I remember being at lunch with a few of my colleagues and one of them who happened to be scrolling through Instagram blurted something along the lines of "Ruchika's always traveling! Her Instagram is full of travel photos - doesn't she get the same holiday allowance as we do?" Well I couldn't blame him. Ruchika did seem to get extra holidays than every other person. Everytime I ran into her in the elevator, she had either just got back from a trip or was jetting off to one.
In fact one of our very first conversations was travel related - as she shared how she'd taken a six month gap period to travel before starting her role as a lawyer!
After I interviewed Kemi on her 30 countries before 30 experience, I got curious as to other people who may have achieved same. My mind instantly went to Ruchika, and her confident reply was "I'm pretty sure I should have hit the 30 mark"
No brainer, she has! I absolutely loved hearing her experiences. From the worst place she's spent the night to the one time law enforcement agents thought she had drugs in her possession; the one city she'll love to get married and why we need to travel more. I'm pretty sure you'll love this one.
At what age did you first get on an international flight? Where were you headed and what intrigued you about the flight?
- I was probably one and it was to India so I don't actually remember anything. The one after that which I remember is to the Maldives and I remember it was a propellor plane to the island which I found intriguing itself as a child.
When did you catch the travel bug?
- I've always been fascinated by travelling, but probably when I decided to study geography as my Uni degree as I thought it would mean I could travel a lot (only went on one trip through my degree).
3 Travel sights you'd never forget
- Waking up ridiculously early after trekking up Mount Fuji to watch the most beautiful sunrise
- Seeing a volcano erupt after trekking up acatanengo in Guatemala (seem to love trekking)
- Pangong lake in Leh Ladakh in India up in the Himalayas. Probably one of the most beautiful and serene places I have ever visited, and very Tibetan influenced that I completely forgot I was in India. The lake kept changing colours and the colours were so beautiful and bright that I didn't even have to use a filter on the pictures!
In all of your travels, what currency have you found the most fascinating?
- Probably the Laos currency- Kip. I just loved the name and it looks so funny, almost like Monopoly money.
Most expensive trip you've ever taken and what you splurged on?
- Japan and splurged completely on the incredible food out there. My big splurge is always on food!
Which city would you love to get married in? Why?
- Ahmedabad in India which is my home town. There's just something about it.
What has been your top 3 most exciting adventures
- volcano boarding in Nicaragua
- swimming with Sharks in Belize, and
- trying to get a local bus in Kerala (India) as there was a taxi strike, with only an hour leeway to catch my flight from the airport. We were sat next to a woman with a bucket of fish, managed to annoy a nun by accidentally swearing when she tried to help us, and they didn't speak Hindi in that part of the town which meant we could only use sign language and broken English.
One movie you'll watch on a long flight over and over
- Probably The Notebook, how can you not love it!
What do you always think of during turbulence?
- That I hope the destination is worth going through the thought process of thinking the plane is going to crash!
Ever come close to law enforcement agents on your trips?
- Once, when I landed in Tokyo at 11pm at night from Thailand. I was wearing elephant travelling pants and a bright top and they were convinced I was carrying drugs... took a while to convince them otherwise.
What's your preference - group or solo travel?
- Bit of both, prefer starting in a group and then going solo for the last part of the trip to have some me time.
Strangest place you've spent the night?
- In a very creepy hostel in the middle of nowhere on an island in Nicaragua, which had a pet pig. Found out before I went to bed that a few nights before the locals had snuck in and stolen people's bags whilst they were asleep (the owners of the hostel found this amusing rather than worrying- I'm pretty sure they were constantly high)...safe to say I didn't sleep that night.
What three things do you love to do when you're not travelling?
Exploring my own city (London), eating, and spending time planing my next trip! Next on the list this year is Cuba!
One foreign food or drink you've fallen in love with.
- Sushi! I didn't eat fish before visiting Japan and I came back absolutely loving it.
2 countries on your to-do list and what adventures you'd do there
- Antarctica just because getting there would be an adventure itself and North Korea as it would be pretty impressive to say I've been!
2 tourist destinations in Africa that you love or will love to visit?
- I haven't visited either of these but Tanzania as my mum and Nan are from there and Malawi as my best friend is from there (and constantly tells me how amazing it is- I was also promised that I would see some hippos there as an incentive to go).
If you had to live in one country all your life, which will it be?
- UK - I love London too much to leave here!
How do you afford to travel and why should we travel more?
- Sadly through my job in corporate law but can't really complain when it pays for my travel!
- I think we should travel more as life is too short to live a boring routine life, and also because there is just so much to see and learn out there!
Now, did you enjoy this or did you enjoy this!? She's definitely had some super exciting adventures - like actually riding an active Volcano is crazy! Plus I think I'd have super scared if someone thought I was carrying drugs! What would you have done?
The 30 countries she's been to? - India, USA, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Belize, France, Germany, Spain, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Greece, Portugal, Turkey, Czech Republic, Denmark, Morocco, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Japan, Maldives, Bulgaria, Italy, Switzerland.
It does seem like a lot of countries, but considering there are 196 countries in the world at the moment - that's not even close to a quarter. And there's a lot of Africa to explore as well so pretty sure her travels are not stopping anytime soon. Plus I love how some of best experiences have been back home in India and how that's where she'd love to get married! I guess there's always something about home...
Thanks for sharing your experience with us Ruchika! We hope you enjoy Cuba & all exciting adventures to come!
pS: After I spotted Ruchika in that gorgeous black bikini, I asked her for the details and got the exact same one. But let's just say it looks no where close to that on me!
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- 30 Countries before 30 - Kemi Onabanjo's Inspiring experience