This week’s guest post comes from Tanya, travel blogger behind Tanya Travel Tales. She explains ‘I grew up in a ramshackle old house in the middle of a load of fields in rural England. There was basically nothing but sugar beet and cows within a three mile radius. Now I live in Bangkok with nearly 6,500 people per square kilometre and god knows how many noodle carts. Clearly I had a quite extreme reaction to adolescent isolation. I’ve lived here for nearly two years now and am taking every opportunity to explore new parts of Asia and Thailand. As a travel writer, I’m trying to capture the essence and anecdotes from the places we visit on my blog.’
1. What is your name and where do you come from?
My name is Tanya. I’m from a county called Norfolk in the east of England. It’s the kind of place that’s so sleepy and unobtrusive even British people assume it’s a made up place, like ‘Oz’ or ‘Brown Willy’. Oh no, hang on, Brown Willy is a real place in Cornwall.
2. What sort of traveller are you? Full time / part time / business / backpacker etc?
Part time. Me and my husband live in Bangkok but as he is a teacher we head away whenever he’s on holiday to explore new places. We’re mid-range travellers. We backpacked for a year in our early twenties, which was amazing. But living in Bangkok the heat, dirt and chaos can be overwhelming and we enjoy our trips much more now if we have access to air con and our own western toilet. That’s not to say we’ll only travel that way. One of my absolute favourite trips we’ve done in the past year was yurt camping in Mongolia which involved a long drop toilet and no showers. It was great. I mean, not the long drop specifically, but the experience was not spoiled by that.
3. How do you fund your travelling?
As we live in Asia, we find we have a lot more money left over from my husband’s teacher salary for travelling than we did in England. All teachers should try teaching here for a bit!
4. Where is the best place you have ever been and why?
If I was being honest I’d probably say the Robot Café in Tokyo, where, amongst other inexplicable things, we watched a giant mechanical shark battle it out with a giant mechanical cobra under strobe lighting. But since I’m pretending to be cultured and intrepid I am going to go for Churchill on the edge of the Arctic Circle in Canada. An overnight train journey through miles upon miles of boreal forest: miniature Christmas trees encrusted with frost that glittered in the morning sun. All to reach a town full of no-nonsense ex-military types. Polar bears strolled the edges of their town and they slept beneath the ultimate spectacle of the northern lights. We went out on a ‘tundra buggy’ to see the bears in their natural habitat. It was more than ten years ago and the fine details of that experience are still etched in my memory.
5. Where is the worst place you have ever been and why?
Ironically it was en-route to Churchill. A small mining town called Thompson in Manitoba. We had to spend 11 depressing hours there when changing from coach to train. It was utterly freezing and about the only thing to do was go to the Pizza Hut buffet, which we did for around six hours. Surely that’s some kind of record?
6. Do you have a Bucket List? If so where are the 3 top places on it?
Tough. But okay:
- Slovenia. I’m a bit of a wildlife geek and I like birdwatching. I’ve heard Slovenia looks after its environment, has beautiful scenery and is great for spotting wildlife. I want to go real bad.
- Hokkaido, Japan. It’s another wildlife themed one, folks. I saw this documentary filmed there in winter and these gorgeous, outlandish looking sea eagles with fierce orange beaks were hanging out with the Japanese fishermen while fat feathery snowflakes drifted down, and it’s now something I dearly want to see.
- New York! How the hell have I not been to New York.
7. What 3 things (apart from the essentials – food/water etc) do you always travel with?
My camera is always with me (a Nikon D3300). When you’re at a Japanese robot party you need to be able to capture the finer details (although I famously forgot to bring it on a whale watching tour once. My husband likes to remind me of that. Iphones don’t have quite the same shutter speed capabilities). I also bring a notebook and a pen. If I’ve gone to the effort of carrying it I’m more inclined to use it to note my impressions of places. It’s so helpful to refer to when I’m writing up a place on the blog. And my iPod. Music soothes me like nothing else can, and one of my greatest pleasures is settling into a seat at the beginning of a long train journey and losing myself in scenery and song.
8. What makes you happy and why?
Quirky people. Our guest house owner in Churchill was this 70 something powerhouse of a woman who barked rather than talked and gave us an airhorn to scare off polar bears while we were out walking. Presumably she’d never used one herself as the bears would have run screaming at the sight of her. She was so brilliant and we still laugh about it now.
And walking out in nature. Clean, crisp air, beautiful views, leaves whispering in the breeze. I live for that stuff. It can be hard to find in Thailand – it’s so hot, it’s not a country made for walking, and in Bangkok it’s polluted and built up. But around Kanchanaburi, Chiang Mai and Khao Yai you can find it.
9. How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
My first blog was about birdwatching, and I set it up about 7 years ago. It was actually prompted by the death of my grandma. She was a very important person to me. She was a writer herself and she loved birds. I think I started as a way of connecting to her memory. I need to write. I can’t really explain it. So coming here and suddenly having all these new experiences and places to share – I couldn’t not write about it. So I set up Tanya Travel Tales.
10. What makes your blog unique and why should people read it?
I live in Bangkok so I know it better than a lot of travel bloggers. I’m sharing the gems I discover. I mean, the blog can be a bit daft. It’s not so practical. It’s more a love letter to the places I’ve been. But I put a lot of effort into description, bringing places and people to life – I like to think reading it will transport you to those places, and maybe give you the nudge you need to book a visit. I also put a lot of effort into jokes in the hope I can prompt a smile, but I suspect I’m a little less successful at that…
From ESLT – thank you Tanya for taking the time to answer our questions. Safe Travels 🙂