In the launch issue of Miss FQ, travel blogger Leah Naomi (who goes by @leahliyah on the ‘gram) took us on a tour of her fave exotic locations around the world
Not gonna lie, we are still getting over our jealousy. But we are channeling it in a productive place – AKA, finding out a little bit more about the Kiwi girl with the jet-setting job so that we can adjust our life goals accordingly.
Where did you grow up, and did you travel a lot as a child?
I grew up in Auckland, and except for quick trips to Australia and Fiji, I didn’t travel much. I loved Whangapoua beach in the Coromandel so much I opted to spend my holidays there rather than on exotic trips with my parents.
Where did you get your wanderlust obsession?
I had dreamed of going to university in New York City since I was a child. The fantasy was fueled by Gossip Girl and Sex and the City and the decision wasn’t really well thought out. I didn’t love NYC at first, but I loved how close it was to other countries. Exotic locations were only a short (and cheap) flight away. I felt so lucky to be close to all these incredible places I’d never had access to in New Zealand, so I started travelling as much as I could. Then I got addicted!
How did you come to be doing what you are doing?
I’ve been studying at NYU for the past 4 years and their generous three-month summer vacations have allowed me to travel a lot. America has this weird culture where most people spend their summers slaving away over some unpaid internship in the hope of getting a good job when they graduate. I never stuck to those rules. Every year I spent my three months travelling and trying to see as much of the world as possible.
What’s your favourite place you’ve ever been to?
Morocco, hands down. I’ve been back twice since my first visit in 2015 and each time found it so difficult to leave! One of the things I love about Moroccan people is their modesty. You walk down the tiny alleyways and you have no idea what’s behind the doors. It could be a palace, it could be a shack, you’d never know. This kind of modesty doesn’t really exist in Western Culture, we show off everything we have.
Where would you most like to go next?
India for sure. Egypt and Jordan are close seconds.
What’s your biggest travel disaster story?
I decided to go to Turkey alone (another not very well thought through decision!). It was my first time traveling by myself and although I had friends in Turkey, I wasn’t with them all the time. I was taking photos outside one of the main mosques when some guy started harassing me. I walked away but he kept following me, yelling at me in all the different languages he could think of. He wouldn’t stop. I thought about going back to my hotel but then he’d know where I was staying. After a few minutes, he grabbed my arm. I turned around and screamed at him to stop. He left me alone after that but I was so freaked out I wanted to leave. I’d seen various violent incidents in Istanbul that day and realised as a woman in a Muslim country, I was very much a minority. I’m glad I stayed because the rest of my trip was amazing.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Living near the beach with at least 10 dogs haha. I can’t really give a serious answer to that! The future freaks me out. Always focus on the present.
What distinguishes New Zealand from everywhere else in the world?
New Zealand is a paradise. It truly is. And I didn’t realise that until after I left. After seeing the world I’ve realised it’s not normal to have a beach to yourself. It’s not normal to not worry about being eaten by spiders, snakes and sharks. It’s not normal to stumble across a random waterfall on a bush walk. It’s the best country in the world!