Jul 06 2015. view 460
A youth and community worker with a passion for people, Aradhana recently left her work in England to embark on a 2 year adventure of cultures and countries that she has long awaited to explore. Volunteering and working along the way she hopes to put together a compendium of people’s stories and insights into these worlds.
Why do you love to travel?
Aside from travelling being the most exciting, energising thing in life? I love talking to people and learning about different cultures, foods, habits and rituals. I have never found a better way to do this then to immerse yourself in another culture, meet the locals, play the local games spend some time with a family on their day off - even if just to cook, eat and relax. In addition to this, the world offers amazing structures, breathtaking views, and geographical wonders, and who could possibly fail to appreciate these? All of this never fails to humble me, teach me and gives me a sense of perspective of the world whilst having some good times and stories to tell along the way!
Your favourite travel destination and why?
Tough question. For a city break, I love Athens. The outdoor restaurants scattered up stairwells and the view from the Parthenon over the brightly lit city at night is unbeatable (so far!). The Greek people I have met with their passionate, expressive discussions and debates demonstrates to me the love they have for their history, their country and for good conversation! For a longer stretch however, I have to say that I am currently falling in love with Sri Lanka, and can very quickly see it being a place I shall stay for far longer than I imagined. The people here are beautiful in their generosity with time and consideration, accepting you very quickly into their lives. There is also enough diversity across the country that I can have a beach break, a city break, enjoy the hill country or explore the seas whilst diving. Perhaps if I take up snowboarding, I may have to leave!
What do you need for a perfect holiday?
For my perfect holiday I need a good book and good company, everything else is just part of the adventure.
In which country have you felt most at home?
There are too many! My Twitter account is actually girlhasmanyhom5 to reflect this! For me it is all about the people that make you feel at home. So… India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bali, Scotland and Greece to name but a few.
Most unusual souvenir you have brought home?
In my late teens I went travelling to several countries and in my youthful infinite wisdom I thought it was a great idea to collect a newspaper from every country that I went to. I am not really sure why! I carried them around for months – then shipped them home by boat when they got too heavy. Not quite a souvenir but definitely the most unusual thing I have decided to take home!
Worst holiday or travel experience?
For me there is an occasional annoyance of meeting travellers who have a list of countries as long as their arm of places they have travelled to, an impressive list and enviable! When they talk however it becomes very apparent that they have never met the locals or tried to understand the culture. It feels like an evening of talking to them very quickly becomes a game of travel trumps! This always astounds me when I come across it, and always provides a bad experience. Other than that – food poisoning in Thailand provided a miserable few days!
Best piece of travel advice?
Take a sarong everywhere with you! Especially for the girls and travelling in Asia. It will be your beach towel, your sarong, your blanket to cover yourself over on night trains to prevent getting hassled. It will cover your shoulders for temples, a towel if you are really stuck and you can even get away with it for an evening beach dress! I have not yet had a more useful piece of travel clothing.
Your top five travel destinations?
Greece, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Maldives and Amsterdam.
What has travel taught you?
Is there time for a miniature essay here? Travel has taught me to be humble and be kind. It has taken my faith (non-religious) as well as restored it. I have regained my confidence and independence through it whilst learning about people – lots! Mostly though, it has always reminded me that anything is possible… to go anywhere, to see anything, to metaphorically and literally expand your horizons.
Which country did you taste the best ever cuisine?
I had a great meal in an African restaurant in the Maldives – does that count? Traditional African food I was assured, and absolutely delicious.
Next travel destination?
Nepal to volunteer.
By Tina Edward Gunawardhana