The Travel Blogger behind the Wandering Orange Lauren Metzler discussed her adventures around the world to Clement Dampal II and why she is called the Wandering Orange. Perhaps, she loves the saying, "Travel as much as you can, as far as you can, as long as you can".
THE MISADVENTURES OF A COMIC BOOK ARTIST ABROAD!
1. Tell us something about yourself?
I am a comic book artist that likes to doodle about my travels abroad! I am originally from Oregon, where I grew up hiking nearby waterfalls and looking for hidden fairy homes in the forest. I read A LOT of comic books, and even started drawing my own. I guess you’d say I was a total NERD! When I graduated from Uni, I decided to teach English in Thailand and continued drawing comics about my adventures there. I’ve been drawing comics about my adventures abroad for over three years now!
2. How and When did the idea of "The Wandering Orange" come up?
While I was teaching kindergarten to cute little babies in Thailand, they couldn’t say my name right! So “Lauren” became “Orange” and has stuck as a nickname ever since!
3. Let’s talk about travel. When was the first time the "itchy travel bug" bit you?
My grandparents fell in love and traveled the world together, so I grew up listening to stories about their adventures. My uncles were born in South America, my auntie in Saipan, and my dad was born in Africa! My whole life I listened to them tell me stories about their adventures around the world; swimming with nurse sharks off the Ivory Coast, collecting sea shells in the Philippines and even living in the jungles of Brazil. When I grew up, all I wanted was to have that same indescribable excitement and joy in my life that is Travel. So, during a summer at Uni, I packed my backpack and headed over to Europe, and did a little bit of my own soul searching around Italy and France. After that, I kept following my itchy feet to China, all across the US, the UK, Southeast Asia and now, Australia!
4. What kind of Traveler are you? A flash-packer, Tourist, Explorer, etc.?
My mom calls me a little “Trail Blazer” because I like to go where most people are afraid to go! So I guess I am an Explorer!
5. What inspires you to travel?
My grandparents and their love for Travel started it all, and now it is the indescribable moments of excitement and pure wonder that inspires me to keep traveling. I have an insatiable thirst for adventure, and I am a Wanderlust Addict! Seriously, I can’t stop! Haha!
6. What do you love most about traveling? Is it the foods, the culture, the people, the destination?
I love it all. I love waking up on a hillside in Italy, with the morning sun on my face and nothing but a backpack and a motorcycle. I love meeting people who have no material wealth, who live in a tiny village in the jungle of Laos. They may not own a laptop or an iPhone, but they own the happiest heart and the brightest smile. I love catching 24 hour trains across unknown countryside with all the time in the world to reflect and meditate on my life. I love eating exotic foods that I would have never tried back home, like chicken feet or pigs brains! I love everything about traveling!
7. Tell us something about your travel experiences around the world?
Ah! There are so many! Like the time I went to a secret beach in Sicily that only the locals knew about. My Sicilian friends told me, “Its where the turtles have the sex on the beach” in broken English. There was even security meant to keep people out, but all they asked was where I was from. When I said the US, they smiled and let me through. There were even old ruins on that beach, and unspoiled white sand for miles and miles! It was breathtaking.
8. How many countries have you visited so far? What is your favorite destination?
I have traveled all across China, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, England, Scotland, Wales, Italy, France, Spain, Ireland, Vatican City, The United States and now, Australia! It’s hard to say which one is my favorite, as I love all of the places I’ve traveled to for different reasons, but if I had to choose one, it would be Thailand! I spent some time living on a little farm outside Pai in Northern Thailand. The people there were like family to me, and every morning I awoke in my little bamboo hut and meditated while looking out at the mountains and jade green rice paddy fields below. At sunset we practice Tai Chi, then made a big family dinner of sticky rice, curries and fruit (all vegetarian of course!) Not a day goes by that I do not dream about my time there.
So many! Like the time a friend and I decided to drive all the way to Khao Yai National Park on a motorbike and camp there for the weekend. When we first arrived, we set up a tent and then wandered around, deciding on a whim to do a quick trek around a river in the jungle. Usually people have guides, but being the stubborn adventurers that we were, we went on our own. I remember asking my friend if he thought there were any crocodiles in the river. At this point I was covered in leeches and a bit sore to say the least. He said, “Nah, I don’t think so” and we continued our trek alone through the jungle! Such idiots! When we got back down to the main campsite, we checked out where we had been on the big main campsite map. And right where we were just hiking was a picture of a BIG CROCODILE!!! We sat there looking at it and shuddering in fear, laughing nervously about how stupid we had been to not go with a guide! Haha!
10. How about strangest encounters while traveling?
The strangest encounter I've had was definitely the time I was hitch hiking around Tasmania and got picked up by some crazy locals. They were talking about knocking each other’s teeth out so they wouldn't have to go to work! In the end they were just regular blokes and pretty sweet. They even dropped us off a bit out of their way so that we could find another ride!
I've learned that material possessions don’t mean a thing. The imaginary ladder of success that society tells we have to climb is completely worthless. The only thing that really matters in Life is following our dreams down whatever path they may lead, and the people that we meet along the way.
12. Talking about food, What are the 5 Best Foods you have eaten and why?
Oh man, I could list about 20! But my Top 5 Favorite Foods while traveling are sushi, dim sum, sticky rice with mango, prawns on the barbie and laab moo (a pork dish in Thailand and Laos that is to die for!!!)
13. Where would you like to travel next month if given the chance?
Any future travel plans? I am traveling to New Zealand to go hiking and visit Hobbiton…What can I say? I am a huge Lord of the Rings nerd!
When will that be if given a chance? I would LOVE to go to the Philippines! I’ve heard so many wonderful things, and have quite a few friends from there. I am hoping to go on my Round the World Trip that I am currently saving up for.
15. Give us your top 5 destinations in the Philippines that you would like to visit someday and why?
Puerto Princesa because I want to cruise around the Underground River! I would also love to swim with the whale sharks in Donsol, trek across the Chocolate Hills and the Banaue Rice Terraces, and hang out on the beach in Boracay! There are so many other things I want to do in the Philippines, and probably a lot more that I haven’t even heard about!
16. As a solo traveler, what do you want to tell to the aspiring individuals who want to follow your path?
Just Buy the Ticket! Stop daydreaming and just go! If you don’t have the money, work as an English teacher or on a cruise ship. Or save up for 6 months and go! Cut out all the expenses in life that you don’t really need, like that latte you have every day at Starbucks or going out to the movies, etc. Save as much as you can, knowing that you will be off on an adventure in 6 months and all those people that winged at you for not going out will be jealous! Haha! The only thing that is stopping you from living your dreams is yourself.
17. Share with us at least three photo souvenirs that you particularly love and tell us the story behind the shots?
Three of my favorite photos are;
1. Scuba diving in Koh Tao Thailand. I did my whole PADI course there and it was incredible!
1. Scuba diving in Koh Tao Thailand. I did my whole PADI course there and it was incredible!
2. Eating bugs during my trek around the border of Laos. We hiked through jungle for two days to a little village where they saw foreigners only two times that year...and we were the second time! They laughed at me asking why I would pay to walk through the jungle...why didn't I just buy a car? Still, they were the happiest people I've ever met. Fishing and living life peacefully as farmers.
3. This photo is of me feeding a little baby elephant bananas in Chang Mai! I went with my Thai friends on a little day trip during Song Kran, the biggest water gun fight in the world! That day we rode on elephants in the jungle, went river rafting, and ate amazing local food in a little hut on the river. Afterwards we played Song Kran in the city for the next two days! It was awesome!
Additional photo souvenir: Lauren (Orange) at the Stonehenge.
Follow Lauren Metzler as she wanders around the world with a comic book!