What’s your name and what do you do?
My name is Sophie and I just graduated from university.
Where are you from?
California, I grew up near San Francisco and live in LA now.
How long will you be traveling for ?
I’ve been out for about 3 months now, I’m spending about 3 and a half months in Asia and then another 3 and a half in Europe, so I’ll be traveling for about 7 months. When I’m done traveling I’ll be starting work at a consulting firm in LA.
Do you want to do any further travelling after you start work ?
I really hope so, the company I’ll has a program where you can spend 6 months overseas in another office so I think that would be great. I’m not sure where I would want to go yet, but it would need to be somewhere that speaks English – Australia or London, but they also speak English in the Copenhagen office, which would be cool!
What made you want to come travelling ?
I got the job offer the summer before I started my last year of school, I figured if I didn’t do it now I wouldn’t have the opportunity for another few years at least. I had enough school credit to graduate early so I thought – why not!
So travelling has always been on your radar?
Well my parents travelled a lot when they were my age, they just quit their jobs and travelled for a few years, and they’ve lived in Hong Kong and London, so it’s always been something I’ve thought about. It’s never been as unusual an idea to me as it may be for others. And unlike a lot of other American students I never actually did a semester abroad so I thought I’d do this instead, which is great because this way I don’t have to take classes as I go!
What’s been the experience you’ve had ?
I loved going to Sapa in Vietnam. In Myanmar people were so excited to see me and everyone wanted to take photos with me, I just felt so welcome. It’s too hard to just pick one experience there! (Do you think your photo will be on loads of random Facebook accounts ?) probably yeah! Little kids would come up to me speaking in the local language asking for photos and their parents would have to translate, it was really cute.
Favourite mode of transport?
Tuk tuk – you really get to inhale the fumes and taste the place you’re in.
Favourite hostel you’ve stayed in ?
Ostello bello in Inle Lake, Myanmar, or Wanderlust in Koh Phangan, Thailand, were definitely the best. The most comfortable bed I’ve slept in was at Capsule New Seminyak in Bali.
What’s the worst thing that’s happened to you?
Probably getting food poisoning in Laos, but I also looked really skinny after .. so maybe the best and worst? Worth it maybe haha. Tied for worst is when I went in a pool and my hair turned green, I had to sit with my head covered in ketchup to get the green out and I smelled like ketchup for two weeks!
Did you have any negative expectations before you came out ?
Yeah I mean, I kind of assumed my bag would get stolen, I’d lose my phone or I’d get attacked in the middle of the night or something. But nothing that bad has happened at all.
How much would you say you spend on average a month?
I try to aim for about $1200 a month.
What countries have you visited so far?
Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, and now Indonesia is my last stop in Asia. (Favourite?) Thailand and north Vietnam – both have great food.
Would you rather fight 12 lizards or 13 rats?
How big are the lizards ? (They’re all the same size, I’m talking like Bangkok sized rats) Ah ok, they’re big! I’m gonna go lizards just because rats are repulsive. Lizards will be easier to squish I think.
50 duck sized horses or one horse sized duck?
50 small horses, just because I don’t feel that I could take on something the size of a horse.
Who have been the best people you’ve met ( apart from us)?
Well I feel like it may be easier to talk about the weirdest people I’ve met (that’s exactly where we were going next…) There was this guy I met on a bus in Vietnam that was going to a meditation retreat, but he just had no idea where it was. They wouldn’t tell him the location until he paid, and he said he refused to pay for it, so he just decided to hop on a bus and hope for the best!
Some of the best people I’ve met have been locals, we stayed at this home stay in Phong Na and the owner gave me cooking lessons for free. And the woman running our Homestay in Sapa was telling us about how her mom wouldn’t let her marry her boyfriend because he was too poor, so when she was 15 she got married to a 25 year old she’d never met. Now decades later she still secretly sees her old boyfriend! I also met an English guy who had just spent three months working at restaurants for free in India so he can open his own Indian restaurant when he gets back to London. He was telling me about some meat dish that they cook literally by leaving it in the desert sand – I don’t think that would work in England.
What about awful people?
Oh yeah I’ve come across some terrible people that will just scream at the locals, you can understand why travellers sometimes don’t get the warmest reception. And the time a 50 year old guy in my hostel fell asleep butt naked and we all woke up to his bare ass – the beds were arranged so my head was at his feet so I think I got the worst view.
Is there anything you feel that you have learnt or un – learnt in your travels ?
What do you mean by unlearnt? (Anything you thought you knew before you came out, but have had your opinion changed on ?) It’s been really interesting to meet people that aren’t necessarily as competitive or are on the same path in life as everyone I know back home. Most people in university are understandably focused on getting good grades and getting a job, so it’s been interesting to meet people that not only aren’t doing that but aren’t stressed about it.(Do you think it’s made you chill out a bit more?) Probably yeah, it’s just made me realise that people want different things in life, one thing isn’t better than another, it just depends what matters to you as a person.
I think I’ve learnt the skill of judging people a lot more quickly ! I think I’m definitely able to spot the crazies a little bit faster.
Favourite thing you’ve bought with you?
Probably my iPad! To read books on all those long journeys and helps with booking hostels.
Top 3 future destinations ?
No plans yet but, Cape Town in South Africa, India and Melbourne.
Do you have any travel tips to pass on?
I think that it’s just a lot easier than people assume it is. People speak English, the infrastructure is there and in general it’s a lot safer than you’d expect. Also bring an eye mask and earplugs! I also would recommend the app Sleep Pillow, which is a white noise app.