This weeks TBI comes from one of the first people I met when I set off RTW in 2006. She’s an absolute legend!
Everyone, meet Natalie. Nat’s been blogging about her adventures for quite some time, but is now stepping up her game so you should see a few more of her blog entries moving forward. Lets see what she had to say in response to my usual set of questions …
1. Name? Natalie Lyall-Grant
2. Age? 23
3. Twitter Handle? @girlandtheworld
4. URL? girlandtheworld.org
5. Home Town? Nottingham,UK
6. Current Location? Seoul,South Korea
7. … Business or pleasure? Bit of both.
8. Tell us a little bit about what you’re up to at the moment. Best bits, worst bits etc.
After I finished university I made it my personal mission to spend as much time outside of the UK as possible. I moved toSri Lanka and worked as a travel writer for six months, but eventually ran out of work and needed to stock up on some cash. That’s what brought me to South Korea, where I currently teach English in an all girls high school in Seoul. I’ve been here for nine months now, and have been saving up for my next big trip.
LETS TALK TRAVEL
9. First travel experience?
My first travel experience independent of friends and family was a trip to Sri Lanka in 2006 when I was 18. I volunteered out there for two months and fell in love with the place. As soon as I went home to England, I was desperate to get away again. I’ve had permanently itchy feet ever since.
10. Future travel plans?
In February I’ll be taking a year out to travel acrossSouth/South East Asia. Starting inSri Lanka (I’m going back to visit some friends) I will be backpacking through India, thenNepal. After that my plans are fairly loose, but I’m thinking of going to Burma,Thailand,Vietnam,Malaysia, and Indonesia. I’ve never been very good at sticking to a schedule though, so for all I know, I’ll end up wandering off intoPakistan or Tibet or something.
11. If you could go anywhere tomorrow where would it be and why?
If I had to pick somewhere that I’m not already going to? Hmm, that’s a tough choice. I’ve always wanted to visit Ecuador in South America. I wanted to learn a bit of Spanish before I tackle that area of the globe though, but if it were just for one day…yes,Ecuador, somewhere in the Amazon rainforest.
12. If you could avoid going anywhere tomorrow where would it be and why?
Phnom Penhin Cambodia. It was definitely the worst city I’ve ever been to, especially around the lakeside area – full of brothels! I would never go back there.
13. What 5 items would you not go travelling without?
I pack fairly lightly in terms of clothes and toiletries but there are a few extra bits I’d be lost without:
- My kindle – much lighter than a book and you can download guide books on it too.
- Ipod – always handy in any situation.
- A raincoat – for monsoon season hiking.
- A jumper – for AC bus journeys.
- Tiger balm – perfect for putting on mosquito bites, and good for relieving muscle pain too.
14. Best bit of advice you’ve received?
When I was planning my trip to SE Asia I wanted to squeeze in as many countries as I could into the two months I had. When my mum saw my itinerary she laughed and told me “traveling is not about crossing countries off a list. Take your time with each country, you’ll appreciate them more.” She was so right. Even trying to fit Laos,Cambodia, and Thailand into one trip was hectic. I couldn’t do nearly as much as I wanted in each place, and I felt really hurried the whole time. These days I try to spend at least 1-2 months in each place I visit.
I’ve been told “Don’t drink the local water and steer clear of street food” about every country I’ve been to fromGermany to Mali. I mean, sure, there are plenty of countries where drinking non-bottled water is inadvisable. When I was inWest Africa, for example, many people contracted cholera from the water. However, I think you can judge the tap water by whether or not the locals are happy to drink it. I’ve had no problems drinking tap water in bothSri Lanka and South Korea, and I saved myself a bundle of money by not buying it bottled. As far as street food goes, I’ll try it anywhere, and it is almost always the tastiest food I eat on my travels.
16. Best bit of advice you can give readers of this piece?
Don’t over plan. When I was inLaos I met a guy who had his entire 5 month trip planned out to the hour. We went out that night with a big group of people and all of us arranged to go to the waterfalls in Luang Prabang together. The guy really wanted to come with us but couldn’t because he’d already paid to do something else and he was tied to his schedule. Anything can come up when you travel – you could love a place and want to spend a long time there, or hate a place and need to get out. It’s best to keep your plans loose as you just don’t know what is going to happen.
17. Favourite ice cream flavour?
18. Curry or Chinese?
Curry. I didn’t enjoy the food inChinaall that much.
19. Apple or Andriod?
Apple all the way.
20. Blogger or WordPress?
21. Guilty Pleasure?
K-Pop, Korean pop music. It’s embarrassingly awful.
22. Hostel or hotel?
Hostel. Hotels are lonely. Although if someone offered to pay for me to stay in a really expensive one, I wouldn’t say no!
23. Airplane seat – isle, centre or window?
24. What song/album are you listening to right now?
Angus and Julia Stone – Big Jet Plane.
25. Thank you for answering my questions, as a gesture of thanks I allow you one whole paragraph of shameless plug for your website…
Girlandtheword.org is a solo female travel blog sharing anecdotes, destination guides, and tips and advice for anyone with an interest in travel.
Want to be next?
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