Become a travel blogger in her twenties and have set foot in many beautiful countries on the planet, Alexis Toh’s journeys get a lot of attention from travel community around the world. Wanderlust Tips had an interview with this inspiring girl to better understand her life as a travel blogger.
What motivates you to quit your job in the accounting field to become a travel blogger?
As an auditor, I am always examining numbers because I have to piece the numbers together to tell a complete “story” for the company which I have audited. However, this is not the story which I like telling. I’ve always been interested in history, literature, and photography. During my audit days, I always felt the adventurous side of me yearning to break free from the desk-bound, routine job.
So, I left the accounting industry to travel the world – to learn about the countries’ culture and history so that I can recount my experiences, and re-tell the stories in my own words. At the same time, I tried mastering my photography skills as well. I travelled frequently with my parents from a very yong age, and started picking up photography skills when they gifted me my very first camera during my primary school days. The passion and my undying love for photography and travelling motivated me to quit my job eventually, to become a travel blogger.
During many years of travel, would you mind sharing with us the destinations you have travelled in the world? What are your reasons and criteria for choosing destination? Because of its famousness, natural beauty or cultural richness? Where do you love and want to come back the most?
I started travelling solo at the age of twenty and have been to many parts of Europe, Oceania, and Asia. How I select the destination depends on my agenda for that particular trip. Seoul, Taipei, and Bangkok are cities which I frequent with my girlfriends for shopping sprees. I will choose the Scandinavian countries, Iceland in particular, if I want to immerse myself in nature. Sometimes, I’m looking for some adrenaline rush, and Queenstown in New Zealand is my top favourite city to head to. For a restful and relaxing trip, I will look for cities or even islands with beautiful beaches. I do travel in search of delicious food too, and for now, Vietnam has topped my foodie list.
It’s so tough for me to choose just one place I love and want to return to the most, so here are my top three destinations – Vietnam, Iceland, and Germany.
You must have a lot of unforgettable memories during your trips. Could you share some of your most impressive ones with readers?
One of the most unforgettable memories was created in Bergen, Norway. The hostess of the Airbnb which I stayed in was extremely welcoming, and took me for my very first hike of my life. I surprised myself as it only took us 30 minutes to ascend approximately 722 steps to get to the top of Stoltzekleiven! Although I was out of breath, the higher I went, the better the view, and this was what pushed me on to the peak. From the top of Stoltzekleiven, at an elevation of 313 meters, you get a gorgeous panoramic view of Sandviken and Byfjorden. I enjoyed the scenery so much while waiting for the sunset.
The other unforgettable experience was during my visit to a safari in Kanchanaburi where rescued animals are cared for, sheltered, and fed. The caretaker accompanied me into the enclosures of lion cubs, leopard cubs, and tiger cubs. She taught me how to feed them and play with them. To be honest, I was so afraid of being attacked, but the cubs were so lovable and harmless – my heart melted. Despite the fun I had with the animals, my heart was broken upon hearing about their tragic pasts and how they came about to being rescued.
As a girl, have you ever faced any difficulties when travelling around the world?
Sometimes, especially at night, I would feel afraid and lonely, but I’ll get over these feelings quickly. Other times, I wish I had my loved ones around to share special experiences with. I guess the hardest part about traveling solo is not the traveling at all; it is coming home that’s difficult, especially when I’ve fallen in love with a destination.
I’ve encountered some unfortunate events last year when I was traveling solo around Europe. In Berlin, some men who posed as police officers accused me of not having a valid transport ticket (though I purchased the ticket exactly 2 minutes ago). It was during the morning peak hour, and they made me get off the train at the next stop, demanded I pay them 100 Euros, or they wouldn’t let me go. I was afraid, and didn’t mind paying them just to get away. But, I was more disappointed that no one stood up for me even though the train and the platform were crowded.
The other unfortunate event occured in Madrid. I was on the metro, and my bag was already placed in front of me. However, this guy was trying to cut a hole in my bag. Thankfully, an American tourist was quick enough and I didn’t lose anything. I guess being a solo female traveller puts me at a larger disadvantage as compared to solo male travellers.
Your Instagram has a lot of food photos, where is the place you want to come back to enjoy the delicious food?
Well, Singapore already has a plethora of delectable food to choose from. However, there are still places which I want to go back to, after savouring the local delicacies. I fell with love with Vietnamese food and Thai cuisine. Perhaps, you will be seeing me more frequently in Vietnam and Thailand.
Besides working as a travel blogger, you also write books. Would you mind introducing a little about “Eat, Muse, Love”?
“Eat, Muse, Love” is a food book written by my mother and I. My mother is in her 70s and has retired, but she, as a senior citizen, is actively helping Singapore to promote “active ageing”. She hopes to encourage senior citizens to continue to be active in pursuing their dreams.
The book is made up of three components:
• Eat: Food is a necessity in life, so why not make it enjoyable? Singapore is just a tiny dot but we have so much to offer. Thought the dishes featured, we are bringing you back to those days of savouring simple, local, unpretentious delights at an affordable price.
• Muse: Additionally, you’ll be able to learn Chinese proverbs and idioms through meaningful life philosophy and my mother’s life experiences while ticking these foodie places off your ‘where to eat’ list.
• Love: We hope that everyone will enjoy eating while sharing past, present, and future muses, and of course, love your life, family, and friends.
I’m also the food photographer for all the pictures produced in this book.
Do you think travel blogger is an easy job? Have you ever thought about giving up becoming a travel blogger?
It is not easy being a solo female travel blogger. I have to handle every aspect of my business, from photography to social media management to content creation to being in charge of the sales to accounting for expenses, to doing lots of research before embarking on trips, and others. Sometimes, I really am amazed at how I manage to juggle all these alone.
It can also be dangerous overseas, but I have never thought of giving up because I love taking up challenges. I’m just a tiny person living in a big world, and there are too many places to explore. I’m not giving up travelling!
As a Singaporean, could you recommend the best things to do in Singapore for Wanderlust Tips’ readers?
If you are looking for a relaxing trip, you can take a stroll at Gardens by the Bay. Pop by the Flower Dome, and be awed by the world’s tallest indoor waterfall at 35 metres at the Cloud Forest. Swimming at the infinity pool at Marina Bay Sands hotel is also another relaxing activity.
Foodies should not miss out on trying Singapore’s famous Chill Crab and Black Pepper Crab. The Katong and Joo Chiat area is also a great place for foodies, and I’m pretty sure you will be intrigued by the architecture of the conservation shop houses. This is where you can get a peek into what Singapore used to be like.
Have you ever been to Vietnam? Or intend to travel to Vietnam?
Yes, I have just visited Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh, Da Nang and Hanoi) last November, and fell in love with the culture and the food. The UNESCO heritage town of Hoi An is my favourite place! I have already planned to travel to Sa Pa, Ban Gioc Waterfall, Da Nang, and Hanoi again next year.
Are you preparing for your next trip? Where will it be?
In 2018, I am planning to visit more exotic places such as Mongolia, Xinjiang, and Tibet. I would love to explore Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar too.
Thank you very much for your interesting sharing. Wish you good health, peace, love and success in your life.
Thu Hoai | Wanderlust Tips | Cinet