Today I bring you an awesome interview with Lithuanian born Milda, who has travelled far and wide, even from her childhood days. Milda has her own website and also works as a travel community manager for the excellent Asia Rooms website.
Who are you?
I am a Travel Community Manager at Asiarooms.com and during my free time I am a freelance travel writer, photographer and a starting filmmaker.
Where are you from?
I am originally from Lithuania.
Where have you been?
My travels started when I was a kid. I spent my summers in Kenya and winters in Egypt with family. After graduating from high-school I moved to the UK and started to explore Europe. I also spent a summer in the USA (California, Colorado and New York) and moved to China in 2008 where I was based in Wuhan and travelled more or less across the whole country. Since 2011, I have been based in Singapore and have been discovering Asia Pacific. So far I’ve been to Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Australia.
Where are you now?
I’m currently based in Singapore.
What are the top 3 places you’ve visited?
That’s a tough question. Each of the places I have visited is special in its very own ways. I guess the three most outstanding ones would be:
Myanmar, because of its untouched beauty and friendly people who were proudly sharing stories about their country.
Japan, because of its amazing nature and culture. The countryside was full of greenery, the famous cherry blossom, turquoise lakes and mountains with peaks still covered in snow. Also, I loved the old Japanese architecture, the charisma of Tokyo, fresh sushi and the “weird” things (at least weird for me as a Lithuanian), such as the variety of Kit Kat flavours, washlets and vending machines selling everything and anything from drinks to eggs, from condoms to panties.
Kenya, because it was my first experience in a completely different world to the one I used to live in. It was summers spent amongst a very different culture with people, who were still hunting for food and living in houses build from cows shit. It was also an amazing feeling to be right in the middle of nature’s circle and watch the wild animals hunt, feed, migrate. Kenya also had the most amazing sunsets I have ever seen.
What is the best travel experience you’ve had?
My best travel experience would be my backpacking trip to Guilin in China with my Dad. We went to Longsheng for the weekend where we stayed with a local family in their tiny house built of bamboo. It was amazing to experience everyday life of Yao people. We woke up early in the mornings to go rice picking. Afterwards our host family cooked us up a feast! My favourite dish is still bamboo rice! A must try if you ever go there! In the afternoons we went hiking and in the evenings we listened to Yao legends and stories and in return taught them about our country.
What is the worst travel experience you’ve had?
Being sick in Myanmar! I got severe food poisoning in Bagan just before we had to board a 9 hour bus trip to Yangon. I managed it quite well, but it definitely spoilt the trip.
What is the funniest travel experience you’ve had?
I can’t really decide whether it’s a more funny or scary one:) Few years ago, my boyfriend and I went to Sri Lanka for a romantic weekend getaway. I found this amazing family run place in the middle of nowhere near Bentota Beach. The place was absolutely beautiful and felt very much like home: little houses with straw roofs, home cooked meals, dogs running around and just two more people apart from us. In the evening we went for a stroll around the area. The local villagers were very friendly waving at us and saying hi. We noticed one weird thing. The lamp posts and trees along the road were all covered in black and white photos of people with dates underneath them. As a joke, my boyfriend said that these may be missing people. It was creepy. That evening we went to bed early. I woke up at 2am from the sounds of the heavy rain and a howling dog who was banging against our thin wooden door to get in. The wind was cracking the window shutters. Of course the idea of “missing people” and what happened to them came to my head. I was so freaked out that I made an entire plan on our escape through an open roof bathroom. Hiding in the wardrobe was also considered an option. Up to today my boyfriend makes fun of me and my detective stories.
What is the scariest travel experience you’ve had?
It would definitely be camping at the Masai Mara Nature Reservoir in Kenya. One night after a bonfire everyone headed back to their tents. Each tent had a huge bright yellow lamp outside of the front entrance. I asked the local guide for the reason behind it and he said that elephants are scared of light so the lamps keep them from crossing through the camp and crushing the tents with people in them. That is all he needed to say. I could not fall asleep and kept on checking whether the light was still on. Then I snoozed off for few minutes and woke up to my worst nightmare- the light was off. I could hear the elephants around the camp, but I was too scared to step outside and go to my parent’s tent across the field. Also, I didn’t want to leave my brother alone, who refused to wake up for such a “silly” reason. I spent the whole night sitting in bed, shivering, weak in my knees, heart pounding and thinking of all possible scenarios of being crushed by an elephant.
What is the most random job you have had on your travels?
It would probably be modeling in Hong Kong. I was travelling back from Thailand to Wuhan via Shenzhen Airport. Unfortunately, that day it snowed heavily so China closed most of its airports. It was also Chinese New Year season, so there was no way to get a ticket for at least a few weeks ahead. Luckily, back then I worked for Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts in Asia and they kindly offered me to stay in their hotel in Hong Kong until all the madness was over. One night I was wandering around Ladies Market in Tsim Sha Tsui when I was approached by a local guy who introduced himself as photographer for an expat lifestyle magazine and asked if he could take a few photos of me. Since I had nothing to do anyways, I agreed. It wasn’t a paid job, but I got some goodies, discounts and a lovely dinner. Few months later my friend in Hong Kong told me I was on a billboard near Tsim Sha Tsui. Shame I never got to take a photo of it!
How do you fund your travels?
I have a permanent job which makes it easier to save up. But I do spend all my savings on traveling. I have been sleeping on a tiny mattress in my flat since I moved in 2 months ago, should probably save up for a proper bed at some point!
What 3 tips would you give a new traveller before they set off on their adventure?
Be open. I came across a lot of travellers who kept on saying “Oh, it’s not what we are used to” or “How can these people live like that” or “It’s so dirty I don’t even want to step in there”. Then you should probably just stay at home. Go with an open mind and open heart, embrace the opportunity to explore, discover and learn about cultures you’ve never heard of and places you’ve never seen. That’s what’s most amazing about travelling!
Be organised. Yes, while it’s fun to go with the flow and just wander around and see what comes up next, I’ve learnt that sometimes this can also cause you to miss out on some awesome stuff if you fail to book in advance or check the routes or get your visa on time or don’t check the climate and get there during the worst weather season.
Capture the moments. While all your travel experiences will always stay in your memory, there are some great ones that will be forgotten. There is nothing better than flicking through your photos, notes or watching your videos to recover the most amazing moments of your travels. It will also serve as a great inheritance to the next generations who in 10 years’ time may not be able to see the places the way you saw them.
What are your future travel plans?
I am heading to South Korea in October to reunite with some friends from China. Also have Bali and Thailand scheduled for work and Vietnam for a backpacking trip. Then it will be Lithuania and perhaps Scotland for white Christmas with family.
Milda is a Travel Community Manager @ AsiaRooms.com. Born in Lithuania, studied in the UK, traveled around Asia and taught in Africa. Now residing in Singapore, she is wandering around Asia blogging about her travels. Her free time is dedicated to yoga (anytime and anywhere) and capturing her best moments in photos and films! You can follow her wanders at www.mildaratkelyte.com.
Thanks to Milda from Asia Rooms for being the latest in my series of World Travellers! If you travel the world and run a travel blog or are a travel writer, please get in touch, you can be featured (there’s a HUGE waiting list at present), either e-mail jonny (at) dontstopliving (dot) net or head to my contacts page and get connected! You can also subscribe to Don’t Stop Living by filling in the form below! Safe travels!