Zahirah Fairuz is all about nature…Check out her interview!
T: A short bio about yourself, A 3-4 lines that best describe you, what you do for a living and so…
Z: I work in a field related to financial services, as part of a large team which deals with stakeholders from inside and outside the organization. While my job is intellectually stimulating, frequent human interaction tends to leave me feeling drained, which is why I decompress by travelling alone or with a close friend.
While on holiday, I love being in the great outdoors, a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. During my travels, you are likely to find me on long, solitary rambles in the mountains or the countryside. There’s something so therapeutic about being alone amid the rustling trees, the scudding clouds, and thundering mountains; I crave the stillness and revel in the solitude.
T: Where have you been?
Z: Just a random mix of places, really! I’ve been to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Nepal, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, England, France, Italy, Germany, Greece, Wales and Saudi Arabia.
T: What’s your favourite place so far? Why?
Z: It’s a tie between New Zealand and Wales – I love them both equally and as you may have guessed, it came down to the mountains!
Growing up I’ve always loved reading, and my favourite book is called The Grey King by Susan Cooper. It’s an interpretation of Arthurian legend set in modern-day Wales, and her description of the Welsh countryside was so evocative that I had always felt drawn towards the country. I finally made it their last year, where I spent a few days exploring North Wales and Anglesey, and hiked up to Llyn Idwal, a lake in Snowdonia National Park where legend says one of the sons of the Ancient Kings of Wales was murdered by his jealous uncle!
New Zealand, of course, is pure magic. I first went there as a student in summer 2008 and loved it so much that I went there again with one of my best friends. We went hiking in Arthurs Pass National Park, and also walked the Hooker Valley and Tasman Glacier tracks in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. I still remember the moment our car rounded a bend in the road… only to reveal a glorious expanse of blue, nothing but blue waters and mountains as far as the eye could see, near the shores of Lake Pukaki.
T: One unforgettable travel experience or incident that sticks in your mind…?
Z: While on holiday in Nepal, my family decided to catch the sunrise over the Annapurna range. We had an early start – far too early for my liking – and I was still bleary-eyed when we reached the village of Sarangkot.
It was still dark when we reached the top, my teeth chattering in the wintry chill. Our guide found us somewhere to sit, and we settled down to wait. In a while, the sun arrived – a sliver of gold, peeking over the eastern horizon. As it sets the peaks ablaze, the darkness began to lift and I realized that the viewing deck was actually packed with dozens and dozens of other people. It was a simple moment, but a powerful one: strangers united in quiet contemplation, marvelling at sunrise over the Annapurnas.
T: What was the most challenging thing about travelling?
Z: Managing my energy levels, so I won’t exhaust myself prematurely and be too tired to enjoy the last few days of a trip. I tend to have a poor appetite when I’m travelling, so I had a bad habit of skipping meals especially when I’m alone. I learned my lesson after falling ill during a winter trip to Seoul (I was coughing up blood!) so now I try to be more disciplined with my meals, keep an energy bar on hand, and stay well-hydrated.
T: What place is top of your bucket list?
Z: I love Anne of Green Gables so Prince Edward Island in Canada definitely tops my list. Perhaps one day I can say that I’ve strolled down Lovers Lane, explored the Haunted Woods and walked the shores of the Lake of Shining Waters!
T: One advice for travellers?
Z: Don’t sweat the petty things 🙂 It’s good to be well-researched and have an itinerary, but don’t feel like you have to rigidly stick to it – otherwise you’re missing the point of a holiday!