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。
Steven Jackson is the founder of Moon & Back, a wedding film and photography company that works all over the world. Steve’s beautiful work captures both his passion for what he does and the beauty of each location. It’s inspiring work that really speaks to how travel can inspire and elevate the moments in our lives.
Yet, his business has meant that Steve didn’t take the usual steps to travel for an Australian; not taking his first overseas trip until the business was set-up the way he liked. But it’s been worth the wait, with Steve creating a job that takes him all over the world. We had a quick chat with Steve to get his views on travel and how it has inspired him personally.
Beginning on 15th of April (Leonardo Da Vinci’s birthday), World Creativity and Innovation Week is a celebration of free thinking, new ideas and game-changing breakthroughs. Everyone has something to gain from those who pursue innovation, and travel is no different. Technological advancements in recent years have made our lives travelling much easier, unlocking new possibilities for exploring.
Google maps, translation tools, smartphones (and their cameras!); we are increasingly able to see and do more around this amazing planet of ours. To celebrate World Creativity and Innovation Week, we take a quick look at some of the coolest travel tech and trends making waves in 2018.
You’re about to play a number of festivals around Ireland. Is touring with a band something you’ve done much of?
We are indeed, and are really looking forward to it- we love playing in new places. We have had two significant tours over the last couple of years, we did a mini tour around the time of our first EP (Implicit Content) with another Irish funk band called Zaska and we most recently supported Billy Ocean on the Irish leg of his European tour. Both times were super fun and insightful, and quite different to travelling for individual gigs.We are in the middle of writing our album which will see some releases this year and our first headline tour, which is very exciting. We have a lot of sick songs to show everyone and want to make it as unique a type of show to Shookrah as we can.
In your experience, how does travelling as a musician impact on the experience? Does it become more business travel, or do you fit some leisure time in?
It’s a unique kind of experience really, and I guess it depends on how far you are going. How you plan to travel is hinged on the time you have to get there and how and sound check times and doing all the necessary things you need to to be in form for performing for people goes, which can always be interesting in terms of balancing ones energy. I personally enjoy the opportunity to do so as much as we can and think there’s valuable learning in travelling a lot as a band that we need to adapt to if we want to progress to the level we want to be at. I would be on the organising side of things and where we would have made pointed trips and tried to return straight home after them, we are getting better at determining where to take time to be somewhere and rest and check things out and where it’s feasible to try and save costs by getting back to Cork. Where and how leisure happens often is dictated upon by the situation of the gig, but when we go further out in the country I centre what I see around nice food places and cultural activities not too far from the venue or our accommodation just to try and catch something of a vibe where we are.
What experiences does being a musician open up for you when travelling?
Well the obvious one is sharing our music with people and connecting with people on a personal level through our gigs, that’s one that we really get a buzz from and hope to leave with people. We get a direct life line to the mood of a place when interacting with gig crowds, or place specific nuances, or at least gain a better understanding as to the lay of the land by how people react to our music and performance. It’s amazing to read how the reaction and general demeanour of a crowd can reflect the mentality of a society even if by juxtaposition of it. Recreationally, we get the advantage of immediately being exposed to venues or a music scene that usually caters to our interests and meeting like minded people who can offer tips on other cool things to do in that way. There’s definitely more scope for making friends and having ‘the craic’ (fun), because we’re all together and are friends, so the dynamic can welcome more adventure or mischief than travelling alone might do.
There’s been a lot said recently about how hard it is becoming for bands and artists to travel due to costs. Do you think it’s still a viable option for a band to tour regularly?
It’s definitely a challenge to make it profitable, but it can definitely be worth it or feasible. I think you have to be very aware of the economic climate of music on a whole, of the location as well and the culture of gig attendance in the places where you plan to perform, because it can really differ significantly from place to place. There are ways around not losing too much money or having a band kittie/fund that facilitates that touring in itself that everyone contributes to, but it takes some serious research, planning and discussion on how you are going to get a crowd to come; eg. how to price it, how to promote it, what kinds of sets suit what crowd and how to generate extra money with merchandise. Social media is integral to music these days and getting traction for your music and the stuff you’re doing, and we are progressively learning the tricks of the trade and how to gauge what’s going to suit our band. There was a time when we would gig the same spots a lot and while it was fun for us, we learned that you have to create an occasion around when you gig, and you have to allow people to get excited enough to leave their houses ( in the likely to be pissing rain) to come and see you. It’s basically like being schooled on how to get past the Tinder conversations stage to going on a real date…who knows, maybe we’ll all experience true love.
Do you find travel (personal, business or otherwise) to have an impact on your music? If so, how?
For sure, I love going to gigs in new places and seeing what people like to get down to or what the calibre of music is like there. Broadly speaking, I would say travel impacts my music or productivity of making music in that I get more time to think, or write or take stock of my surroundings and influence the narratives with it. I don’t drive, so I’m usually a passenger going to places, when I’m not walking and/or cycling somewhere and that’s plenty of stimulated meditative time, just letting new surroundings sink into my memory and colour my mood with different ideas. I’m currently in New Zealand for the first time visiting family and friends and it’s the furthest point in the world I’ve gone to on my own and that definitely comes with an emotional response, be it fear, excitement, curiosity, love…and that informs the kinds of melodies I’ve been singing to myself, the kind of clarity I have had as to the music I want to next write and whom with.
What trip has had the greatest impact on you and your music?
I went to South Africa a couple of years ago to visit where I was born and I hadn’t been there for 15 years ago at that stage, so it was a big trip for me. It was a homecoming, a lineage finding and heart warming and straightening trip, and our last EP was written in its aftermath, which has also led to many great things. That trip definitely gave me a huge sense of perspective as to my origins, existing familial ties, the privileges I had benefited and taken for granted and the richness of my heritage. It also gave me a lot of time and room to figure out stuff about growing up, personal dilemmas and what I really wanted to see happen for myself in the following years. Songs like ‘Gerascophobia’, Cliches Pt 2, they were more introvert discussions with myself on how I was living and where my mind was at and how to better nurture my selfhood, and cultivate the kind of future I would like to enjoy. I think I gained a certain sensibility or purpose from the trip and it still acts as a reminder for me now.