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This is the first in our new series Nomadic Interviews where we interview digital nomads and long term travellers who have been on the road for many years. This month is Audrey Scott and Daniel Noll who run Uncornered Market, one of our favourite travel blogs featuring gorgeous photos and intelligent posts focused on the people they meet, the food they eat and the lessons learned along the way.
1. How long have you been travelling and where have you been?
We left our previous home (Prague, Czech Republic) in December 2006. Although we’ve taken breaks here and there to visit family and friends, we’ve been living out of our backpacks this whole time.
Just briefly, our journey has taken us to: Southeast Asia, Caucasus, Central Asia, China, India, Nepal, Central Europe, Central America, South America, and Antarctica.
2. What has kept you on the road for so long?
Curiosity, really. When we set off, we thought we would travel for 12-18 months. Our motivation was to learn about the world through experiencing it first hand; we soon realized that exploration and learning takes time.
3. How are you able to afford to travel? Do you make money from your blog or from freelance work?
An important thing to keep in mind when answering questions about money is that is costs. We travel on a budget, meaning that we often stay in places (e.g., hostels and 0-start hotels) that most of our friends and family would run away from. We also spend most of our time in developing and transitional countries so the cost is less than traveling in the United States/Europe/Australia/New Zealand. And, we mostly travel by public transport and bus. In addition to being inexpensive, public transport helps us explore a country and provides lots of opportunities to interact with locals.
We are able to extend the life of the journey through a variety of income sources – our blog, customized photography projects, selling photography, website development, and other random freelance projects.
4. We are currently travelling in Latin America where you spent quite some time. Do you have any ‘off the beaten track’ recommendations of places to visit?
Much of Latin America is quite traveled, but here are a couple of suggestions for “off the beaten track” places:
Livingston, Guatemala is a regular stop for people coming over for a day trip. However, we spent a week there and found it a really pleasant place to stay a few days and get into the laid back pace and Garifuna culture. The waterfall at Finca El Paraiso near Rio Dulce is also highly recommended – hot springs falling into a cool, clear pool of water. So relaxing.
In Ecuador, we really enjoyed going to the villages and weekly markets along the Quilatoa Loop. Our favorite weekly market in that area is Zumbahua (most people go to Saquisili). In Peru, we really enjoyed spending time in Chachapoyas and Cajamarca in the north. Many travelers tend to avoid Lima, Peru or stay for a really short time. However, we think Lima’s bad reputation has something to do with where most people stay – Miraflores (which has a lot of chain restaurants). Our recommendation is to stay in the neighborhood next door in Baranco and eat at the local restaurants.
Although not particularly “undiscovered,” we highly recommend taking a tour of the Salt Flats (Salar de Uyuni) in southern Bolivia from Tupiza to Uyuni. It’s some of the most amazing landscape we’ve seen yet on our journey. And, compared with what you’d pay in nearby Chile and Argentina, it’s a bargain.
Tarija in Bolivia’s wine region in the south is a relaxing place to spend a few days. There are no major tourist sights here, except being able to learn about Bolivian wine, but the reward is the friendliness of the people. In Paraguay, there is an interesting tourism farm run by Peter, a German guy who has lived there for 20 years, outside of Concepcion.
5. Which country that you have visited do you most recommend for foodies?
In Latin America, we’d recommend that foodies make a beeline for Peru. It really is the highlight in this region for variety, uniqueness, quality, and price. In terms of wine, you can’t beat Argentina and Chile in this region.
Our foodie hearts really lie in Asia, however. Thailand and India are at the top of our list, especially when you consider the cost (many times around $1) for absolutely spectacular meals. Malaysia and Singapore would probably follow, with Burma, Cambodia and Laos trailing shortly behind.
The most undiscovered cuisine in our opinion is Georgian food. Although the Georgians will tell you that it is entirely unique, we feel that it really is a combination of Greek, Persian and Turkish culinary influences. Don’t pass it up if you have a chance.
6. Where would you most like to go back to?
Oh, this is a hard one. Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, India, Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Guatemala, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Chile first come to mind. We usually leave a country with a longer wish list than when we entered.
7. You take amazing portrait photos. I always feel like I’m intruding when I take photos of people. How do you get such wonderful shots?
We talk a lot about how we take people photos in this article. A lot of the skills behind the portrait photographs have more to do with people and communication skills than technical skills. We spend a lot of time in markets and other areas where regular people go and we put ourselves out there to interact and build a relationship and trust with people. Then, we ask permission to take a photo or two. It helps that there are two of us since one of us can continue talking to the person while the other can take the photo – this distracts the person from the big camera and the shot is usually more natural. We’d like to think that it’s these skills that make our custom photography work with microfinance organizations successful.
8. Do you ever get sick of ‘roughing it’ in cheap hostels and guesthouses?
Definitely!! After a string of crappy and dirty places, it’s so nice to find a place that’s well cared for, clean and friendly. We sometimes spend extra time in places just because we find a good guesthouse or mattress.
9. Your travel blog is one of the best. Any tips for travel blogging success?
Why, thank you! Perhaps we’re the wrong people to ask about travel blogging success since when we started out we had never run a blog and learned through doing! We’ve focused on improving the quality of our content over time. We joke that our slogan is “quality over quantity.” Although it’s great to be able to post often, we feel it’s more important for your content to be unique, well written and visually attractive. And, write about what interests you and gives you passion.
10. Do you have any plans to stop travelling and settle down?
We’re often asked if we plan on traveling like this forever. Some people are surprised when we say “no.” We love travel, but being on the road non-stop can get really tiring with the constant movement. It can also make it difficult to carry out projects and find new projects when you’re searching for the next internet cafe. We plan to travel around Africa and the Middle East as part of this journey. After that, we’d like to find a place we can use as a base and can travel from for months at a time (instead of years at a time).
You can follow Audrey and Dan’s travels at Uncornered Market or on Twitter.
Hey I love your site!!! Really happy to hear you would love to drop by Singapore!
I’m a Singaporean, and I am PROUD of the variety of food we have due to the melting pot of race and religion here! Let me know if you are dropping by, I will bring you around, and especially the heartlands, where the real Singapore flavour is hidden :) I know SGP is expensive, but I will show you how to live like a local here :D :D :D
Lots of love from SGP!
This is one of my fave travel blogs! Thanks for profiling these inspiring travel bloggers.
Ours too – glad you enjoyed it!
Such an amazing couple!!! I’m in awe of everywhere you’ve been. Definitely visit Salar de Uyuni…one of the greatest experiences of my life to date.
We are really looking forward to Salar de Uyuni, despite the cold!
I think that anyone who has come across Uncornered Market ends up a huge fan! Excellent start to your new series…
It is great to hear more from other bloggers, although I know Audrey and Dan have so many tales to tell I hope to meet them in person one day. Glad you enjoyed it.
Thanks for your interest in Uncornered Market and interviewing us! We’re glad others are enjoyed hearing a bit more about us as well. Good luck and have fun in the rest of your adventures in South America!
Thanks for answering our questions Audrey! It was great to hear more about your travels.
Great interview, my two favorite nomad couples meeting is something I couldn’t miss ;)
Great interview, I love this site and am so excited to hit Peru in October!
We may well be in Peru in October too! Hope we bump into you!