KATHMANDU: Who says love stories have to have a Romeo-Juliet ending? But again the ‘Prince Charming and happily ever after’ tale we have been led to believe is just limited to text, or is it? Whether you admit to want to fall in love or not, the desire to share those little precious moments with someone cannot completely fade away. Of course with heart wrenching experiences, you may believe such things don’t exist and rightly so, but one day you realise that the glass is not half empty after all.
Perhaps like every other woman, Lisa Niver was in such a state until she got a request from George Rajna on an online dating site. She ignored it the first time. “There were too many things going on at that time and I was just not interested,” she says. But there was a second time and another request from Rajna. She somehow took a look at his profile and ‘travelling’ is what grasped her attention.
Rajna, on the other hand, joined the dating site because of his friends’ coaxing. He paid some amount, registered himself on the site and met two women, which lasted one date each. In the meantime, he approached Niver, there was no response. But she replied on the second attempt. This was in 2007. They met, dated and began to know each other. Both of them lived in Los Angeles, USA, but never met, until the Internet Cupid shot his arrow.
Niver is a travel agent, blogger, speaker, science teacher and a member of Traveler’s Century Club, a travel club exclusive for travellers who have visited more than 100 countries. She has travelled across six continents so far. She also writes for the National Geographic, The Huffington Post, Jewish Journal and Technorati.
Rajna is a bilingual speech therapist and has also travelled to 100 countries across six continents. He also composes music on the guitar and ukulele. He is a blogger at The Huffington Post as well.
Evident that both of them loved travelling, they began their journey together in 2008 on an 11-month trip to South East Asia. This is the time they fell in love and it was in Thailand that things changed. He popped the question and it was anything but ordinary.
“He proposed to me underwater in Koh Lipe, Thailand, which is the most memorable trip,” says Niver with a wide smile, now Mrs Rajna.
In 2012, they set out again for another trip to South East Asia and that’s when they visited Nepal as part of their trip. Readers’ Club Nepal introduced them to interested travel writers and people from various professional backgrounds in an interaction programme on April 13 at the Nepal Tourism Board.
They shared their interesting insights about the country’s tourism prospects. When they heard about Nepal — it was only the mountains and the highest peak of the world, “but this country has so much more to offer, which not many are aware about,” says Rajna.
The word has to be spread, he adds, that people need to know that this destination is the best in terms of money value.
Travelling to such diverse countries, the experience sometimes become the worst and George recalls an incident in Brazil. “It was during the day, I was walking alone and two men approached me for money. In the beginning I thought they were beggars and told them I don’t have any. Within split seconds, one of them gripped my wrist watch. There was struggling, but nothing could be done. Nobody even noticed what had happened.”
It was scary for Rajna, but worse could have happened. Since then he has become more cautious. A valuable advice for travellers and travel writers alike “be careful not to flaunt your belongings; travel simple, dress simple. As writers you will have laptops, make sure it is secured and safe, don’t get paranoid though”.
This was when Rajna travelled alone. It has its advantages, when the couple was asked about their preference, they chose travelling together. But of course both ways of travelling have its pros and cons.
Travelling alone makes one proactive to interact with people, you meet many people and get to make all the decisions by yourself and are self-reliant. But again there are safety issues at hand.
As a couple though you get to do all that plus you know you are safe, however there can be disagreements. “Initially when we began travelling together, there were many disagreements like where to stay. George is a budget traveller and I had to make adjustments with that,” mentions Lisa.
This is just a small instance, but such instances made them understand each other better and their differences perhaps made them stronger as a couple. They didn’t realise this until they were asked, “You travel to different parts of the world, English isn’t spoken everywhere and you make an effort to understand strangers. Has this made your communicating with each other better?”
They were quiet for a while, took a glance at each other and smiled (they did not say anything immediately, but it was implicit they were thinking the same thing) and Lisa spoke, “We never thought about that, but we think it did. There was a time when we used more of ‘I’, but now the word has changed.”
We are so consumed to achieve big things in life that we forget the little things that make us happy, in their case it was internet and love for travel. This is the beginning for Lisa-George. They have miles to travel and grow as a couple, because they see the glass as half full. ‘Bon Voyage’.
Tips for aspiring travel writers
Travelling to numerous countries and writing arduously Lisa and George share some practical
• When in a foreign country, learn a few words in their native language. It always helps and people really appreciate the effort. It can be funny sometimes where Lisa said she wants kukur (dog) ko masu instead of kukhura (chicken).
• Try getting help from local people. You can contact the guest house people, where you are staying. But this works more on instinct.
• Pay attention to details while travelling, ask a lot of questions to people you are travelling with, familiarise yourself with the place.
• Be at a place where internet is accessible. Keep in touch with others.
• Be consistent with your writing.
• If you are new and want to start with travel writing, just do it. You don’t have to travel around the world to write an article. Start from your place, where you are living. You know your place, but not people around the world.
• Be honest to your work, don’t make things up. Have integrity. Do not lose readers’ confidence.
• Don’t be scared about a negative response for your article, write it anyway.
• Search a mentor for yourself.
• Health is important, so eat local food. Eat what everybody eats. Don’t eat anything raw. Drink lots of bottled water. Don’t binge eat, three meals a day is good. Walk and if possible brush your teeth with bottled water.
• Make your articles public and reach out to people online and offline too.