Meet Caz and Craig, a pair of Australians who have been traveling and living around the world since 1997. They are the adventurous couple who through their popular travel site, yTravelBlog inspire others to “see the beauty they hold within them and the beauty that life can offer them.” Together they have been to 35 countries and lived in 5 of them. In this interview, Caz teaches us some Australian slang, confides the couple’s most memorable instances of cultural exchange and explains how they came to tutor a Buddhist monk in Bangkok.
You traveled for 14 years. What do you find most rewarding about travel?
The freedom to be and do whatever and what, when I want, and because of that live each moment purely for what it is experiencing joy and awe. Travelling gives me much inner peace and allows me to learn so much about myself and the world around me.
Was traveling for several years what you had in mind when you first started?
I left Australia 3 days after I graduated from university with the intention of living in London for 2 years on a working holiday. That trip lasted for 3 years. Two years later I left with Craig intending to travel the world on working holiday visas. We came home five years later. So yes, travelling long term is always what I had in mind.
If you could only return to 3 of the 35 countries you’ve visited, which ones would they be and why?
Thailand of course! Thailand has that special place in our heart. It has the lifestyle we absolutely adore, healthy, spiritual, laid-back, delicious food, beautiful beaches, and culture and the people are so friendly and happy.
South Africa. It is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever been to and there is so much to see and do. Africa is a magical place that gets under your skin. I love spending time with the animals in their natural environment and I love the South African outdoor lifestyle.
The US. When I first found out we were going to be living in Raleigh, North Carolina, we were a little disappointed and had to get out the map to discover where it was. After living there for 4 year we can say the US is our second home so we could never banish that from our places to return to. There is so much diversity and variety in the states. We really fell in love with the Mountain and South West states and we really love the people.
You mention on your site that you tutored a Buddhist monk in Bangkok. What’s the back-story on that?
Craig and I were leaving Wat Pho after a massage, when a Buddhist monk stopped to speak to us. His English was quite good and it was obvious he wanted to practice it on the passing farangs. He was very curious about our lives and excited to share some of his. He began to tell of his desire to improve his English and asked if we would tutor him. Of course we said yes.
He would come to my school about once a week, where we would sit and chat. There was not a lot of “real” tutoring going on as he wanted to just talk about our lives. We were once taking a walk and I ignorantly walked beside him. He suddenly stopped and walked around Craig to go on the other side. We soon learned that he felt more comfortable just with Craig, and I was to never be alone with him in the room or next to him. It was a fascinating experience.
As you’ve traveled around the world have you noticed any characteristics in yourselves that are very ‘Australian’?
I think the ability to laugh at problems and small things. Australian’s don’t like to worry about things; they just like to have fun. (I have noticed this changing a bit though now). Also Australian’s don’t really censor what comes out of their mouths like a lot of other cultures do. We tend to speak our mind and say what we think. I have learned that this can be a good thing, but it can also be very bad.
You have met many people on your journey, interacted with both travelers and locals: how has your identity evolved as you’ve traveled ?
My identity has evolved in so many ways. I think the most important is that I am so open minded now, and willing to talk to anyone and embrace them into my life for their differences instead of being fearful of them.
I am so much more confident and at peace. I feel like I could be dropped in any place in the world, and I would be able to adapt quickly, survive and have a really great time.
Speaking of interacting with locals, what has been your most memorable instance of cultural exchange?
There are so many. I have written a chapter of a book that is soon to be published which describes the encounter Craig and I had with a Laotian family. Their family and village had been affected by the Vietnam War quite badly. The mother and father lived in a cave for ten years, and then there son lost his arm when he picked up an unexploded bomb. It was amazing to hear their stories and to witness the resilience of their spirits.
Spending an evening with some Masai warriors in their village in Kenya was also a memorable experience. We sat around the campfire while our warrior protector told us about their culture and their initiation rituals into manhood, such as killing lions and circumcision. We spent some time the next day in the mud hut of the chief of the village where he too told us more of their nomadic life and how happy they are living as they have always lived, and do not feel the need to be like the Western world.
Aussies are known for their propensity to use of slang words. Which five slang words would be most useful for travelers to Australia? Will you teach them to us?
Fair dinkum is a term that is used by everyone at any time and for various reasons. It is an expression that can replace a swear word, can be used to confirm something, or explain if something is genuine or real. (streuth has the same sort of meaning)
Swear word: Fair dinkum! I just lost five bucks
Confirm something: Person 1: I won the Lotto yesterday
Person 2: Fair dinkum mate?
Genuine or real: He is a fair dinkum Aussie
Dunny: toilet. I’d say knowing that is helpful to a traveller!
Fanny: don’t be asking an Australian to sit on your fanny or talk about your fanny pack. Fanny in Australia is the female front bum! This explains why Craig and I nearly rolled around on the floor dying with laughter when we discovered a teacher at my school in the States was called Miss Fanny.
Coldie: If someone asks if you want a coldie, say yes. Aussies will look at you like you have two heads if you say no. A coldie is a beer. And yes it is usually cold. It can also be called a tinnie or stubbie, depending on the type of container it is in. Coldies are usually kept in eskies (coolers) and for the girls a Chardy is a glass of wine. (usually Chardonnay)
Rhyming Slang: Be prepared for this when you come to Oz. Australian’s speak a lot of rhyming slang which can make it almost impossible to understand what we are saying. If you are not sure, think of the context and what it could rhyme with to get the real word and meaning.
For example: dog’s eye and dead horse translates into meat pie and tomato sauce!!
Thank you Caz for sharing your stories and insights with us! When you travel to the San Francisco Bay Area, we’ll be sure to invite you over for a coldie!
Photo credits: All photos from yTravelBlog with the exception of the Masai warrior photo, which is by theeyesview.