Behind the Scenes: Interview with Our Columnist, Jamie Bowlby-Whiting
So good to have you join WildJunket team! Tell us a bit more about yourself.
I’m from a tiny village (think one small shop, one pub) in England and grew up dreaming of exploring the world, but was too scared to go anywhere alone. I made it my mission to change that and now I push myself to explore the world and say yes to everything. I hitchhike, I sleep outside, I push all my personal boundaries. We are only human and that means that individually, we are all amazing, while collectively, we are all the same. I make it my mission to push preconceptions about fear and financial requirements in order to travel the world and if something seems impossible, it’s probably not.
What has been your best travel experience?
Leaving behind my job, my home, and everything else to hitchhike through Europe. I slept under bridges, next to the Eiffel Tower, on beaches and tried hundreds of things I had never even thought of doing by having no expectations and saying yes to everything.
What are some of the places you want to go before you die?
I spent a couple of months in East Africa and I am desperate to explore more. Africa is a beautiful continent filled with wonderful people. Apart from big cities, there isn’t really anywhere in the world that I don’t want to go.
What’s the most daring thing you’ve done?
When I was eighteen, I finished school, got into my car and started driving. I drove for nearly eight hours to reach Cornwall, the south-western peninsular of the UK and I decided to live there. For a few weeks I was sleeping in my tent when it was dry and my car when it was wet, but I soon started working in a bakery and moved into a dingy caravan in a lonesome field. From this experience, I learnt that I could do whatever I wanted to do and go wherever I wanted to go. From this experience, my love of travel was born. Several months later, I had saved enough money to leave the country for many months and take a better look at the world.
Daring is something that you choose to do whereas scary is something that happens to you. If you had of asked the scariest thing that has ever happened to me, I’d have to say it was breaking my back in a skiing accident. In a neck brace and with my arms strapped to my chest, the paramedic was making me wiggle my toes and fingers to check for permanent paralysis. That fear is incomparable with anything else I have ever known.
What’s been the strangest meal of your travels so far?
Korean food is the strangest for me. I have been a vegetarian for eighteen years and when I spent a year teaching English in Korea, I was introduced to fermented cabbage, fried dumplings, and many more bizarre foods. Every meal was strange for me when I first got there.
Where are some of the most disappointing and surprising places you’ve been?
Living in Turkey has unfortunately been a rather disappointing experience for me. While the country is lovely and so are many of the people, I have never had so many people take advantage of me or rip me off as I have in this country. Of the countries I have expected little, Poland was one of the most pleasing. It’s a great country with fun people and I never thought I would like such a place.
Which of your photos is your absolute favorite? Share it with us!
This is one of the hardest questions in the world. I could give you hundreds of totally different (what I believe to be) amazing photos. If you ask me to name my favourite photo in five minutes time, I guarantee it would be different but this image of a lady eating ice cream is an image that I really love. I love the way her dark clothes, tattoos, and dreadlocks contrast with her happiness at eating ice cream. Right after I took this image, she burst into a huge smile. I had a zoom lens, so she had no idea I was taking it.
Oh, here’s a rose I like. I could play this game all day!
Describe your dream trip!
I would get on a bicycle and I would go, then go some more. Maybe I would stop and build a raft, but it would be a journey without engines. I am working on making this a reality.
What is one item you can never travel without?
A notepad. Wherever we go, we can never stop thinking. When we have so many thoughts, it is important to capture the best ones and save them for later. Some of the most wonderful experiences that I have had in my life are a result of these little scribbles.
Who is/are the best (or worst) person/people you’ve had to sit next to while traveling?
The best people I have had to sit next to while travelling are the one’s who don’t turn up. Their ticket remains unused and I get to lay out across multiple seats and sleep in comfort for the duration of my journey.
Would you rather live without the internet for a year or without travel?
The internet, without a doubt. This would so greatly enrich my life that I can only hope one day it may happen.
Do you prefer the mountain, beach, or city?
Mountain and beach. I’ve spent some time on beautiful tropical islands where one can spend the morning climbing lush, green mountains and the afternoon lazing on white sandy beaches interspersed with admiring the tropical fish while snorkeling. I’m born in the country and cities make me claustrophobic and restless.
Thanks for the interview, you’ve been granted one wish. What will it be?
The power of sight. Not sight for myself, but sight for everyone around me. If I was choosing for myself, I’d choose to fly and soar like a bird, but if everyone could see clearly, that would make the world a much better place. Seeing clearly means to see that we are only human. By only human, I mean that we can achieve great things, no matter how great they are and that we are all the same people across the planet. If other people had this power of sight, there would be no sadness, no prejudice, and nobody living lives that they didn’t love.