Yes, it’s very, very formal, thank you for asking. It was awarded to me via an Instagram direct message, but don’t think that makes it any less real. And no, it wasn’t an award for World’s Greatest Lover, but only because I’ve already received that. It’s a blog award called the Liebster, and it’s basically the Oscar of the blogging world.

I’m actually very flattered and excited, because it means someone other than my mum has been reading my blog! I always say that future Brooke is the real target audience of my blog (and it has already proven very valuable to me after my apartment was recently B&E’d, my hard drive was kidnapped, and literally the only photos I have left are the ones on this blog) but just because I write mostly to document all my adventures for myself does not mean I don’t get a lot of satisfaction out of other people reading my posts! Especially after I spent about 50 hours writing a 45-page guide on Moving to Australia. That was fun to have recorded for me, yes, but it was really to guide other expats on their journey down under. When I made the big leap 4 years ago, it was a lot to manage without help and I made a lot of mistakes, but I am keen to share everything I learned with other people, maybe make just one person’s life a little less stressful!

 

And I definitely also work on my blog as a creative outlet. Somehow, all those artsy genes in the family have passed me by and I couldn’t paint a landscape if my life depended on it. I took 10 years of piano lessons and can’t play a single song, and I also can’t stitch in a straight line. Working on my blog is something that still gives me a finished product to feel proud of, without crying of frustration. As luck would have it, my foray into the world of scientific research involves a lot of writing, more than I ever imagined possible, and yet I somehow still feel like working on my blog after writing and rewriting my thesis 8 hours a day. That’s true love.

Self-promotion aside, my new reader is Olivia Violet from Hello Violet Adventures, a NorCal girl romping through the outdoors and doing a lot of wine tasting, both things I can get on board with in a big way. She is a sweet creature for noticing a small fish like brookearoundtown, and a talent in a million ways of her own.

Q & A

My nominator assembled some questions for me to answer, as per the award guidelines. And who doesn’t love a fun little quiz where the subject is themselves!

1.  What’s your favourite season to photograph?

I really love autumn in Seattle, but that season doesn’t exist in Sydney. So I think summer has to take the cake, especially since it’s the best time to be outdoors doing adventurous things or laying on the beach doing absolutely nothing. Everything looks beautiful in the sun, especially those hot summer nights when the sun comes down over the ocean and makes the whole world look like fairy floss.

2.  What culture fascinates you the most?

I’m absolutely captivated by Indian culture, and I want to make it there in the near future (you know how it goes, too many places on the list, I can only be so many places at once). I worked at an Indian restaurant for a year during my undergrad and I developed a really intense obsession for the food (10/10 spice is life) and a great interest in the culture. Mukhwas is basically the best thing to ever happen to my mouth and I am not a religious person at all, but I am totally spellbound by Hinduism and the balance it promotes in life. Since I was the restaurant’s token white girl, I got to interrogate everyone on their lives back home and learn a lot about the country. It’s seems like a fascinating place of complete opposites and I can’t wait to see it for myself.

3.  What’s your craziest travel story?

My craziest travel story is illegal, so I won’t go into details.

4.  Who is the biggest supporter of your blog?

Oh, easy, my former roommate in Seattle and lifetime favourite person, Katy. She reads basically everything I write (hello Katy!) and is the biggest cheerleader for all my life’s endeavours, including my move to Australia, my erratic travelling, and my questionable life choices. #rideordie

5.  Cat or dog?

Not even a debate.

My cat is sadly not one of those hiking and kayaking adventure cats on a leash that you see online. I accept that about him. Henri is a princess, a sweet beautiful princess, and I wouldn’t trade him for anything in the world.

6.  What’s the greatest lesson you’ve taken from your travels?

To let life unravel in front of you. It’s important to be receptive to the universe steering you in new directions, not everything can be hyper-planned and often the best experiences and opportunities arise serendipitously. Of course I’ve had amazing travel adventures that blossom from misadventure or coincidence, but I also feel this in my everyday life. It was a lot of chance that led me to move to Australia 4 years ago, and I’ve never looked back. Even more recently, my plans to study medicine were temporarily derailed by a very fortuitous scholarship to do a PhD under some of the most amazing professors I know and in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Sport. I was in the right place at the right time and I never would have been able to predict the opportunities that have come out of this. And I never could have planned for it! Both of these things have already changed my life in huge ways. I hope to always be flexible enough to recognise opportunity, even if it’s not in the form I imagined, in my travels and in the bigger picture.

7.  Where is your favourite place that you have visited?

I don’t know how I could possibly answer this. How about my favourite country from my most recent trip to Europe? 10/10 Iceland. It’s the most incredible place: there’s like no people in the whole country, it’s remarkably desolate in an awe-inspiring way, and it has the most unique and varied landscape. Glaciers, lava fields, beaches, mountains, lagoons, cliffs, canyons… I took hundreds of photos and wrote on my blog religiously every day of our road trip, so there’s an extensive record of our movements and I love looking back at it (even though it was only 2 months ago) because it was one of the greatest trips of my life.

8.  While you’re blogging, what’s your drink of choice? A-coffee; B-tea; C-wine; D-water.

I’d have to invent a fifth option and say Gatorade, it’s a very guilty pleasure of mine to drink sports drinks while being extremely sedentary.

9.  On your travels, do you look most forward to trying new tastes, outdoor adventures, seeing different architecture, or learning about the history?

Definitely outdoor adventures. Nature is the most authentic way to experience a new country, so I always look for ways to get outside and romp around rather than staying in a city. I think I’ve inherited this craving from my dad, the most outdoorsy person on the planet, who took me climbing, backpacking, and cross-country skiing for every minute of my youth. I have the best childhood memories of hiking all day to reach freezing mountain lakes and eating just-add-water mountain food outside the tent…

My favourite views of all time are mountain views, even better when they’re dusted with snow in the middle of summer. Plus, I’m a shockingly uncoordinated person who struggles to even ride a bike or drive a car, but I can hike! It’s something that doesn’t require too much technical skill, just stamina and determination, and provides unparalleled opportunities to ogle views and snap photos. A good number of my trips revolve around hikes I want to do, like in NZ, Patagonia, and Peru, and my upcoming trip is centred around the Tour du Mont Blanc. I’m counting the minutes until July.

10.  What device do you use most for your photographs?

My beloved GoPro, which was actually stolen in my recent house robbery, but I have since replaced it with a GoPro 5 and am back in business. Yes, you could probably take better photos with a DSLR, but I am always astounded with the photo quality I get out of the GoPro and it so much better suits my lifestyle. I don’t stress about rain damage, sand or dirt scratching the lens, dropping the camera (v clumsy), and I can put it in my pocket so that it’s much less conspicuous in, say, Rio where you’re trying to look at poor as possible to avoid robbery and/or stabbing. Plus, I love diving, and it’s been a fabulous scuba companion to me over the years, capturing many a reef shark and sea turtle. RIP GoPro 4. Welcome to the party, GoPro 5.

 Nominations

In the spirit of this award, I am meant to nominate some of my own favourite blogs, which should be easy because I cyber-lurk on a good number of sites around the clock. (It’s not stalking, it’s trip research.) Apparently these should be blogs with low readership, not large well-known blogs, but I have no idea how many readers anyone has and it shouldn’t matter. These are the blogs I have been reading most recently, and they are all super talented, adventurous people!

journal of nomads, an incredible couple hitch-hiking around the world and sharing their stories via blog and vlog. You inspire me to travel more authentically!

unlocking kiki, a delightful soul living in Iceland who provided me with oodles of drool-worthy places to visit on my recent trip to the country.

wanders of a wallflower, an outdoorsy gal who writes about her wilderness adventures and makes me miss all those gorgeous North American national parks. I love all the camping tips, and it has really inspired me to write some backpacking info posts of my own.