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Interview with Nicole Leigh West, author and travel writer

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interview

Nicole Leigh West, Varanasi, India

As part of our new interview series, we’d love to introduce you to Nicole Leigh West, author and travel (addict) writer. From camping in the outback to staying in 5 star hotels in Venice, Nicole has ticked 60 countries off her list so far.

Check out Nicole’s blog here and her writings on Huffington Post that include travel articles, as well as The Spiritual Room, which she founded. You can also buy Nicole’s fantasy fiction novel ‘The Gypsy Trail’ online.

How, why and when did you get started to write your thoughts on travel?
My adventure in travel writing started as a diary, when I was living in Japan as a dancer. I caught the travel bug intensely and, as I was already writing fiction, the two passions blended perfectly and resulted in my next career as a travel writer. While I was living in Prague, I began writing a fiction novel from a scary chateau in Lednice and, now, travel seeps into all my fiction writing as one of my biggest inspirations.

What are your travel articles all about?
I love to write about travel experiences I’ve had that are ‘off the beaten track’ and that have taught me valuable life lessons. I also write a lot of destination pieces for companies and publications, to inspire and help people with their own travel adventures.

What has been your most popular travel post online so far?
30 Amazing Ways to Travel In Australia Even if You’re On A Budget

What’s your favorite country / place you have traveled to and why?
I truly can’t pick one, as I’ve loved every place I’ve travelled to. Among the most phenomenal, simply for the unique, magical vibe you feel as soon as you get there, are Venice, Bali, Scotland and India.

Where would you want to live if you’d have to settle on one place?
I’d still call Australia home.

If I were looking for beaches, mountains, city life, or nightlife, where would you send me?
Beaches – The Maldives. Mountains – The Himalayas. City Life – Melbourne. Nightlife – New York.

interview

The Sahara Desert (photo by Nicole Leigh West)

What places / countries are the most overrated?
None – they all have their own unique appeal and it’s always up to the individual traveller’s perception of it.

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What’s currently in your top 5 list of places to go to?
Peru. Mexico. Israel. Istanbul. Boracay.

What was the most rewarding travel situation you encountered?
Gliding down the Ganges in a row boat in Varanasi, India, on sunrise and sunset. It was so rewarding because all my senses were engaged in a way that was utterly captivating. In typical Indian fashion, it’s incredibly beautiful with crumbling palaces, spiritual ceremonies and the hustle and bustle of local life… until the bloated carcass of cow floats by, inches from ardent bathers. The everyday occurrence of life’s most delightful and most atrocious aspects sit side by side in India, which leads to your mind expanding in ways you never knew existed.

What is your worst travel pet peeve?
Tourists complaining about the country they’re in, because it’s different to their own.

Have you encountered celebrities during your travels?
Yes, but the locals are the celebrities to me when I travel.

What’s your most recent food discovery from your travels?
Aromatic, delicious, succulent, saucy tagines in Morocco! I ate them three times a day for a week.

interview

Chefchaouen, Morocco (photo by Nicole Leigh West)

What was the longest time when you had no sleep / hotel bed? Tell us the story behind it!
Well, a game of hide and seek that involved jumping over fences into opulent, fairy-lit gated Parisian gardens led to no sleep… The sun always seems to be rising in Bali too quickly… Ibiza didn’t seem to want to let me sleep either… But I’ve always managed to find a bed when I’ve needed one, even if it’s in a hostel basement with a leaky roof and a mouldy mattress.

Which hotel that you have you stayed in is your favorite?
Hotel Tjampuhan, Ubud, Bali.

What are your favorite travel websites and why?
I love so many and tend to surf a lot, rather than stick to any single one. For reading about travel though, I’m a book fanatic.

What gadgets help you out on your travels?
Clothes pegs are the single most useful thing to have in your suitcase. Just take some next time, if you don’t know why. I guarantee they’ll be useful for something.

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