Meeting the Locals: Connecting on the road and at home


One of the most unexpected surprises of budget travel has been the connection with people. One of my favorite parts of our trips happens not only when we meet locals along the way, but also other travelers back home afterward.

Traveling the “five-star” way (having lived on board a cruise ship for seven years) I had certainly met many travelers. For nearly all of my six-month contracts, I quickly made friends with staff from different countries and enjoyed the dorm-like aspects of shipboard life. I occasionally made friends with passengers but that was somewhat challenging and frowned upon by our employer.

When I left the Seven Seas, I thought my travel days were behind me but after meeting George traveling began again, in full swing but a different style of budget – no longer was I Julie MaCoy Assistant Cruise Director but rather XX-anonymous of the unplanned budget scene.

Recently in Taiwan, we met amazing people who really went out of their way to help us. We also met groups of students on field trips (video) in Tainan and Keke in Bundai, the port city for Penghou Islands, also known as the Hawaii of Taiwan.

kidsThe trek to Penghou started from Tianan on the High Speed rail to Chiayi How fast is the high speed rail? We left Tainan at 10:49 and arrived in Chiayi at 11:07. After a Mos Burger, and the information counter we took the 12:45 bus to the Visitor Center for Bundai.

At the Center, Weicheing helped us figure out a hotel as the boat left at 9am. We walked around and around pointing at our map but not finding the hotel. People were very helpful, sending us in opposite directions. Nonetheless we eventually discovered our hotel.

After our evening adventure for Nio Ro Mein (Beef Noodle Soup) at Putai Kahn (Hotel), we wandered the streets of the town. A young man of about fourteen years started to follow us on his bike and to chat with us in halting English. He took us to a large temple, showed us a photo of “Taiwan Obama”; accompanied us on the bridge to the pier and fish market. He learned to say “Saturday Night”; for his trouble! We met his aunt and his eighteen-year-old cousin, Amy. One of Keke’s favorite words is “Face-a, Book-ah”; He was thrilled to realize we could be friends and that we would post video of him on Youtube.

Video: Our Guide: Keke

Our time together was so unexpected. His family was at their drink stand when we wandered by. It could have simply been that we said “Wan Ahhn”; (Good Evening) and that was all. But Keke, still our impromptu companion, enjoyed teaching us words like Let’s Go or “Who-man Soo-paa”. He shared his town with us and also his infectious laughter. Being with him was the highlight of our visit.

Recently in Los Angeles, we hosted a travel happy hour where nearly fifty travelers joined together to talk about past journeys taken and dreams of future sojurns, from Palm Springs to three-year career breaks in Asia. I feel so fortunate to have found a group of travelers in my home city who remind me of the great connections I have made on the road. As we get ready to leave this week for a summer in the South Pacific, I cannot wait to make new friends and connections on the road but feel thrilled that some will be waiting for me back here in Los Angeles!

Article first published as Meeting the Locals: Connecting on the Road and at Home on Technorati.

Author’s notes: 

For the one year birthday of our blog, we bought it a new address: (no more blogspot) We hope you will get redirected to our new address!
We will be in Samoa and Tonga for the next six weeks. We have been posting every Sunday for a year and we will likely only post 2-3 times over the next six weeks. We promise to share many photos and stories in the Fall.
As of today, our blog is #29 (out of 4135) on Technorati Travel. Thank you for reading and commenting!

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries on six continents. This University of Pennsylvania graduate sailed across the seas for seven years with Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Renaissance Cruises and spent three years backpacking across Asia. Discover her articles in publications from AARP: The Magazine and AAA Explorer to WIRED and Wharton Magazine, as well as her site WeSaidGoTravel. On her award nominated global podcast, Make Your Own Map, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors, and as a journalist has been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty-two times. Named a #3 travel influencer for 2023, Niver talks travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, her YouTube channel with over 2 million views, and in her memoir, Brave-ish, One Breakup, Six Continents and Feeling Fearless After Fifty.

5 responses to “Meeting the Locals: Connecting on the road and at home

  1. great blog If you are the type to update your blog regulary, then you have gained one daily reader in me today. keep up the super work.

  2. Hello! We usually post on Sundays but we will be in Samoa and Tonga for the summer and I am not sure how often we will find internet!

    We will be back posting once a week by the end of August. Thanks for reading! Lisa and George

  3. From JJP
    "What a wonderful page. I enjoyed all aspects of it — the videos were terrific, except the Barracuda scared the heck out of me, but apparently not out of you. The kids were so adorable. What jolly travelers you are.

    I can certainly see how this can become a life's profession for you. You are so talented at capturing your experiences — verbal and visual. It is not just a cliche when I say I can't wait to see to see the treasures and treasured moments from this trip!

    Bon Voyage to you both"

    Thanks so much! We look forward to sharing our summer in the South Pacific!

  4. I hope you can visit Vietnam too. If you do I would show you around and give you a tour.

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