Monday, March 19, 2012

Intrepid Woman Traveler: Tracy Chen

When I met Trace in Vigan, she has just finished her  6 months backpacking trip through the Silk Road. Her photos of "the -stan countries" (Central Asia) and stories of hitchhiking and pitching tents has drawn me to this region I've never heard of before. 

mosque in Kazakhstan

She says, "To me, Central Asia is a hidden pearl (like Burma). Most people hesitate to go because they are former USSR countries, Muslim, language barrier, under developed, not much of touristic attractions, limited transportation to go in and travel around.... and many more other reasons. However, I am glad that because of all these negative perception, so I got the chance to experience human nature, local culture, and made lots of good and sincere friends who offer their help without asking anything for return.

They made me forget about ugly side of human nature and start to trust in people, even strangers again and again. A Chinese saying that 'People were born to be kind', I believe it and because of my belief, I continue to attract good people to be around me. We are all citizens of the world, we are all family ."

In between work in her hometown in Shanghai, China (and Taiwan), taking up MBA in Europe, Trace finds balance to travel and has been to 61 countries--almost half of the world, except the Arctic, South America, the Carribeans, and the Middle East. 

One highlight was that she took her GMAT in Egypt. She was studying for it during her Africa trip. She was supposed to take it in Uganda but the whole university was out of electricity so she postponed it to her next destination. Lacking sleep, she arrived in Caro in the early morning, went to the hotel, dropped off her luggage, had simple breakfast, then went to the test center for the exam. 

Looking back, how did it all start? The travel bug bit her when she went to North Korea. Traveling only to developed countries prior to it, her North Korea trip roused her, "I realized that the world has many places that i haven't seen and life i never could imagine."

Trace is so passionate about traveling that she agreed to share her story so we can inspire more women to travel. In fact, she influenced four of her friends already, one of whom met her husband during a backpacking trip.

Without much ado, let's hear it from Tracy Chen.

A: Age you made your first international trip 
First trip by myself at 18 years old

That's Trace at age 18!

B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where? 

Sorry, I don’t drink

C: Cuisine (Favourite) 
Italian (Tuscany)

D: Destinations. Favourite. Least Favourite. Why? 
Tough question… I can only give you my least favourite country is Cambodia

E: Event you experienced that made you say ‘Wow’ 
Dancing horses in Vienna, Austria
F: Favourite mode of transportation 
Hitchhiking with trucks

hitchhiking atop this truck

Trace hitchhiking in Tibet

G: Greatest feeling while travelling 
Met wonderful people on the road

beautiful people of Myanmar

Kosovo men

Tajik people

H: Hottest place you’ve travelled to 
Hmmm, if you meant the weather, it was summer in Cote d’ Azur. If you meant the most happening, Oktoberfest in Munich

it's HOT in Cote d'Azur

I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where 
JAPAN! All the shops/hotels/restaurants/taxi, even convenience stores offer impeccable services

J: Journey that took you the longest 
I never stopped my journey since I was born

K: Keepsake from your travels 
Fridge magnets and postcards

L: Let down sight. Why and where? 
Never! I guess I have the talent to find things interesting everywhere I visited

parking on the roof?

kiddie play area in a train in Finland

everyone just posed and smiled in Myanmar!

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel 
First time I saw millions of stars in front of me in Gobi desert

Gobi Desert

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in Shangri la

O: Obsession. What are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling? People, the most beautiful living being on earth

Masai in Kenya

Carnival in Braga

Japanese girls Shinshuku

men in skirts, Baltic

P: Passport stamps. How many and from where? 
woohoo…. Too many, I can only tell you that I’ve been to 61 countries so far and some of them I’ve visited more than 10 times, such as Japan and Hong Kong

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where. 
Kumsusan Memorial Palace in North Korea

Memorial Palace, North Korea

proud to say they have nuclear weapons

R: Recommended sight, event, or experience. 
Safari in Kenya; Visit gorilla in Rwanda; Diving in the Red Sea (Dahab, Egypt) and Similans (Thailand); Visit Red Square in Moscow; Shopping and best food in Japan and Hong Kong; Enjoy great shows in Broadway, London, and Dublin; Exploring Gaudi’s genius architectures in Barcelona ….. too many!

Safari in Kenya

Gaudi in Barcelona

Diving in Japan

S: Splurge. Something you have no problem forking over for while travelling. 
Good food

macaroons. la duree.

T: Touristy thing you’ve done 
Taking photos of almost everything I saw interesting and I always find everything interesting while traveling :P

U: Unforgettable travel memory
I have to say visiting gorilla family in Rwanda

Baby Gorillas in Rwanda

V: Visas. How many of them and for where.
Almost every country I’ve visited required visa, so I could count as 61

W: Wine, best glass while traveling and where.
French wine and it must be from Bordeaux

X: Excellent view and from where
On top of the mountains and Hong Kong night from Victoria’s Harbor

Top of Switzerland

Y: Years spent travelling
My age is secret *_* although you knew already :D

Z: Zealous sports fans and where
Fan of football and my favorite football team is Manchester United and most favorite football player is Casillas (yummy!)

"yummy" Casillas
with Frency, at Canne et Iles de Lerins

Cliffs of Moher

in Uganda

Trace and I, when she visited Vigan in 2007


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