Nomadic Samuel – Addicted to traveling in Asia

With his crazy hats on and often hiding behind his lens, Samuel Jeffery is one fun to read travel blogger. This nomad from Canada is not afraid to hop on a train in India, eat silkworm larvae, drink snake blood or ride an ostrich. When he’s not experiencing ethnic cuisine or pumping his adrenalin level trying all sorts of crazy activities, he’s teaching English to Asian children. In the six years he’s been traveling he’s gathered a lot of great stories that he shares with everybody on his blog Nomadic Samuel.

1.      What was the moment when you first knew you were a traveler at heart and never want to do anything else?

That’s a great question!  I found that out on my very first backpacking trip.  I felt a sense of satisfaction, curiosity and aliveness that I had never felt before in my entire life.  I knew from that moment onward I wanted to live a life of travel.

Samuel Jeffery
Samuel Jeffery Samuel Jeffery

2.      You’ve mentioned in various interviews that your favorite place to travel is India. What do you recommend others to do while there?

India is such a diverse country that covering anything other than specific regions over period of several weeks is a rather daunting prospect.  If someone has a limited amount of time in India (several weeks up to a month) I would suggest visiting Rajasthan and exploring places like Jaipur, Udaipur, Pushkar and Jaisalmer to experience incredible forts, markets, food, culture and camel safaris.

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3.      What makes solo traveling the perfect way to see the world?

Solo travel forces you to break out of your comfort zone.  When you travel on your own you learn to become self-reliant.  In certain situations you’ll have to deal with problems on your own, and because of that, you’ll become a stronger person.  In terms of social situations, traveling on your own forces you to become more outgoing, which in turn, often leads to many new friendships you may not have otherwise made had you been traveling with friends or family.

4.      You’re also a photographer. Do you have any favorite place to shoot? Where did you take the most beautiful pictures?

It would be easy for me to answer India again but I’m going to go with Bolivia.  Bolivia has such diverse landscapes, colorful people, fascinating architecture and bustling markets that it’s a photographer’s dream in terms of subject matter.  As an example, my photo essay of Lake Titicaca is probably one of the most colorful collection of photos I’ve ever compiled together in one post.

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 5.      One of your other projects is What is your favorite photo and what’s the story behind it?

One of my favorite photos is of a Khmer man smiling with his dog.  When I was going for a casual stroll in Battambang, Cambodia I spotted this man waving to me.  At first, I thought he was trying to sell me something or offer me a ride on a tuk-tuk.  When I realized he just wanted me to take a photo of him with his dog, it was a really special moment because he was so excited about it.  I’ll never forget that moment and the story behind that particular photo.

I started Smiling Faces Travel Photos after the realization I had over 1000 photos of people from around the world flashing grins.  As a street photographer, I tend to take a lot more candid photos than most people, as I’m constantly seeking to capture authentic moments.

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6.      I know your plan for this year is to travel around the world for some time before taking another teaching job. Where are you headed?

I’m currently traveling around SE Asia with my girlfriend Audrey Bergner of That Backpacker. Our plans are to travel in Asia for a year and then head to Brazil next year for the world cup.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to continue on longer.  As much as we enjoy teaching we absolutely love to travel.

7.      What are the top three weirdest places you have seen so far that proved to be magical and made you think about going back?

Visiting Old Dhaka in Bangladesh was an experience unlike any other I’ve had in my entire life on the road. With very little tourism and infrastructure for backpackers, I was at times left scrambling to find items such as toilet paper or an internet connection.  While wandering the streets I had crowds of children and adults following me at times.  It was almost like I was a celebrity for a few days.  I would definitely like to go back again soon.

The Uyuni Salt Flats of Bolivia featured landscapes that appeared otherworldly. On a three day tour I stayed in a salt hotel one night (it was actually made entirely out of salt!) and we had our vehicle break down in the middle of nowhere several times.

While based in Korea I visited the Boryeong Mud Festival which in essence is nothing more than a bunch of people gathered around a beach to cover and throw mud at each other.

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8.      You seem to be quite a hat fan. How many hats do you have and do you collect them from around the world? Which hat has the greatest story and what is it?

Indeed, I am a man of many hats.  I would say I have close to 30 hats – most of them are sitting in storage in my parents’ house.  My conical hat from Vietnam has quite a humorous story behind it.  I lost a bet with a friend and consequently had to wear that hat around town for several days.  The amount of Vietnamese people who laughed, pointed their finger or smiled as I walked on by couldn’t be counted on my fingers.

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9.      Is it true you’ve never set foot in Europe? If so, why, and are you thinking about traveling there sometime?

That’s another great question.  I think a lot of it has to do with my addiction with traveling in Asia.  I’m also a little put off by the costs of potentially making my way around Europe given that I can often travel on a budget in Asia per day that would be less than just my hostel room in Europe.

10.  You’ve been away from home for more than seven years. What has traveling taught you?

Traveling has completely changed me. I’m a much more confident and self-reliant person now. I’ve learned to be patient and to appreciate smaller things in life.  I’m not even sure if I’d even be friends with my former self.  I feel like a completely different person these days.

You can also follow Nomadic Samuel on FacebookTwitter, and Youtube.