It is a great pleasure to interview Sarah Bennett of The Further Adventures of Bennett.
What is your name?
Sarah, although I’m known as Bennett.
Which country do you come from/call home?
The UK is still home, whilst I make temporary ones elsewhere.
Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/business traveller/live and work abroad?
I live and work abroad. It sounds crazy but I actually enjoy working. I’ve had jobs since I was 14 and I’ve never had a job I’ve hated. For the past 2 years it’s been teaching in China, but I’m looking for a change now I’m in New Zealand.
How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
I’ve been working and living and earning as an expat.
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
I remember the first time I was on a plane I took a 30 minute trip to Jersey, on a day tour with my grandparents, with lots of other grandparents. I was the youngest by far! I must have been 9 or 10. The next plane journey after that was a 12 hour or so flight to Malaysia when I was 16. This first stamp in my passport and the experiences there really set me up for wanting to travel more.
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
Prague was a let down for me. I know everyone raves about it, but I really don’t see what’s so special. The castle is not the castle I’d expected (coming from the UK we really are spoilt for castles!) and it was just generally not as amazing as I’d read about. Maybe it’s because I’d visited Salzburg just before, where I fell in love, but who knows.
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
September 2012 – on my first day visiting a friend in Ho Chi Minh City for a week, I had two attempted muggings in the space of 5 minutes. Luckily I escaped with everything, although I wouldn’t have lost that much if the muggers had won.
Do you have any funny travel stories?
Funnily enough, it happened in Ho Chi Minh City as well. We were following a volunteer organisation around for the day. I was riding pillion on a motorcycle that my friend’s friend was driving. We were following people in bright orange t-shirts and we lost everyone! In fairness, if you’ve ever been to Vietnam you’ll understand it’s not that difficult on those roads…
I also once met a Russian guy on a train headed to Beijing. He was from a border town with China and looked very Chinese, but he didn’t speak a word of it. The staff got very annoyed with him when he couldn’t answer their questions!
Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?
Andit’s Ho Chi Minh again for the muggings. I was actually so happy and relieved when I arrived back in China. I have never felt that nervous anywhere before or since then. Yet, anyway!
Where is your favourite place in the world?
Honestly, the place that makes me the happiest person alive is Polzeath Beach in Cornwall, UK. I have so many fantastic memories of that place growing up and as an adult. I just want to keep going back there, whereas most places I visit I’m happy just to go once.
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
I have a short list of things I definitely want to do, like skydiving and going to Antarctica, however stuff happens that I think “if I had a bucket list, this would be on it! – like throwing a Frisbee to and being kissed by a sealion at Singapore Zoo recently…
Can you imagine life without travel?
No. Plain and simple. And travel doesn’t just have to be abroad, you can travel in your own country as well and if/when I get back to the UK I want to do a lot more exploring there too.
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
Getting to know my local job centre very well, I am sure. I really don’t know to be honest!
What is the name of your travel blog and the url?
It’s The Further Adventures of Bennett at http://thefurtheradventuresofbennett.com. Before I went to China I’d already moved far away from home and lived abroad, so I wanted to make sure it was a completely new part of my life adventure.
When did you begin your website and why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
I love writing and I started the site so that I didn’t have to write a weekly email to everyone. It’s obviously developed over time and I hope become a little more useful than the “diary entries” that I used to write.
Why did you choose TEFL?
I’d done a placement during my Year Abroad at university in Germany as a teaching assistant so it was a natural progression really. Teaching English during spells in Italy and also the UK, as well as the fact that I like working with children only confirmed the route for me.
What appealed to you about going to China?
It was totally different and out of my comfort zone, plus not many people I knew had been. I only went on a recommendation from a friend to begin with – the line “you’re the only person I know who could do this” was a challenge I just couldn’t refuse!
You openly admit to being a massive fan of Swindon Town. How do you keep track of their progress?
The first step is admitting you have a problem… It’s pretty easy to keep up with the radio, although time differences can be a pain. While Saturday matches were ok time-wise to listen to on the radio, they are at very unsociable hours in New Zealand. But I generally listened to the majority of matches in a season and get my email read out on the radio because I’m in a far flung place! I’ve even been in the matchday programme displaying my colours on the Great Wall!
Do you have any products or services to offer?
Together with Agness and Cez from etramping.com we’ve launched an e-book to help people learn about living, working and travelling in China called “ Add Your Brick To The Great Wall.” You can buy the book from Amazon here or from Amazon.com.
What has been your favourite article to write?
I write a yearly post on the anniversary of my graduation date, entitled “One Day”. I enjoy putting down the things that most people wouldn’t voice on a public forum in a blog post. I find it very therapeutic and maybe someone will read it and think “I understand how you feel” and that would be great.
When do you think you will go home and settle down?
Who knows! But that’s half the fun of it, right?
What is your favourite mode of transport? (plane/train/boat/car)
Plane for speed, but train for slower travel as you get to see a lot of things and meet more people.
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
Plan, don’t plan, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you do what YOU want. Don’t do something because someone told you to; do it or go there because you want to.
What has travel taught you?
No matter where I am in the world, there are always people who love and care about me. That means more to me than visiting any tourist attraction, or ticking off something on a bucket list. I thank each and every person who has ever sent me a message when I’m feeling down, or has ever sent me stuff in the post.
Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline? China Southern because they take me to New Zealand for cheap prices (I booked my latest trip 5 months in advance and saved around £400!)
Favourite country? China (I haven’t explored that much of New Zealand yet, but I’m sure it will be up there soon!)
Favourite city? Beijing, I love all the old Chinese architecture
Favourite beach? Polzeath, Cornwall
Favourite food? Fish and chips… or fajitas – I ate fajitas just before I wrote this and they’re pretty awesome!
Favourite language? Chinese
Please provide the following:-
Website url? http://thefurtheradventuresofbennett.com
Twitter handle? https://twitter.com/TFAdvsofBennett
Facebook page? www.facebook.com/bennettsfurtheradventures
Google+ profile/page? https://plus.google.com/107572944664626630161