Meet Pamela MacNaughtan, editor of Spunky Girl Monologues travel blog, solo traveler, photographer. Hear about the benefits of slow travel, how travel her opened her eyes to new cultures, and her obsession with Butter Chicken.
What are some of the destinations you’ve visited?
I recently traveled from Nairobi to Cape Town, overland. I’ve also visited Mongolia, Thailand, China and few other countries in Asia.
What is it about traveling that you’re so passionate about?
Travel allows me to relax and be myself. There is very little bullshit and I can focus on the things that are important to me. It sounds rather selfish, I know. Traveling also gives me a broader view of the world. I love the randomness of travel and the ability to change my plans whenever I want. Its freedom. Its walking around with open eyes and an open mind. Its meeting locals and finding a way to connect with them.
What is your travel style and why?
I use to travel fast (only spend maybe 2 days in a place), but I’ve learned to slow down, a lot. I really enjoy slow travel, especially if I’m traveling for longer then a couple of months. Slow travel allows me to get to know a place. I will spend hours walking around a city everyday, discovering funky shops or finding a food vendor that makes amazing local food. By traveling slower I can find more opportunities to interact with locals and of course, it’s cheaper!
What made you decide to start travel blogging?
I started blogging years ago as a way to keep my family calm when I travel. I was very sporadic back then and usually had the blog for as long as it took for me to do the trip. I think I’ve had like 3-4 different blogs in the past, before I created SpunkyGirl Monologues.
Favorite destination and why?
This is one of the hardest questions to answer. I want to say Thailand as it feels like a second home. I spent a lot of time in both Chiang Mai and Bangkok last year, and I’ll be back there again this year. It’s a beautiful country and I have only scratched the surface.
What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you while traveling?
Mmmm let’s see… there was the time I was giving first aid to a Mongolian man who had been attacked by thugs. He worked as a driver for the hostel I was staying in and walked in the door with a huge gash on his forehead and blood everywhere -he was also a tad drunk. After I finally had his head cleaned and somewhat bandaged, he decided we should get married and go live in his Ger in Northern Mongolia. It was a long, awkward night and the fact that the other backpackers tried to negotiate camels and horses for themselves in exchange for my hand did not help.
Has there ever been a time when traveling that you felt truly culturally immersed?
There have been a couple of occasions. One of the best parts about solo travel is the ability to become totally immersed. People are not as shy, and if you travel solo, you don’t have a friend as a shield if you’re nervous. I had an amazing afternoon at the Great Mosque in Xi’an when locals invited me to join them for tea. They couldn’t understand me and I couldn’t understand them, but it didn’t matter.
Best meal abroad?
I’m pretty obsessed with Butter Chicken. It’s become a challenge for me to find a place in every city in every country.
Favorite travel books?
I have two favourites. The first is ‘No Touch Monkey’ by Ayun Halliday and the second is ‘Marching Powder’ by Rusty Young. They are two totally different books and in some ways ‘Marching Powder’ is only half travel -if that makes sense.
My playlist changes based on the country or continent I’m in. In Africa my playlist was a mixture of songs I heard over there and song that my fellow travellers played over and over. Some of the songs on my Africa playlist are Bang Bang by K’naan, The Time (Dirty Bit) by Black Eyed Peas, Africa by Karl Wolf and Waka Waka by Shakira -which is still huge in Africa.
Is there anything you absolutely can’t travel without?
My camera! However if was stolen in Zanzibar, so I have had to make due with my iPhone.
Most embarrassing travel moment?
Getting a very public and very thorough pat-down at the Detroit Airport. There was no privacy screen and by the time the agent was done, I was in tears and felt totally violated.
One thing you wish you knew about traveling before you started?
I’m not sure. I’m one of those people who can adapt fairly quickly (we moved around a lot when I was a kid), so travel has always felt normal for me.
How has traveling enriched your life thus far?
I think traveling has helped me accept other cultures and be more confident in myself. Travel has also opened my eyes to the lives of others and helped me to realize that I can live simply and still be really happy.
Any upcoming trips planned?
I’m currently traveling in Asia. I’m in Penang until the end of October and then I’ll be traveling to Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and hopefully many more Asian countries on my ‘To Travel’ list.