Interview With Travel Blogger The Paper Boat Sailor @paperboattales

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Today’s interviewee has a tale of avoiding the untangling of a web of lies (about her identity at least) from a medicine man. Read on to find out more about The Paper Boat Sailor!

The Paper Boat Sailor

The Paper Boat Sailor

What is your name?

I’m the Paper Boat Sailor by day.

Which country do you come from/call home?

The idea of home has always baffled me, so I would say I was born in an eastern Indian town, but left it long ago and have found many homes since.

Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/business traveller/live and work abroad?

When all circumstances are right, I travel—which is at least three to four times a year, and for as long as possible. I do currently live and work in a country quite foreign to me, which I continue to explore, and as a result I’m in a constant state of travel!

How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?

My freelancer’s income can be unreliable, so I travel mostly with my ever-dwindling savings and whenever paychecks make an appearance!

What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?

My first trip was at the age of three months. I was taken along by parents who are too fond of travel and didn’t mind putting their toothless infant through the shocks and surprises of travelling to Puri, a popular town of beaches and pilgrimage in eastern India. Strangely though, I have the faintest memory of being on that train, being rocked to sleep as I looked through the window at the dark moving shapes outside. I like to believe this is when my wanderlust was awakened.

Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?

If not totally different, the town of Pai, in Thailand’s Mae Hong Son province, did turn out to be a bit of a letdown. Like most popular spots in the country, this place too was milling with tourists and shops that catered to their shopping interests, robbing the town of much of its local charm. I headed to Soppong after a night in Pai to escape this phenomenon and was thoroughly rewarded.

That’s me poking my nose in a bat cave in Soppong.

That’s me poking my nose in a bat cave in Soppong.

Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?

Travelling comes with bad experiences, and I’ve had my share too, especially as a woman traveller in various parts of the world. Those stories are mostly the same. But the one I want to mention is my experience in Kerala, an incredibly beautiful state, but as corrupt and discriminating when it comes to servicing tourists based on their nationality and its associations.

Do you have any funny travel stories?

My friend and I had gone to Dharamshala, a Himalayan town, for a few days, where a foreign man joined us for a chat at our table in a restaurant. Not knowing whether he meant any harm, we gave him fake names and identities (I posed as a Sri Lankan tourist). But in the course of our conversation we came to find him quite interesting—a medicine man from Tibet who had made his home in this hilltown to pursue his research in peace. We never revealed our true identities however, just for the fun of it, and my friend and I had to get very inventive with our childhood stories and family religions and so on.

I went back to Dharamshala some months later with my boyfriend, and who do I run into but the same medicine man! I didn’t think I could keep up the pretence of being Sri Lankan, so I tried my best to dodge him and a game of hide-and-seek ensued.

Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?

There is no place I think I can call the worst. There are places that weren’t to my liking, cities and towns I wished were not being exploited by irresponsible tourism, but I learnt from them all, and in that sense they’re all special to me. 

Where is your favourite place in the world?

Again, can’t zero in on one place. But my favourites of the year would have to be Edinburgh and the Outer Hebrides.

A stretch of the endless Luskentyre beach, most famed of all beaches on Scotland’s Outer Hebrides.

A stretch of the endless Luskentyre beach, most famed of all beaches on Scotland’s Outer Hebrides.

Have any of your trips been life-changing?

All my trips have enriched me in more ways than one. But as far as life-changing experiences go, the month I spent in post-war Jaffna impacted me more deeply than all my other trips. I went to the province as a volunteer English teacher, and the people I met through my job revealed to me a life of war and pain I had only read about before. While it was heart-breaking to explore a place still ravaged by a long civil war, I was also endlessly inspired by the people who had risen above the suffering and were working tirelessly to get the people and the province back on their feet again. 

Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?

No, my lists are more short-term. I plan for a year at a time with vague long-term goals in the background. And right now the plans brewing for 2015 include Morocco, Bahrain, Socotra, more of Oman, a scuba certification, and overcoming my tsundoku (word of the day, folks!).

Can you imagine life without travel?

Not right now for sure, or ever. With no place to call home, I need to travel in search of happy places. Also, what better way is there to learn about the world and its endless stories than by going around it?

If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?

Making books in publishing houses, running a travel café or a photographer’s studio—all great jobs, but none beats travel!

What is the name of your travel blog and the url?

Paper Boats:

When did you begin your website?

In July 2014, after I took up freelancing in favour of all the things I couldn’t pursue well with a day job—travel, writing, photography. I decided it was time to roll them all into one new blog.

Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?

As an only child in a small town, I did much of my growing up in my own little world of books and travel longings, and have always imagined for myself a life of travel and writing. So I suppose I do it because it’s what I like to do most. I also write in the form of stories as it is for me a sublime and powerful art.   

What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?

My blog is a journal of long-form literary travel writing and photo stories, departing from the trend of travel advice and handy lists, to promote a culture of storytelling. If you’re interested in the genres of travel writing and literary non-fiction, you might want to stop by my blog.

Have you found a suitable audience for your blog?

I was apprehensive about starting a travel writing journal and finding an audience for it, with ADD afflictions being the order of the day, but I went against the tide after some speculation. I’m happy to report that people are slowly engaging with my stories in a way that makes me optimistic about the future of my blog, and travel writing in general.

What can we expect to read on your blog in the upcoming months?

I’m currently preparing a write-up and a photo essay about my experiences in Jaffna. But before I publish these posts, which will require a lot of care and thought, I’ll be posting about a backpacking trip I did across the Maldives, and some other stories from little mountain towns in Wales and the Himalayas. I’m also keen on compiling a list of my favourite Instagramming storytellers who have inspired and influenced my photography and vision.

Jaffna Fort, commandeered for war till just a few years ago, now a quiet meeting place by the sea for the town’s youth.

Jaffna Fort, commandeered for war till just a few years ago, now a quiet meeting place by the sea for the town’s youth.

Do you have any products or services to offer?

I’m a professional fiction editor with five years of industry experience, and provide reviewing and editorial services. I also have a certification in professional photography and am open to photojournalism, documentary and travel-related assignments.

What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?

My photo essay on Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. It’s a compilation of photographs mainly from the Isle of Harris and Lewis that try to capture the region’s age-old history, its society and its desolation, and I think readers found my black and white photographs compelling.

What has been your favourite article to write either for your blog or another publication?

I very much enjoyed writing about Kumzar, a fascinating little village on Oman’s northern brink. It was one of my first posts on the blog, and it was wonderful recounting my experiences in a town so unique and soulful with a beautiful language and culture facing the perils of extinction. I also did a photo essay on the same place which was again my first for the blog and a very enjoyable project.

A photo from my essay on the children of Kumzar.

A photo from my essay on the children of Kumzar.

What is your favourite mode of transport? (plane/train/boat/car)

Boats, obviously (duh, the hint is in the title!), though I have a certain weakness for trains as well. I will tell you, even though I write under a pseudonym, that I was named after a river, and perhaps it made me curious about water from a young age. I feel amazingly comfortable in oceans and lakes and all things water, and love to travel by sea. Boats are the world’s oldest form of international transport and the world wouldn’t be as fascinating as it is today if it hadn’t been for all those sea voyages people undertook back in the day.

Quick fire questions:-

Favourite airline? Bangkok Airways (It’s all about the food!) and Indigo (infallible service)

Favourite country? The Maldives

Favourite city? Edinburgh

Favourite beach? Scarista, Isle of Harris

Favourite food? Nepalese, Sri Lankan, Thai, Indian from the south-west coast, Ethiopian (Yes, I love to eat.)

Favourite language? Farsi

A street performer at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

A street performer at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Please provide the following:-

Website url?

Twitter handle? @paperboattales

Facebook page?




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  1. Really interesting interview and it sounds like such a different kind of blogger. The aura of mystery the blogger keeps make it even more attractive, it’s like peeking inside a story book where the character awaits to take you along for the ride…
    On another point, i would love to take part in your interview series if you’re looking for new contributors. Let me know

  2. I love your different approach to travel writing, and I really feel that it captures the time and place of your journey. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with the world 🙂

  3. mridul says:

    Really a great interview thankx admin for such a great interview. i also love travel please do more interview . and wish her a bright Blogging Career


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