Go Away With ... Alana Blanchard
Alana Blanchard has traveled the world for her surfing and modeling careers. If she had to pick one place shed like to revisit, just for the food alone, Blanchard says shed go back to Sri Lanka. (Andrew Buckley / February 18, 2014)
Q. Where are some memorable places that you have surfed?
A. Brazil and Indonesia are really beautiful places. They definitely stand out. I was 15 when I took a boat trip to the Marshall Islands (in the northern Pacific Ocean) and I wasn't sure what that would be like. But it was super beautiful. The waves can get really good there. It was windy at the time, but the water was so clear. I went to Sri Lanka and was so surprised that the waves were really fun there.
Q. Have you been to many places where you felt uncomfortable?
A. Not really. When I was in Sri Lanka, they weren't used to seeing too many foreigners at the places we went. We were there at a time of fasting (Ramadan). I got attacked going in the water, so that was probably my scariest experience. Rio was kind of wild, too, at certain parts. But both places were more beautiful than scary.
Q. Have you had to deal with accidents while overseas?
A. You always have to watch out, but yeah, you deal with injuries. I never had anything too bad, but my friend got cut up pretty bad in Indonesia. We were far away from everything with no access to a doctor, so the boat captain had to stitch up her inner upper arm -- 10 stitches. But you just deal with it. I remember when I was younger I always loved the water and had no fear of getting hurt. When you grow up in Kauai, you're just around water all the time. Now, I'm a little more timid then when I was 15 or 16.
Q. How has your modeling career impacted your travels?
A. I've gotten to see more of the world because of it, which is always a good thing. I travel most of the year for surfing, and sometimes we can combine it so we can do a shoot where I'll be competing. It'd be nice to do some photo shoots at home, but it never usually happens in Kauai. But I can't complain when I get to go to Australia or someplace like that.
Q. Where's the last place you went to for vacation?
A. I went to New York City with my boyfriend for five days for New Year's. I wasn't really that prepared for how cold it would be! (Laughs) I went 'cause my boyfriend had never been there and really wanted to go. He's from Australia and wanted to see it. We had a great time. It's a great city.
Q. Do you enjoy cold-weather destinations?
A. I enjoy everywhere. I still haven't been on a trip where I skied or snowboarded, but that's something to look forward to one day. I know that in some sports, you'll be advised not to do certain things 'cause they don't want you to get hurt. With surfing, it's a little more laid-back and I don't have a coach telling me what I can or can't do. I have heard of people getting hurt skiing, but you have to live life. I mean, you could get hit by your board, too, right?
Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?
A. I'd love to go snowboarding in Canada one day. And I want to hike around India. I'm not sure which cities yet, but I just have heard such amazing things about India.
Q. What was your first trip as a child?
A. I don't remember exactly where it was to, but I'm pretty sure it was to some place like Oahu when I was 10. When I was 15, I took my first international trip to Australia. We also went to California when I was pretty tiny.
Q. Where did you enjoy a really good meal?
A. There's so much good food out there, but I'd say that Sri Lanka has amazing food. We went to this town and went to this little restaurant that used to be a house and paid something like $2 for all-you-can-eat vegetables with spices. It was really good and such a treat for me, because I'm vegan. I wouldn't say I'm overly adventurous with food, but I do like to try what each country is offering. I ate from a street cart in Bali and that was a lot of fun.
Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?
A. I'm kind of a health freak, so I bring healthy snacks with me like some fresh fruit. I have to have my iPad with books, movies and TV shows on it for entertainment. And then I'm good.
Q. Where have you been recognized where you didn't expect it?
A. New York. It caught me off guard 'cause I'm not really famous outside of my sport. So I thought there was no way anyone would know me in Manhattan. It was fun. The people who approach me are always really nice and usually very polite. I'm too shy to go up to someone like that, though. I'd just stare from a distance. (Laughs)
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at http://www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow "Go Away With..." on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)
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