Agness is the co-founder of eTramping travel blog and she is currently travelling through Asia. As the website states, Agness together with Cez, will take you around the world slowly but surely. Personally I found their blog interesting enough to open our interview section with them. Plus I am sure you will enjoy reading it as well!
01. Hey Agness could you briefly introduce yourself and your website to our readers?
Hey! I’m Agness (Agnieszka is my full name), 23-year-old Pole, travel freak, photography passionate, blogger and life enthusiast. I have been seriously travelling around Asia since 2011 having a blast and learning a lot about people, foreign culture and, above all, myself. I’m adventurous and I love living my life spontaneously.
My passion to travel turned into my work last year when me and my best friend created eTramping.com – website about our travel adventures where we share our feelings, thoughts and advice with other travellers, more or less experienced in backpacking. The idea of creating this website and my blog came up in August 2011 where I set off for my first journey to China where I spent 10 months backpacking and teaching English in Hunan province.
The motto of the website is to “Travel Slowly but Surely!” around the world, on the cheap, and show people that everyone can travel. No matter how much money they have and how old they are- it’s never too late to quit a 9-5 job and go into the wild, just like we did.
Now, after our hard work and efforts, the website offers a lot of travel tips, there is a gallery with our photos taken during our travels, photo of the day section, blogs where you can read my funny stories living in foreign countries, and so on.
We also provide WordPress blog services for those who take blogging seriously or would like to start or switch to WordPress (more info at www.bloginstallations.com).
02. Where in the world are you now? And where have you been so far?
I have just arrived in Siem Reap, Cambodia, where I’m planning to stay for few months. Although I’ve been here for just over a week, I feel homely. This is a truly amazing place, and the atmosphere – well, you won’t experience it anywhere else. We have even set up a small local web design company (www.siemreapwebdesign.com).
Before I came to live in Cambodia I have lived in China for 10 months, where I visited 13 out of 23 provinces and cycled the full length of Vietnam with Cez (my best friend). Too many memories to write about it, you need to see etramping.com for more details. Of course I have been to several European countries. Overall, my adventure has just begun and I’m hoping to see every country in the world.
03. What kind of a traveller you are and what type of activities do you enjoy the most?
I’m definitely a backpacker travelling on the cheap. I don’t need much to enjoy my travels- a piece of the ground to sleep on, friendly people around and the beautiful scenery. I guess it’s not that much, right!? I am a very active person enjoying kayaking, cycling, trekking, hiking and swimming the most. I hate doing nothing or wasting my time sitting at the pool or watching TV in my hotel room.
04. As I’ve been looking through your website, I came across a part where you said most people prefer to book their holidays with agencies and have classic beach holidays. This is true, as many people prefer to do it this way. What do you think the reason for this is? Are people just unmotivated to go independently or are they are scared to travel alone and move outside their comfort zone?
Well, some people work very hard for their career, so all they want to do during their holidays is simply lying on the beach and drinking cocktails. I don’t blame them. They want to be provided with the best service, don’t want to worry about anything and enjoy their time off peacefully. It’s easy and time saving- “Time is money” as many people say. The other people are just too scared and feel unsecured to travel independently. They are afraid of getting lost, being robbed, etc. so they choose a safe option of booking a trip with travel agencies. There are also some people who think that travelling independently is much more expensive than booking package tours. Holiday providers offer great deals on beach holidays nowadays, you pay in advance having only a few expenses during your holiday, it’s more comfortable and less stressing.
05. You originally come from Poland. Can you explain to us why people should visit your country and what are some of the things/places that shouldn’t be missed? What are your personal favourites?
If you want to get drunk with Polish vodka, have a plate of delicious dumplings (called “Pierogi”), climb beautiful mountains and go fishing at stunning lakes, Poland is a great place. It’s a country of vivid history, museums, nice seaside, urban centers like Warsaw (the capital), Wroclaw and Krakow. People are extremely hospitable and you definitely feel like home. There are many places worth visiting such as Mazury Lake District (Eastern Poland) for those who love water sports where you can rent a boat and have a boat ride across the lake, Auschwitz and Birkenau (Greater Kraków) for history passionates and of course the capital city- Warsaw where you can visit some museums and do some decent shopping.
My favourite place is my hometown where I was born and raised called Zagan (Western part of Poland). I have my family and friends there and lots of great memories from my childhood.
06. What do you like the most about your country, and is there anything you dislike?
Poland has a very rich history people should know about. I like the fact Polish people are very patriotic, but what I don’t like is that it’s so rare to meet Polish people on the road while travelling. That’s a real pity. There are not many Polish backpackers and vagabonds and this is my only one regret.
07. You are currently travelling in Asia, how is it different to Europe and your home? Tell us about your unique experiences.
Asian countries differ a lot from European countries in many aspects such as food, history, traditions, travel costs, people’s mentality and so on. Travelling in Asia is definitely cheaper for me. I was able to live for $10 a day in the capital city of Vietnam, Hanoi, including my accommodation, meals and some small souvenir expenses whereas for $10 a day in Europe you can afford a coffee with a plain croissant in Paris. Moreover, Asian cultural history fascinates me more than European. In my opinion it’s richer and more interesting, especially in China. The food in Asia is spicier and seems to be healthier but I prefer European cuisine though (always miss pancakes, Polish dumplings and muffins!). Europe is less crowded and wealthier, people are more educated and well-behaved, the life goes faster but we are more depressed and miserable than Asian people. Asian people, unlike some European, always stick together and the family is the most important to them. The landscapes are both stunning in Europe and Asia and people are also hospitable in both places.
08. What country or city has left the biggest impression on you? Any favourites and why?
It was definitely the capital city of Tibet, Lhasa which I visited this June. I simply fell in love with its scenery, amazingly hospitable and religious Tibetans, Tibetan religion and culture. I call this place “My heaven on Earth”. I was blown away by the power of Buddhism and the design of Tibetan temples and houses. Tibet is simply the most colorful and magic place on the Earth. Despite the fact, I couldn’t travel freely and independently there as it is not allowed nowadays, I was still able to have a little conversations with locals, find out and understand why Tibet wants to be independent and how it differs from China in terms of history, language, customs and religion. Undoubtedly, it was a great lesson for me to learn: a lesson not only about history but humility as well.
09. Is there something you can’t travel without?
LOTS of positive energy and SMILE!
10. So many people are full of myths that they cannot travel the world- money issues, no time, fear, etc. What is your advice for them?
World is like a book. If you don’t travel, you read only one page. Now ask yourself a question “Do you really want to get stuck on one page only without seeing the rest?” The world out there is amazing, surprising and diverse. It’s now or never. You will never have enough time, money, lack of responsibility, energy, courage, etc. However, if you leave everything and go, you’ll find you don’t need it all.
The words which inspired me to travel and forget about all there silly excuses such money, fear, no time was the quote by Mark Twain saying “In twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
People will always find millions of excuses not to leave their comfort zone. I know it’s hard to do it and it can be challenging to picture yourself in “drastically altered” surroundings, but it’s definitely worth the struggle and your life will completely change for the better. Go! Discover and enjoy the life.
11. You probably had so many memories, but can you pick some of the nicest memories from your travels? Did you ever encounter some embarrassing or unpleasant situations?
Every place I visit reminds me of something good. I have many nice memories from China working with Chinese students who called me “Lady Gaga”, from Lhasa when I spoke with the real Tibetan monk who gave me a blessing on the street (it was so touching and I cried) and from Vietnam where I ate bugs for the first time.
There were also a few life-threating situations I came across. The worst one was when I was bitten and infected by poisonous spider in China. It took me 4 months to completely recover from the infection.
12. What do you like the most about being a travel blogger?
Many things actually. I like the fact I can get back to my blog notes after 2,3 or 5 years and be able to read it again, feel it again and relive it again. It is also good to give other travelers some advice on how to travel safely and cheaply so they can avoid mistakes I made and enjoy their smooth travel to places I went to. Moreover, it is a great way to publish and share my photographs, the website will look good on my CV and it is another reason to be proud of myself. It gives me the strength to carry on, especially when people read my notes, share them and enjoy them.
13. What are your favourite travel blogs, can you recommend us some?
There are plenty of websites I like and visit on a regular basis. My 3 favourite ones are:
totallysamsworld.wordpress.com (me and Samantha have a lot in common when it comes to travelling, she is preparing herself for a huge journey around the world giving people advice on how to get ready for the first big travel adventure and shares her Europe travel experience with readers. We made friends and stay in touch hoping to meet in person one day).
findingthegypsyinme.com (Teresa travels the world as a house sitter and has written two amazing books plus one is coming up soon about it. I check out her website very often as housesitting is a great way to travel on the cheap).
traveldudes.org (Great travel website where articles are written by experienced travelers on cheap accommodation, travel safety, etc.).
14. Which publication are you the most proud of on your website? Can you share it with us?
I always feel proud of all my publications posted on my website. If it is not good enough, it is not published, however there was one article about Tibet being closed for foreign travelers (find it here) which was re-tweeted by Lonely Planet on my Twitter profile (@Agnesstramp) and shared by thousands of worldwide backpackers.
15. To finish off our chat; What one piece of advice would you give to our readers from your travel memories, experience or just personal thoughts?
You should all travel freely and independently. Don’t book all inclusive holiday packages with your local travel agency. Just buy a huge backpack (if you don’t have one), put some stuff in (not too much), put your backpack on and go! Try not to plan too many things in advance, enjoy the moment and be spontaneous. You will find it exciting and you will meet the people who will change your life by being amazingly hospitable and treating you like home. Travelling is not that expensive. You can always get a job while being on the road (like me) if you need some money and don’t spend too much on things you don’t need. Where there is a will, there is a way! Travel safely and always stay in touch with your friends and family. Beat homesickness by interacting with locals, try some “weird-looking” food, take some awesome photos which will remind you of this lifetime adventure, leave your comfort zone and explore the world and you will see people will give you more than they have!
Agness, first thank you so much for giving us some of your time to take part in this interview! We wish you the best in your travels and lots of awesome moments to come!
Thanks a lot. It was my pleasure to chat with you. BON VOYAGE!