Boarding Pass – Kristine

Most of the time, the people featured in Boarding Pass don’t travel for a living, they just live to travel. But today is a different story – Kristine of Where is Kristine Now? works in international relations and, hence, finds herself traveling more often than not. Originally from Norway, Kristine now finds herself calling Belize home, but she got there by way of Laos and Indonesia. Read on for a taste of her travels, and don’t miss her blog to hear more about her fascinating adventures in everyday life abroad. {Thanks, Kristine!}
last trip taken:
I travel a lot for work, but my last trip for fun was to Guatemala. I went to Tikal, and then spent a week in Antigua for the Semana Santa processions…with a few side trips to Chichicastenango market and lake Atitlan. It was fantastic. I had a feeling I’d love Guatemala, but I just had no idea how much. It is so beautiful, and the people are an absolute delight.
{Guatemala has a terrible violence and gun problem. It is not safe at all, statistically. And yet, travelling there, this is so hard to understand; people are so incredibly helpful and kind. This is what travel does, I think – helps you see behind the stereotypes and the statistics.}

next trip on deck:
It looks like I might take a bit of time this summer to get acquainted with the Yucatan peninsula. In particular, I’d love to see Merida. I hear it is lovely. I am hoping to get a chance to do a Spanish immersion course there too.

one place you would go back to again and again:
No hesitation: Brazil. The first time I left Brazil I was in tears. The second time I left Brazil I told myself it was all OK, because I knew I’d be back. Again and again and again. I love Brazil, and Brazilian people. It’s a real infatuation. My (somewhat loose) plan is to buy a holiday home there. I find the perfect one online from time to time, but invariably, it’s out of my budget. And Warren Buffet’s budget, probably. So I’ll have to work on the whole ‘expectations’ thing.
{Burma has a very special place in my heart. I campaigned on it, wrote my thesis on it, was about to go and work there when the protests broke out…I am sure it will pop up on my horizon again.}

place you’d most likely recommend a friend go visit:
Two places. One is my own country, Norway. I’ve travelled a fair amount, but I still think the natural beauty of Norway is very, very hard to beat. The downside is its very expensive, so I recommend it mainly if you are a) loaded or b) really into camping. To be honest I have yet to see most of my own country – isn’t that always the way?? The second place is Indonesia, where I lived for two years. Indonesia has an intimidating reputation to some, but this is unfair: it is one of the most incredible places I’ve ever been, and I have never felt remotely unsafe there. Backpackers should get off the Thailand track a little more and head south (and not just to Bali! Try Sumatra, Sulawesi, Java, Lombok, Sumbawa….there are 17,000 islands to chose from!); its
like the rebel of South East Asia, the slightly less sophisticated but more genuine cousin. People are phenomenally friendly, so interested in engaging with foreigners, and everyone says “hello Mister”. As a woman I find this amusing.
{on a longboat on Inle lake, Burma / the slow boat to Luang Prabang, Laos}

preferred method of transportation:
Well, anything gets uncomfortable after a few hours, but I’ve had some amazing river trips in South East Asia. So maybe boat??

place you’ve never been but dying to go:
Southern Africa. And I’d love to have a few months to try and fumble my way around China.
place you’d never go back: Dubai has little appeal to me. Skiing indoors, in the desert? No.
{Kids are wonderful subjects anywhere, but I have never met more enthusiastic ones than in Indonesia. This photo, taken in a jakarta kampung, is one of my very favourite pictures. There is nothing technically interesting about it, but their expressions are just priceless.}

most memorable trip:
I spent about 6 months travelling around South America a few years back, experiencing so many
wonderful things, from snorkelling with sea lions in the Galapagos, to hiking the Inca trail, to Spanish classes in Quito and an internship in La Paz, to partying in Rio and Buenos Aires and wine tasting in Mendoza. The biggest challenge I had to face in those 6 months was bikini shopping in Brazil; that was a profoundly disturbing experience.

how do you prepare for a trip?
I used to read a ton. These days I must admit I tend to be woefully unprepared. I find I like to read up on places after I’ve been there…when I can associate it with something. This said, I absolutely love maps. I can pore over maps for hours. I also find other people’s photography fantastic inspiration before going on trips – I spend hours on flickr.

how do you record your travels when you’re travelling?
I take photographs.

{this is one of my most viewed photos on flickr. This old lady has a whole life ‘s worth of experience written in the lines on her face.}

what is your favorite thing to photograph in a new place?
It depends where. The people of Indonesia are an absolute joy to photograph. Old grandmothers literally chased me down the street shouting “mister, mister, photo?” and little kids go completely nuts. Beyond people, I love big bursts of colour. Markets tend to be good for that.

{Market vendors the world over think I am insane. I like to take pictures of their vegetables.}

on an average, how many pictures to you take on a trip?
I think in my ten days in Guatemala I took about 350. I am not sure if that is typical.

what’s in your “designer travel kit” ?
Um, does a cork screw count? And my camera, of course, a Canon EOS400D. I am not a good photographer. I like photography, but I am terribly lazy about technique. Anything I do that comes out reasonibly well tends to be complete fluke. I am determined to sit down and teach myself more, but I am bored by instructions…

{This is my friend Rose and me at the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. I think it looks like we are sitting in heaven. I have a large framed version of this at home. It is such a great memory.}

what do you do after a trip? how long after a trip does this happen?
I love to sit and play around with my photos after I come home. I do put pictures on flickr and on my blog, but mainly I just sit and look at slideshows over and over again!

what are your thoughts on expat life as compared with travel?
Being a “professional expat” can be challenging. I am well aware that no matter how much I assimilate, make friends, try to integrate, I will always, always be an outsider. But then, it is also a wonderful way to get beyond the obvious – getting to understand more about what motivates people, how society works, and why things are the way they are. What strikes me most though, is how similar we are; people tend to care about the same things the world over. These kinds of insights are harder to come by when you’re just visiting. But more and more, I see that as a luxury – as an expat, you are forced to face some of the more complex and difficult sides of your host country – corruption, say, or chronic poverty, or discrimination against indigenous people.
As a tourist, you you are further removed from that, and can just enjoy a beautiful place and allow yourself to be enchanted by exotic differences. I appreciate that sometimes.

Blog: Where Is Kristine Now?
Kristine on Flickr

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