I was lucky to catch Mohd from Pojiegraphy between the travels to talk about his travel experiences. What has he learned from famous Simon Reeve, a British travel documentary presenter and book author, why Greenland is in his bucket list and his love-hate relationship with Krabi.
T: A short bio about yourself, 3-4 lines that best describe you, what you do for a living and so on. Where are you currently living and where are you from? Tell us more about your blog, IG / FB / YouTube.
M: I am currently working as a freelancer, which I get involved with content creating, social media management and blogging. I graduated from a journalism school in one of the local universities in Malaysia. And of course, travelling around the world to find as many interesting contents as possible to share with all my readers.
I am currently based in London. Originally from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. I started using these platforms as a place for me to share my daily activities. These are like my daily journal where I mostly write about my day-to-day activities, opinion on something, tips about specific topics like photography. Until during the last three years, I decided to bring these platforms to another level, which I share many articles relating to lifestyle and travel and from there I got to collaborate with some local and international brands.
T: What’s your written article you’re most proud of?
M: I wrote on different kind of platforms – online and print magazine as well as my own blog. I enjoy writing tips and things that are useful for the other fellow travellers to plan for their trip, which really means a lot to me and motivates me to write more.
T: Would you call yourself an avid traveller?
M: I would love to but there is still a long way to go. Almost there, maybe.
T: What inspired you to travel?
M: I love watching travel documentaries on the Internet. I enjoy discovering stories about various countries. From there, I got an inspiration to explore what the world has to offer. And of course, my dearest family. They have been supporting my passion until now.
I enjoy watching various travel documentaries but Simon Reeve’s is by far my favourite one. He visited different kind of unique destinations and really inspiring me to follow his step. Besides showing the beauty of the destinations, he also highlights some elements that we can learn such as matters pertaining to nature preservation, solutions to refugees crisis and more.
This made me realise that travelling is not only about enjoying the beauty of the places we visited but also to learn and understand the real situation that is happening within that particular area.
T: Where have you been?
M: I have been to several countries from different continents. From Indonesia to Japan and to Georgia and Norway.
T: Do you prefer to travel alone or with family and friends? Why?
M: I enjoy travelling alone as it allows me to move on my own pace. However, I always travel with my travel buddy whom I am comfortable to travel with. After all, this depends on the situation.
T: Do you have a full-time job? If yes, how do you find time to travel?
M: I used to work a full-time job. I was fortunate to have been working as a travel writer with my previous company as travelling was also part of my job scope. Now, I work on a freelance basis, which I can do my tasks from anywhere and anytime. The only thing I need is a stable Internet connection.
T: Is it hard to find work as a freelancer? What advice you’d give to those who would like to start travelling and freelancing?
M: Well, it all depends on luck sometimes to get a great spot in this freelancing world. If any of you would love to venture to this freelancing career, my advice are you need to know what are your capabilities, never stop finding opportunities and be prepared to put a little extra effort than working 9-5 job.
T: What was your best trip ever?
M: My most memorable trip, by far, was to Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, India.
T: What did you learn about yourself during your most memorable trip?
M: Money isn’t the only thing that can make us happy. In Ladakh, they live in bare necessities – they hardly get excellent public facilities, they do not have fancy clothes to put on but one thing I realise that they still able to make others happy by giving us warm smiles.
Ladakh is by far the prettiest destination I have ever visited throughout my travel journey. I did my very first mountain trekking there and stepped out from my comfort zone – I’ve never thought of going for trekking on the Himalayan mountains.
T: What were the locals you met like?
M: Despite the language barrier, they are friendly. Helpful and always smiling to others. They greatly welcomed us!
T: What was the funniest/strangest/most insightful thing a local said?
M: “I love your country. Beautiful place, beautiful people. Delicious food”. Nothing strange or funny but heart-warming instead.
T: What was the scariest moment?
M: None, so far. Oh, wait! Maybe the typhoon and storm experience that I had while travelling to some countries. That was the time where my mind keeps on telling me “How I wish I’m at home now”.
T: What’s your favourite travel destination and why?
M: So far, my favourite travel destination would be Azores, Portugal. Located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, this region offers tranquillity and a greater chance to immerse in the natural wonders.
T: What place is top of your bucket list?
One, because it is the northernmost country in the world. I always wonder how the locals live their life in such icy and frosty condition there.
Besides, I’ve heard that Greenland has remarkable landscapes, unique wildlife, iceberg-choked fjords and colourful tundra that made me feel quite tempted to discover this island.
T: Have you learned a language when travelling?
M: I only learn the basic ones and mostly from the Internet.
T: What’s your top travel tip?
M: Do not overpack. Expect the least to avoid disappointments. Smile always.
T: What’s your travel style: budget or luxury?
M: Depends on the situation. Sometimes I travel for work and sometimes it is a personal trip. Mostly budget or moderate.
T: What do you think of the current stigma on Muslim travel? E.g. US Muslim travel ban.
M: It’s been a super dramatic and highly debatable issue. My only opinion is everyone, regardless of religion and race, has the right to travel the world.
T: How can we change it?
M: Raising awareness to others that Muslim is not like what they have read, watched or heard.
T: And how we can encourage more Muslims to travel?
M: Showcasing the beauty of the places. Convince them that it is safe to travel the world. Of course, the establishments in the country themselves need to provide Muslim-friendly facilities, too.
T: Which country is the most Muslim-friendly?
M: All Muslim countries are definitely Muslim friendly. For non-Muslim countries, I have to say the United Kingdom and Japan due to their Halal food awareness.
T: Do you know any solo Muslim female travellers?
M: Yes, I do know a few of them.
T: How can we encourage females who want to travel but don’t dare or their family is not supportive?
M: I have seen a lot of them started to travel the world either solo or in a group. With the amount of information available on the Internet, I personally believe they can make a proper preparation and know what to expect in that particular country. We can convince them that there are many destinations in the world that are safe for female travellers to visit.
T: Where would you revisit? Would you ever move to any of those cities?
M: Norway. Who doesn’t want to live in a country that has the happiest population?
T: What can’t you travel without?
M: Camera and mobile phone. And hand sanitizer, too. LOL
T: Which country has the friendliest people?
M: Armenia, is by far, has the friendliest people I have ever met. Despite the language barrier.
T: What’s the best piece of travel advice you’ve received?
M: You don’t just travel to see things but also to learn about them.
T: What’s the worst piece of travel advice you’ve received?
M: A few but I don’t remember because it doesn’t give any value for me to focus on.
T: How many countries have you visited?
M: 26 and still counting for more adventures.
T: How are you documenting your trip?
M: Writing journal, capturing photos and video along the way.
T: What’s the most reliable source of travel advice?
M: I love reading Lonely Planet and TripAdvisors (for public reviews).
T: Some people view “Lonely Planet” as a source of over-touristy tips and non-authentic experiences. What’s your view?
I have no objection about the statement above. I enjoy reading the background stories of any destination featured on Lonely Planet – it was written in a compact and informative form, which is quite helpful to get a glimpse of a destination before visiting it.
However, when it comes to genuine experiences or reviews, I still prefer reading unbiased blog posts from an experienced travel blogger. Besides inspiring me to travel to the destination, they usually provide me useful tips, advice, reminders, things-to-do, what to expect and more.
T: What’s been the best street food you’ve had?
M: Indonesian snacks, in general. A lot of them!
T: What destination have you found to be overrated?
M: Krabi. But I love Krabi because of the food and also the fact that most people there are able to converse in Malay language.
T: Out of all the countries you’ve visited, which has the best weather?
M: Spain, specifically Madrid, they have sunshine most of the times in a year!
T: Thanks for your time and have a wander-ful 2018!