Why I travel
I used to travel a lot, especially between London (where my family is) and New York (where our main office is). It can often be physically and mentally exhausting, so I'm trying to stay more in one place and learning what New York means to me and building a home here (and exploring upstate) with my rescue pup, Forrest. I am learning that travel, and the inspiration it brings, does not have to involve great distances or transports. "Travel" is also an appreciation of what feels new and different, which can involve the everyday and re-discovering places you've already been to.
When I was younger though, wanderlust was life. I was born in Beijing and immigrated to the UK aged five. We didn't have a lot of money when I grew up, so I didn't get the chance to really see the world until I got to College. With two friends, we flew a budget airline to Bratislava and then drove to Prague and Vienna. I'll never forget the giddiness in my stomach as we were pulled over by the police on the highway coming into the Czech Republic (just to check our passports). This first travel memory flashes up every time—when the police flagged me down in Kazakhstan because I didn't turn the headlights, or when the police stopped me from running onto the El Nido airstrip in the Philippines. #travelfails
I love the idea of last minute weekends—St. Petersburg is a great romantic getaway and Tokyo is wonderful for a sorta-long-ish weekend. I like leaving planning as much last minute as possible, seeing what is available on the ground and directed by locals whenever possible. On the plane, I like to read a book set in my destination—Anna Karenina is an obvious (but wonderful!) epic for Moscow and Petersburg or the Quiet American for Saigon.
My travels have taken me to over 80 countries. My favourite memories include solo backpacking around South America (even food poisoning from Bolivian street food was a highlight) and driving overland from Russia to Mongolia through the 'stans. Good local food is essential, I'm also partial to great design, local jewelry, conversations with everyone, nearby mountains and hikes...and as many museums as I can handle But I appreciate the whole spectrum of travel and I've been just as happy in a $5 hostel dorm room on Omepete, as in a honeymoon villa with a private infinity pool on a private island on Lake Malawi. Even if you only have a 5 hour layover, make the most of it.
I first held a DSLR in 2010 when I went to Tanzania on safari — the colours in the Ngorongoro Crater just popped and inspired me to a carry a camera from then on (even if it's just an iPhone). Here are some photos from along the way.