Bite with a Blogger: Bitten by the Travel Bug

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What is this?

I can’t quite recall which travel blogger I met first. I know it was at a Travel Massive meeting last year, but whether I first spoke to Heather from No Place Like Oz or Brooke from Brooke vs the World is a mystery for me. I do remember being just a tad star-struck when I met Brooke though. She was somebody I’d been reading for several weeks before I’d even heard of Travel Massive.

Had I known what a big deal Caz and Craig from yTravel Blog are prior to shaking hands with them, I’d have been beside myself.

Actually, I do remember the first travel blogger I met. While I’d had friends in Korea keeping blogs of their travels (such as The Kimchi Chronicles), I guess I could say that the first person I met who I thought of as a travel blogger was Tony from It’s Good Overseas. Although I met him as the boyfriend of an old college friend rather and found out about the blogging much later.

Since that time I’ve met too many bloggers to count, including Lauren from The Life That Broke, Jessalyn from Diary of a Wandering Student, the aforementioned Caz and Craig, Nicole from Hola Chica Travels, Gay from Pinay Travel Junkie, and Claire from Lakwatsera de Primera.

And while they’re all vastly different people with different writing styles and travel backgrounds – they all share the common trait of being wonderfully personable and friendly people. I’ve come to look forward to the monthly Travel Massive meets not just as a great opportunity to discover new blogs and promote my own, but also a good chance to hang out with people I consider friends.

While I often miss the wonderful friendships I forged abroad and the regular access to like minded people, getting to meet and hang out with fellow travelers plays a vital role in keeping me sane while I save money for my next trip abroad.

This has all been a long winded way of introducing a new semi regular feature here on Aussie on the Road: a Bite with a Blogger. Every chance I get I’m going to grab dinner, lunch, coffee, brunch, breakfast, or a sneaky beer with a fellow travel blogger. I’ll not only interview them and do a little promotion for their doubtlessly awesome blog, but I’ll also try and hit a new and interesting restaurant, cafe, or bar every time.

Nicole loves New York so much she attempts to eat it.
Nicole loves New York so much she attempts to eat it.

The first edition features the vivacious Nicole from Bitten by the Travel Bug. Nicole was recently in town to act as a Red Bull Mobile Scout and I jumped on the opportunity to show her a bit of Sydney and have a chat. What ensued was a night of delicious Korean BBQ, far too much soju, lots of travel discussion, and absolutely no drunk dials. None whatsoever.

And so, in what I hope will be a popular regular feature, here’s my interview and night out with Bitten by the Travel Bug.

Korean BBQ with Bitten by the Travel Bug

One thing I really love about meeting up with a fellow traveler is how quickly we jump from awkward hello to the fastest of friends. By the time we’ve walked the two blocks from the Stratton Hotel to BBQ City on Liverpool Street, Nicole and I are already shooting the shit about travel plans and travel experiences.

BBQ City is a favoured haunt of mine. Probably because it’s the first Korean BBQ place I found upon moving to Sydney early last year.

Located right in the heart of the city and below what was once my preferred Korean karaoke (noraebang) joint in the city, BBQ City boasts a pretty broad selection of authentic Korean cuisine and plenty of Korean beer and soju. Their menu also boasts the criminally good makkali (rice wine), but they were out of stock when Nicole and I visited. Sad face.

Nicole has done a great blow by blow of her experience learning to eat Korean BBQ (galbi) the right way over on here blog, so I’ll send you there for more about the meal itself. You can find her entry here.

Delicious galbi at BBQ City

We ordered up two orders of meat, two serves of rice, a bottle of Hite (beer), and a bottle of soju. I hate the stuff, but you can’t really do Korean food without some of this maple based vodka clone. As with all authentic Korean restaurants, an abundance of side dishes was provided free of charge. These included iconic kimchi (fermented cabbage), samjjang (savory soy bean paste), tofu, and gochujjang (peppers).

And so, as we ate our fill of delicious BBQ and grimaced through shot after shot of $16 soju, I asked a few questions…

The Interview

So, how long have you been travel blogging?

Arrrrgh I’ve been a’ scribblin’ on thee net… (okay, I’ll be good and it’s hard to write like a pirate!)

(Nicole sent me her answers on International Talk Like a Pirate Day.) 

I began Bitten by the Travel Bug in December 2009 but I only posted a few posts before running away to America for a Summer Camp where there was no Internet. After that, the travel bug took over and I have only become truly inspired to get serious posting in July.

And what made you start a travel blog?

When I was searching for information about working at a summer camp I found there was little to no information available for Aussies and even less about the ‘real life’ of a summer camp. All I could find were glowing reviews about how it would be the ‘best summer of my life’ and that isn’t what I wanted! I wanted to know “It’ll be great but….” or a simple “RUN!!!” would probably have sufficed. It was also a way to gloat let my friends and family know I was still a live and to have a record of my travels.

What made you choose the Bitten by the Travel Bug name?

Haha, it took me weeks of URL searching and planning to come up with something I remotely liked. I’m not 100% sure where the inspiration came from. Legend has it my Mum told me I was ‘bitten by the travel bug’ because I started travelling at a young age but myths suggest it may be because I have crazy adventures in my own city (like hoping on random buses and hoping I’ll end up home in time for dinner!) and my friend Cyndal yelled at me when one of these plans backfired with us ending up in ‘whoop whoop’ (a long way away from home!) with no way home and she told me that not all of us are “Bitten by the Travel Bug.” Who knows what the true story is!

A monster and a teddy bear in Melbourne
Street art from Melbourne. Photo by Nicole Blaess-Smith

Where have your travels taken you so far?

Since the tender age of 18-months I have been to: (drumroll)
Hong Kong (6-times to date), Singapore, Australia (South Australia where I was born, Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, and Queensland so far!), China, the United States (California, Nevada, Illinois, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania), the United Kingdom (including England, Wales, and Northern Ireland), Ireland, the Netherlands (just Amsterdam though) and Denmark!!!! …and does stepping off a train for two minutes in Germany count?

I don’t think that counts…


And where will your travels be taking you next?

Next is back to Adelaide! (I’m in Sydney at the moment) and then Melbourne.
Internationally I’m headed to Hong Kong and New York for Christmas and New Years, England in January and then back to the US for TBEX ’12. WOW! I better get saving!


 What has been your most memorable travel experience?


Halloween in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland or getting a ride in a police car after a VERY eventful night in Belfast, Northern Ireland – hrm… there seems to be a pattern developing there…


I think my readers would love to hear about this eventful evening in Belfast. We should all badger Nicole on here about it.



Moving on, what is the scariest (or most exciting) thing you’ve ever done while traveling?


Scariest? Getting on my first long-haul flight solo without my family or friends! I love flying but knowing I wouldn’t see my family for anywhere from 3-months to 2-years was scary considering even when I was living interstate for University I’d still come home at least once a month to work at a local radio station.


Most exciting? Getting on my first long-haul flight solo without my family or friends! Not knowing where I’d be sleeping the next night (my flight was delayed and my hostel reservation had been cancelled), not knowing if I’d like summer camp, not knowing where I could be next week and excited for the adventures to come!
Pouring soju
I break Korean convention by pouring my own glass of soju. Sacrilege!


And because romance, relationships on the road, and heartbreak play such a big part in my blog, I have to ask: What about travel romances? Have any war stories to share?


Let me sum it up simply.


Summer camp. Irish. Cooking guy. Have met up since camp. Planning on meeting up again soon.

Oooooooooo! Nicole and Irish guy sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G…


Ahem. Moving on…

What is a travel tip you’d like to share with other travelers?


If you have any questions about ANYTHING travel related use Twitter and you will get an almost instance response but don’t forget to include hash-tags!


Oh, and if you travel with shampoo or conditioner PLEASE use plastic bags or zip lock bags to seal it. I’ve unpacked so many bags (myself and camp kids’) with exploded hair products in it and it really is a pain to get out of the lining of bags (and can stain your favourite coloured clothing!)


Last one, I promise. What is your ultimate travel dream?
NORTH KOREA!!!!! or the Trans-Siberian railway… or island hopping in the South Pacific/Caribbean!


Oh, before I forget! Are there any posts you’re particularly proud of that you’d like to share?


My recent post “I actually like London…” and my post about the Coney Island Mermaid Parade are my favorites.


Face painted man at the Coney Island Mermaid Parade
Face painted man at the Coney Island Mermaid Parade. Photo by Nicole Blaess-Smith

The Evening

Questioning done, it was time to enjoy the delicious meal.

Nicole eating some Korean BBQ
Nicole vowed a photo of her eating Korean BBQ wouldn't see the light of day. She was wrong. Muhahahahaha!

Lots of barbecued meat served up with kimchi, garlic, and samjjang and wrapped in lettuce leaves. Shots of soju that I later washed down with a can of Sprite. A bottle of Hite that I had all to myself. Lots of photos. Me attempting to impress pretty Korean waitresses with my limited Korean skills. And eventually the walk across to the infamous backpacker haunt, Shark Hotel, for some drinks on my good friend Belle’s dime.

I had a lot of fun hanging out with Nicole and it again reminded me what a special brand of people we travelers are. It’s a unique kind of person who can meet a virtual stranger (unless reading one another’s blogs and occasional Tweeting counts) and have an awesome time.

And that’s something I’ve noticed both amongst Aussie travel writers and amongst fellow travelers when out on the road. From the gorgeous north coast girls I met in Fiji to the many friends I made in South Korea; from Jay and Jon in New Zealand to the many great people I got to hang out with while in the United States. It’s an openness that a lot of people don’t seem to have, and I feel bad for them. Life’s too short to miss the opportunity for a fun night out or a new friend just because of a little shyness.

Go read Bitten by the Travel Bug!

This entry isn’t just about eating delicious Korean BBQ and asking questions. I want you to go look at Nicole’s very entertaining blog. She’s constantly coming up with new and interesting content, and has seen more of the world at her relatively young age than I have. She’s worked at a summer camp in the United States and had a bear stumble in on her while she was showering, but I think she’d agree that the highlight so far has been being taught how to eat Korean BBQ by this bearded git.

You can find Bitten by the Travel Bug here, as well as following Nicole on Twitter.

Want In?

I’m really looking forward to adding more to this Bite with a Blogger series. There’s a lot of travelers both here in Sydney and around the world I’d love to get to know a little better.

If you’re ever in Sydney and want a bite to eat, a good chat, and some free publicity for your blog or project – let me know! You can reach me through my Contact page, hit me up on Twitter (@aussieontheroad) or ask on my Facebook page.

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