The 12th interview in my inspirational traveller interview series is with Hanne from Places People Stories, where she blogs about the incredible places, unforgettable people and amazing stories from her travels.
Why don’t you introduce yourself and your blog?
Hi, my name is Hanne from Places People Stories. I am a twenty something Norwegian girl that has visited over 50 countries. In my blog I try to focus a bit differently than many other travel-blogs do. Instead of the typical “5 things to do in Paris”, I like to write about the not so obvious and discuss travel topics. I also share the most interesting stories and problems I have experienced during my trips. As well as things I have learned from the local people I met on my way. Many of my readers say that they learn new things by reading my posts, and start thinking twice about topics related to travel rarely discussed. This is something that makes me really happy to hear, as that is the goal of my blog.
What first inspired you to start blogging?
I lived in Bolivia for 1.5 years working as the director of a foundation that helps street kids. After this time period, my plan was to go home to Norway to work. So I quit the job, and we hired a new director. But then things did not work out as planned, and I had to return to Bolivia. As I had quit my job, I did not have anything to do, so I decided to start a blog to fill my time. And it is something I have loved to do since day one. I really love to write, and travel, and I have so many stories and experiences from five years of travels that I would like to share. I also had many people at home that for years requested me to start a blog and write about my travels. I always wanted to start one, but did find the time before then.
How did you first to come to live and work in Bolivia?
I decided to travel to Bolivia, because I had many friends that had been there and they told me the most amazing things about the country. I had travelled a lot in Africa, even lived there, as well as in Asia, North America and Europe, but I had never been to South America. I wanted to do an internship in this continent, and as my field is within development, Bolivia which is the poorest country in South America was a natural choice.
I am also a person that is extremely interested in cultures. The fact that Bolivia have preserved their culture so well, and that there are still so many indigenous women (cholitas) with the traditional clothes and beliefs, also attracted me to do my internship in Bolivia.
What places or things to do would you recommend in Bolivia?
Oh, this will be a long list. But I will try to keep it as short as I can. Bolivia is such a beautiful country and have so much to offer.
Number one must see is the Salar de Uyuni. This is the world’s largest salt flat. You will not find anything like this anywhere in the world. The nature is just amazing, and one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. When it is raining, it is like a big mirror. A trip for three days and two nights, is extremely cheap if you buy it on arrival, and includes everything. I can really recommend this trip.
Another must see, is the Titicaca lake. This is the world’s highest lake, located at 3,810 meters above sea level. Here you can also visit islands where the Incas lived, see ruins and learn about their mythology.
La Paz, one of Bolivia’s two capitals, is a pretty amazing city, and another must see while in Bolivia. From top to bottom of the city there is over 1000 meters of difference. Which makes this city one of a kind and unique. In other words, it is build up in the mountains.
Then we also have Potosi, which is the highest city in the world. Here you can also visit the mines, which is an awesome but also a bit scary experience.
Furthermore, people that are a bit more adventurous should visit the death road, which have deserved the title: The world’s most dangerous road. It is not possible to drive car on the road today. However, there are organized bike cycle trips that you can take.
Bolivia also have the second biggest carnival in South America after the one in Rio. UNESCO declared the Carnival of Oruro as “Mankind’s Master Piece of Intangible and Oral Heritage” in 2001. It is also big experience if you are visiting in February, when this festival usually takes place.
Many in Bolivia still have a traditional belief, and worth ship mother earth. Every first Friday of the month they make the K’oa. Which is an interesting experience. There they make offerings to Mother earth on small fires they make. Often offering coca leaves, alcohol and sometimes baby llamas.
Then I also want to mention that the food in Bolivia is delicious. I would recommend to try all the local dishes you come over.
You mentioned a lot of places you have been to. Where was your favourite and least favourite destinations?
My favourite destination is San Blas in Panama. It is one of the most beautiful places I have visited. The area exists of over 300 small islands surrounded by crystal clear water and colourful coral reeves. Each island also have their own perfect white sand beach.
However, what makes this place truly unique is the Kuna Indians that lives on these islands. There are no hotels in the area, just cabins build by the locals. You will live with them and learn about their culture. In many ways they live like they did hundreds of years ago, and you feel like you go back in time visiting San Blas.
San Blas is still a pretty unknown destination, and it is therefore not ruined by tourism yet. Also contributing to that this is my favourite destination.
I have never been to a place I really hated. However, I think that Paris did not live up to the expectations.
Where are you most excited about travelling to next?
My next big trip will be to Mexico, Belize and Honduras in June. I am really excited about this trip, as I wanted to see more of Central America for a long time. I also might take a trip to Chile before then, as this is something I have been thinking about for a long time as well.
What is the one item you have to take with you when travelling?
My lap top is an item I always bring with me on travels. At first when I started to travel I was a student and needed the laptop to write assignments for the university. Now I need it for write posts on my blog. It also good to have the lap top on long-term travels, as it makes it easier to keep I touch with family and friends at home trough skype.
What are some of your favourite travel related books, movies or songs?
I just love movies, and watch a lot even when I am out travelling. I really like the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I can recognize the smells, thoughts and sights the actors are experiencing in the movie. I can also related very well with the feelings they have arriving alone to a few forging country. I have felt much of this myself when I first started travelling by myself.
I also like Eat, Pray, Love. The book and the movie.
Do you ever see yourself settling in one country, if so which would it be?
I would eventually like to settle in Norway with my husband, and get children. Despite how much I have travelled, I have never seen a country as beautiful as Norway. My husband and I have been talking about it for a while now, and we hope we will be able to do so soon. However, this does not mean that I will stop to travel. I will still be travelling whenever I have the chance, in some weekends and most holidays.
What would you say to other people considering a life of travel?
Just go for it! If that is what you want to do, do it! Today is the day to take the decision, and just jump into it. Like they say, when you look back on your life, you will regret the things you did not do more than the ones you did. And I promise that if you take the decision to travel the world, this is a decision you will not regret!