Interview with Rhonda of Bamboo Butterfly
Rhonda, please give my readers a background about yourself. What made you want to start bamboobutterfly.com?
Bamboo Butterfly started out of a need to share stories from my life abroad with my family and friends back home. I chose the title because it represents my personal transformation in Asia.
When you were growing up in Chicago is this when you developed your love of travel or did have always have a passion for traveling?
As a child, I'd look out my bedroom window into the night and think about all the wonderful adventures waiting in the world beyond. As a teenager I wanted to run away with the carnival, in my early twenties I wanted to work on a cruise ship-- I always wanted to travel but wasn't exactly sure how to make it possible. I did not have my first overseas experience until the age of 26, when I went to Ireland. After that trip to Ireland, I knew I was in trouble. Cupid's arrow hit hard.
What has been the most surprising destination you've been to? Meaning, you had a specific mindset about a certain destination but it was totally a different experience than you had imagined.
All of the places I've been to have surprised me in wonderful ways, but none more so than Taiwan. Before I moved to the country, I assumed it would be a high-tech urban jungle full of crowds and smoggy air. Yet, the mystery drew me in. What I discovered is that Taiwan's a gorgeous country, showcasing some of the most magical scenery I've ever laid eyes upon. Taiwan is multifaceted, full of surprising discoveries at every turn, and home to a few of the nicest people I've ever met.
What role has God played in your life while traveling abroad?
It's an amazing feeling knowing that no matter where I am in this world, how far away from family and friends, I'm never alone. God has been with me every step of the way, seeing me through both black and brilliant times. My faith is very important to me.
What's the most difficult part about not being able to see your friends and family everyday? What specifically do you miss?
Well thank God for Skype! I'm very close with my mom. I miss the little things, like my mom's cooking or just being able to give my loved ones hugs. Holidays...birthdays. One of the most difficult things though has been trying to share all I've experienced...at times it's hard to relay these feelings to others though I really want them to understand.
If you had to choose one favorite destination, which one would you chose?
This is hard! But if I have to pick one, I'd have to say Port Barton, in the Philippines. The electricity goes out at a set time every evening and if you want to get anywhere in the village after that you better have a candle or a flashlight! I love the laid-back lifestyle and the wonderful people of Port Barton. Port Barton is located on an island called Palawan and it's my idea of paradise.
What has been the least exciting destination you've traveled to?
Can I pick a U.S. destination? lol. (The U.S. does have many great destinations!) I don't really have any boring overseas experiences, every time I've traveled I'm so excited just to look at another new place.
How are the cultures different from the Taiwanese that you currently live with now and the Americans back home?
Taiwan is similar to the United States ...people work hard and sometimes (unfortunately) become too materialistic. A lot of Taiwanese don't really relax as often as they should and have high aspirations on getting ahead in life. However, I did notice many cultural differences as well. Taiwan is a collide of old and new worlds...the designer store with all the brand name labels and the stinky tofu vendor with his pushcart work side by side in this country. Elders are much more respected in Taiwan, emphasis is placed on the importance of family, family honor, and 'saving face,' education is also taken much more seriously than it is in the United States.
What impact has bamboobutterfly.com had on your life?
Bamboo Butterfly has helped me branch out further into travel writing. I'll continue to use it as a blog to share my stories, travel tips, and document my personal metamorphosis (we're all transforming every day of our lives!) as I venture forth along my ever-changing path.
Through blogging, have you met any interesting people?
I'm always flattered when I find out people are actually reading my blog and interested in what I have to say. I've come across a few wonderful travel bloggers and I hope I have the chance to meet them in person one day.:)
If you could travel with one celebrity for one week, who would you chose?
Could it be a character from a movie? If that's the case, would Johnny Depp please come whisk me away on a whirlwind Pirate Adventure?!
Hmm...another difficult question. Probably Andrew Zimmern, from Bizarre Foods. Even though I most likely could not eat half the things he eats, I think he'd be an entertaining person to travel with.
What advice would you give to a newbie traveler?
You have to give yourself time to adjust to a new culture...what you initially think is weird and shocking you may come to love and even miss when you aren't around it any longer. I also suggest getting to know the locals and taking random trips off the beaten path--get lost. It's here, away from other foreigners (and full-moon parties), that you'll really get to know the essence of a country.
In 10 years, do you see yourself still traveling or slowing down?
Still traveling and hopefully by motorcycle!
Thanks Rhonda. Please visit her travel blog @ Bamboo Butterfly