Japan is clean and usually safe, with a perfect tourist infrastructure. However, it will also cost you more on accommodation and transport, so if you really are on a shoestring budget, then perhaps Japan may be a little too much.

Have you ever hated a place or country that you have visited? besakihscammer

I have never hated any country or city that I have visited, but I have bad memories of a few tourist attractions, such as Pura Besakih in Bali where I was aggressively hounded by touts and bullied into giving them extra money (no point in reporting them to the authorities: they ARE the authority), and the National Monument in Dhaka where I was threatened by a few locals with a “pet” King Cobra they were carrying. Some countries are more interesting than others, but even so, if you know where to look you can avoid the larger cities and head into more rural areas in search of an authentic cultural experience. This is true of Sri Lanka, for example, where Colombo is arguably the least impressive part of the country, yet the further inland you travel, you can find ancient gems like Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa, plus amazing nature in the shape of Nuwara Eliya! My basic tip: just get out of the city!

What’s next on your travel itinerary?

Camel Trekking in the Sahara
Camel Trekking in the Sahara

I have just actually finished travelling around South America (and San Francisco), and it was amazing to finally experience Brazil, Argentina, and Peru. Stay tuned for those blog posts! Next up for me in 2016 is to explore more of the Mediterranean region (specifically Morocco and Greece) and I also have my ever trip to Jordan booked for April! I am also tentatively planning a trip to Central America later in the year, so I can tackle the Mayan ruins of Honduras and Belize, before returning to India and Sri Lanka – and of course I will always be in Singapore every now and then! Countries that I most want to visit but haven’t been to yet? Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Mongolia, and Chile, but seeing as I’ve just come back from South America, Chile may have to wait a while!

Thanks for reading The Interview! Happy Travels and be safe wherever you’re going!

29 thoughts on “The Interview

  1. Hi Lee, If you heading back to Indonesia, you should visit West Sumatra. Many of the sights and places of interest here. Maninjau Lake, Harau Valley, Cubadak island, and the beatiful city with scenic view : Bukittinggi. You will also find the authentic beef rendang, one of most delicious food in the world.

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    1. I want to visit all those places you mentioned! But I had never heard of Cubadak Island. My next visit to Sumatra will be to Kerinci Seblat National Park, though. I also will be visiting Padang and maybe Pekanbaru.

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  2. Hi Backpacker Lee, We have a writing contest for the most unique indonesian travel experience. Since you are a blogger, I thought you might be interested in participating. Please check our blog to participate, you can win a nice week end in Bali ! Cheers

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  3. Good day!
    I am an ebook writer for Rosenthorn, Canada. I am working on an ebook entitled “50 Cemeteries” “50 Markets ” 50 Redlight Districts”. This ebook will showcase famous places around the world that people would want to visit and see.
    I am writing to request your permission to use your photo ( https://backpackerlee.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/deli5.jpg?w=547&h=363 ) for the ebook, and allow us to use it commercially. In return, I will acknowledge your website in the ebook for free. Also, I will cite your name and URL in the endnote.
    I hope you are amenable to this. I would appreciate to hear from you soon.

    Best regards

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    1. Hi Lola! I have already been to Tana Toraja! I loved my time there, and would love to go back one day! I loved the people and the culture there – just a shame there is no airport close (I took a long bus ride from Makassar).

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  4. I’m glad you loved Toraja 🙂 Toraja is my hometown!! Yeah I know..we have to took 9 hours ride from Makassar. Actually there is a small airport but I don’t know if is still there or not!

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  5. wow super awesome to find your blog!!
    I’m actually a foodie from HKG and i started backpacking since 2013 Feb solo! hahah
    Looking forward to read more about where you go and I like how you format your website!
    Easy to read and nice photos!!! Travel safe and have a early happy xmas!!!!

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    1. Thanks for the compliments, CM! Glad you found my blog useful. I like that you’re a foodie from Hong Kong…so you must be well acquainted with the likes of egg waffles and mango pomelo sago? I love those HK foods! 🙂

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      1. exactly!! everytime my friend from overseas come visit me, i stuff their stomach with all the good food and they arent allowed to leave hkg unless they gain couple lbs!!! So where about are you now??
        I’m planning to visit Myranmar in 2016 so finding your posts are very useful!! Also- planning to go South America in Jan 2017 so will check out that part in your blog too 😀

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          1. awesome!!! Xmas in UK is pretty nice i bet! WIth much colder weather!!!!
            Yeah- for South America I’m looking to hit 4-5 countries in 3 weeks with my fd, not sure if it’s possible 😦 Chile, Argentina, Peru, Brazil and Bolivia.. if you were me, which one would you skip?? Machu Picchu is a must 😀

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            1. Wow that’s difficult to choose which one to skip – I think Argentina or Bolivia. You gotta go to Brazil and Peru…and Chile is kinda awesome (although it’s a long country north to south, so travel around may be a problem). But I did love Argentina…lovely people there. So it’s a toughie. 😦

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  6. Okay… 😀 still got one year to plan so I will see…. Bolivia seem like a pretty cool place to go tooo!
    and i heard South America is pretty expensive too …. haha and since i did some tango before so would be lovely to see Argentina tango !! 😀

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  7. Hey Lee, I couldn’t find a contact page so I’ll just leave this here,

    I’ve been following your travel blog for a while now and I really enjoy it.

    I was recently awarded the Versatile blogger award and now I get to nominate some bloggers I think the world needs to see. I was wondering if you would like to accept the nomination? In the link provided are the “rules” for how to accept the award. Basically it’s just to post the award on your blog and nominate other up and coming bloggers. Please let me know if you accept the nomination and I will link the award to you from my blog. I hope this is something you’d be interested in. Hope to hear from you soon!

    http://thetravelators.com/2016/12/23/versatile-blogger-award-nomination/

    Katie
    Author/Editor of the blog TravelingKatiebug.com

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