Tara is a young architect who has been studying, working, volunteer and traveling between America, Europe and Asia. This fearless blogger told Hostelsclub about her last years of adventures, keep reading for the full interview of Hostelsclub with Tara! :)
1 - Hi Tara! Tell us a bit about yourself: when did you start traveling and why?
I traveled with my family while growing up, we went to Europe every year for Christmas to see family, so it wasnt such a big deal for me to get on a flight and be in new environments. But I think travel really grew on me from studying architecture, where I learned more about historical structures and their importance, which made me want to see them in person. I began traveling on my own after completing my second year of university when I had saved enough to visit the major cities of Europe. Once I did that (on my own) I realized how easy it was, and a whole new world was opened up for me. I was addicted to learning about different places and people and their customs, I wanted to go everywhere and see everything and meet everyone along the way haha.
2 - How did the idea of the blog came up?
My blog started the first time I bought a one way ticket to Asia (have done many times since). Because it was open ended, I wanted to keep my friends and family in the loop of how it was going and it became a good record for myself later on. Since that trip, I have kept moving around and living in various places, so I just kept it going. I did live back in Canada for about a year and although I didnt blog much at the time, I really regret it because it was definitely one of the oddest experiences of my life yet.... and that says a lot! I just didnt consider Canada as something people would want to hear about, but now I know better!
3 - In your blog you mentioned you already had some crazy experiences while traveling, can you name some?
I seem to just be in the right place at the right time, rather than try to plan crazy experiences, for me they are life choices at the time... when I was in the desert for 3 weeks, I had no other home to go back to, that was it. So everything I do, I am all in. Other random events that I've gotten into would be camping on the Great Wall of China (coldest night of my life), being in a Bollywood soap opera and recognized on the street, and of course running with the bulls in Spain.
4 - Can you tell us more about those experiences you mentioned before?
I don't think you are supposed to camp on the Great Wall, but I met some people who were going to try it, one guy knew how to speak Mandarin, so I joined these 5 American the day before. It was just one night, we took a bus to the middle of nowhere and asked a guy to borrow some tarps, brought some food and Bijo, and walked a few hours up until we were on the ruins of a remote location of the wall, then hiked back down the next day, I'll never forget how cold it was but would definitely do it again!
The Bollywood soap opera also happened by accident, my friend wanted to be on TV so he signed us all up to be extras, but they didn't need us, so a week later I got a call that they just want me for a day. I got there, and they handed me 10 pages of lines in Marathi, (I had been learning Hindi, but this language was totally new to me) and they dressed me up as a nun. I was hoping to be in the background somewhere, but I had about 20 scenes with just the main character, and am a terrible actor so it took me an extra day. I never wore so much make up in my life, nor had spicier food! I was in about 6 episodes and didn't know if I would ever see the result, but a few weeks later I was walking around my local market and people were pointing at me and a girl came and asked it if was me, so I went online and checked it out. It was on Youtube for a while but I think its gone now :(
The running of the bulls, I was supposed to go with a friend to watch, but she bailed at the last minute and I decided to go on my own, I met some people on the bus that were running so I held their stuff and waited by the side lines. There was a big rush of people and noise so I thought the bulls went by and I went out onto the street to walk towards the arena, then everyone started screaming as the bulls were actually coming now! Luckily I wasn't far from the arena and made it in time, but I didn't mean to run with them! It turned out to be a messy run with lots of injuries that day too, so I wouldn't recommend it. It was very exhilarating, even just watching in the arena, but also very sad for the bulls, so I don't think I will go back.
5 - In how many countries have you already lived?
I grew up and studied my undergraduate in Toronto, Canada, during my university summers, I found jobs in Dublin one year and Calgary the next and the south of Spain after that. Then moved out to British Colombia, Canada after graduating, working in Vancouver and Victoria, both for a year. After that I moved to Barcelona for a year to study a masters program, then volunteered in India and San Francisco both for 3 months, funding it by working in Switzerland for the ski seasons. After that I got a job in Cambodia so moved there, and have recently just left with no idea where I will be moving next.... been on the road 5 months now :)
6 - From all of those countries, can you pick a favorite?
That's really difficult, I liked them all in different ways, probably San Francisco the least because it was too familiar and the weather wasnt what I expected, and it is more fun with a car but thats not the lifestyle I would like. India was an intense experience, and like most travel, better in hindsight, haha.... the culture is so much more diverse than i ever knew and yet everyone was so welcoming no matter how poor, I really cant wait to go back! Cambodia is a great place for expats, with a high quality of life but unfortunately not so easy to integrate as I would normally like because of economical and language barriers, but will definitely open your eyes and I recommend everyone to go. Europe is easy and rich in history and architecture, so I love it everywhere, my favourite cities are Barcelona and Dublin, mostly because they are pedestrian friendly and full of art and life. Spain is probably my favourite in general, just because I like being able to speak another language, fresh food everywhere and just the laid back lifestyle. It is the complete opposite to Switzerland, which I enjoy for other reasons, but I never lived in a Swiss city, only the mountains, which is amazing just for the scenery alone, and once you crack the people, they will fully embrace you. Canada will always be with me though, and I love going back, I try to go every summer to make some trips in the national parks and visit friends. Everywhere I go has its own personality and living in a place definitely gives you a better sense of the people, and at the same time teaches you a bit more about yourself, how you adapt in these different environments which I always find surprising.
7 - In some countries there's still some prejudice regarding hostels: that they are dirty or unsafe...what's your opinion? Do you stay in hostels during your trips?
I used to stay in hostels a lot while backpacking around Europe and back then a lot of them were kind of crusty. However now I have noticed that things have changed and there are a lot of chain hostels that seem much more customer service oriented that have more amenities and higher standards. I have been staying more in guesthouses in Asia lately so don't do much hostelling, but I do like to meet new people and hostels usually have good parties, haha... so if I can get a private room then I would prefer to be in a communal travel environment like a hostel!