Boarding Pass – Maggie High

One of the things I love most about travel is the way in which it can bond two people, even if you’ve never met, through lived/shared experiences. Although not on the same voyage, Maggie High and I were lucky enough to experience a 10-country adventure around the world on a ship on Semester at Sea. Clearly it’s something that rubbed off on us both as she’s off in South Korea teaching, and I’m in Paris. In addition to her travels, I am a big fan of how Maggie is using her blog, A Spoonful of Sugar, as a platform for experimenting with design (she first contacted me with questions on the best resources to teach herself design), and able to use the platform as a tool for further exploration alongside her travels. Thanks, Maggie!

{Maggie and Spencer at Monet’s Gardens}

home town:
I grew up out in the country in Modesto, California. I spent my childhood climbing haystacks, learning to sew, and raising animals for 4-H. My mom is very creative so I was constantly making things out of odds and ends around the house as well.

{Caye Caulker, Belize}

where you live now:
I’m now living in Suncheon, South Korea teaching English to children ages 4-13. My husband and I got married in May, went on a beautiful three week honeymoon to Belize, then packed up our things, and flew to Korea! It was a crazy couple of months but I’m very happy here. It’s both challenging and rewarding to teach. Everyday is different and the kids can be very fun. I laugh more at this job than any other I’ve ever had! It’s wonderful.

{Temple details : Busan, South Korea}

last trip taken:
We took a trip to Hong Kong at the end of July. Hong Kong is amazing. I saw a sign there that dubbed it “Asia’s International City” and it’s so true! I think you can find anything in Hong Kong! We ate some delicious food, marveled at the soaring skyscrapers, and loved all the city had to offer. We rented an apartment using and I’m so glad we did. It was so nice to have a couch to come home to and a kitchen to cook in (although, it was TINY!). I think grocery shopping while traveling is so interesting. I love seeing what’s available and I was happy we got the chance to do that in Hong Kong.

{Hong Kong skyscrapers}

next trip on deck:
We are planning on heading to the Philippines for Christmas. I hear it is absolutely beautiful with unspoiled beaches and kind, laid back locals. It will be a nice respite in the middle of the winter.

{Tea shop in Hong Kong}

one place you would go back to again and again:
Monet’s house and gardens in Giverny, France. I’ve been twice and it is my favorite place in the whole world. All the beautiful flowers make me swoon and I love the lily pond. The big boxy house with its great, old kitchen is so cozy; it takes me back to another time. Plus, the surrounding small towns are charming. I love all of it! I feel like I’m in a dream when I’m there. For me, no trip to Paris is complete without a trip out to the country to Monet’s.

{Kyoto, Japan; [right] Monets house and gardens at Giverny}

place you’d most likely recommend a friend go visit:
This totally depends on the friend. If they’re looking for a Euro vibe, I’d say Amsterdam or Berlin. If they’re looking for something tropical, I’d say head to Belize or the Philippines. If they’re looking to travel in the States, I’d say start in San Diego and drive up the California coast, camping along the way, all the way up to one of the best state parks I’ve ever been to, Patrick’s Point. If they want to have the biggest culture shock of their life, I’d say go to India or Africa.

{Indian ladies; [right] Korean mud festival}

preferred method of transportation:
Public transportation.

{Fountainbleau, France}

place you’ve never been but dying to go:
I’ve been dying to visit Barcelona ever since I read Carlos Luis Zafon’s A Shadow in the Wind. It’s a great novel and totally enchanted me. I’d also like to see all that crazy architecture they have. Those curvy buildings look like they just crawled out of the sea.

{The Belfast Wheel}

place you’d never go back:
Kansas. It’s so dull.

{The Amazon : Tena, Ecuador}

{Near Hampi, India; [right] Yosemite Falls with bird}

most memorable trip in 2 sentences or less:
In one hundred days I sailed around the world on a cruise ship while visiting ten countries with six hundred other students. Semester at Sea is the greatest thing I have ever done.


how do you prepare for a trip?
I usually read up on what there is to do at my destination to get an idea of what the place has to offer. I get this from blogs, Lonely Planet, Twitter, asking friends, or sometimes even novels. Then I make up an outline for where I’d like to go. I do this to get an idea of where I should enter and exit the country/city/island/whatever. The middle is always very vague and always open to change along the way. At this point in the planning, there are often a couple things I really want to do so I make those a priority. I also always make sure I have some down time to just sit and people watch, lay on a beach, or wander the streets.

{Mall/bus station : Gwanju, South Korea}

how do you record your travels when you’re traveling?
I record my travels mostly with pictures. Sometimes I use a journal or sketch book which usually becomes more like a scrapbook because I love taping and gluing things into my journals. I’ll often leave room for pictures in the journal, too. My husband and I did this on our first trip together. It’s great to read about what we did from both of our perspectives. We also documented card game scores, fun quotes we heard/saw, and other random tidbits that really make it fun to go back and read.

{Heart rose, Monet’s garden}

what is your favorite thing to photograph in a new place?
Flowers. I love flowers. I also like landscapes and patterns.

{Black-eyed Susan at Monet’s house}

on an average, how many pictures to you take on a trip?
It used to vary greatly. Sometimes I would want to capture everything and sometimes I would want to experience everything and not be bothered with capturing it. Now, I try to always balance the two out the best I can. Otherwise, I get burnt out or end up with about four crummy pictures. It’s easier to balance now that I travel with my husband because we trade off with the camera. In Hong Kong we took about 550 and we were there for six days.

{Double decker bus, London}

what’s in your “designer travel kit” ?
I currently have a Panasonic DMC-ZS10 point and shoot. Spencer just said, “it’s pretty damn good for a point and shoot” and it really is. It’s a good little camera for now but we are hoping to get an SLR as our Christmas present to ourselves. I also take a moleskin sketchbook for writing, on the go scrapbooking/collages, and sketching. It’s also good to be able to draw pictures for people when there is a language barrier and hand signals aren’t working!

{Pisa, Italy}

{Door knocker : Pisa, Italy; [right] Livorno, Italy}

what do you do after a trip? how long after a trip does this happen?
After a trip, I like to go through the photos and pick my favorites. I start editing them and thinking about my favorite things we did, saw, or ate. Spencer and I have a travel blog that we work on together, called Destination Exploration. We try to update it both during and after traveling. Some things we post about right away and some take some time to write and get posted. We also post on Flickr and Twitter. Twitter is more on the go and up to date and Flickr usually gets updated within a couple weeks of the trip. I also post pictures on Facebook for family and friends who don’t read blogs or Twitter. I also post some of the prettier things/photos on my personal blog A Spoonful of Sugar. A Spoonful of Sugar is more of a lifestyle blog edging more and more towards design.


favorite souvenir/thing to bring back?
My favorite thing to buy while traveling is local art. I got this awesome painting of women dancing a traditional Afro-Brasilian dance in Bahia, Brasil while on Semester at Sea and it’s my all time favorite souvenir. However, buying art doesn’t always work out if I’m backpacking since I just don’t have the space for it. In that case, I’ll get something small like a ring, postcard, or magnet. Sometimes, I don’t buy anything at all. If I don’t like it, I don’t buy it. I don’t feel a need to buy something to bring home from every place I go.


BOARDING PASS is a weekly column exploring the creative ways people travel. Look to your right for the complete list of participants.


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