Answering our Five Travel Questions is Belgian born traveller Lies! 6 years ago she embarked on a new adventure which has seen here living in England, Scotland and South Africa. Travelling since the age of five, she’s the perfect candidate to tell us all about her exciting travels which have taken here to exotic destinations, although she craves somewhere cold on her bucket list! Read on and find out where exactly she wants to go!
Why do you love travel?
I got the travel bug from a very young age. My parents made sure that my sisters and I experienced as much of Europe as possible and I’m very grateful for that. I loved discovering new cultures, meeting different people and sampling new dishes that were non existent in my home country, Belgium. There was always this ’empty’ feeling when I got back home. I knew then I was never destined to stay in Belgium.
What destination is top of your bucket list? This is a very hard question! There are so many places I would love to visit like South America, Russia (Trans Siberian Railway), Alaska, Antarctica and so on (my list is endless), but there’s one place I’ve been wanting to go to for years, but I haven’t found the right time yet: Lapland in Finland, to watch the Northern Lights and try husky sledding.
Where is your most favourite place you have travelled to? Another hard question. I think it depends on the mood I’m in. If I feel like a citybreak, I would say Venice (Vienna is a close second). I love the romantic vibe, the small streets and canals, Venetian masks and the Italian food. It is a very touristy destination, but I don’t really mind.
If I feel like having an adventure, I would say Bali or South Africa top my list of favourite places. Bali was my first holiday with my boyfriend and I have great memories there. It was the perfect mix of fun activities, soaking up Balinese culture, and relaxation.
I spent two months in this beautiful country, and I’ve only seen 2 provinces, so I will have to go back at some point to experience the rest of the country.
What is your most favourite memory or experience whilst travelling? I have many great experiences, but the one I keep telling everyone about is the first week of my holiday in Thailand where I volunteered at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai. I decided to volunteer because I love elephants (that’s an understatement) and after seeing the terrible training elephants go through in order to be domesticated and how they are treated in some parts of the world, I wanted to volunteer at a place where they put the needs of the elephant first. ENP is a sanctuary for abused and tortured elephants where visitors can meet and feed the elephants and bathe them. There are no elephant rides or shows.
As a volunteer, I had to prepare the food for the elephants, and clean their enclosures. We were also allowed to feed and bathe them. There was plenty of free time to relax or participate in activities with the other volunteers (such as tubing, which was a lot of fun!). It was my first time in Asia, and I thoroughly enjoyed that first week. I admire the work ENP is doing and it gives you some perspective on the things we take for granted.
What is your favourite photo from your travels? I picked one from my recent trip to South Africa taken on the last evening before returning to London. It’s not only the photo itself, but the memories behind it that make it one of my favourite ones. The photo was taken on top of Lion’s Head, a hill in Cape Town, which many people hike late afternoon to catch the sunset at the top. It was a difficult hike for me, as I hadn’t really been exercising for a while. Once at the top, knackered and out of breath but feeling proud of myself, we found a good spot to watch the sunset. Cape Town was shrouded in fog during the day, but by the time we got to the top, the fog had already evaporated, but wisps could still be seen on the ocean. I forgot all the stresses in life, and was just happy, content. It was such a beautiful view and a perfect end to my trip.