“Everyone makes mistakes when travelling or learns how to do things more easily, so I feel like that’s the purpose of blogs – to tell your story but then tell your readers how they could do it better than you did.”
Amanda Slavinsky, a travel blogger living and working in Korea, nailed the point of travel blogs during an interview we did with her. The quote also encapsulates what her blog is about - Farsickness is a compendium of Amanda’s travels, a place where she shares travel tips, and a space for questions and comments related to travelling. It’s a useful, interesting and informative site, which Amanda draws you into through her narratives about exploring different places. Read on to find out more about her writing, her future plans, and her life here in Korea.
Chincha: When did you start blogging?
Amanda: I started blogging last summer but then I took a break for a few months because I got bogged down by my teaching job. I’ve been concentrating on blogging since April.
What was your motivation to start a blog?
I want to get into freelance writing and I thought a blog would be a good online profile or a place to direct people to. I read a lot of travel blogs so I was inspired to start my own and join that community.
How important is the blogging community when you’re starting out as a blogger?
I think it’s extremely important. When I was starting out people always talked about the blogging community and how important it was, but I didn’t really realise it. At first, when I wrote last year, I wasn’t really that engaged on Twitter, but once I decided to make my blog important to me and spend a lot of time on it I started engaging with people, which is how I started getting a lot more viewers to my site and more traffic. Just retweeting people’s tweets and guest posting on other people’s sites means they’ll help you out. It’s also fun to see where other people have travelled and talk to expats who are living in different countries, to see how their experiences differ from yours – even though they’re living in a completely different culture.
Where have you travelled altogether?
Mostly Europe. I studied abroad in Rome and then I was an au pair there. I had a lot of opportunities to travel around Western Europe then. Since I’ve been in Asia I’ve only really travelled around Korea and I went to Bali last summer. I have a lot of travel plans now that I have more vacation time at school.
I’ve been to Bali too! It’s so beautiful.
I know! I had no interest in going to Bali but one of my friend’s parents has a villa there and she said we could stay there for free. I was very pleasantly surprised; it exceeded all my expectations.
Did you do any surfing while you were there?
No! I was really sad. It’s my life goal to learn how to surf but my friend’s villa is on the other side of Bali to where the waves are and I only had six days because of my really bad hagwon vacation time. We stayed there and then we were in Ubud, which is really cool. It’s not very Balinese but there’s tons of cool cafes and shops. I really loved it. I’m going to go back to Bali on my South East Asia trip. And I want to go to La Vina, back to Ubud, and I really wanna to learn how to surf.
Where else will you go in South East Asia?
Basically, the tourist loop. I’m going to start in the Philippines, then go to Indonesia, work my way through Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos and China. Then Cambodia and Vietnam. I get frustrated with people who say they have to go off the beaten track. I agree that it’s good to get out to places that aren’t as touristy, but there’s a reason that people go to popular places.
Does blogging motivate you to go out and explore more?
Definitely. I can think of a million times when I’d rather stay in with my air conditioning than go out and do something but then I force myself to go and experience more things. I like it, although sometimes it gets annoying for my friends when I make them go and do something so I can blog about it!
You have a series called Flashback Friday on the blog. Can you tell me about one travel flashback that really sticks in your mind?
When I went to Barcelona in college when one of my friends was studying abroad there. One of my friends was there. It was the first time I had spent any time outside of North America as an adult. When I went there, I realised that I really wanted to travel and live outside of the US. She lived outside of the tourist district of Barcelona so I got to see what it was like to live somewhere else, experience the culture and navigate in a place where I didn’t speak the language. I fell in love with Europe and travelling that week.
Barcelona is amazing. I went back there when I studied abroad, for my birthday. After Rome it’s my favourite city in the world. It’s fun, the nightlife is awesome, there’s really good shopping and food and it’s right on the beach.
You mentioned that you’ve travelled a lot in Korea. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been so far?
I really liked Samcheok in Gangwon-do. It’s not as busy as Sokcho but it’s right on the beach. It’s this small town and I went in the fall when there was no one there. It was really nice to relax and hang out on the beach. We went for a festival last October. We met the Mayor and he bought us makgeolli. I also like Busan. I’m going for my third time soon, it’s really fun. It’s a totally different vibe, it kind of almost doesn’t feel like Korea because everyone’s a little more relaxed. People there are a little nicer.
Can you give me your top three tips for living in Korea?
1. Be patient with people.
2. Be understanding of a different culture.
3. Don’t complain all the time. If you focus on the negative then you’re just going to have a miserable time.
Favourite blogs? Outside of Korea and inside?
I really like Expat Edna‘s blog, an American living in Paris. I also like C’est Christine. Christine was living in Australia and then travelled around South East Asia; right now she’s doing a road trip to the US. She’s interesting because she’s not a career blogger. She’s popular, but it’s not like all of her posts are sponsored. She travels the way I travel, so I can relate to her a lot. I also like Twenty-Something Travel, which is the first blog I started reading when I got inspired to start my own.
In Korea, I like Waegook Tom‘s blog a lot because he makes me laugh. I also like Lateral Movements. Lauren, who runs the blog, has a lot of stories and she’s a really good writer. She writes a lot of narratives, which are really funny. I appreciate people like that because blogging gets a bad name, sometimes, because people think it’s just a bunch of people who can’t write. That’s not necessarily always true.
Images courtesy of Amanda, taken in Rome, Bali, and Korea.
Interview by Loren