Bino Chua is another impressive man; he is a little bit different than other bloggers, we interviewed this year, are. He is working full time, but still he manages to travel around the world. His site http://iwandered.net/ has a lot of handy travel tips, not only about unusual destinations from all around the world, but also about how to fit travel into a full time working schedule.
Q: So, Bino. Where are you now, at home or abroad?
A: I’m at home, which for now is Singapore.
Q: What is your day job?
A: I work in a bank.
Q: How long have you been travelling and how did you start?
A: I started traveling actively around 10 years ago just before graduating from university. The travel bug hasn’t stopped since then.
Q: Did someone have an influence on your decision to change your life and start travelling?
A: There was no particular person who influenced me. I suppose it just stemmed from my own interest in seeing more of the world.
Q: What country was the first one you visited and why did you choose it?
A: I think it was Hong Kong. It was not yet part of China when I visited – it was administrated by the British. I had no say in choosing the destination. My parents took me there.
Q: Did you travel a lot when you were just a child?
A: Not really. It was only in the past 10 years that I started traveling actively.
Q: Do you always travel alone?
A: While I do travel alone from time to time, the majority of my trips are still with friends or family.
Q: What do you prefer; hotels, hostels or private accommodation and why?
A: A mix of both. While I enjoy the space and relative luxury of hotels, in certain places such as Croatia it may make more sense to stay in private accommodations as these may be closer to the centre of town. From time to time, I deliberately stay in hostels in order to meet and mingle with other travellers.
Q: How do you fund your trips?
A: I save a certain amount from my job each month and allot it to my travel fund.
Q: How many countries have you visited?
A: 44 if I’m not wrong – not a whole lot!
Q: Where are you going next and what will your activities be there?
A: During my next visit, I aim to do a trip across Romania and cross over to Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina then to end my trip in Croatia. It will be a photography trip so my main purpose will be to visit the most picturesque spots.
Q: If you can choose one country and one city (doesn’t have to be in the same country) which you would recommend visiting and why?
A: In terms of country, it would be India. It’s a very eye-opening place. Many people say that you haven’t really travelled until you venture to India and in many ways, I agree with them. It’s an arrest to the senses. It’s a totally different experience.
In terms of city, I would suggest Tokyo. The contrast between tradition and modernity is most apparent here. It’s exotic yet high tech at the same time.
Q: Are there any places you don’t want to visit and why?
A: None really. I am quite open minded when it comes to places to visit. But that being said, there are places I do prioritize visiting.
Q: What’s your favourite gadget you take with you on every journey?
A: I can’t leave without my phone and camera. But other than that, my trips are not gadget-heavy.
Q: What is your favourite travel app for your smartphone or tablet?
A: Google Maps! It has really helped me a lot in my trips. I can’t count the number of times I’ve avoided getting lost due to this app!
Q: What camera and lens you use?
A: I use a Pentax K5 II. For most of my travel shots, I use a Sigma 10-20 lens. This was the same lens I used during my trip to Croatia.
Q: What did you learn on your travels, and how has travelling changed you?
A: I think traveling has made me more open-minded and more receptive to things going on around me.
Q: What attracted you to visit Croatia?
A: I came across this book about Dubrovnik when I was a child. When I saw photos of the old city with its fortifications and the azure waters surrounding it, I knew I had to go someday.
Q: How long were you in Croatia?
A: I was in Croatia for slightly longer than a week.
Q: What places did you visit?
A: Aside from Dubrovnik, I also went to Trogir, Cavtat, Split, Hvar and Zagreb. It’s only a fraction of the country, I know, so I am planning to return someday.
Q: What was your favourite moment?
A: Arriving at night in Dubrovnik and seeing the Stradun for the first time. It’s probably one of the grandest entrances I’ve had in any European city.
Q: Would you like to come back, and if so what would you like to see and do?
A: I definitely want to! One place I really regretted not going was Plitvice National Park. During my next visit, I will make sure I go there along with Rovinj and Pula which I’ve read a lot about.
Q: Did anything bad happened to you while you were here?
A: I stayed in this guesthouse in Trogir and it turned out to have bedbugs! Other than that, I didn’t really have any bad experiences in Croatia.
Q: What did you not like in Croatia?
A: In certain parts such as in the old town of Dubrovnik, it can get quite expensive especially when it comes to the food. I know it’s a tourist area but when I compare it with the tourist areas of other European cities such as Prague or Budapest, it seems to be a lot more expensive over at Dubrovnik.
Q: What do you think about Croatian people?
A: I think Croatian people generally are warm and friendly. I remember staying at this guesthouse in Dubrovnik. I only paid something like 25 euros per night but the owner picked me up from the bus stop to take me to her house. She also drove me to the old town and to a viewing deck a couple of miles away. And to top it off, she also provided me with food and refreshments. On a business point of view, it didn’t make sense to be charging just 25 euros but she was really very friendly.
It seems to me that Croatians have a zest for the good life – I have this distinct memory of seeing people crowding the cafes in Zagreb at all times of the day, even during working days.
Q: And what about the sea and the beach? Would you recommend it?
A: Definitely! With waters as blue as the ones I saw in the outlying islands, I wholeheartedly recommend Croatia’s beaches.
Q: How was the food?
A: Fantastic! I particularly loved the seafood which were very fresh.
Q: Do you have any tips for travellers thinking of visiting Croatia?
A: I think most people who visit Croatia just end up in the coastal areas. If there’s any tip I’d like to give on visiting this country, it’s to explore as much of the interior as the coast. That way, they get to see the two distinct sides of this country. The interior is more Central European in vibe while the coastal region is more Mediterranean.
Q: Where can we find you online?
A: I blog at http://iwandered.net. You can also follow me on Instagram at @iwanderrr.