First, we’d like to introduce you to our new favorite couple, Paul and Karen of globalhelpswap. Like all good stories, theirs begins with a dream to travel the world. Unlike those other stories, though, their dream involved traveling from London to Tokyo without ever using a plane… which they DID. I mean. Be cooler, please. Paired with the fact that the main goal of their site is to make volunteering around the world more accessible, and we pretty much want to be Paul and Karen.
Read on and then pop over to Twitter and tell Paul & Karen how cool you think they are. DO IT.
Paul: It is sitting in an Onsen (hot spring) in a remote part of Japan. It was like a fairytale as I sat there by myself watching the red leaves fall all around me, looking up at the mountain ranges and listening to the rushing river below. Nature at it’s best.
Karen: For me it has to be on top of the sand dunes in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. We went there when we were a month into a year long trip and as I stood on top of them watching the sunset I felt truly free. The magical views and that feeling will stay with me forever.
More importantly, favorite meal:
Paul: Without a shadow of a doubt, The Fat Duck restaurant in Bray, UK. Best meal ever that made me feel like a child again.
Karen: This one’s not easy but at a push I’d have to say the Babi Guling – roast suckling pig we had in Bali. My mouth waters every time I think of it. Yummmm
The moment you caught the travel bug:
Paul: On a school ski-ing trip to Romania when I was 13. It was the first time I travelled without my Parents. It was also before the fall of the Berlin Wall so I was visiting the “enemy”. I learnt so much about travel on that trip, especially the fact that people all over the world want the same thing – love.
Karen: It was on my first trip to Asia. I spent a month in Thailand and came back a changed person. All I could think about was long term travel.
First experience traveling alone:
Paul: On my first long haul trip, I travelled to meet a friend in San Francisco. Just being on all these planes at 21 made me feel like an adult for the very first time. A feeling I have been trying to get rid of ever since.
Karen: When I turned 30 I spent a month in Vietnam on my own. It was my way of starting a new decade on an adventurous note.
Ever been (or thought you’ve been) in imminent danger while traveling?:
Paul: When some strange looking man met us at traffic lights in Yekaterinburg, Russia and said he would take us to our hostel. We walked through dark alleys and building sites. It turned out he was the hostel owner!
Karen: Ha, every time I got on local transport in Medan Indonesia I was in very serious danger.
Worst hotel/hostel experience:
Paul: ha ha, see above. The “hostel” was in this guy’s flat which was in a crumbling ex Soviet tower block. Thankfully we were not alone as 2 American girls were also there. The owner would sit around the flat all day in his underpants. Not a good sight first thing in the morning I can assure you.
Karen: It was in Taman Negara, Malaysia. It was 1 in the morning and I woke-up and for some reason I thought I saw a glow worm I excitedly woke Paul up to show – he thought it was the a/c light (which it was) and went to switch on the light. As soon as the light was on I discovered a whole party of 15 cockroaches right next to my face on the pillow. The memory still haunts me.
Best hotel/hostel experience: Silavadee Resort, Koh Samui. We dipped into our luxury budget after a few horror stays and spent 3 days in gorgeous surroundings. We even got an upgrade and had our own jacuzzi on the balcony. Pure bliss.
Favorite family vacation:
Paul: On our big trip, my folks met us in Thailand for 3 weeks. It was the first time they had left Europe and we had an amazing time together. Seeing their faces light up on Ko Ngai on Christmas Eve was magical. Since then, they have not stopped travelling! Just shows you that it’s never too late to get the travel bug!
Karen: My seven aunts and uncles flew from all over the world and we all met in South Africa to celebrate my Nan’s 80’th birthday.
Must-have packing item:
Paul: My new mini ipad. All those books and music that help on long journeys!
Karen: Anti-nausea tablets.
Most unbelievable travel experience: Swimming with whale sharks in the Philippines. THIS is the only answer we both agreed on straight away.
Favorite “I can’t believe I’m doing this” moment:
Paul: Sleeping in a cave in the oldest rain forest in the world in Malaysia. Our sleeping companions were bats, ants the size of your thumb and at one point a jungle cat! Amazing.
Karen: Diving with sharks at night on the barrier reef.
Place you can’t wait to return to:
Place you can’t be paid to return to: Medan Indonesia. See Lonely Planet’s description to find out why!
Any exciting trips coming up?: 3 month stint in Central or South America. We’re still trying to decide on the countries and area.
Paul: Antarctica. Seeing nature in it’s purest form.
Karen: 3 months in a caravan going round New Zealand with a stop in the Cook Islands on the way.
Favorite tourist attraction:
Paul: The houses of Parliament, London. Even though it’s in my city, I still love seeing them and it reminds me to be a tourist in my own city from time to time.
Karen: Blue Lagoon, Iceland.
Favorite “I’m trying not to look like a tourist” attraction:
Paul: Anytime I get on a new metro system in a big city. Trying to decipher the map quickly and discreetly in nigh on impossible.
Karen: With my guide in one hand, a map in the other and a ‘help I’m lost’ look on my face it’s pretty much impossible to not look like a tourist.
Favorite travel photo:
Karen: This has to be the same answer as the first question.
For me it has to be on top of the sand dunes in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. We went there when we were a month into a year long trip and as I stood on top of them watching the sunset I felt truly free. The magical views and that feeling will stay with me forever.
Wanna be a jetsetter? E-mail us! the lazy travelers at gmail dot com.
the romantic & the wino