Gwendolyn Tan is a food loving social media queen, working in international social media management across Asia. Currently based in Melbourne, Australia and originally from Singapore, Gwen spends a lot of her time travelling the world chasing the newest flavours and sights from her favourite places.
Gwen currently manages the social accounts of some of her favourite food spots from around Asia, while working with a collective who offer some of Asia’s top food vendors a home to display what they’ve got to offer. One of these places is HWKR street food, located in the heart of Melbourne. Gwen’s current travel goals are set on exploring the land down under, and experiencing all Australia has to offer. From the vast open deserts, bustling laneways, award winning beaches and unique flora and fauna Gwen has a lot of travelling ahead to see all that Australia has to offer. We had a quick chat with her about some of her top suggestions for places around Asia to grab a bite to eat, her ideas on how travelling impacts creativity and how she thinks travel is changing for the solo millennial.
Places been: Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Korea, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia
Going to next: Probably Adelaide, Australia. Maybe I’ll go in February too because Fringe Festival is on then and they have some really incredible international acts I’d like to see. And pretty good food too.
Ultimate travel tip: Plan where you want to go in advance. It helps having an itinerary, especially if you’ve not been to the place and you only have a few days. It helps you build up the excitement too.
Favourite country in Asia for food: Japan has the best food for sure. I don’t really have a specific place in mind, but I suggest the fish market (Tsukiji I believe). One of the most interesting foods I’ve eaten was raw horse meat sushi. It tasted way better than it sounded.
As a creative person, do you find that travelling inspires you? Which destination have you found has inspired you the most and why?
Definitely. I love Japan the most. Tokyo was a great place with amazing food and culture. They are very advanced in technology and you get to learn quite a bit. I went to Akihabarai and there were so many interesting and new things. One night I went to a Robot cafe which my friend recommended I go and see. It was amazing how the people had choreographed their performance with the robots and got me thinking about the future of people and machines. Another place I thought was cool but bizarre was the maid cafe, where there are girls dressed as traditional western maid who you can take photos with and drink interesting teas.
Taiwan was another place I found which was very rich in culture and again, had crazy delicious street food. I went to the museum of strange things and I got to see really weird creatures like (alive!) three-headed turtles and fish with two mouths. These experiences are etched in my mind, which could become useful whenever we need some creative ideas for campaigns!
What advice would you give to anyone travelling to Australia for the first time?
Plan ahead and do a bit of research. Travel with someone who can drive too because you’re going to need it for all the road trips. Some of my favourite road trips in Australia are the 10 day trip around Tasmania, driving up the East Coast of Australia, and many of the beautiful drives in Victoria all within a couple of hours of Melbourne.
How has your experience moving to a new country impacted your view of the world and how you travel?
I would say I became more open. I feel that my ideas are more accepted here compared to my home country. Melbourne is a very creative city. It inspires me everyday, from its streets to culture to food. I am also more independent than I was previously. I feel like I can be more creative now and express myself better.
How do you think social media has changed the way young people travel? How do you think it’s changed the way we experience food when we travel?
Those travel videos on Facebook and Instagram Stories and posts makes people want to travel. There’s this travel bug going around when you see amazing and beautiful snaps of a certain place. We save these posts so we can revisit them or they could be a reference when travel to that particular destination. It’s kinda like a bucket list (I’ve done a similar campaign that saves IG photos where you can build a bucket list). For food, obviously we’d love to save those social posts we want to eat. #foodporn is one example of how people who love social media + food came about. We travel with our smart phones and updates our friends/followers almost instantaneously wherever we are. E.g. If I’m at the Grand Canyon, I want people to see that I’m there and share the beautiful sights. I saw a friend share her snaps on Grand Canyon a couple of days ago. I was so jealous!
What advice would you give you travellers who want to take more creative photos, see more creative places, or embrace creativity in a new way?
No advice. Just be yourself! Capture whatever you feel will tell a great story. If you want to experience wild and crazy things while you’re overseas, obviously the experiences you have will affect your capacity to take crazy photos (like the one I took when I went skydiving). If you’re into more calming, relaxing travel, then find your niche and stick to it. I think authenticity is important because we travel for ourselves, not the camera or the internet. If you’re having a good time, and experiencing what you want to, then just so happen to capture it in a photo – that’s going to be so much more valuable than trying to plan your trip around pleasing the internet.
Travelling with friends, or allowing yourself to meet new people along the way can often be the best way to discover new and creative places. If something is underground, it’s underground for a reason. The more you talk to people and explore, the more you’ll learn and discover. Also, travelling to places where you might not speak the language isn’t always an issue if you’re good at making friends or know how to use technology. I find that no matter where I go I can always find someone who can speak English and Chinese (I speak both) as well as the local language. We help each other out. Otherwise, the internet has really good translation apps, and oftentimes you can pick up on social cues to work out what’s going on.
Written by Stefan Petersen.
It’s a lovely experience walking around a museum by yourself. You can move at your own pace, allow yourself some solitude to mentally engage with carefully curated artefacts, and welcome inspiration from introspection and self-reflection. Travelling can sometimes end up in a flurry of things to do, see and taste, without having the time to really take in the subtleties of the foreign environment you’ve entered. Museums can empower you with archives of knowledge, and give you the opportunity to pay respect to the extraordinary cultures and histories of thousand year old cultures . As noble peace prize recipient Orhan Pamuk put it, a museum should not just be a place for fancy paintings but should be a place where we can communicate our lives through our everyday objects.
To pay our respects to International Museum Day this Friday 18 May, we’re uncovering what we think are the most underrated Museums in South East Asia. We believe that the following historical archives pay due to the liven experiences of, and beauty of South East Asian cultures.
To best summarise Hanoi’s Vietnamese Woman’s Museum, the word “inspirational” would suffice. Although the Museum features the word “Women”, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s not equally fascinating and enjoyable for both men and woman. The gallery offers a fascinating introduction to the life of Vietnamese women, their hardships, achievements, and historical milestones which assisted in progressing Hanoi into Vietnam’s magical capital of today. Besides displays on everyday life, marriage and childbirth (which are far from banal) it also brings to life the lived experiences of women in the wars against the French and Americans.
Other rooms deal with contemporary phenomena like the roving merchants of Hanoi, and the cult of the Holy Mothers with Mother Goddess. The museum’s final floor features traditional clothing of women from each of the 54 ethnic minorities in Vietnam. Another floor exhibits a collection of agricultural and domestic tools used by women throughout the country. The exhibits in this one museum will begin to open any traveler’s eyes to much that is compelling and special about Vietnam.
As the largest religious monument in the world, it’s no surprise that World Heritage listed Angkor Wat is the most popular tourist destination in Cambodia and in everyone’s top 5 must see places to visit in South East Asia. The once in a life time experience can be quite overwhelming in the humid Cambodian tropics, crowded with millions of patrons each year, all trekking through miles and miles of fascinating temple, Fully absorbing all Ankor Wat has to offer can be an arduous if not impossible feat while immersed in the ancient temples. Take some time to explore Angkor National Museum before heading to Angkor Wat.
Angkor National Museum is an archaeological museum dedicated to the collection, preservation and presentation of Angkorian artefacts. The museums 7 galleries feature collections mainly dated from the Khmer Empire‘s Angkor period. There is an extra gallery dedicated to history of hundreds of years of Buddhism, with 1,000 Buddha images highlighting the religion’s significance in Cambodian culture.
Travel to one of the most-loved cities in Malaysia is always a good idea, especially when it has some of the best food, festivals, street art and museums. Some of these include the Upside Down Museum, Camera Museum and Ghost Museum, but here at chozun 途赞 we think one of the most underrated museum in not only Penang, but the whole of Malaysia, is Penang House of Music. Located in vibrant George Town, the museum hits the sweet spot between meticulous research and an engagingly fresh vibe.
Penang House of Music vividly display a plethora of traditional Malaysian musical instruments, holds jam sessions with respected local musicians, live sets, and has interactive exhibits to fully immerse yourself in rhythmic sounds of Malaysia.
Laos is the super chill capital of South East Asia, with awesome food, stunning sunsets, copious amounts of roaring waterfalls, and world-class hand crafts. Weaving, silk work and dyeing run deep in Laos culture, and The Ock Pop Tok Living Crafts Centre offers insights into these age old tradition. The centre is a cultural hub of artisans where Lao textiles truly come alive. Ock Pop Tok is a wider community of talented artisans, founded 18 years ago with 5 weavers and has expanded to provide employment for over 500 women in Luang Prabang and nearby villages. Fifty percent of the revenue from Ock Pop Tok goes back into the government and NGO supported Village Weaver Projects.
Set in the grounds of a thriving tropical garden on the Mekong, it’s the perfect place to absorb the fascinating culture Laos has to offer while learning more about this unique art form. Free guided tours are available where you can meet the weavers, immerse yourself within the artisan community, and even observe the silkworms. Unforgettable classes are provided for a small donation, specialising in traditional weaving and dyeing techniques. On site they have the Silk Road Cafe, where you can grab a coffee or refreshing sugar cane or coconut juice to. They’ll even pick you up in a tuk tuk and provide a scrumptious Laos lunch.
老挝是东南亚超级放松的首府，拥有美味的食物，令人惊叹的日落，大量咆哮的瀑布以及世界级的手工艺品。编织，丝绸作品和晕染技术等在老挝文化的深处运行，Ock Pop Tok Living工艺中心提供对这些古老传统的洞察。该中心是老挝纺织品真正活跃的工匠文化中心。 Ock Pop Tok是18年前由5位织工创立聚集具有精湛技术工匠的社区，并已扩展到为琅勃拉邦和附近村庄的500多名妇女提供了就业机会。 Ock Pop Tok 50％的收入回归给政府和NGO支持的Village Weaver项目。
Stretched across the Equator, Indonesia is a year round destination for beach getaways. The famous island of Bali gets a lot of deserved attention, with floods of tourists lining its beaches and packing its hotels. But Indonesia is a nation of over 17,000 islands, and with 8,000 of those occupied there’s so much more to discover.
And Indonesia wants you to see this. Recently, the Indonesian government announced a ‘10 new Balis’ campaign to encourage tourism outside of the island hotspot.
Deserted beaches, waterfalls, cliffs and coral reefs are seemingly endless is this diverse and enigmatic country. We’ve done a little look into five islands to get that adventure started.
印度尼西亚跨越赤道，全年都是海岛游的度假胜地。 著名的巴厘岛得到了很多应有的关注，众多的海滩吸引了大量的游客，酒店的住房被排的满满的。 但印度尼西亚是一个拥有17,000多个岛屿的国家，其中8000多个岛屿居住着人类。
Taipei is a city that does things its own way. Drawing on Japanese, Chinese and American influences, the capital of Taiwan is an eclectic city which has developed an identity distinctly its own. Sprawling night markets, fantastic shopping and quirky youth culture are underpinned by an exceedingly friendly people, eager to share with you their city. Be prepared to eat your way through its narrow streets and discover a city built with care and passion.
It’s the air of a bustling, big city but with an intimate, dense vibe that will draw you into falling in love with Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), lying in the south of Vietnam. You can’t help but to immerse yourself within its tight, close-knit community beaming with warm locals who will do anything for you. They’re humbling, modest, and hard working.
It’s a city that doesn’t stop; you could be walking home from a bar at two o’clock in the morning and the locals will invite you for a drink with them to watch the sun unearth over the many sky rises. HCMC, AKA Saigon, has a true heart and a majestic soul beating through each and every compact, busy street corner.
这是一座不停歇的城市。 你可以在凌晨两点从酒吧回家。当地人会邀请你喝一杯，看日出。 胡志明市西贡，拥有真正的心灵和雄伟的灵魂，冲击每一个紧凑繁忙的街角。
But where do you start? At chozun 途赞, we’ve explored the area in and out and have hand picked our favourite providers in the city of Ho Chi Minh to help you out; from where to brunch, where to relax, and where to do your dirty laundry.