Traveller Interview: Lydia

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We’ve actually known Lydia for quite some time, though we both met her in different circles. Kylee and her worked together for a couple of years as travel agents and bonded through mutual love of food. While I originally know her from over a decade earlier back when I was DJing and she fed my vinyl habit from the local record shop.

A few years ago, she moved to Hong Kong, where she currently resides.




Where do you live:

Hong Kong

What do you do for a living?

Travel agent by day, debaucherous eater by night — moonlights as a DJ

What is your favourite country/countries? Why?

Oh man, that’s a tough question. I would have to say one of my absolute fave spots in the world is the US (as generic as that may seem) because the whole place is so diverse. There are so many distinct cultural differences in each corner of the country and literally every part you travel to feels like you are somewhere completely different from the last spot you visited, but you’re using the same currency. Next up would be the Netherlands because the whole nation has the right idea — everything and everyone is so chill and they really take care of their people. It’s hard to find a place that is so progressive where a huge majority of their population is actually very content with their lives and incredibly understanding of everyone.

What type of travel do you normally do (Tours, budget, backpacker, luxury, etc.)? Why?

I’ll do a bit of everything, but I generally travel as budget as possible. I’m not a fussy person and my legs are short enough that sitting in economy isn’t going to give me permanent knee issues. I try to avoid doing the touring thing as much as possible because I want to do something that is at my own pace and barring all the mega-touristy stuff. I like to cruise around and blend in as much as possible and take my time. Rigid itineraries are things I don’t like to follow.

What is the most unforgettable or profound travel moment you’ve experienced?

One of my favourite experiences was waking up super early in the morning, just as the sun was rising and hopping on a road bike with two friends in Pai, Thailand, and cruising through the rice fields and up to a beautiful temple at the very top of this steep hill and seeing the sun come up over the fields. Catching a glimpse of beautiful moments in nature is a must when I’m on holiday.

The scariest moment you had while traveling?

During that same trip in Thailand, as we were going back to Chiang Mai, I ate some gnarly food and was up all night with probably the worst case of food poisoning of my entire life (and I’ve eaten a lot of things and gotten pretty sick before). Getting locked out of my phone in NYC and having to re-set it completely on 10% battery was also a first-world scare for me.

What is the greatest food you’ve eaten while traveling?

You know there is no definitive answer to this one. Fave things to date: gyros and fresh octopus cooked in vinegar in Rhodes; bun rieu and the bahn mi at Hyunh Hoa in Saigon; khao soi in Chiang Mai; cucumber salad from anywhere in Germany; foie gras sandwiches with champagne and choucroute in Alsace; rostis and eggs covered in cheese in Switzerland; Yeungzhou chow fan and ngau lam mein in HK (my favourite things in the world); any place that does a really good rare hamburger anywhere on this planet.

Is there something you cannot travel without? What is it?

Living in HK, you eventually learn that you will be stuck in a situation where you will find yourself waking up somewhere that is not where you intended to be, so carrying around a survival pack is something I’ve become a pro at. There a few things I need with me at all times: lip balm, lotion, water bottle, kleenex, wet wipes and an external battery. If I have those items, I can wake up on any floor anywhere in the world and be OK.

If someone was traveling to your current city, what is one activity you would suggest them to do?

Hike the MacLehose trail (section 3) to Ham Tin Wan early in the morning, have a BBQ on the beach and camp out there and watch the stars at night. It’s like being on vacation from the city, but the city is only a half hour bus ride away.

Also, regarding visitors to your current city, what is one food/restaurant they must try?

Michelin-rated dimsum that is so cheap you will be blown away at Tim Ho Wan (must go to the OG shop in Sham Shui Po). Make sure you get the BBQ pork buns — you will never have one that good in your life.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to other travellers?

Do a bit of research on where you want to go before you go, but once you’re there, fly by the seat of your pants. Try and learn a couple of key phrases in the local language so you don’t seem like a complete idiot, and never say no to anything anyone offers you (within reason, of course). Be nice to everyone and be humble.

You are stranded on a deserted island. You’re allowed one book, one album, and one food (either an individual meal, type of dish, or cuisine). What would you choose for each?

Haha I play this game at work all the time. My book would be Culinary Institute of America’s textbook The Professional Chef, my album would be Dimitri from Paris’s After the Playboy Mansion and as far as food goes, it would be anything involving noodles (mostly Asian kinds). I would be the happiest deserted person ever.


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