THE STORYTELLER SERIES
As how all modern day acquaintances are established, I first got to know about Naseera through (stalking) her Instagram account. Her gallery of travel photographs and their accompanying insightful captions are enough to make anyone want to jump through the screens of their phones and join her. A true adventurer at heart, she has seen many places and experienced a lot that the world has to offer. Reading through her answers, it is evident the impact it has had on her.
Some things just can't be learnt or understood if living in a bubble. Whether it's the next dorpie, city or country, it's all there, waiting to be discovered. I can't agree more with Naseera when she says: "People are such treasured gifts. Go meet them. Develop a love for other cultures and lifestyles. Let them see that we are all one too. I believe that if we do this we can change the world, one travelling peace maker at a time." ♥
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a Capetonian Muslim, very unpredictable and always looking for a little (or major) adventure.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Spontaneous. Patient. Help.
What do you do for a living?
Besides eat, I’m a Multimedia Designer at an Engineering firm so I make things pretty and effective.
What do you do on a “normal day”?
What is a normal day? Most days I sit behind my computer all day and bring things to life. Most people hate sitting at a desk. I quite like it; it’s the perfect balance to my life outside work.
Where was the first place you travelled to?
India, but I was a baby. Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with parents who probably love traveling as much as I do. #whatmahramproblems
In all my 24 years of being alive, I think I have only been home one year for my birthday. I can definitely shout a big alhamdulillah for such a life!
First steps - Mumbai, India
What inspired you to take that trip?
In 2015, I travelled alone to Canada and what inspired me to take that trip was my mere ability to feel independence. I chose Canada because I have very close family there so it meant not being in another country as a Muslim girl all alone. Also, I’ve always dreamed of touching snow. I had been to Canada when I was 5 but goodness knows I have the worst memory.
How many and which countries have you visited?
20 countries. Some countries I've visited more than once because my parents felt that we were too young to experience or remember some places, and wanted to take us there again when we were older.
Australia, Canada x 2, Egypt, India x 5, Israel x 2, Jordan x 2, Malaysia, Mauritius x 2, Morocco, Namibia, New Zealand, Palestine x 2, Qatar, Saudi Arabia x 6, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, UAE x 2, USA Florida – Disneyworld, and Zimbabwe.
What was the most memorable trip for you?
I’ve been on Umrah about 6 times alhamdulillah, but the first time that I felt like I was old enough to know what it meant to be there was my 2008 Umrah trip. It hit me. It changed me.
The funniest thing that happened on a trip?
I travelled to Morocco with my siblings in 2012, and we were complete clowns trying to communicate in a mixture of Arabic and French with our little translation handbook. Chicken is poulet in French, you guys.
Another time, I was walking İstiklal Street in Turkey with 3 of my best friends at like 1 in the morning, and we stopped at this little ice cream vendor. For context, just YouTube funny Turkish ice cream. I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe and ended up laying on the floor!
Hassan II Mosque - Casablanca, Morocco
The worst thing to have happened on a trip?
Just this year, Istanbul Ataturk Airport was shut down for two days because of a blizzard leaving thousands stranded. Just before landing at Istanbul, we were diverted to Antalya. It was a terrible experience trying to get back home.
Another experience, and I remember it very vividly - they usually have these massive parades with all the Disney characters running through Disneyworld, and Jafar from Aladdin came up to me to take me on the parade. I looked at him, turned around and ran as fast as my legs could take me. I feared him the most! I'm actually not sure if that was the worst thing to happen or if I am just the worst for missing such an opportunity.
Why do you travel? What about it do you enjoy?
It’s honestly the most exhilarating and liberating experience. From walking to that plane, or even driving distances, to transits, to sightseeing and touring, to meeting different people and experiencing new cultures, to spending money like you mean it, to feel like you’re completely living your best life, to coming back home and being broke AF but still feeling absolutely satisfied. What’s not to enjoy?
Why do you think it is important to travel?
Every time I travel, I find that that I can view my life from the outside and find solutions or changes that I never would have seen had I not gotten away from it all. As we live our lives, we keep our heads down and we keep going. Any problems we have, we are in them. When you travel, you get outside of them and can solve them. You also learn so much, and you grow so much as a person. I feel like over the years, traveling has definitely taught me to be tremendously patient. You learn to accept people more and appreciate everything on a smaller scale.
Is there a place/people/culture that really resonated with you? Why?
So many! The Indians for their hustle – They really find a way to make anything work in any situation. It’s amazing. Turkey and Morocco for its culture. And of course, Makkah and Madinah. – There is no other place on earth that will ground you on your own two feet to make you feel humbled and absolutely okay with your life.
Dome of the Rock - Jerusalem, Palestine
What are your travel essentials?
My camera, my Dollar bills, and my cellphone is essential for Maps. Also, a lekker mood at all times (ok, most of the time) too.
Comfortable shoes because I tend to walk a whole lot while sightseeing. I walked something like 215km in 15 days touring Turkey. And a lightweight jacket, because you never know how you’re going to adapt to the weather.
Which is your favourite country or city and why?
This is such a tough one! There are way too many. I really loved Australia, particularly Sydney, Auckland in New Zealand, Jerusalem and its infinite history, and Namibia and its dark skies. But Madinah and Makkah will always win. You can just feel the peaceful energy and you are absolutely the best version of yourself.
Where would you like to travel to next and why?
I think it’s going to be America. If I get in? Haha. I’ve always wanted to go and I’ve only ever been to Disneyworld in Orlando. I already have a US visa so that’s half the battle won. Visas are such a mission! I also really want to see more of Africa. After my last trip that was Namibia, I feel like I’m looking passed what’s so near and so beautiful.
Favourite treasures/purchases from your travels?
My leather satchel from Morocco and my replica ring from The Lord of the Rings that I had purchased in Hobbiton, New Zealand.
Hobbiton, New Zealand
Sky Diving - Namibia
What home comfort do you miss the most when travelling?
Food. Not much else.
What has been the most interesting item of food you've tasted?
Contrary to being adventurous by nature, and also probably my most non-traveller characteristic is that I’m really not an adventurous eater so I can’t pin point anything. Like, I tasted peanut butter, avocado and mango quite recently only. If I feel that I won’t like something, then I won’t taste it. Ridiculous really.
Which country has the friendliest people?
Who is the most interesting person you've met so far?
I haven’t met my husband yet. But what if I have? Oh gosh. It's ok, he has time.
What's the best piece of travel advice you've received?
Exchange your money in the country you’re travelling to, as opposed to here at home.
What's the worst piece of travel advice you've received?
Don’t waste your money on travel.
Leather Tannery - Fez, Morocco
What's been the weirdest thing you've seen?
Cockroach towers available to eat in the streets of Bangkok. Like, why?
What's the most interesting thing you've learnt?
There is nothing like travelling to make you realise that when we talk about war with another country, the people that will be harmed are the people you met along the way, the children you saw. Suddenly it becomes personal. Suddenly, it's not okay to see them injured or killed. Of all of the benefits of travelling, I think that this is the most far reaching one. People are such treasured gifts. Go meet them. Develop a love for other cultures and lifestyles. Let them see that we are all one too. I believe that if we do this we can change the world, one travelling peace maker at a time.
What has surprised you about yourself?
I’m very adaptable to situations. I never knew this about myself until my older years of traveling. As you travel, anything can happen and you may end up in a pretty strange situation. Travelling is fraught with unknown, so you learn to think on your feet and solve problems efficiently. And even if you don't, you just learn to deal.
What's your top travel tip?
Pack lightly and plan well! Honestly you will wear that pants more than once. I always come home with a pile of clothing I didn’t wear and having to fight with space for all the shopping. Also, you don’t have to follow a daily itinerary like I do, but definitely set out all the places you want to hit to make sure you have enough time to do so. There is no worse feeling than wishing you had more time.
What's the most reliable source of travel advice?
I always try to find someone who’s been to the country I’m about to visit. They give you inside tips that you can’t necessarily find online. Also being Muslim and knowing the hottest food places to hit beforehand is assuring because halal food is sometimes really difficult to source. My recent trip to Namibia was so hard, I came back and had Wembley 3 days in a row.
What's been the best street food you've had?
Turkish Gözleme, it’s these flakey rotis stuffed with melted moz and of course, Saudi’s corn in a cup. – Both of which you can find on every corner. Also the best crepes from the cute La Petite Crêperie on Swanston Str in Melbourne.
What destination have you found to be overrated?
Dubai. It’s lekker, but I wasn’t upset to have been leaving like I am most places.
A place that most lived up to the hype?
What was the most challenging thing you've done?
Run the OMTOM and not finish after 19km.
Would you rather see a lot of places or get to know one really well?
See a lot of places! All of them! However, having travelled to many countries more than once, I do agree with the notion that the experience is always different to the last. And there is always something more to see.
What is your dream travelling experience?
Hajj. - With my (future) husband, and/or parents, insha Allah. (Ameen)
Madinah, Saudi Arabia
All photographs are by and used with the permission of Naseera Mohamed.