Wanders Miles World Adventurers Series would like to introduce Jackie Szeto, an avid world-traveler and content creator for Life Of Doing. So far, she has explored 26 countries. She loves to spend time outdoors and you’ll see her hiking, biking, or walking around town. Jackie is originally from the Bay Area in California, United States, and currently lives in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam with her husband, Justin since December 2018.
Established in late 2016, Life Of Doing is a travel blog sharing travel itinerary with an emphasis on affordable travels, inspiration, and adventures around the world. The motto is to live a “life of doing!”
LET’S MEET JACKIE FROM LIFE OF DOING
What does your perfect adventure consist of?
I’m a huge fan of outdoor adventures and wildlife. The perfect adventure would be to go on a day or a multi-day hike that has breathtaking landscapes of mountains, lakes, and colorful plants. Whether the trail is a popular or a hidden gem, anything works as long as there is an opportunity to connect with nature, de-stress from the daily route, and see wildlife from a distance.
Name your top 3 adventures and what made them so special?
Hiking the Salkantay Trail
On our first trip to South America, Justin and I hiked the Salkantay Trail in Peru to go to Machu Picchu. It was the first multi-day hike that we did. We were so unprepared with the altitude that we got altitude sickness on the second day. Even though we felt miserable, it ended up being a memorable aspect of the trip as we trudged our way up the snowy mountain of the Salkantay Pass (over 4600 meters/15,092 feet). Once we reached Machu Picchu, the sweat and tears were all worth it to see this historical landmark.
Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro
Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania was a bucket list adventure and I’m thrilled to have completed it with Justin and Leslie, my sister. We reached the summit at a staggering 5895 meters/19,341 feet elevation in 6 days! It was such an accomplishment to push our bodies to the various altitudes and weather conditions.
Another fabulous adventure was seeing the mysterious moai at Easter Island, off the remote area of Chile. The stone moai are tall (over 4 meters/13 feet high) and it’s impressive to see how they were built and transported around the island. It’s still unknown why they were built.
As an expat in Vietnam, you must have discovered some hidden gems. Where is your favourite spot?
We love the opportunity to explore off the beaten spots in Vietnam. Our favorite place is Con Dao Islands. Located south of Vietnam, Con Son, the largest island out of Con Dao Islands, is not crowded with tourists as it takes a while to get there by plane and/or speedboat. What we love about this place is that there are untouched beaches with clean, white sand and clean and blue waters. It’s rare to see a place in Vietnam that doesn’t have garbage and plastic in the water.
Have you had any scary moments or funny stories to tell?
All of my scary moments have revolved around motorbike accidents. The first motorbike accident happened on Easter Island. We tried to go up a muddy hill and the motorbike skidded. Somehow I received a huge gash in the left knee and had to go to the local hospital to get it stitched. After a few days, the wound was infected and my knee swelled like a balloon. We didn’t think that it was that bad as we thought it was part of the healing process. Once we returned home to the U.S. and saw a doctor, we rushed to the emergency room as the infection was much worse than expected. I ended up getting surgery to remove the fluids and stayed in the hospital for an additional week.
The second motorbike accident happened in Nusa Penida, off of Bali, Indonesia. Although Nusa Penida has breathtaking ocean views, the roads are a pothole mess and are very steep. Many visitors tend to crash and get injured on their motorbikes. We were a part of the statistics as we slipped on a road filled with loose rocks and I ended up skin getting burned off on my right calf either by the wheel or touching the exhaust. Luckily the wound didn’t require stitching or needing to go to the hospital. Check out our motorbiking tips for Nusa Penida here.
Let’s just say that I’m still terrified of riding on motorbikes (even though they are the most effective way to travel around Vietnam). I have some nice souvenirs to remember these trips.
What are your travel essentials?
Every trip includes the Osprey Tempest 20 day pack, a pair of Oakley sunglasses, sunscreen, sun hat, Tiger Balm (helps relieve itchiness from insect bites), a pair of sandals for showering, and noise-canceling headphones.
Where did you go on your last vacation?
Justin and I spent two weeks in Japan over the Lunar New Year holiday in February 2020. We revisited Osaka and Kyoto and traveled west to Kyushu Island to visit Fukuoka, Nagasaki, and Beppu. Kyushu is an undiscovered area and has delicious ramen (hello tonkotsu ramen!) and regional cuisine and lots of nature opportunities, hot springs, and waterfalls. We can’t wait to return to explore more of this area.
Have you got any places on your bucket list? If so, where?
The travel bucket list is never-ending. I have two types of bucket lists – hiking and seeing wildlife.
The hiking bucket list includes trekking along the Torres Del Paine Circuit in Patagonia and reaching Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal. I’m itching to go on a multi-day hike and see the gorgeous landscapes along the way.
As with the wildlife bucket list, I will only see animals living in their natural habitats. I want to see the natural red crab migration from inland to the coastline on Christmas Island. It’ll be incredible to see the roads filled with a sea of red crabs. I also love animals in Australia and want to see the adorable wombat. Antarctica is on the list to see seals and penguins.
What 3 things have your travels taught you?
Traveling is different for everyone and doesn’t need to be one filled with checking the box of major attractions. If we’re not able to see something the first time, we always have the opportunity to revisit a destination in the future.
With so many variables with traveling, we need to be flexible during traveling. We used to be uptight with following a schedule, and therefore, ended up getting burned out from doing too many activities. It’s the feeling of needing a vacation when returning from a vacation. Now, we take it day by day and have a more relaxed schedule.
Every travel experience is the opportunity to learn another culture and understand different perspectives. By making connections between the culture and personal thought process, it increases self-awareness and changes any previous biases.
What motto do you live by when travelling?
Life is too short to dwell and say “what if.” Go out and fulfill your life by doing things that make you satisfied.
What advice would you give to aspiring adventurers?
An adventure doesn’t need to be extreme such as scaling a mountain. You can find adventures locally such as in your neighborhood or a neighboring city. It can be as simple as finding a new hiking trail or biking to the office from your home. Find an opportunity, make a plan of action, and go out and persevere! If you have any uncertainty, don’t worry. It’s normal to experience. Stay positive and enjoy your adventure.