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Category Archives:The Nomad Files

Hiking in Seokbulsa, Korea with Eternal Expat

It’s seems like it’s been a few innings between drinks, but today on the Nomad Files we are joined by Laura of Eternal Expat, whose gap year started 6 years ago and just keeps on getting longer.

Thanks for joining us today Laura. Tell me, when did you discover that you were a travel fiend and what was the influencing factor?

I did an exchange semester back in college. I spent five months in Switzerland and met people from all over the world. Together we explored Europe, missed trains, stayed up all night dancing, ate completely new-to-me foods and learned about the history of places I’d never even heard of. I think it was the freedom and independence I felt on the move. My time was entirely my own and I felt so confident, so exhilarated.

Laura Bronner Eternal Expat in Korea

That sounds very similar to my semester exchange in England, it must be a thing. Do you have a particular song/video/poem/quote that particularly inspires you to travel?

Songs always inspire wanderlust in me, especially ones that recall a past trip. If I had to choose just one I would have to be utterly cliche and say “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen. It gets me every time.

Nothing wrong with a bit of Bruce, especially when it’s nostalgic. Laura can you let us in on a secret? What is one discovery you have made through your travels that really felt like ‘the road less travelled’?

When I was living in Korea last year I really fell in love with hiking. Every weekend my boyfriend and I would research a new hike, we’d ask friends for recommendations, we were obsessed with the natural beauty on offer all over the country. My favorite remains this little temple called Seokbulsa. It’s at the top of what felt like hundreds of miles of upward hiking. The signs were all in Korean and we slowly sounded out each one making sure we were on the right path.

The view from the top was spectacular and we had the entire place to ourselves. It was incredibly peaceful, a respite from the crowded cities.

seokbulsa Korea - from the top

Apart from being a great hike, is Seokbula known for anything else?

There are incredibly detailed and intricate Buddhist carvings that have been etched right into the side of the mountain. They are incredibly large, towering over you as you stand in awe of them. The temple itself used to be in the side of the mountain and you can still walk up a shaky metal ladder and peak inside at the space.

Buddhist Monk carvings in the mountain at seokbulsa Korea

What did you do there and why do I want to visit?

The hike that brought us there was scenic and strenuous. If you like hiking, you’ll really enjoy the path as it winds through thick forest, along craggy streams and takes in views of Busan and the ocean.

The temple is truly a sight to behold. The carvings are truly unlike anything I’ve ever seen, it’s like walking into a history museum, but better. It’s peaceful up there, very often unvisited because of the time and effort it takes to get there.

The temple at seokbulsa hiking trail Korea

What took you there and how did you find out about it?

While visiting Busan, I looked up a few different hikes we could do and this was on the list. People talked about what a challenging hiking it was, but promised it would be worth it. We took a cable car up to Geumjeong mountain where the hike begins and followed signs (and stopped to ask for directions a few times, too).

temples in korea

What was the culture like? Did you have much interaction with the locals?

Koreans are avid hikers and I have never hiked a trail where I haven’t met and chatted to at least two or three people along the way. They are so happy when they see visitors exploring their country and they want to help show you the best of what’s around.

Stone carvings at Seokbula Korea

Changing lanes a little now, think of your favourite big city. Can you share with us a tip about this city that you would never find in a travel guide book?

Such a tough one! I feel like my favorite city changes with every new one I visit, but I’ll have to go with Seoul, because I miss it so much right now! Seoul is packed full of history, culture and surprisingly delicious craft beer! If there’s one thing I discovered in the year that I lived there, it’s that they have a booming brewing scene that should not be missed! (I have a post about it if you want to include that.

Wow, I did not expect you to say Seoul has such a thriving craft beer scene! Might have to check it out for myself. Can you recommend any of your favourite travel blogs?

Two blogs that I constantly come back to for their tips and storytelling, their wit and humor and their seriously exciting adventures are This Battered Suitcase and Alex in Wanderland. I’ve been reading them for years and they still manage to captivate me constantly.

Last question, where do you live on the internet and social media for us to all come visit?

I blog over at Eternal Expat and you can find me most often on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!

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Seokbulsa is a beautiful temple near Busan, Korea. It's a beautiful, if strenuous hike to the top, but has magnificent views from the top and is full of ornate carvings all through the rock faces. This is an interview with Laura of Eternal Expat on @backstreetnomad.


Tribes of Bastar, India, with Stéphanie Langlet | The Nomad Files

 

Today on the Nomad Files our guest is someone who I have gotten to know as a blogger quite well in various discussion forums. Stéphanie Langlet is a French travel blogger at Amatu Artea and has a wild passion for India and its people so it comes as no surprise that after her recent trip that is what we’ll be talking about. Well I can’t wait to hear Stéphanie’s story so let’s get into it.

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Monster Park with Tiffany Schureman | The Nomad Files

Today on The Nomad Files I’m proud to present Tiffany of A Girl and Her Passport. Tiffany is an American expat living in Qatar and loves blogging about the culture, history and food she comes across on her travels. Tiffany has a great story and I’m so excited to share her story on a place that I’d never heard of until now.

Hi Tiffany, when did you discover that you were a travel fiendTiffany Schureman A Girl and her passport and what was the influencing factor?

I have been traveling since I was a baby. My parents would take me places and then as I got older my grandparents would take me and my sister on trips. One summer we traveled all over the U.S in the car with the highlight of the trip being Yellowstone National Park. In 2009, I moved briefly to the small island of Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos Islands for a volunteer job and met many expats. This is when I decided to move abroad and work, so I could travel more

Can you let us in on a secret? What is one discovery you have made through your travels that really felt like ‘the road less travelled’?

This summer I went on a road trip through Italy. Driving in Italy for some is probably “the road less travelled” because of the high rate of speed and the sudden moves of Italian drivers. I was visiting some friends of mine in Umbria and they kept telling me they were going to take me to Monster Park.

Being that I like to have no expectations with travel, I decided not to do any research on it beforehand. I wanted it to be a surprise. Wow, was I surprised. Monster Park is just across the river in Lazio. It is a place you won’t find unless someone takes you there or tells you about it. Even then you might not get to go because there is no public transportation to get you there.

Monster Park Italy

Is Monster Park known for anything in particular?

My friends had told me that it was a sculpture park. What they didn’t tell me was that the sculptures were huge and carved out of the natural rock found there. The park contains a collection of strange and some frightening pieces of sculpture. The sculptures have been carved out of rock found in the woods.

An Italian nobleman named Pier Francesco Orsini in memory of his wife, Giulia Farnese, built the garden in the 16th century. The brochure that was given to us states that the architect was Pirro Ligorio, who completed parts of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. However, some online research says that Michelangelo was the architect, and his student’s completed the work. Either way, this is a unique experience and is not to be missed.

Monster Park Italy

What took you there and how did you find out about it? 

My friends! My friends live in a small town in Italy about an hour and a half north of Rome. I met this wonderful couple while I was living in the Turks and Caicos Islands. He is Italian and she is Italian-American. They are retired and enjoying their quiet life in Italy. They were kind enough to host me at their home for three days this summer on my road trip through Italy.

Monster Park Italy

I imagine there isn’t unique foodie culture in the Monster Park itself, but I know there is in Italy. Did you have any stand out meals?

I had one the best meals of my life on this trip to Italy. My friends took me to a place call Il Fontanile, which is in Montecchio, Italy. I had the pork shin, which in Italian is called the Stinco! Not a very appealing name, but it tastes amazing. The pork shin is slow cooked all day with rosemary. It was divine. The meat was very tender and the flavor was rich and fragrant. I want to go back to Italy just to eat this again!

Monster Park Italy

Monster Park really sounds out of the way, how easy do you think it would be visit without the knowledge your local friends?

I don’t speak Italian and understand very little, but thanks to my friend, I was better able to understand things. If I had been in the small towns or Monster Park without him, I might not have gotten so far and might have starved. I couldn’t read any of the menus in the towns we ate in as they do not cater to tourists.

I very much enjoyed seeing what daily life was like in their small town. Each night the older people on their street would bring out plastic chairs into the street and talk for hours. My friends say they talk about the same things all the time and that my visit would probably be talked about for weeks!

Monster Park Italy

Do you have any tips on how to best experience Monster Park?

Rent a car in Italy and go to the small villages and towns. Many villages have castles with their own unique history. The castle in my friends’ town has an amazing fresco on the walls of Saint Francis of Assisi.

Monster Park Italy

Can you recommend any of your favourite travel blogs?

Currently, I am loving The Overseas Escape by Margo and Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes by Kelley.

Last question, where do you live on the internet and social media for us to all come visit?

Website A Girl and Her Passport

Facebook A Girl and Her Passport

Instagram A Girl and Her Passport

Twitter @agirlpassport

Thanks for joining us today Tiffany, and everyone else, make sure you go say hi to her on her blog on one of her social channels. 


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Hiking the Inca Trail with The Aussie Flashpacker | The Nomad Files

Today on the Nomad Files it is my pleasure to introduce to you a fellow Australian travel blogger who has left our shores for cloudy England. Simone has seen a lot of our world and I’m excited to hear what she has in store for us today.

Welcome to The Nomad Files Simone, tell me, when did you discover that you were a travel fiend and what was the influencing factor?

Hiking the Inca Trail Peru
Simone, The Aussie Flashpacker

I was lucky enough to have parents who took us on a lot of holidays when we were growing up! We spent our school holidays on the coast and exploring Australia as a family. Once we were old enough to appreciate it they began taking us to New Zealand for winter holidays that were full of snow, adventure and fun. My favourite was our first trip to New Zealand when we hired a campervan and drove around the whole South Island.

I think the travel bug really began for me though when I was 17 and went on a school Ancient History/Art trip to Italy! I absolutely loved every second of this trip and have been back to Italy three times since and it is still one of my favourite places in the world. Wanderlust runs deep through my veins and I really have my parents to thank for that for taking us on so many adventures throughout our childhood & for awakening my restless spirit!

I have done that road trip through NZ and it is stunning! Is there a particular song/video/poem/quote that particularly inspires you to travel?

I find myself smiling and nodding to myself almost every single time I see a travel inspired quote. My favourite quote is “not all who wander are lost” because to me, travel is the best thing in the world. It is what makes me happy & how I’ve learnt the most about myself and the world. A lot of times travellers are seen as being lost, but we’re not! We’re just doing what we love.

The picture below is a quote from Henry Rollins which I love because I think portrays the importance of travel for young people and just how many important life lessons you can learn from travelling.

HENRY ROLLINS QUOTE

Can you let us in on a secret? What is one discovery you have made through your travels that really felt like ‘the road less travelled’?

One of my favourite trips to date is my trip around South America and my favourite country within that was Peru. It really depends if you consider it the “road less travelled” but whilst Machu Picchu is one of the most popular tourist sites in the world, only 500 people a day can actually hike the Inca Trail.

The four day hike to Machu Picchu was one of best things I have ever done and it honestly did feel like the road less travelled. There were parts of the hike where I walked for hours and did not see a single other person. By the time we reached Machu Picchu it almost felt like a bit of culture shock to arrive after hardly seeing anyone during our four day pilgrimage to suddenly seeing tens of thousands of people who had come by bus and train to visit for the day.

I would recommend hiking the Inca Trail to anyone who is able to do so, it is a tough hike but it is such an incredible experience, and the reward of seeing Machu Picchu for the first time feels all that much sweeter when you finally make it (and makes all the blood, sweat & tears worth it)!

Simone at Machu Picchu, Peru
Simone at Machu Picchu
Inca Trail Path - Peru
The path along the Inca Trail

Apart from icerdible Macchu Picchu at the end, is the Inca Trail known for anything in particular?

Peru is an incredible country, and a lot of people come to hike the Inca Trail to get to Machu Picchu. There is so much that you get to see along the trail that no one else sees because the only way to get to it is by walking! We saw incredible ruins, the most breathtaking scenery and a lot of llamas!

Scenery along the Inca Trail Hike, Peru
Scenery along the Inca Trail hike
Incredible Views along the Inca Trail hike, Peru
Incredible Views along the Inca Trail
Ruins along the Inca Trail hike, Peru
Ruins along the Inca Trail hike

What about Peru in general? How else did you spend your time and why do I want to visit?

Peru is an amazing country and I recommend visiting it for its culture, people, natural beauty & history. I spent four weeks exploring Peru’s cities, villages, countryside and desert. My favourite part was of course the four days we spent hiking through mountains and jungles on the Inca Trail stumbling across beautiful ruins and marvelling at the landscape around us. It was tough physically and mentally, but one of the most incredible things I have done.

Other amazing parts of our trip were visiting Lake Titicaca and the Uros Floating Reed Islands along with the days we spent in the desert Oasis town of Huacachina, and sleeping under the stars in the desert after spending a day sand boarding and dune buggying.

Huacachina, a desert oasis Peru
Huacachina, an actual desert oasis
Sandboarding in the Peruvian desert
Sandboarding in the Peruvian desert
Dune Buggying in Desert Peru
Dune Buggying in Desert

 

Was there anything in particular that really inspired you hike the Inca Trail?

Hiking the Inca Trail and visiting Machu Picchu has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. I have memories of gazing in awe at pictures of the magnificent ruins in the jungle in Peru from when I was a child. Studying Incan and Mayan art and architecture in my High School Art classes only intensified this dream. After finishing University my best friend and I took off on a six month trip around America & South America and it was almost surreal to finally be ticking it off the bucket list!

Machu Picchu
“That photo” of Machu Picchu

Tell me about the food. Was it different to anything you’d experienced before?

After the fairly bland food in Bolivia we were desperate for fruit and vegetables! I was blown away by the incredible food that our porters whipped up for us along the trail! By the time we arrived at our campsite they would have set up a tent for us and we’d be served up three course meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The food was incredible, we had wonderful curries, soups, stir frys, vegetables and desserts! The vegetarian food were actually my favourite. On our last night, our chef cooked us the most wonderful chocolate cake, in a sauce pan over the fire! It was incredible… he could teach western chefs a lot! Unfortunately it was before my blogging days so I don’t have photos of our incredible meals.

What was the Peruvian culture like? Did you have much interaction with the locals through your journey?

I found the Peruvian people very friendly, they have a wonderful culture with a lot of festivals and celebrations occurring regularly. We had a home stay in a Peruvian village a few day after our Inca Trail Hike and it was a wonderful experience to interact with the locals and live with them in their houses. They even dressed us up in their traditional clothing and took us to a party where we danced all night long.

Group Photo with locals on Homestay in Peru
Group Photo with locals on Homestay in Peru
Dressed in Traditional Peruvian Clothing
Dressed in Traditional Peruvian Clothing

 

Beyond the things to visit, do you have any tips on how one might best experience the Inca Trail?

Do you research and find a reputable company who will not only look after you but most importantly looks after its guides and porters. Our porters had a strict weight limit to how much they could carry, all had suitable footwear and decent packs with straps and support.

A lot of companies overload their porters, do not pay them well and don’t even ensure they have decent footwear. The Inca Trail can be dangerous without the right gear, and we are really glad we booked through a reputable company. Without the porters not many people would make it to the end of the trail!

In addition, make sure you prepare adequately. I was at the fittest I’d ever been and still struggled with aspects of the hike which was mostly due to the high altitude!

Group shot with porters on the Inca Trail
Group shot with porters

Changing lanes a little now, think of your favourite big city. Can you share with us a tip about this city that you would never find in a travel guide book?

My favourite city in the world is Rome! My biggest tip would be to explore this amazing city on foot! You could be wandering around heading towards the Colosseum and stumble across the most beautiful fountain, building or ruins. Rome is a city that surprises you at every corner. Take your time, wander the streets, eat, drink and people watch in cafes. I love the Italian culture and the best way to experience Rome is to fully immerse yourself in it, every single way possible!

The backstreets of Rome - Simone's favourite city
The backstreets of Rome – Simone’s favourite city
Rome Italy at sunset
Rome at sunset

Can you recommend any of your favourite travel blogs? (up to 3)

Three of my favouries are Tuula Vintage, Silverspoon London and Y Travel Blog. Tuula Vintage because she literally lives the most incredible life and is always visiting the most wonderful places and is an inspiration. I love Silverspoon London because it features the very best in luxury travel and fine dining and last but not least, Y Travel Blog which is one of my favourite Australian travel blogs. I love the fact that they are show that it is still possible to travel when you have a family!

Last question, where do you live on the internet and social media for us to all come visit?

Blog: http://www.theaussieflashpacker.com/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/theaussieflashpacker

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ausflashpacker

Instagram:  https://instagram.com/theaussieflashpacker/

Thanks for joining us today Simone, such an incredible story with some magnificent pictures. Make sure you visit Simone’s blog for more stories like this. 

I’d love to know if you’ve hiked the Inca Trail, leave a comment below on how your experience was.

 


If you would like to be a part of the Nomad Files, send me an email to nomad@antitravelguides.com, and we’ll get started.


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