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We Find Out About the Wild and Wonderful Travels of Dr Nickey Knight

Born and raised in Eston, SK, Dr. Nickey Knight has owned and operated the Kindersley Dental Clinic since 2001. What people may not know about Nickey is that she is an avid traveller and breath-taking photographer. I recently caught up with her to do a fun interview about her many travels.

Where/how long have you traveled? Do you call yourself a traveller, tourist or backpacker?

I have travelled extensively since graduating university, about 25 years ago. I have visited over 40 countries, all for different reasons. I consider myself a backpacker/ traveller more than a tourist.

What have been the most memorable places you’ve explored?

“1. Cambodia/Vietnam, because the people were so friendly; ten years ago tourism was just opening up to these countries and the people were genuinely interested in you, curious in a way. Not just out for a tourist dollar. Vietnamese food is incredible, and the temples Angor Wat, Ta Prohm, and Bayon of Cambodia are the most amazing I’ve ever seen. The countryside and beaches of both countries are lovely.

2. Chile, because it is so diverse in its landscapes- it has the driest desert on earth, ragged peaks of the Patagonian Andes, glaciers, valleys of lakes and orchards, glaciers, salt flats…

3. Northwest Territories. I will never forget the spectacular northern lights we saw near the Arctic Circle. No words can describe them; pictures do not do them justice.”

Aurora Borealis near the arctic circle – Courtesy of Dr Nickey Knight

I love the fact that a Canadian place made it to your top three! Now that you’ve said the best destinations, which ones have you found to be overrated?

1. New Zealand—I went a long way and spent a lot of money to see what looked like a less impressive version of the Rockies. The scenery was not spectacular, the culture not so different. To be fair though, I was jaded because I was scammed. I had paid for a guide to do some daily hikes and lodging was supposed to be in wilderness cabins. I had to go to grocery stores, make all my meals and was given a one man tent to sleep in!

2. Bali—If you want a good beach go the Caribbean or Hawaii because they are closer and cheaper! Most of Bali’s beaches are good for surfing, not swimming.

What is your bucket-list of places yet to be explored?

I have yet to see the pyramids of Egypt and Petra (the only one of the seven wonders I have not been to).

(r) Vietnamese fisherman. (l) Katmandu-Holy Sadhu me- Images courtesy of Dr Nickey Knight

Of all the countries you visited, which country has the best weather? Do you prefer hot, cold or temperate places?

I always try to travel during low/shoulder tourist seasons. I hate crowds and line-ups especially in hot, humid weather. This means I quite often travel at temperate times (fall/spring) which I find more enjoyable anyway. I can be outdoors walking all day at 15-20 C comfortably.

Floating islands of Lake Titicaca Peru – Courtesy of Dr Nickey Knight

For all of our coffee and tea lovers out there, which country makes the best coffee or tea?

Maybe not the best coffee I’ve tasted, but the most unusual I had was in Indonesia. Luwak coffee beans are $700US per kg when exported. I got my cup cheaper in rural Bali. The coffee is expensive because the bean that is harvested from a rare wild cat’s feces. It tasted good, really!

Seriously? Would you say that’s one of the weirdest things you’ve seen/ experienced?

No, the weirdest thing I ever saw was close to the end of the Everest Base camp hike, where there was not much civilization around—just the occasional tea house to stop at.  I witnessed a woman milking herself into a tin cup and selling it to the “café” for the tourist’s tea!

That certainly sticks in one’s memory! What would you say was the hardest or most embarrassing moment during your travels?

While summiting Mount Kilimanjaro I experienced altitude sickness. My Tanzanian guide held my hair out of my face and sang Swing Low Sweet Chariot to me while I threw up all over the place. In the meantime an 80 year old man with one leg passed me!

Leopard and his fresh kill in Tanzania – Courtesy of Dr Nickey Knight

What would be your scariest moment while traveling?

The scariest moment of my life occurred one night when I was in a taxi in Kingston, Jamaica. There was a blackout in the city and the cabbie decided to take a “short cut” to bypass the backed up traffic. He got us into a gang neighborhood near the wharf (drug
lord territory). There were cars flipped and on fire, stores were being looted and our cabbie yelled at me to get on the floor in the back seat. He said I would be robbed or raped if the car stopped—being on someone else’s turf. He said he risked being shot himself but I was in a worse situation being a white foreigner. In the end I got home in one piece but had a rum or two before bed!

I’ll say that’s a scary moment! I’ll bet you didn’t stay long in Kingston.

Wrong, it was actually a part of the longest bit of time I’ve been away from home.  I did 4 months of volunteer dentistry in Kingston, during the time it was North America’s highest crime rate city.

Angor Wat, Cambodia – Courtesy of Dr Nickey Knight

Have you spent any other extended time away, besides Jamaica? Who/what from home do you miss most during those long stints?    

I’ve travelled a few times where I have been gone for a month, such as to Nepal, Vietnam, or Australia.  I miss my kids of course and cannot wait to have a home cooked meal when I return.

So when traveling, do you always travel solo, or do you travel with others?

I have travelled with my spouse, children, parents, siblings, other family members and friends.

(r) Karen longneck tribe of Laos, (l) India – Courtesy of Dr Nickey Knight

When you are not with family, how do you update them?  Do you use postcards or other mail? How about souvenirs?

With global access to the internet, I can stay in touch with family and friends via text and email.  I have just recently started to Instagram for my travels. I don’t send postcards and I don’t buy souvenirs. If I bring something home I make sure it is from a local craftsman, like a carving or a textile, never something mass produced in China.  I’ve had furniture shipped from India and Indonesia.

How do you document your trips?

When I holiday I document my travels via photography.

Breath-taking Icebergs off the coast of Newfoundland – Courtesy of Dr Nickey Knight

How do you travel— light, medium or porter-worthy?

I pack very, very light.  Good shoes, comfortable clothing that you can layer, no valuables, no jewellery.  If I’m going away for more than 2 weeks I bring enough for 1 week and launder it. Very cheap in most places to have done for you while you are out for the day.  My luggage gets lighter as I go since travel sized shampoos, toothpastes get used up.

Have you ever lost luggage?

I’ve had my luggage ransacked and items stolen from airport staff in Africa.  I’ve had all of my luggage lost in Chile. I had a connecting domestic flight to the mountain region within 5 hours of landing. So, I had to go to a Chilean department store, buy a suitcase and fill it up with the things I would need for the next 2 weeks.

Getting close to Mt Everest – Courtesy of Dr Nickey Knight

What’s your top travel tip?

My best advice to a new traveller is to research the region well and decide ahead of time the things you want to see and do.  I use trip advisor and travel books—D&K are my favorite. In a city stay as central to the sites as possible so you can walk to most everything. For example, you will pay more to stay in the heart of Rome but you will save time and money in transportation to and from your hotel.

What motivates you to keep traveling?

History and architecture is very interesting to me.  Some places have a hectic urban pace I like to witness; I enjoy the diversity you see in different ethnic groups: their beliefs, lifestyle, art, dance, dress, customs food. Other destinations have outstanding natural beauty; places to hike, kayak, swim.

Patagonia, Chile – Courtesy of Dr Nickey Knight

And last but not least, in the over 40 countries you’ve seen, where would you most like to live?

Right here in Canada—the best country on Earth.  I could settle for England, Italy, or Australia though too.

I think Nickey summed up her travels perfectly when she noted what she believed to be one of the most important aspects of traveling.

“Exploring the world makes you more tolerant and accepting of others.  We all share the same planet and we are more alike than different.  Way more people will help you than snub you.  Where ever you are in the world there are whiny kids, exhausted parents, patient grand-parents, a group of women laughing, a group of men playing game over a beverage… Our human nature is the same despite differences in our geography, race, or ethnicity.”

 

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