[Editor’s Note]: Chi Ho is one of the bravest travelers from Hong Kong. While most Hong Kong travelers prefer shopping destinations such as London and Paris, Chi Ho always yearns for the unknown. Among the most intrepid destinations he has explored, include rural regions of Papua New Guinea, Syria, Turkey, South Africa, Iceland, New Zealand and Russia. Chi Ho is always planning a next trip and seems like he is always ready with his backpack! He really likes to mix with the locals, in their own language where possible. As a multilinguist he is fluent in Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese and English. Currently he is studying Russian and Spanish! We trust Swahili and Zulu are next…
This interview was conducted via email in late September 2014:
Globerovers (GR): How many countries have you been to?
Tsui Chi Ho (TCH): 32, so I am still a beginner, but many of the countries I have visited are incredible places such as Syria, Russia, Japan, Papua New Guinea, Iceland, and South Africa.
TCH: Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, Turkey, and Russia
GR: Which is your most preferred country for travel and why?
TCH: Iceland. The beauty of nature has been unspoilt by human influence for millions of years. A vivid proof of “less is more.”
GR: Where do you wish you were right now?
TCH: Right now I wish I was at Zamami Island in Okinawa, Japan. The beach is so pristine, the marine life totally amazing, the food is wonderful, the people friendly and you still can enjoy the comfort of modern living.
GR: Among those countries you have not yet visited, which ones are at the top of your “must do” list?
TCH: Greece, Portugal, Chile, Canada and the Vatican.
GR: If you could spend the rest of your life somewhere other than your current home country, which country would that be?
TCH: Perhaps Valencia in Spain which seems like such a good place to live. It is a good location from where to travel to the rest of Europe. I can also learn some Spanish flamingo dance and watch some bull flighting once in a while.
GR: In about 50 words, please tell us about the most incredible and memorable experience you have ever had while traveling?
TCH: The most memorable experience I had was during my first travels to India. I was taken to the Taj Mahal in the town of Agra which I had no knowledge of beforehand. That day was my birthday and I was told the architecture was nicknamed the “Temple of Love”. A very romantic place to celebrate my birthday!
GR: Based on your travel experiences, if you were to recommend the one most amazing destination for intrepid travellers, which place would that be, and why?
TCH: My travels to the “Golden Ring” region in Russia was quite challenging as English is not widely spoken outside of Moscow. My broken Russian certainly helped a lot with buying tickets and finding directions. The winter scenery in the small town of Suzdal was like a fairy tale with the background decorated in interesting onion shaped domes. It certainly was worth the effort!
GR: Which people by nationality or subgroup e.g. Greeks or the Tartars, would you say have been the most hospitable during your travels and why do you say so?
TCH: Perhaps the people of Goroka in Papua New Guinea were the most sincere and friendly at heart. Almost all the locals I came across wanted to shake hands with me and have their photos taken. Everybody smiled and greeted me. That was so unpolished and untrained. The Japanese are the most hospitable people in the world in such a civilised and sophisticated way. Their politeness is unmatched. All people in the service industry greet guests with a 90-degree bow and they are always patient and very professional.
GR: How do you think traveling around the world for independent travelers has changed over the past 20 years?
TCH: I think it has become much easier to travel in the digital age. The Internet makes booking of hotels and searching for information so easy, even in the remotest parts of the world. I no long need to go through the trouble that I used to whenever I lost a printed airline ticket or when I need to change a flight schedule. Furthermore, the digital camera saves us a lot of money and storage space at home while it helps to retain a lot of good memories which can be shared online easily. Gone are the days that I carried thick photo albums to show to friends and family.
GR: Lets get a bit more personal. Do you have any “must take” items which you travel with that you think most travelers don’t have?
GR: What is your favourite travel resource on the internet?
GR: Lets talk about food. Which one country that you visited has the best food in the world?
TCH: France. The presentation and the taste were outstanding, especially those French desserts.
GR: Where was the best meal you have ever had during your travels?
TCH: Eating the Taraba crab in the busy morning market of Hakodate, Hokkaido, Japan at the harbour with our self-sufficient Japanese sake.
GR: And where was the worst food during your travels?
TCH: Those insects they fry and eat in China. Silkworms, scorpions, you name it, they eat it.
GR: What is the strangest or weirdest place you have ever spent a night?
TCH: The guesthouse on Rottnest island near Perth, Australia. During the evening the open areas around the guesthouse were crowded by dozens of quokkas (a small macropod about the size of a domestic cat)! They look more like rats, but they are certainly not rats. The island was named after these “rats”.
GR: Based on all your travel experiences, what is the best tip you can offer to new travelers?
TCH: The attitude of locals normally change once you make some effort to speak their language and do the things they do. Try to fit in and once the locals accept you, you will have a great experience.
GR: What is the single best lesson you have learned about the world during your travels around the world?
TCH: Never take things for granted. Both animals and humans have the right to live.
GR: Do you have any strange, weird, or even bizarre travel rituals which you can share with us?
TCH: Hmmm nothing I can think of. Honestly..
GR: What is the main focus of your travels?
TCH: To experience different cultures and to see and experience different places around the world. Photographs make such a great diary.
[Editor’s Note: Thanks Chi Ho. We hope to speak with you soon in Swahili while you are traveling through Canada! Hope soon you will have a website or blog where we all can look at your lovely photos!]