Tripper of the Week: Lash!

Meet Lash, an American expat who has been on the road for the past twelve years. As the crowned Tripper of the Week this week, Lash gives us a glimpse into her life as a thrill-seeking nomad. For the full picture, please visit her blog: LashWorldTour.

When you quit your job in the states and set off on your adventure in 1991, you had a six-year stop in Kyoto. Why Japan and what did you do while you were there?

Just as I was finishing up university, a good friend was living in Tokyo. He kept telling me how much money he earned as an English teacher there. Bingo! I decided to move to Japan, find an English teaching job and save money to travel the world. That way I'd also essentially be starting my world trip by living overseas in a completely different culture.

Kyoto, the original capital of Japan (from roughly 800-1200AD), is still the cultural heart of the country. With over 3,000 temples and shrines, cultural/art studies, old neighborhoods and geisha quarters, every day living in Kyoto was a splendid adventure! I completely loved it. For six years I worked to save money, traveled all over Japan, and immersed myself in the traditional cultural arts. I studied tea ceremony, flower arrangement, kimono wearing, aikido, taiko drumming and shiatsu massage. I attended lots of festivals, ceremonies, exhibits and events.

It's so funny - since leaving Japan I've met several westerners who were living and teaching English in the same Japanese cities during the same years as me, but we'd never met in Japan. Why? Like most English teachers there, they spent their time out drinking in bars with other western pals. I was putting on a kimono, going to temples and sipping green tea!

You've been a PADI dive instructor for six years now. Where's your favorite place to dive?

Wow, that's a hard question. There are so many fantastic places to dive in SE Asia. I guess I'd have to say Bali, especially Amed in the remote Northeast. Sea temperatures stay at 28-30C/ 84-86F, most reefs are in excellent condition with an astounding abundance and diversity of coral and marine species, seas are usually calm and clear. Reefs set just offshore which mean quick and easy access - walk in from the beach or use a jukung (local Balinese fishing boat).

You've worked on the set of Survivor in both Thailand and the Amazon. Have you ever considered being a contestant on the show? It seems to be right up your alley.

You know, you're not the first person to suggest I become a Survivor contestant! It's certainly true that I love immersing myself in outdoor adventures and pushing myself to physical limits. However, the Survivor competition requires some abilities at which I'm absolutely awful. Mainly, succeeding at Survivor requires an extremely high degree of psychological manipulation. In my case, I'd be the first contestant voted out! I'm always just myself- very straight-forward. WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get).

You've flown and jumped out of planes, climbed mountains, bungee jumped, hang-glided, earned your black belt in Aikido. Is there anything you are afraid of?

Well, I tend to get terrified making financial investment decisions. I've found myself in a 'freeze' and 'panic' more than once! But I suppose you're asking about adventure travel activities so...

Come to think of it, I'm not sure I'd go bungee jumping again. That was really scary! For years prior to jumping I had been so excited to try bungee. Finally, I eagerly booked my jump, anticipated the big day, could hardly wait... right up until the moment I actually had to jump off that platform. Oh sh*t! I was peering down at a parking lot full of cars! Suddenly I experienced a sharp attitude adjustment. I was terrified! What?! Me?! The poor crew spent about 30 minutes of intensive pressure tactics to shame me into the plunge! I did it, but I would not describe it as fun. Naturally, I blame it all on the car-filled parking lot. Hmmm, maybe I could do a river?

Your life is a non-stop adventure and seems like so much fun. What is the most difficult part of your lifestyle?

I really love my nomadic travel life. I highly value my freedom and independence. I love being a gypsy with no home base or material constraints. I seldom get lonely because it's so easy to meet people anywhere. Im constantly stimulated by new natural places, foods, cultures, languages, clothes. It's a blast. So I don't honestly find any difficulties in the travel lifestyle itself. The only hard part is earning enough money to keep going. Otherwise, it's a dream!

You are an expert budget traveler. What's your best piece of advice for nomads when it comes to money?

Travelers, if you require a/c, beer or cigarettes, you are going to greatly increase your budget! If you can live without 1-2 or all of these items, you can live comfortably for very little - at least in SE Asia. For over 12 years, I've been enjoying an exciting travel life for $400-500 a month while staying in clean, comfortable and safe places, eating loads of food (4-5 times a day), visiting beautiful places, and finding lots to do. Good news: Tripping can cut down on accommodation costs nicely!

What are you most looking forward to as a member of Tripping?

Meeting other travelers and locals of course! Swapping travel tales, getting the inside scoop from locals I meet and/or stay with. I can't wait!

Where are you most excited to travel to next?

Next I will head to Central American and the Caribbean. Since 1998 I've been traveling mostly around Asia - I love it so much there. But I plan to see the entire world so I've got to get rolling! Caribbean, here I come! I'm really excited to experience completely new-to-me cultures and natural places.

Want more of the Lash's World Tour? Be sure to stay posted through her blog and connect with her on Tripping!