My name is Shingai Kagundas. I have a heart for the nations of the world. Most of the trips I have done have been mission and outreach trips. I have done all sorts of outreach activities from reaching out to kids in rehabilitation centres in Germany, to teaching refugee Burmese children in Thailand and Monk Kids English, to feeding , singing songs, and playing with kids in poverty in the Philippines. I love hearing people’s stories, I think that’s one of the biggest reasons I love to travel so much. It is more about the people than the places because they are what make the places what they are.
In Germany we called this piano, for the combination of black and white keys on the piano…
- What is your favourite destination? Why?
My favourite destination so far has been Muizenberg, Cape Town. It is a little surf town at the Cape that was practically my home for three months. The town is small enough to walk to get around; the beach is five minutes away. If you are a work out geek or just like hiking there is the Muizenberg Mountain, also a ten minute walk from anywhere in the town. The atmosphere is so chilled, and almost hippie, with art studios and dance classes offered almost everywhere. Don’t even get me started on the charming little cafes. It has green nature and blue ocean water, making it the best of both worlds. I absolutely loved this place.
2. What places are on your travel bucket list? Why?
Oh wow! If I could decide I would go to almost every country in the world, just because every culture has so much to give and each nation has a piece of the world’s puzzle that you can’t find anywhere else. Though my dream which right now I am hoping will happen the year after I graduate university, in 2018-2019, is to do a bag-packing trip around Africa, Europe, and Asia. I feel like the experience will be incomprehensible.
3. What factors do you consider when choosing a destination for your holidays or mini breaks?
Usually, as a student, money would come to mind. What can I afford? Can I get an offer somewhere? Do I know people who can host me in that place? Also I try to go to new places which I haven’t yet explored, but sometimes I end up falling so in love with some places that I want to go back first chance I get.
4. What are you travel essentials?
A novel! Oh my word when you are in a long plane ride, bus ride, or car ride, a novel can be a lifesaver. Plus the unexpected stops on and delays on the way will kill you if you don’t have something to constantly do. When travelling by road my earphones for music are also important. I am not super picky so I just pack clothes for whatever weather I am expecting to find, I’ll usually also pack a few other important items to me like my Bible, my tiny teddy bear, and my inhaler since I am asthmatic.
5. How do you save for your holidays?
Uhh how do you climb a mountain? By taking one step at a time. A tip that might work for you is calculating how much you need a year or six months in advance then dividing that amount and setting whatever is needed, as much or as little as it may be, every month.
6. Horror story from your travels. What went wrong?
So when my team and I went to Thailand we had the most embarrassing situation at one of the bus stations. We were exhausted. We had literally been on a super long plane ride and from there had been driven straight to the bus station where we had a thirteen hour bus ride to look forward to. There were a group of seats that were completely empty and we just thought we were in luck, because we got a whole bench to ourselves. We weren’t even sitting pretty, and I think I even lay down and slept on like two of the chairs. A few minutes later the Thai people were looking at us weirdly, and Thai Monks came looked about at us and then left. When we were leaving someone explained to us that the seats we had practically taken over were meant for the Holy Monks, and it was public disgrace for anyone to sit there. That was a cringing moment for sure. I felt so horrible, like we gave the impression that tourists are disrespectful to their country’s culture.
7. Where are you planning to go for your next mini trip or holiday?
I’m actually not going far. A few friends and I are going to the coast during our recess break for a few days. I’m super excited because I feel like Mombasa always has something new to offer.
8. If you had to choose a country from your travels where you could settle down apart from your home country which country would that be and why?
In future I actually do want to settle down in Thailand for a period of time. Less for the fun of it and more for the fact that there is a major Red Light District (human trafficking area) there that broke my heart and I want to go and I felt called, like I am meant to go back and help. If it was just a country to live in I think I would pick Germany, especially a small town called Grunheide that I fell in love with while I was there because of the walking distance to everything, and the close knit community, even with the pretty sidewalks and clean streets.
9. Do you prefer to travel alone or in a group? Why?
I honestly think group travel is more fun! Yes, there can be a few more challenges but you get to share experiences, laughter, trials, and generally a good time. If you are lost and confused about something, believe me, it is so much better to know you have someone you can rely on, and you will figure it out together.
10. How many countries have you been to?
I have been to thirteen countries so far, and counting…
11.What is the most interesting city to visit in your country?
I would go with Mombasa but that may be a bit cliché, so I am going to go with Naivasha. It is an undiscovered little gem with beautiful resorts and gorgeous scenic sites from Lake Naivasha, to Hell’s Gate, to Mt. Longonot. It is definitely worth a visit.
12. What is the most interesting souvenir that you have ever bought on one of your holidays?
I tend to buy things for other people when I am travelling and forget to buy things for myself. Weirdly enough I end up being given things. In Germany we stayed with an old couple as a host family and the sweet old grandma made me a pair of shocks (shoe –socks) that I absolutely adore because they are so comfy and wear them almost twenty-four seven in the house.
13. Would you rather visit another country or travel within your own country?
Truth is I love my country kabisa, but I would get bored with just one country. I want to explore the world, to visit as many countries as possible, so given the chance I would go to a country I have never been to.
14. What are popular tourist destinations in your country? Have you been to any of them?
The coast, hell’s gate, Lake Nakuru with its flamingos, Narumoro, Mt. Kenya, Maasai Mara, and Samburu national park, Tsavo, and there are plenty others. I have been to the first three, and I am hoping to do Mt. Kenya next year. Then the others as soon as the opportunity arises.
15. Which would you recommend if you could only recommend one? Why?
All of them are beautiful experiences but I am a beach girl. I love the ocean because it is extremely beautiful and peaceful especially early in the morning or late at night. So I would suggest the Coast.
16. What advice would you give a newbie traveller travelling outside the country for the first time?
Be interested! That is the biggest advice I can give. Usually you are travelling to a country because you are interested in it but on the off chance that you are not, make yourself interested. Be interested in the language, in the culture in the history, in the sites and artefacts, in the food, and especially in the people. Invest in them and you will not only enjoy your trip but they will enjoy having you travel to their nation.
“If life was a book and every country in the world was a chapter of the book, why would you only want to read and re-read one chapter? Finish the book!”