This week’s guest post comes from Rachel – BASED Traveler Shenzhen. It is explained that ‘Rachel has had the travel bug ever since she first got on a plane in London to visit her uncle in California at the age of sixteen. Ever since then she has taken every opportunity to travel as often as she could (and sometimes even when she couldn’t) afford it. After teaching in the UK for seven years, she decided a change of scenery was in order. Never one to do things by halves, Rachel got a job teaching at a bilingual school in Shenzhen, China, in 2011 and has been there ever since. She has made the most of her time in Shenzhen by visiting as many places as possible both in China and in the rest of South-east Asia’. Also, Rachel has just hit her bucket list total of 40 countries before the age of 40! What a great achievement.
1.What is your name and where do you come from?
My name is Rachel Dillon and I’m originally from England (although I lived in Wales for 7 years too). I now live in Shenzhen, China and have been here for more than four years now.
2. What sort of traveller are you? Full time / part time / business / backpacker etc?
If I could travel full time I would! I’m a primary teacher at an international school so my travelling is during the school holidays; sometimes solo backpacking, sometimes with friends, occasionally with my mum or sister when they come over to this side of the world to visit or I go back to the UK (my Dad doesn’t travel).
3. How do you fund your travelling?
I teach primary education at an international school in Shenzhen.
4. Where is the best place you have ever been and why?
That is a really hard question to answer! I have visited so many places I have loved, especially since moving to China. One constant favourite of mine is San Francisco and the Bay area, although I’m a little biased because I have family there and have been to visit eight times. As for holidays that were not visiting family, I think I’d have to say that Myanmar is the best place I’ve visited in Asia. Myanmar was beautiful, so diverse from one side to the next, the people were so friendly and one of the most amazing things I did there was a hot-air balloon ride over the 4000 pagodas of Bagan at sunrise. If I could be cheeky and pick another place, it would be Botswana – I went for a few days with friends last February while we were in South Africa for a friend’s wedding. We did a four day safari in the Okavango Delta and it was absolutely incredible to see so many animals in their natural environment. We were very lucky to see the Big Five, including a mother leopard with her two cubs dining on an impala.
5. Where is the worst place you have ever been and why?
For the October National Holiday in China in 2014 I went to Seoul by myself for a few days. I booked somewhere that I thought looked cheap and cheerful with a shared bathroom (I often stay in dorms or share facilities when travelling alone). However, when I arrived it was before check-in time and the staff wouldn’t let me freshen up or change anywhere. It was an argument to even leave my small suitcase with them! I went out to explore the city for the rest of the day, which was great and I saw some lovely things. Later on it began to rain and because I didn’t have an umbrella and hadn’t been able to change my clothes or shoes earlier, I started coming down with a horrible cold. All I wanted was to have a nice hot shower and crawl into bed. But when I got back to the place I was staying I discovered that the ‘shared bathroom’ was actually a Korean spa with open showers along the side of the spa room! I went to bed cold, damp, miserable, full of cold and unable (or unwilling in public) to have a shower, which made my next couple of days in Seoul not nearly as fun. South Korea itself was lovely, as were the people I met; I was just unfortunate to end up staying somewhere that did not match the description on the website. I discovered the hard way that cheaper is definitely not always better!
6. Do you have a Bucket List? If so where are the 3 top places on it?
I have a bucket list longer than I can measure! If I had to narrow it down to just three places, I think I’d have to say South America as my first choice (yes, all of it!) particularly the Amazon and the Galapagos Islands, followed by Antarctica (if I can find a cure for seasickness) and then maybe the Caribbean as I haven’t been there yet and I’d love to see how the snorkelling compares to the Great Barrier Reef.
7. What 3 things (apart from the essentials – food/water etc) do you always travel with?
I always need something to read, usually my Kindle; a notebook (or recently, my tablet) so I can write on the go and ginger chews (great for feeling queasy on long trips).
8. What makes you happy and why?
Travelling to new places – I love having new experiences, finding the amazing in the ordinary, talking to people from all different places and generally seeing and doing as much as I can while I can.
Spending time with my friends and family – my family and a lot of my friends are still in the UK, so I only usually see them once a year. It’s always so nice to catch up with people, although it’s also sad when you miss out.
Reading a good book – I’ve been a bookworm since I first learnt to read. There’s nothing better than snuggling under a warm duvet on a cold evening with a good book to take you to another world. Maybe that’s partly why I enjoy travelling so much…
9. How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
I’ve loved writing as long as I can remember; mostly poems and short stories. I started my first blog when I moved to China in 2011, mostly to document my adventures and so that my friends and family at home could see what I was up to and what my new life was like.
10. What makes your blog unique and why should people read it?
My site http://www.basedtravelershenzhen.com isn’t really a blog, although it does have a blog-like section titled ‘Chronicles’. BASEDtraveler (BASED stands for Bemusing Adventure Sought Every Day) is all about providing insights, reviews, dictionaries, events, guides, adventures, tips, interesting anecdotes and useful information to people moving to a new country, particularly areas that tourists do not usually visit. Shenzhen is just such a location – a growing community of people who are not Chinese living in a city of 15 million people that a lot of people in the Western world have never heard of! I want to provide the information for newcomers that wasn’t available when I first moved here more than four years ago. And I would love suggestions for what else people would like to see on the site!
From ESLT – thank you for taking the time to answer our questions Rachel. I am very jealous that you have been to San Fransisco eight times, it’s firmly on our list and we need to visit as soon as possible, everyone says it’s such an amazing city. Also, the fact that you have seen the Big 5 is A-MAZ-ING! My best friend went on safari as part of her honeymoon in South Africa, again something I must do! I’m sorry to hear about your few bad days in Seoul, but I’m totally with you, I too would not get an open shower – no one needs to see it! 🙂 I am totally with you on the kindle/book thing, my kindle goes everywhere with me even if I don’t get time to read it!!