25 Countries, 1 Woman, 1 Jamaican Passport – Jamaicans Who Travel
‘Jamaicans don’t travel.’ That’s a lie. A lie that should be buried in the same hole as the ‘Jamaicans don’t read’ myth. How do I know this? Well, meet Audi.
Audi started travelling in the summer of July, 2013. She says:
Travelling has always been a dream of mine, but I couldn’t travel while I was living in Jamaica due to financial constraints. After moving to Japan and visiting Okinawa (a tropical beach destination off the coast of Japan), I felt that I needed to broaden my travel horizon and explore my dreams of seeing what I can of the world while I had the chance.
First International flight …
I travelled to the US twice while living in Jamaica, but I guess my first real, official international destination was a 15-day (inclusive of a 4 day stop-over in China) trip to Thailand.
Places you’ve travelled to thus far …
So far, I’ve been to 25 countries. Since 2013, I’ve visited Thailand, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong, South Korea, Macao, Australia, Hawaii, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands (Amsterdam), Sweden, England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Kenya, Tanzania (including Zanzibar), UAE (Dubai & Abu Dhabi) & Egypt.
Your best travel experience …
Honestly, I’ve had many “ best” travel experiences so I can’t really single out any as they all represent something worthwhile and enriching for me. But, if I had to choose, I’d say I enjoyed watching game (animals) in both Kenya and Tanzania. Seeing those animals in their natural habitat and learning about their migration from the Kenyan to the Tanzanian wildlife reserves and back during the dry and wet seasons was life changing and I’d encourage anyone who love animals and the cycle of life to visit and do the wild life safari.
Your worst travel experience …
Hands down, it goes to China. That’s one country I will never revisit. I’ve never felt so alienated in all my life. I’ve had taxis refusing to stop for me, to people just running up next to me while their friends snap pictures without asking permission. I was also almost robbed while the store manager ignored me and pretended not to see.
Things got so bad, when I was leaving my hostel to head to the airport, the manger had to come out and stop a taxi for me. When the driver realized it was a black woman walking to the car, he drove off. For me to get a cab that day, the manager of the hostel had to stop the cab, sit inside until I entered, then he gave the driverinstructions on where to take me before he made his exit. China! Never again.
Which country/countries would you recommend as safe destinations for women travelling solo?
Well, I only travelled solo to Australia, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Hawaii and I felt safe in all six. In each place people would readily and willingly assist if I got lost. There was even a man in Germany who got off the train and volunteered his entire day to showing me around Frankfurt. Looking back, I’ve realized that I didn’t even get his name. Also, though Malaysia is relatively safe, the natives think all black women they see late at night are prostitutes, so I wouldn’t recommend walking around alone after dark.
If I could live in one country for the rest of my life, it would be …
I don’t have a specific country since I haven’t really visited many of the countries on my bucket list yet. But, so far, I’d definitely want to live somewhere in Europe as there’s plenty to see and do and I really enjoyed the rich history and the beautiful architecture. It’s also easier and cheaper to see many European countries as there always seem to be so many promotional offers that’s inclusive of hotels and flights/trains from one European destination to the next.
Where have you been that was totally different than how you’d imagined it?
I’d have to say Kenya and Tanzania (I did both countries in one trip). The people there were so friendly. Based on the media’s representation of Africa, I went there expecting to see lots of suffering and hungry children you can feed for 49 cents a day, but it was the complete opposite. I saw sky scrapers, well developed gated communities and beautifully paved roads. I blended in so well as no one thought I wasn’t from Kenya. The locals were friendly and on top of that, when I visited the Masai villages and saw how they lived as a unit, how roles are assigned and how everyone did their part for the betterment of the village, it made me appreciate life to the fullest and wish all man-kind shared similar principles.
Ever been robbed?
No, I’ve never been robbed, but I came close to having my wallet removed from my bag in a store in China. I was looking on cheap jewelry when a man (he was dirty and shabbily dressed) walked in. The store clerk was watching me from the minute I walked in, so I didn’t really pay much attention to the man as I was more focused on being black abroad and having a clerk following me around. I was so used to it at this point that I remained unbothered. I ignored her and continued looking at the jewelry when I felt my shopping bag being lifted. When I turned, the “dirty” man was standing directly behind me and he was trying to take my bag. I started screaming and calling out to the clerk, but, she ignored me. When I tried to complain, she said she saw nothing and the man was just looking as I was. I was so angry, the Jamaican in me came out and I told her some choice words (I didn’t care if she fully understood or not) before walking out.
Do you have a funny travel-experience?
I have two. In Zanzibar, Tanzania, I rented a vehicle and got a driving permit. I was warned that if I was stopped by the police, I should show them the permit before even showing my driver’s license as that was more important. On day two, I decided to visit “The Rock Restaurant” (highly recommended if you’re on Zanzibar island), which was on the opposite side of the island and about 2 hours away. I wasn’t daunted by the journey, so I filled up with petrol and went on my way. About 30 minutes into the journey, I was pulled over by the police.
He told me to park, get out and invited me into the mini office that they had set up along the roadside. He said I didn’t use my indicator and that was a felony that carried a hefty fine if taken to court. He then asked, “What can you do to help yourself?” I swear the Jamaican in me almost laughed out loud, but I feigned ignorance and pretended not to understand the question. It was then that he explained he would allow me to go if I paid him TZS100,000. Knowing far too well how this would play out, I used my street smarts and put on my best theatrical performance. I pleaded with him, cried fake tears, showed him my empty purse (I’d already hidden my money in the vehicle before disembarking) and got off with only giving him TZS10,000 which worked out to be about $4 USD. When I drove off, I couldn’t stop laughing.
Another time, I was in Australia. While on my way to a Cathedral in Sydney, I met an old man who invited me to Starbucks. I was like, he’s old, harmless and probably just looking for a bit of company, so I accepted. We had our coffee and he asked if I wanted to go for a walk. I told him no problem. While walking, he asked if I was hungry. I told him no, but he insisted on taking me to his favorite food place. I figured I was there for 7 days and had ample time to spare so once again, I agreed. Can you believe this man’s favorite food place was a food truck near the Cathedral that supplied food to the homeless? Anyhoo, I followed him to collect his food and we sat in front of the Cathedral and I listened while he talked about himself.
I learned that he was from Lebanon but came to Australia as a young boy with his parents. When he was finished eating, he asked me if I had plans for the night. When I told him, I was just returning to my hotel, He said, “I’m gonna call my daughter who is staying with me and see if she can leave the house for the night to give us some privacy.” I sat there with a blank stare on my face because I didn’t want to make the wrong assumption and prefer to wait to see where he was going with his statement. I guess my face showed my cluelessness ‘cause he came right out and ask me to come home with him for a night of fun. This was where I politely declined, thanked him for his time & excused myself. He insisted on walking me to the bus stop which was about 15 mins away, but once again, I politely declined and went on my way.
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