Forms of identification: Nellie Huang and Alberto Molero
Nellie Huang and Alberto Molero, the founders of WildJunket Magazine, at the Tsingy de Bemaraha stone pinnacles in Western Madagascar.
Irreverent responses from our favourite travel ninjas.
Name: Nellie Huang and Alberto Molero
Title/bio: Travel writers and photographers, founders of WildJunket Magazine
Twitter/website: @wildjunket | www.wildjunket.com
Born in: Singapore and Spain
Currently living in: Travelling indefinitely around the world
1. Tourist must-see you think is actually a “must skip”:
Nellie and Alberto: We wouldn’t recommend that anyone visit Halong Bay – not until the government or local tour operators take action to change things. The landscape of the misty bay is no doubt spectacular, but pollution and mass tourism have sadly destroyed the environment, leaving it in a less than desirable condition.
2. Everyone asks what’s #1 on your list of places you want to go before you die. But what’s your #3?
Nellie: North Korea. The so-called Hermit Kingdom is probably the most isolated and least understood country in the world at the moment. Since the end of the Korean War, it has probably allowed no more than a few thousands foreigners in. I’m genuinely curious to see what the country and the people are like and what keeps them so rooted to their ideas.
3. Best (or worst) person/people you’ve had to sit next to while travelling:
Nellie: When I was 19, I travelled solo around California after a semester studying abroad in Miami. It was coming to the end of my trip, I was exhausted and basically in a mess. I was on a bus in San Francisco when I asked an old Chinese lady sitting next to me for directions. She couldn’t speak a word of English and looked a little startled, but when she realized I spoke Mandarin, she immediately warmed to me and told me stories of how she emigrated to the United States as a teenager, how she found work and how she eventually settled here. She insisted on taking me around Chinatown and even treated me to some fresh steamed buns along the way. When it was time to leave she refused to let me go as she wanted to introduce me to her young engineer son – she thought we would be a perfect match. I didn’t get to meet her son in the end, but I left with a lighter heart and gratitude to the lady who showed me how to be content with life.
4. Strangest meal abroad:
Nellie and Alberto: Sheep brains in Morocco, deep-fried grasshoppers in Thailand, zebra meat in Namibia and roasted guinea pig in Peru – we’ve had our fair share of bizarre foods during our travels, but the hardest to stomach has got to be the balut or fermented duck embryo in the Philippines. It was quite a challenge as the duck foetus was clearly visible – its eyes, beak and feet.
5. Most unique souvenir:
Nellie: We filled up a small glass bottle with salt from the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia almost three years ago. Some of the white salt crystals spilled into the right side-pocket of my backpack and they’ve remained there until now. Each time I grab something out of the pocket, I’m reminded of Uyuni and how beautiful it was.
6. Best celebrity encounter while travelling:
Alberto: In Delhi, India, we were surprised to find NBA player, Dwight Howard at our hotel. Everyone had their eyes on him, and he looked overwhelmed by all the attention.
7. Most unusual item you have travelled with:
Alberto: I carry around a bunch of greeting cards, because you never know when they’ll come in handy.
8. Coolest mode of transport you’ve taken:
Nellie: I flew on a microlight over the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan. It was early dawn and the sun was peeking above the rose red jebels (sandstone mounts) when we weaved through the canyons. My pilot flew so low that we were almost touching the tips of the rock towers – it was definitely one of the coolest rides I’ve taken.
9. The place you don’t want anyone to know about but are willing to divulge here:
Nellie: Madagascar is one place that has truly resonated with me. We went there for our honeymoon last summer and it turned out to be far more than what I’d expected. Isolated from the world, with little influence from outside, Madagascar felt like a different planet. Travel in Madagascar was rough, but that made it all the more rewarding. It’s one place that I don’t want anyone to know about – but such a raw and beautiful place would be discovered sooner or later, so get there before it all changes.
10. Lay on us a priceless bit of travel advice or wisdom:
Nellie and Alberto: Travel with an open mind and don't be scared to try new things. We’ve come to learn that travel makes us feel truly alive – and if you feel the same, then it might be time to leave your work and find your true calling on the road.