There are many people who travel, then there are individuals that personify travel. Those who can talk on and on about their globetrotting adventures and never bore you. It’s the kind of stories that make you want to drop everything you’re doing and head straight to the airport to pursue wanderlust. With her restless feet and wild heart, Akua embodies all those characteristics and it’s hard to look at her and not wonder “how does she do it all?”
When did you catch the travel bug?
I caught the bug when I was 17. One love led me to another. My high school band was afforded an opportunity to play in Holten, Holland. Since then I’ve been “restless.”
How many places have you traveled to?
Places? You can’t ask a traveler that. One country could include many places! I’ve been on 5 continents, visited 28 countries, and have roamed through too many cities to recall. When I type it out it seems like a lot but to me I’ve barely scratched the surface!
Where are your top 3 destinations?
Egypt is so diverse! Geographically, its beauty is immense; one minute you’re in the desert and the next minute you’re in awe of the lush terrain that snuggles the Nile. It’s amazing how much rich history exists in one place. There is so much to take in and digest while you’re there: the traditions, the culture, the evolution of a people, and the flow of life which follows the Nile river. There is no low point during a trip to Egypt. The people are so unique and (in my opinion) are some of the most beautiful people you’ll meet in this world – no exaggeration.
I don’t think there is another place/region more adventurous than Australia/New Zealand. Between the amount of wildlife that you encounter and the endless selection of exploration activities, every day is unforgettable. In New Zealand, one day I witnessed the remnants of volcanic activity, untouched, in its natural-disaster beauty, then the next day we were out on a glacier hike! I’m not among the faint-hearted, so I enjoyed taking in a few extreme sports. I learned to surf and even jumped off the SkyTower in Auckland – twice! Of course, not everything enjoyable is high-intensity. There are world renown wine regions, amazing food markets, and major sporting events depending on the time of year (I caught the Australian Open and some international cricket). It is truly a region filled with experiences that force you to live in the (camera/phone-free) moment. On a trip like this it’s less about how you look every day and more about whether you are ready for the next mind blowing adventure.
The culture of the people is uniquely entwined and rooted in reggae music, and that pride is pleasantly echoed throughout everything they offer. Jamaica has a lot of cool activities you wouldn’t necessarily expect to find on an island, including jumping and diving through “Blue Hole” (ask for Tony). There’s a great party scene and memorable music fests to attend. If you’re into resorts, they have some of the best high end resorts in the world – hey, some people are into that touristy vibe. For me personally, Jamaica provokes daily debates with myself over what delicious dish I’m going to seek out on a given day. #foodiealert
Overall if you’re looking to have a great time, it’s all there. Hang out on the beach, take a trek through the hills and valleys, or go on a food escapade. I’ve been to many different islands but Jamaica is just beautiful.
Where is the oddest place you have ever spent the night?
A brothel hotel in Beijing. I was on a study abroad trip during the summer of 2008, pre-Olympics. We ended up in the brothel, not by chance but by intention, just unknown to us. We were staying in a hotel which would have been considered prestigious in Beijing, circa the 80’s; however, unknown to us, it was actually known location for brothel activity. In 2008, leading up to welcoming the world for the Olympics, Western style hotels like the Novotel were introduced to Beijing with a service style that never really existed previously. Hence, as a student enrolled in a program to explore the globalization of culture, our accommodation was selected to emphasize the differences in acceptable sanitation practices, service, etc. In the end, it was a great experience and cool, but the initial shock of what was supposed to be considered a 3 or 4-star hotel compared to what we initially experienced during our stay in Hong Kong (familiar luxury). We found out it was a brothel through observing the people; quite often we saw men and their mistresses walking in. We learned from locals that it was considered a nice place where rich business men could take someone for a night.
What allows you to travel so often?
My thirst. My curiosity. I’m so determined and eager to see the world. Yes, I have a job with reasonable vacation entitlement and alternative leave arrangements; however, half of the time I have no clue where the money is coming from. I just make the most of travel opportunities and set a timeline for desired travel experiences, whether or not they’re realistic. I get fixed on the idea and things often just…fall into place. Fortunately, my talents – dance and music – have provided additional opportunities for me to travel.
Top spot in the world that you haven’t been to yet?
Ugh…I can’t pick one. I think Brazil, India, and Ghana would be really cool experiences. Notably I am attempting to go to Ghana in August 2017!
What is the best piece of traveling advice you can give people?
Don’t overthink it; just live in the moment.