"Sailed not as a seaman, but as a traveler..."

"Sailed not as a seaman, but as a traveler..."- Sir Thomas More's Utopia

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wanderlust Wednesday [3]

Here is yet another well-worn traveler, Danielle. Be sure to check out her awesome photography on her Flickr account. I hope you enjoy her stories as much as I did, making your hump day a happy one!

Name – Danielle Koffler

In Qingdao, China

Site – Wake Up and Dance, http://www.wakeupanddance.com/

Occupation – I am an uncertified English teacher in Korea. I get paid well, don’t have to pay rent, and get to live abroad. Living the dream!

Birthplace – I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Although I am an Angeleno by birth, I feel more at home in Colorado, where I went to university.

Current Location – Seoul, South Korea

Black Tip Reef Sharks off the coast of Koh Tao, Thailand

Trips Made – I traveled around the world on Semester at Sea in 2006. I was fortunate enough to visit Japan, China, Vietnam, Burma, India, Egypt, Turkey, Croatia, and Spain during my three months on the MV Explorer. After graduating from university, I moved to Thailand to teach English for a while and then backpacked solo around Asia for four months. I visited Nepal, South Korea, China, Tibet, Laos, and Cambodia during that time. After going back to the states for a few months, I found myself back in Thailand on the island of Koh Tao working in eco-tourism. (Side note: In elementary school I traveledto Argentina, Chile, and Brazil and in high school I traveled to England, France and Spain.)

Trips on the List – Mongolia! Mongolia is at the very top of my list. I hope to go there with my boyfriend/travel buddy after we are done teaching English and saving money in South Korea. In the more immediate future, I plan to take a trip to Japan in the summer and go back to Nepal in the fall. I would also like to head back to Thailand and do some rock climbing in Railay.

A logging village in Burma

Featured trip – The most epic five days of my life were spent traveling in Burma aka Myanmar in 2006. The trip is still hard for me to sum up so many years later. There were so many little things that made it incredible and such a departure from what I’d ever experienced before. The buses were all made before the 1980s and broke down every couple hours. The guides we had hired in one city turned out to be thieves who decided not to steal from us because we had treated them to so much beer and food. The fresh squeezed passion fruit juice enjoyed while sitting on the deck of a teak guesthouse looking out on lush green rice paddies as far as the eye could see. Dinners outside in the dark to prevent accidental bug consumption because they flocked to the lights. Trekking barefoot through sticky mud and elephant dung in the jungle next to a remote logging village. Watching endangered teak trees be chopped down, then dragged through the forest by elephants that were allowed to roam free when they weren’t working. Riding elephants through the jungle bareback. Peeing in a tree-house squatter toilet. Terrifying military checkpoints and riding in a Burmese motorcycle pack on non-existent roads through mud. River crossings with motorbikes atop sinking bamboo rafts. And having discussions about Burmese politics deep within the jungle, where no spies could overhear our talks and take our new friends into custody.

Teach, learn, share – Travel solo! I think everyone should have at least one adventure solo. It is so important! When you travel by yourself you are forced to really find out everything about yourself. Traveling alone is also the first time that many people are able to do exactly what they want when they want without anybody putting their two cents in and changing their mind. Before you “settle down,” travel solo! I guarantee you will learn new things about yourself and the world.

Rice paddies in Champasak, Laos

Worst Hotel – I was traveling through Cambodia and arrived in Siem Reap at midnight on one of those terrible tourist buses they seem to force backpackers onto. They unloaded the entire bus at some new looking cheap hotel that I’m sure gave the bus driver a huge commission, and after so many hours on the bus I didn’t feel like schlepping my backpack around town in the dark looking for a better place to stay. My new travel friend and I decided that the accommodations were acceptable enough, until we had both showered and noticed that there were little things jumping on the bed. Both beds were infested with fleas. I travel light, but I carry a few different types of bug spray in my pack, one of which is specifically for this situation. I sprayed my silk sleep sack with it and my sheets and did the same for my friend. When we woke up the next morning, there was an outline of dead fleas around each of us. It was disgusting and disturbing to say the least. I will never backpack without that spray.

Do you have any tattoos? – I am tattoo-free!