I think I’ve only met Kae in person maybe once or twice in my life. He was a good friend of an ex-colleague and I remember him cos he too is a free-spirited guy, who likes the same kind of music and has the same kind of outlook on traveling. I’ve always only been kept updated on what he does via facebook, then one day I realised…Gee, this guy is now having an amazing job where he gets paid to be a travel planner!
Since the last interview with Ying, The Tiny Wanderer I figured you guys deserve to know more travelers, travelers who will inspire you to see this amazing and beautiful place called Earth. Enjoy!!
1. Can you share with our readers about how you’ve gotten this wonderful job where you travel and get paid to do it!
K : Three years ago, I quit my day job as a photographer. I had, had enough of back to back shooting events and weddings. Sometimes, I could be shooting more than ten weddings or events in a month. After I quit my job, I had more control on my precious time again to do things I really want. One day, a friend of mine from Levart called, and offered me an opportunity to lead a group of young travelers to Tibet. I took the wonderful offer to travel and get paid at the same time.
Even though I have experience backpacking in Tibet but my first time being a tour leader wasn’t easy at all because it was during the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. The city seemed to be on high alert status. There were police and military checkpoint every hundred meters. There were also rules and regulations for security purposes that prohibits the people from doing things as usual. For example, tourists needed to unload outside of fuel stations before refueling for a vehicle. Since then, I lead more groups to different countries and places, and I love it so much.
2. As a travel planner, what are the biggest challenges you face when on a trip itself?
K : The biggest challenge would be sharing with travel mates what is travel really all about? It is very important to be a responsible traveler. I would usually act as a role model rather than telling them what to do. For example, when someone in the group litters, I would pick up the rubbish and throw it into a trash bin, or keep the rubbish until I see a trash bin. By doing so, less travel mates will be littering and more of them would also keep their rubbish until they see a trash bin. My actions may not be able to make all travelers not litter, but I am happy to see some others pick up the good habit in the end. Besides litter, it is also stressful to lead a group of people traveling to places that need to obtain permits prior to arriving to the destination, like Tibet. If you travel to Tibet during a tense period, the permit can only be ready before your departure.
3. You’ve cycled across Taiwan, did the trans-Siberia in winter, you hiked up to Annapurna and that is not all the wonderful adventures you’ve had so far. Tell us what has been your top two trips that you would love to do it all over again and why.
4. Travelers often say that they love meeting and having conversations with locals, have you ever had any bad experiences with a local while on a trip? What happened?
5. Sometimes, we get too excited about our travels that we may sometimes forget about how we behave in another country. How do you think we can avoid disrespecting another person’s culture when in other country?
6. As a photographer, do you ever struggle with deciding what gear to bring and what to leave home? Has your gear list changed over the years for your travels?
K : These 3 lenses are always on travel with me no matter where I go.
- 24mm F1.4, only for landscape, scenery or stargazing.
- 50mm F1.4, mount on my camera most of the time. It is good for street photography, especially on a APS-C system. stargazing!!!
- 135mm F2.0, only for sunrise/sunset, shooting candids on the street, temple, church…
- a handy tripod for stargazing!!!
7. Where is the one place you’re dying to go to for your next adventure?
8. Last but not least, if you woke up and suddenly found yourself butt naked (i know, a bizzare question), where in the world would you want to be waking up naked in?
K : Waking up naked in the middle of nowhere on the grassland of Mongolia. Running naked on the grassland that will never fail to surprise me.
Thanks again for making it all the way to the end! Next interviewee is…well, their a family! Until the next interview, I hope you’ve been inspired by Kae’s words if not at least by his beautiful photos. If you’d like find out more about the kind of trips he leads, do check out Levart.
You can check out more of his photography work on Asparagus Pictures!