Young travel journalist and blogger Kazi Asma Azmery fulfilled her goal of visiting 100 countries on her own this year. In 2009, she sold off her personal jewellery and stocked up some savings from her salary for her travels. Some of the many sites and monuments that she has visited include The Statue of Liberty in New York, Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, The Eifel Tower in Paris, The Great Pyramids of Egypt, Mamayev Kurgan in Russia, The Little Mermaid in Denmark and The Manneken Pis in Brussels. Thailand was the first country which she visited alone. Since then, she has been across continents, encountering people from different walks of life and cultures. She has worked as a tour guide, as a volunteer for different humanitarian causes, in real estate and with Red Cross in New Zealand. Asma shares her challenges as a traveller, her most memorable travel stories and more.
You seem to be quite outgoing and adventurous. What kind of activities do you like to do while you are traveling?
I enjoy trekking, paragliding, micro flights, diving into a sea or lake from high cliffs, and abseiling. I have also done scuba diving but I am not really good at it. I have tried indoor skydiving, but have not yet mustered up the courage to try sky diving out from a plane.
From all the countries that you have been to so far, talk about some of your most memorable experiences.
I’ve had so many memorable experiences and many of these memories center around the kindness and generosity of the people I often meet. For example, in Gronzny, Chechnya, I asked someone to tell me how to get to a bus stop. He then called a taxi and took me to a bus station and bought my ticket. I was surprised and when I started to give to him money, he would not to take it! He was persistent and said, “You are my guest!” Many of the people that I have met on my travels are now my friends.
In what ways do you deal with the language barriers? How do you learn about a culture and meet locals without speaking their language?
I am fairly fluent in English and I speak several other languages. I am mostly self-taught. I picked up quite a bit of Spanish in Mexico and Latin America. I can speak a little bit of Arabic and Russian. I have used Google translate to communicate with the locals. When I find someone who speaks English in a country where it is not the native language, I ask them about their culture, customs and politics. In many urban areas, sign and body language is the easiest way to communicate with people.
How has traveling helped you grow as a person?
I think that travelling, especially as I do it on my own, has not only made me more knowledgeable but also realise and enjoy my independence.
What would you like to say to young women who are as passionate about travelling as you, but somehow feel restricted to chase their goals?
There are still many families in our part of the world who restrict their girls from travelling on their own. However, I believe that things are looking up for women in many areas of concern. Even my extended family and cousins complained to my father about how I have chosen a ‘non-traditional’ path, but they have slowly come to appreciate my passion for travelling. Parents need to loosen up a bit, when it comes to letting their girls go out in the world alone, because there is so much to learn and explore.