Today’s interviewee took a journey to remember on a rickshaw in pursuit of food. Please meet Natasha Amar of The Boho Chica.
What is your name?
Which country do you come from/call home?
I am originally Indian but have been an expat in Dubai, U.A.E for most of my life.
Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/business traveller/live and work abroad?
I’m a frequent traveller whose most preferred way is backpacking.
How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
I fund my travels using my savings.
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
I remember my first trip to Oman, at age 7. I’ve forgotten most of the details, the only thing I do remember is that I really enjoyed the food.
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
Bangladesh turned out to be totally different to what I had imagined. It was my first solo travel experience and I was told about how chaotic and crowded the cities were. But I ended up spending a lot of time in the villages which were clean, less crowded, very green and beautiful. I remember very often while riding in a cycle rickshaw, the only mode of transport in the villages, I’d often be staring at the vast green fields around me not being able to believe that I was actually there. I’d never seen a country side before, having only lived in Dubai and Mumbai and I was absolutely fascinated.
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
There has been nothing that was extremely terrible. But there was one unpleasant situation in Nepal. In Bhaktapur’s Durbar Square, I was constantly being followed around by a tout who insisted I hire him as a guide. After repeatedly telling him I was not interested, I finally raised my voice and threatened to call the police. That set him right and I did not see him again.
Do you have any funny travel stories?
Yes, this one is from my time in Dhaka, Bangladesh when I was interning with the Grameen Bank. A few fellow interns and I had heard about a new North Korean restaurant that we wanted to try out. So one evening we set off on what ended up becoming a very crazy two and a half hour rickshaw ride almost flying through tiny lanes and alleys, dodging people and cattle out of the way and trying to pass through a military cantonment area that restricted the entry of foreigners. We were stopped there and asked to turn around. Somehow, we finally made it to the restaurant, thanks to a very enthusiastic and determined rickshaw driver. Afterwards, we joked about how it all felt like being in an action comedy movie.
What is the thing that you enjoy most about travel?
I’d have to say that cultural exchanges and the opportunity to get to know someone from a completely different culture and lifestyle is what I enjoy most about travel. Volunteering on my travels helps me to interact better with locals and experience their culture on a deeper level. I’m also lucky to have become friends with some really amazing and inspiring fellow travelers, volunteers and locals I met on my travels.
Name 3 experiences that are on top of your travel wish list.
- Learning how to salsa like a Cuban in Havana.
- Seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland
- Experiencing Antarctica
Where have you had the best food experiences?
I loved the food in Chiang Mai, Thailand and would really look forward to every meal. I couldn’t get enough of the soups, curries, Pad Thai and other dishes. I intend to go back and take a cooking class there.
Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?
I did not enjoy the city of Delhi in India and wouldn’t like to go back. The markets were way too busy and crowded for my liking, I did not enjoy the food and I didn’t find the people particularly friendly.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
Of all the places I’ve been so far, New Zealand is my favourite. It is unbelievably beautiful, it was like being in a picture or a postcard. Since I love trekking, I absolutely loved being there and would definitely go back. It was also where I went paragliding for the first time and it was even better than I had imagined.
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
The whole world is on my bucket list!
Can you imagine life without travel?
I simply cannot imagine such a life. Travel is very high up on my list of priorities. It has changed me in ways I did not imagine and introduced me to a happier version of myself.
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
Travel is not the only thing I do; I don’t think such a lifestyle would suit me. I like having roots in Dubai and I’m lucky it’s well connected to the rest of the world. For me it’s not about travelling instead of something else. I travel along with whatever else I’m doing. So far it has worked and I’ve realized balance is key.
What is the name of your travel blog and the url?
My blog is called The Boho Chica
When did you begin your website?
The website began in 2011 as a result of my love of writing. Initially it was read only by a few people who knew me personally. Back then I hardly knew anything about the technical aspects, SEO, design elements or plugins. It’s only over the past few months that it has had 100% of my focus. There is a conscious effort now to take it to the next level.
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
I write because I enjoy doing it and it helps me to connect with people who share a love of travel. It was by reading the blogs of other travelers and seeing the world through their eyes that I was inspired to travel. I’d like to do the same for others.
What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?
My blog will never tell you that you should quit everything and travel the world. It’s never going to make you feel bad about what you’re doing right now in your life, whether it’s a 9 to 5 or raising a family. The decision to do those things and take up those responsibilities requires as much courage as the decision to sell all your materialistic possessions and travel the world. My only intention is to introduce my readers to the amazing things that travel brings and inspire them to travel however often and for however long they can. It’s still possible to seek out deep and meaningful experiences even if you’re just travelling for a few weeks and I try to focus on that.
Do you have any products or services to offer?
I offer freelance writing services and opportunities for various types of advertising such as sponsored posts, banner ads, affiliate links, product and service reviews and social media engagement/coverage on my blog.
What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?
My most successful post is called ‘First Impressions: Dhaka, Bangladesh’. It describes how I felt when I first arrived in the crowded and chaotic city, so different from anything I’d seen before. I think it’s popular because the country sees very few tourists and there’s not as much information available as there is for other countries.
What has been your favourite article to write either for your blog or another publication?
I really enjoyed writing about my experience while paragliding in Queenstown, New Zealand. I have a fear of heights and it has helped me to overcome that fear to a great extent. The article was more personal than my usual ones but I enjoyed writing it.
What is your favourite mode of transport? (plane/train/boat/car)
I love travelling by trains. Whenever possible, I like to travel long distances by overnight trains. I’ve done this in Thailand and Vietnam and loved the experience. So far, I’ve had good experiences because I sleep very soundly on them. Waking up to beautiful scenery is an added bonus. I took the Tranz Alpine in New Zealand from Christchurch to Greymouth and could see why it’s considered one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world.
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
It’s really easy to travel because the world is truly a welcoming place. Just buy a plane ticket and go, and the rest will follow. Save as much as you can because there are far better things to spend money on than your daily cup of coffee.
What has travel taught you?
Travel has taught me humility, patience and the importance of really connecting with others. Humility comes from knowing what a small place you occupy in the world and how insignificant your issues are compared to those that are faced by others in the world. Patience comes from everyday situations that travel throws at you such as not being able to communicate easily in a country where you don’t speak the language, getting terribly lost, being stuck in bad weather or having your flights delayed twice in a row. Travel has also introduced me to the joy that comes from real cultural immersion and getting to know someone whose life is completely different from yours, something that tourists can often miss out on. It has also made me believe that across countries, cultures are more similar than is often realized, something like ‘Same same but different’.
Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline? Emirates
Favourite country? New Zealand
Favourite city? Melbourne
Favourite beach? Railay, Thailand
Favourite food? Thai
Favourite language? Arabic
Please provide the following:-
Website url? http://thebohochica.com/
Twitter handle? @The_BohoChica
Facebook page? https://www.facebook.com/thebohochica
Google+ profile page? https://plus.google.com/u/0/+NatashaAmar87