Betts enjoys being your guide
From Boston to San Francisco to Haiti, and now to Japan, Nanuli Betts has been there - done that - and written a story to tell you about it. Her website, www.travelwithnanob.com, is a treasure trove of informative stories and beautiful pictures chronicling her trips around the world. Lucky for you, those travels currently find her living with her husband in Japan. If you’re taking a trip, or currently live in Japan, visit her site to find countless things to do and places to see in The Land of the Rising Sun.
Q. You tell quite the story. Always informative. Always fun. When did you discover your gift of writing and why are you so willing to share it with others?
A. Thank you. English is not my native language and my writings are not flawless in any way, although it makes me happy to hear that the stories I share are interesting to others. The idea of a travel and food blog was born when I learned we were moving to Japan. I’m an extrovert, a sharer, and I knew I’d want to tell the stories of all adventures that were ahead of us.
As much as I love creative writing, I also want the readers to benefit from whatever they are reading. Instead of making the blog into a diary filled with pointless personal travel-related musings, I wanted it to be more meaningful and informational to anyone who visits my site. That’s why I started writing guides and reviews of the places we go to. We all talk about how great it would be to find purpose in life and make a difference. Some find a way to contribute financially, others provide physical support when needed, I decided to put what I love doing to good use and combine my time and efforts to spread the word about the place I currently call home. If I can encourage at least one person to get out there and explore the host nation, help find their way around or inspire them to get to know the culture and engage with locals, I will be incredibly happy.
Q. Love your blog. How do you come up with your story ideas?
A. Admittedly, I write for others as much as I do for my own enjoyment, so the question “what will interest a reader” is always on my mind. I rely on media sources like articles in Japan Times, Tokyo Time Out, other blogs and social media to keep abreast of what’s “hot”, as well as learn about current festivals and celebrations to tell interesting stories about Japan and local culture.
Q. So, you’re working at the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, and you run into your future husband. Love at first site (Have fun with this)?
A. Ha! Well, a new handsome guy showed up at work one day in April with a splint on his arm (aftermath of vacation at a ski resort right before arriving to post) and I was intrigued. Our acquaintance was my brilliant scheme which turned into an embarrassing disaster. Won’t bore you with details, but my clumsy self spilled water all over him during lunch as I tried to introduce myself. I was sure he’d never want to talk to me again. Albeit that was the beginning of a year of dating, which culminated in our engagement in Dubai the following April.
Q. The two of you have lived in Haiti and now Japan. How’s life in the military community?
A. It is quite different, both from the civilian world and the diplomatic community I’ve been working at for the past eight years.
I’m still learning all the military lingo, ranks and protocol that comes with it. Thankfully we have been surrounded since day one by great friends (shout-out to Ruth and Carlos, our wine-aficionado sponsors in Japan), neighbors and colleagues who have been incredibly nice and helpful during the initial transition period.
Q. Not everyone is as adventurous as you. What advice to do you have for folks in terms of getting out and exploring?
A. If I can do it, anyone can do it. Be adventurous and curious. I know for some it is easier said than done, but Japan is an ideal country to get out there and get lost; you’ll be amazed what you discover. I’ve heard many people on base say “Tokyo is so big we feel overwhelmed by it and don’t know which way to go and what to see.” True, it’s sprawling with literally endless things to do and see, and I felt the same way when I first arrived, but my advice would be to always have a plan before you venture out. Tokyo Time Out is my favorite resource to find out about weekly events in Tokyo and Yokohama. Make a list of things you want to see and find out exactly how to get there beforehand. Even if you are lost on your way to your destination, the Japanese locals are incredibly helpful, so don’t be shy to stop a passer-by. A friendly smile followed with “Sumima-sen, [destination] doko desu?” will bring you to the right place! There were so many instances where people went out of their way to actually escort me to the place I was looking for.
Q. What’s next on your bucket list?
A. In the immediate future, I plan to see more of Japan - places like Shirakawa-go, Miyajima and Koyasan have been on my Pinterest board for years, and I cannot wait to see it all with my own eyes. We also want to travel to other parts of Asia (Vietnam, Hong Kong, Thailand, just to name a few) and hopefully make it to Australia - my ultimate dream. In a nutshell, I haven’t been everywhere, but if it’s somewhere interesting it’s on my list.
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