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Allow me to introduce to you  Flora The Explorer ~ a blogger that recently came on our radar, recommended by trusted and well-read travel blogger friends.  After spending 6 months in India, Nepal, and Southeast Asia, Flora is headed to South America to teach English, and check more than a few experiences off her long bucket list.

This is a blog more of prose than photos – with many bloggers moving towards sleek and minimal, Flora stays with the tried a true: honest writing, will of straightforward, simple reflections as she discovers herself and the world.

“I’ve always been writing ever since I started traveling but it was normally on paper, in various diaries and notebooks, and I had never made a dedicated effort to document my travels online…Over the last year I’ve realized that there are more people than just my friends who are interested in what I do and how I think.”

Sushi or pork roast? Definitely sushi!
Coffee or Red Bull? I’m pretty much a coffee addict, and after serving double vodka Red Bulls for years at my student bar I don’t exactly like the taste!
Wine or beer? Depends on the occasion but beer is usually a failsafe if the wine’s not too palatable.
Suitcase or backpack? More often than not it has to be a backpack. Otherwise stairs are my ultimate nemesis with a heavy case!
Night train or night bus? I’ve taken more night buses, but I think night trains are better – if you have a bed, that is. Otherwise there’s little difference.
Sleeping bag or bedding? For comfort, bedding; for ease while traveling, either a sleeping bag or silk sleep liner.
Window or aisle? Window! I love watching the world go by outside.
Diarrhea or constipation? Probably the latter, as I spent three weeks solid (no pun intended) attempting to deal with the former in India. And I never want to experience that again.
Malarone or malaria? Again, probably the latter as every anti-malarial I’ve taken has resulted in awful side effects.
Hops or grass? I’m not sure of the context I’m afraid! In terms of beer I’m definitely appreciative of hops though!

tw: What would you like most to communicate through your blog, and why share your perspective?

Flora: “I would love it if people were inspired to travel through reading my blog, but I also hope that there’s a sense of storytelling apparent in the way I write, and that my readers feel transported to the places that I’ve been to through my words. I make a point of writing with personality because I think that’s a really important part of travel blogging, but also because I want my readers to see a purpose to what I write. Ultimately, I’d prefer to document my personal reactions to the places I visit, rather than writing generic travel guide-esque posts.

Why is traveling so important to you and how would you define your travel style?

“I think that the way I travel is different to a lot of other people’s styles: I normally travel alone, I do a lot of volunteering and socially conscious work, and I tend to stay in one place for a while at a time, rather than just speeding through the checklist of recommended sights. Growing up in London I’ve always been in close proximity for traveling around Europe, ad it’s got to the point now where I can’t stand to go somewhere beautiful, like Paris, and move so fast over three days that I feel both exhausted and like the city has nothing left to offer. Traveling for me is about really getting under the skin of the place I’m in; whether its from talking to locals, spending the afternoon in a particular café, wandering around the green spaces or going to a local event like a wedding or a play, I like to feel as if I’ve experienced an authentic part of that place. As I’ve got older, I’ve learned to shy away from the more popular tourist hotspots because I don’t feel the need to spend all my time with people from the same country as me!”

Do you plan to travel indefinitely?

“I do a lot of volunteer work (which is where I’ll be angling my blog over the next year while I’m traveling around South America) and I have a few freelance writing jobs to keep me occupied. I’ll certainly be traveling extensively for at least the next few years and would love to say that indefinite travel is in my future, but you never know what’s going to happen!”

Is there anything that you dislike about traveling?

“Sometimes I get sick of never being able to properly unpack my bag; sometimes there’s a hankering for a particular dish I can only get in another country; sometimes I really wish I’d packed that pair of comfy tracksuit bottoms. I think the lack of familiarity is often a blessing and a curse at once, because I love to be constantly surprised, but there are always the occasional days when you just want to know exactly what’s going on! That, and getting bad skin from constantly changing climates. Not a good look!”

What was the strangest food you’ve ever eaten, and what was the best?

“A tough question indeed! I’d have to say eating crickets in Thailand – really not as bad as I thought they’d be! I almost ate putrified shark in Iceland, but the smell (which, surprisingly enough, is the smell of rotting flesh) stopped me dead and I just couldn’t do it.

“The best food I’ve ever eaten was probably in Japan. I was only eight years old but I couldn’t get over how deliciously strange sushi was! Apart from Japan, I found myself loving the fact that, as a raging carnivore, I could easily be a vegetarian in India. I loved pretty much every single dish there.”

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you were truly afraid during traveling?

“India was often a difficult place to travel through by myself, because as a white woman I felt very on show. I never felt particularly threatened though; mainly just self conscious and uncomfortable.

“Thinking about it, I actually count myself rather lucky to not have found myself in any scary situations! I trust my gut and my intuition so whenever I’ve been somewhere or been with someone that I don’t feel right about, I’ve made sure to get myself as far away from the situation as possible.”

Which three items do you not leave home without?

“I always carry my camera (a little point and shoot but it does the job wonderfully), a notebook and a pen. And if the notebook/pen combo counts as one item then I love having my iPod for music and as a quick place to write notes on too.”

What is your favorite place in your home country or city?

“I’ve grown up in London so I love cities with a passion, but every now and again I get an overwhelming urge for wide open spaces and fresh air. As a result, I often end up at any one of the various parks around London, whether it’s choosing to divert my walking route or stopping at a park bench to read a book or sit back for a moment and people watch. Parks are also amazing places for writing inspiration!”

Do you have favorite travel blogs that you read regularly?

I read a lot of travel blogs, particularly after becoming friends with many of their writers recently! Some of my favorites are Brendan’s Adventures, Bridges and Balloons, and Time Travel Turtle, but there are so many that I could mention.

Mountains, beach or city? Probably city, although I love being up in the mountains on occasion.
Couch-surfing or guesthouse? I haven’t actually couch-surfed before (YET – I plan do a lot of it in South America though!) but guesthouses are great for a combination of privacy and intimacy.
Cockroaches or rats? Neither one is exactly welcome – I guess probably rats as they’re easier to hit if you throw a shoe at them?!
Skiing or surfing? Skiing, but I’ve never tried surfing so..!
iPhone or Android? I don’t actually have either (I’m a good phone reject) but after watching so many friends and fellow bloggers with iPhones I think I’d have to choose the Apple!
Travel tool you find most useful: my camera, definitely. Perfect for taking quick shots of maps and place names for later reference, and good for breaking the ice with locals too.
Postcard or emails? I’d love to go back to the postcard era but I’m shamefully bad at remembering to actually post them. Maybe I’ll turn over a new leaf this year?

What’s coming up for you this year, and how are you preparing for the trip?

“I’m setting out for Ecuador at the start of February for a long stretch of travel – probably at least nine months to a year. First up is a teaching position in Cuenca for five months, before I set off traveling around the continent on an as-yet-undecided route, but high on my list are Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. I’m not as far along with learning Spanish as I’d like, but hopefully it’ll be easier to learn when I’m staying with my host family in Cuenca.”

Your latest discovery on the Internet?

“I recently came across a site called Humans of New York, whose creator posts a photo of someone he’s met in the Big Apple every day, accompanied by a brief description or conversation they’ve had together. His photos are often beautiful but the stories range from hilarious to heart wrenching to unbelievable, and it’s really made me think about the huge amount of variation to be found in just one city.”

The best breakfast in the world is…

“You can’t beat scrambled eggs on Marmite toast! Whenever I find Marmite in café outside of England I have to have some.”

What is on your bucket list and where you will your next trip take you?

“I’ve got a lot of things to complete on my bucket list – such as living in a lighthouse, spending the night in a haunted house and going to Burning Man festival in Nevada – but my time in South America will hopefully tick off a few others. I’ll be heading to Machu Picchu, the Bolivian salt flats, volunteering in a hostel (somewhere!) and trying to find a coffee plantation to work at for a bit.”

If you could recommend three places our readers must visit in their lifetimes:

“Reykjavik in Iceland for the Airwaves music festival every November, San Francisco (I studied there for my year abroad and fell in love with it), and India in general – the entire country has so much to offer and after four months there I still feel like I only scratched the surface.”

Anything else you’d like to share?

“I hope anyone reading this or other articles I’ve written feels inspired to travel, to explore the world and to push their boundaries. And to do everything they can to make themselves happy. That’s all that really matters!”

Flora at Holi

Flora at Holi

Blog name: Flora The Explorer
Blogger name(s): Flora The Explorer
twitter handle: @florabaker
Facebook:  http://facebook.com/floraexplorer
Instagram: @florabaker

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