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Guests’ Corner: Lost With Purpose

As part of the next instalment in my international version of Guests’ Corner (previously a local South African travel interview section on Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust), I chatted to Alex Reynolds, travel blogger and photographer at Lost with Purpose – and full-time backpacker of note!

Having grown up in the East Coast of the United States, with a trifecta of cultures (she’s half Filipino, half English) and some rich travel experiences to boot, from a young age, Alex Reynold’s love of travel was all but guaranteed – and that’s all before she quit her desk job, sold off all but her most necessary earthly possessions and stocked up on visas before beginning her grand adventure in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Alex is not your average solo backpacker though… Because she’s also a talented and passionate blogger and photographer at Lost With Purpose, a frank and at times, humourously-written visual blog and guide to all things travel, from budget adventures to responsible travel and everything in between! To date, her blog has featured on BBC and Lonely Planet to name only a few!

These days, her travel focus is generally on full-time travel to some truly off-beat (though usually wonderful) places, where she gets lost with (and sometimes, without) purpose. Think: scrambling up dusty fortresses in Afghanistan, watching religious rituals in southern India and posing with AK-47s in Pakistan.

Alex invites you to follow her incredible journeys – and be inspired to enjoy some of the same!

1) Who or what inspired you to go into travel blogging?

The blog began as a product of my frustration with other travel blogs. Before I departed on my journey, I couldn’t find half of the information I was looking for on countries like Georgia, Armenia, and Iran – and the websites I did find were all painful to navigate and poorly organised. I (cockily) thought I can do better than this… so try I did!

2) What kind of traveller are you: thrill seeker, culture vulture, adrenaline junkie, nature lover or something of everything?

A little bit of everything! Beautiful old buildings and colourful traditions titillate my senses, but I’m happy to lose myself in nature anytime, anywhere. Adrenaline is a must every once in a while – I don’t like being comfortable 24/7; it’s not challenging enough!

3) Which are your top three most memorable travel experiences and why? Please list each one with a brief explanation.

Oh my, there’s no way I could pick a top three! But some memorable moments off the top of my head are:

  • Witnessing dhamaal, a Sufi drum and dance ritual, in the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Pakistan. I’ve never seen a religious/spiritual ritual like it. Imagine how crazed and strung out people look and dance at raves… then put that crowd into a religious shrine.
  • Seeing the tomb of Imam Reza in his shrine in Mashhad, Iran: Non-Muslims aren’t supposed to be allowed in, but… well… things happen! People inside were going absolutely mental, attacking each other to try and get close enough to his tomb to touch it and pray. It was terrifying, but also incredible to see how moved people were.
  • Smoking up with shepherds in Balkh, Afghanistan. It’s not every day you get to rip potent Afghan hashish from a homemade bong – possibly crafted from an ancient vase – among the crumbling walls of one of Alexander the Great’s fortresses.

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4) What was your most humbling or eye-opening travel experience in your home country and why? (Please provide your home country’s name too.)

My friends and I road tripped through the United States during my sophomore year of college. Watching the sun rise over Bryce Canyon, Utah was a priority for us… but that meant we had to drive all the way across Texas in a single day!

Much Red Bull was consumed and I didn’t sleep for more than a day, but, as I watched orange sunlight set the snow-capped hoodoos of Bryce Canyon ablaze, I knew the crazed driving was worth it.

5) Worst local travel experience (and if you are comfortable enough to, please explain why)?

On another road trip, my then-partner and I were too tired to carry on driving, but couldn’t find a place to stay. We parked the car in a church parking lot in Alabama, but our out-of-state license plate eventually attracted the attention of a local police officer.

He made us get out of the car into freezing weather at 4 in the morning… Then proceeded to reprimand us because he spotted a bottle of tequila in the car and we’d parked in a dry county! Way too much to handle while freezing and sleepy in the middle of the night – and why the heck are there dry counties in the United States?! Prohibition is over, yo.

6) Your top three travel destinations across the globe – either that you have personally experienced or would love to visit?

Pakistan for its insanely hospitable people; Mongolia for the wide open skies and steppe; and India because there’s no other country in the world so simultaneously chaotic and beautiful.

7) Any useful travel sites/blogs that you can recommend for following?

  • Uncharted Backpacker is an inspiration of mine, as he travels to all kinds of places I still only dream of visiting!
  • Journal of Nomads is a slow travelling couple I love to (virtually) tag along with.
  • Iris of Mind of a Hitchhiker is another inspiration; I dream of one day being as bold in my travels as she is!

8) If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?

Do I have unlimited funds? If so, I’d head to Japan! It’s the complete opposite of India – where I’m (currently) travelling – and I’d like to bask in clean, organised city streets and eat my weight in ramen. Or anything noodle-y and delicious, really.

9) Do you have any handy tips for planning a trip/day out in your city (and please state which city it is)?

I don’t even know what “my city” is – I live out of a backpack! But the last city I lived in was Haarlem, the Netherlands. For a grand (summer) day out, I’d recommend renting a bike, cycling around the cobble-stoned streets of the old city until you drop, then heading to whatever café or terras has the most people sitting outside and drinking wine.

For bonus points, do so on a Saturday when the weekend market is going on… Fresh stroopwafels and endless rounds of cheese… mmm.

10) Best travel advice for locals and tourists?

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Be flexible! You never know when an opportunity might arise, and it’s spontaneous adventures that are most often the most memorable ones.

To read about and see all of Alex’s travel stories and experiences, you can visit her amazing blog. Or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Thank you very much, Alex, for appearing in this international guest travel segment. Until the next one… happy writing and reading, everyone!

Author: Tamlyn Amber Ryan

Content writer by day and blogger by night, Tamlyn Ryan passionately runs her own travel blog, called Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust, from her home base of Cape Town, South Africa. And, despite a national diploma in Journalism, in her free time, Tamlyn’s preferred niche remains travel writing.

Tamlyn is a hopeless wanderer, equipped with an endless passion for road trips, carefully planned, holiday itineraries and, above all else, an innate love for the great outdoors.

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