Today I am delighted to feature someone who like myself, has spent time living and working in Saudi Arabia. Please meet travel blogger Kristine MacMillan of Kristine Wanders.
What is your name?
Which country do you come from/call home?
I was born in Canada which I refer to as home, but lived 10 years in the U.S. which feels like my adopted home.
Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/business traveller/live and work abroad?
I guess I fall under the live and work abroad category. I’m an expat nurse currently living in Saudi Arabia, but I travel every chance I get.
How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
I work in between traveling. My current job offers 54 calendar days of vacation, so I pretty much travel every month.
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
I’ve been traveling for as long as I remember. My dad worked for an airline growing up, so my parents would often surprise my brother and I with impromptu trips. As a kid I remember being very comfortable flying on planes. Sadly, this is no longer the case and I dread plane trips, but I don’t let it stop me from seeing the world.
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
Bangladesh. It’s one of my most favourite countries and this was a total surprise to me. I had expected it to be a lot like India, and this couldn’t have been further from the truth. The travel there isn’t easy, but the local people you will meet are fantastic, which makes for very rewarding travel.
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
Hahaha. Yes. My first trip abroad I had my passport stolen. I often manage to get some type of food related illness in any 3rd world country I step foot in (and sadly some of the 1st world ones). Myself and 2 friends were robbed on a houseboat in the backwaters of Kerala. And yet, I still am hopelessly addicted to travel!
Do you have any funny travel stories?
So many. After we were robbed in Kerala India we attempted to file a police report but someone informed the local news station and a TV crew and reporter showed up at the police station. The following day while at the airport to fly to Bhutan I picked up an English/Indian newspaper and there was our picture with a headline “Women tourists allege being robbed by houseboat crew.” Yes alleged. As in actually happened.
Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?
Marrakech Morocco. I was super jazzed for my trip to Morocco, but it ended up being a really difficult and frustrating trip. Men in the souk and the main square were extremely aggressive and if we declined to visit their
stall or store we were often told to go F*#@ ourselves, and in some occasions we were grabbed and tried to be pulled into shops. Not cool. Sadly, this happened numerous times while we were there.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
So hard to choose just one, so maybe I’ll list my top few. I’ve already mentioned Bangladesh which always makes me smile when I think about my trip there. The west coast of Vancouver Island is a place that I always love to visit and find great comfort in being there. The Middle East is fascinating, and travel in this region is never, ever dull.
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
I sort of have a bucket list. Some are places, some are experiences. Ever since doing the Rickshaw Run (driving a 3 wheeled auto-rickshaw 3000km across India with 2 friends) last year I’ve been dreaming of doing another adventure race. I would love to take part in the Mongol Rally. Walking the Camino de Santiago is high on the list of things I want to do. I really want to visit Iran, Azerbaijan, and any of the Stans.
Can you imagine life without travel?
Nope. That sounds awful.
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
Probably either photography or international aid work. I guess that’s a form of traveling though right?!
What is the name of your travel blog and the url?
Kristine Wanders www.kristinewanders.com
When did you begin your website Kristine Wanders?
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
I write as a way to express myself and with the hopes of portraying what it’s like for a western woman to work and travel in the Middle East. I write to inspire other people to travel now while they have the chance instead of waiting. I write to show how we are all connected even if we come from opposite sides of the globe.
What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?
I think my blog offers a unique perspective on what it’s like to be a western woman in a Middle Eastern country. It gives a westerner’s perception of a culture that we often only hear about via western news, which is very one sided.
Do you have any products or services to offer?
Not that I’m aware of, although I do get messages from men requesting a Canadian visa quite often. My answer is always no.
What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?
My most popular blog posts are all about living in Saudi Arabia. By far the most popular was my take on the Riyadh Zoo, which was seriously one of the worst tourist experiences I would recommend anyone in Saudi to do. If you’re an animal lover or have a heart that is.
What has been your favourite article to write either for your blog or another publication?
I love to write articles about the numerous absurd things that happen when you are an expat living abroad, or situations where there is some cultural confusion. One of my favourites is this one about banking in Saudi.
What is your favourite mode of transport? (plane/train/boat/car)
I hate flying. If there was anyway to feasibly avoid it I would. I love traveling by land- rickshaw, car, train, I love them all. I love to take in the passing scenes from a window seat.
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
Go now. Don’t let excuses prevent you from seeing the world. Kindness begets kindness. Trust in others, but also trust your instincts. The world is much smaller than you imagine it to be.
What has travel taught you?
Travel has taught me that people are mostly good. I’ve had far more positive experiences with people when traveling than I’ve had unpleasant ones. Travel has taught me to trust myself and my intuition. It’s taught me how to truly live in the moment and take each day however it comes.
Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline? Etihad
Favourite country? Bangladesh
Favourite city? San Francisco
Favourite beach? Long Beach on the west coast of Vancouver Island
Favourite food? Sushi
Favourite language? Arabic- it’s my party trick
Please provide the following:-
Website url? www.kristinewanders.com
Twitter handle? @kristinewanders
Facebook page? I’m working on this one