Travel Blog of the Week: Chasing The Unexpected

Riding Out The Economy would like to introduce yet another amazing writer. Angela is the founder of Chasing The Unexpected and was kind enough to answer a few questions about her site and travels.

Definitely someone you should add to you feed, you can view more of here photography on her site or on her flickr stream.

Tell me about yourself and this project you’ve started.

Before starting Chasing the Unexpected I’ve had a travel blog for more than two years, but it was not self-hosted and I felt limited, I somehow felt the site was not entirely mine. This is why I bought my own space, meant to be my own long-term project. I’ve been improving it every day, and the feedback from readers is certainly a boost for keeping traveling and writing. I started my first blog a couple of years ago with the aim of posting all my unpublished articles, but I’ve enjoyed it so much that now I think of my site as a priority, where all my posts about unsung destinations can find their natural space. The name of the site says it all, beside visiting the most popular attractions, I’ve always liked to see the unusual, offbeat angles that every country has to offer. I love looking for quirky aspects of the cultures and societies I visit, to the extent that it has become a constant in my journey.

What motivates you to keep doing this?

It’s my old blog that gave me the motivation to start a self-hosted website. Despite being a small blog, it was (and is) quite popular, but limited especially when it comes to photography, I couldn’t really publish high resolution pictures and couldn’t play much with the design either. In Chasing the Unexpected I want to make a more complete website in really every sense, from photography to writing. I mean it to be beyond a personal blog that reports day by day my expat journey, I want to publish well-researched articles, of course coming from my first-hand experience, but researching them as if they were meant to a media outlet. I’m a big fan of off-the-beaten paths, and while many magazines praise this kind of travel, they are driven by advertising, therefore not interested in unknown places. I am though, this is why I post about not just unsung destinations, but places that very likely most people will never even go to. Travel writing is not just meant to boost tourism (although this is a very important aspect), but also to open a window on some parts of the world that would remain unknown to most people otherwise. To be honest, the success that my posts about the most unknown places are showing makes me think that readers are genuinely curious about what the world over has to offer.

What got you into photography?

Originally, I started only writing articles, without providing pictures, but gradually I saw that written pieces are more easily saleable when matched with photos. Moreover, my blog needed some images too, and since I’ve always been very jealous of my little page, along with my original writing I wanted to post my own photos. So I bought my first Nikon D50 and I started taking pictures for my articles and blog. Initially, I rarely used to bring my camera with me, unless I knew I was meant to be taking pictures, as it was very heavy, but little by little I got so much into photography and enjoyed capturing even the most common moments that now I carry it anywhere I go, despite its weight.

Film or digital? Dream camera set-up?

I use digital, much more versatile. I have used an old Nikon film my father bought ages ago, I can’t even say which decade of the twentieth century it dated back to, but it was wonderful, complete with I inevitably switched to digital as film is way too expensive, I take a lot of pictures, especially when I travel, as only a small percentage will be good enough to be published, so digital is what works best for me. I still use my good old D50, I have four lenses, a basic 18-55, a 70-300, a fix 50mm and a wide angle 10-20. For pleasure I might buy a lens for macro-photography, although it’s not strictly necessary for the kind of photos I need to take, so before that I’ll probably upgrade my kit with a Nikon D300S.

Where is the one place you want to go and who would you go with?

There is no one place I want to go to, I’m constantly traveling, I’m curious about every place I haven’t been to and even those I’ve already visited. Maybe now that I am in East Asia I’m mainly thinking about this region of the world, particularly Burma and Nepal, in the quest for beautiful landscapes and a genuine contact with nature. The best companions I’ve ever traveled with are my parents, they’re never tired, they get up very early, they’re curious just about everything, so I think I would like to travel in Asia with them, and they will probably join me somewhere during my tour, as they’ve been doing since I left home in the 1990s.

What advice would you give to a new photographer for travel photography?

The best advice I could give to anyone starting with either writing or photography is to practice every day and get inspired by the professionals. When it comes to writing, the best advice is to read a lot, not just from writers of your niche, but every kind of writing. I have some favorite writers and I every time I read one of their articles, it’s a real inspiration, even to write about a completely different topic. Same applies fot photography. There are many photographers’ websites, even just looking at a picture you can learn a lot, such as what to highlight, what subject or detail to focus on. I by no means consider myself a photographer, I’m a writer first, and compared to professional photographers I’m totally amateurial, but I like it and the more I practice, the more I learn.

What is the best place you’ve traveled so far?

Very difficult question. I’ve traveled a lot, and since I haven’t stopped yet after six years of being an expat, I’d probably say that despite all the difficulties, I’ve enjoyed all places and experiences. I take traveling as a constant learning, about the others and about how much I can challenge myself. However, if I have to narrow down, I would pick Brazil as the place where I will very likely settle and that I will make as point of departure for all my future travels, unlike now that I have no base anywhere. With Brazil was not love at first sight. I was thirteen years old the first time I went, and at the beginning I felt out of place. It must have been the jetleg though, as it lasted for only a couple of days and very soon I fell in love with the spontaneity of the people, the warmth and simplicity that rule all aspects of life. Apart from Brazil, one of the best places I’ve ever been to is my hometown, the Italian island of Sardinia. This might sound like nostalgic nationalism, but it’s far from it. I left my hometown thirteen years ago and went back only for holidays. I miss it but I know I’m not going back to live there, however since I’ve started out in travel writing, I’ve been carrying out a lot of research on Sardinia and have discovered places, traditions, oddities I was not aware of even when I lived there, or that I just used to take for granted. From the popularity of such topics on my website I’ve realized how curious people are about my hometown and have thoroughly enjoyed indulging in such research.

What is the worst thing that has happened to you on the road?

Luckily enough, I’ve never had any major issue, apart from getting food poisoning in India, but I think that’s pretty common when you travel to foreign countries. However, one of the worst travel memory I can think of is when I was in Spain, Seville, and the person I was traveling with got robbed. She had a lot of cash and her credit cards in her purse, so she literally remained with nothing for a couple of days. Since our trip was for only 5 days, this fact inevitably spoiled the whole stay.

Steven Seagal, Chuck Norris, Sean Connery, Jean Claude Van Damme, or Bruce Willis?

Among all, I think Sean Connery. I’m not a huge fan of action movies, unless they have less muscles and more psychology in the plot. Although I did like some movies with Bruce Willis, I think Sean Connery is the embodiment of elegance and style when it comes to acting.

What are your plans for the not so distant future?

For my not-so-distant future I’m planning a trip around South East Asia. I’ve been living in China for one year and since I had a student visa that required me to attend classes I didn’t manage to travel as much as I would have liked, so now I didn’t renew the visa and I’m taking off again. To be honest, I can’t believe myself I’m leaving Shanghai, as I absolutely love living here and I know I will miss it very much, but I’m very curious about the other countries, plus, I know I’ll come back to China, there are plenty of places I haven’t visited yet. Right now my priorities are India, Nepal, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar (Burma) and then probably I’ll move to the Middle East for some months before settling in Brazil. Still a long way to go, but I’m enjoying all the steps in the middle.

2 Responses Subscribe to comments

  1. Nomadic Samuel

    Great selection!

    Angela has a fantastic blog and is one of my favourites to check up on.

    Aug 29, 2012 @ 7:26 am

  2. Independent Traveler

    Like always, Its a pleasure reading your blogs… informative..well articulated and adorned with beautiful photographs…

    Jan 04, 2013 @ 11:46 am