Meet Your Trip Director: Kelsey Peden
Born in Anchorage, Alaska but my family and my heart are in Piedmont, California.
If you could move to a different country and have a brand new job, where would you go and what would your job be?
My dream job would be working with non-profits around the world to help people in need. As for country, that doesn’t matter to me! I will go anywhere and everywhere, especially if I can have a positive impact while I’m there.
Weirdest food you have ever eaten:
I try any food placed in front of me – from snails, blood, intestines, crab ovaries, and stinky tofu, to the durian fruit (known to be the world’s smelliest fruit). I can’t say I loved them all, but at least now I know what I like and don’t like.
What is one cultural practice you’ve seen abroad that you wish we did in the USA?
Oh gosh – it would have to be the French and the volumes they talk in at restaurants. They are so quiet, it actually makes it possible to hear the people you are eating with instead of yelling over the crowds and the music (a California classic). A great meal is even better with great conversation – and the french have both of those down.
What is the most adventurous thing that you’ve ever done while traveling?
I did an 11 hour hike over an active volcano recently, so that might be up there. But on a smaller level, sometimes the most adventurous parts of a trip are just doing the unplanned – going down a path you’ve never taken before, going to a carnival in the rain, or trying a food without asking what it is. That first step towards something uncomfortable is bound to lead to some great adventures!
Have you ever done a solo trip? Why or why not?
Yes yes yes! Solo traveling is nerve racking but so rewarding. However, group trips are always a great way not only to see a new place, but to make some incredible new friends along the way.
How many countries have you traveled to? (And no, airports don’t count!)
Well I’m in Myanmar right now (for the first time!), which means I just hit … 30? Yup, 30 sounds right.
Favorite place you’ve ever lived:
Paris, France. There is just no place quite like Paris.
Country with the nicest/friendliest/warmest people from your experience?
Malaysia! I’ve been there twice for their Chinese New Year celebrations and both times the people were so loving and friendly. They are so willing to tell foreigners about their food, culture, history, and to make us feel like real locals instead of just people passing through.
So we hear you like to ride boats in Vietnam. Tell us a bit more about that.
Oh, Vietnam. Simply put, I had the choice between taking a tour bus directly to the Cambodian boarder – or I could take a three day boat ride through the Mekong Delta, crossing over the boarder in a three person slow boat. I chose the second one, and I do not regret it! It was an amazing chance to see a more local area of Vietnam, as well as relax. We got to see floating villages, smaller towns, night markets, and some crazy thunderstorms from inside a very wet boat. In the end, my partner and I, along with a Korean man who we could only communicate with through our own invented sign language, crossed over the boarder into Cambodia by boat. We walked 30 minutes through a recently flooded village, ate some local food, and got to share a transportation van with 9 roosters on our way to our final destination. It was such an experience!
Do you ever hit the snooze button on your alarm when you are traveling?
Yeah of course sometimes you need to. Doesn’t everybody…?