I am a Journalist and Photographer from Sydney, Australia, who is currently working from Vietnam. I specialise in the discussion of social and environmental issues, particularly the intersection of the two, and have a particular interest in people – in how they think and how they interact. In my view, the world only exists because of stories – without stories and the lives that hold them together, we would be nothing but simple matter, unevolved and with no purpose to push ourselves forward.
I was born in the UK and came to Sydney at age 8 with my family to start a new life. As far as I’m aware, the only reason we came so far across the world was to adventure – my parents were both struck with the same wanderlust I now treasure and were in the happy position of being able to migrate, so they did.
I graduated high school in 2011 and managed to earn a place among the fourteen top composition majors from Australia who were accepted into the Sydney Conservatorium of Music that year. I began a degree in composition and arts.
I left Sydney on my first solo adventure one year later, got lost and found in India, and came back with the kind of travel bug that just won’t go away. Eventually, I deferred my degree and gave myself up to airports and hostels – to travel, that great and expensive teacher. I went back to India and journeyed solo from Kerala to Kashmir up the East coast.
I was meant to go back to uni and study again after that but I had this overwhelming feeling that I would learn rather a lot more if I just hopped on a plane and got out of there. So I left again, for a month, to Vietnam.
I took only my backpack with me – a tiny hiker’s pack with colourful patches sewn all over it from my previous adventures – and $800 AUD in savings. I planned to be back home in a month so I didn’t bother saving too much for the trip, but in the end… one month unravelled into what has now become three years of crazy exploration in Southeast Asia.
It’s not been glamorous like they tell you in those fancy travel blogs – I’ve been dirt poor, reasonably hungry and rather tired for a lot of the time, but it has all been absolutely worth it. Learning how other people live is a luxury that not many ever stumble across in this life.
In a bid to stretch my savings, I drew henna tattoos on people for the first few months and sold charcoal drawings of local life to travellers – $5 a drawing, kept me in a hostel and bought me bowls of soup. I went to stay with a Helpx.net member on Phu Quoc island, living with her in her wooden beach hut for free in what I now remember as one of my life’s most incredible, frightening and at the same time amazingly safe insights into how people live when they have next to nothing. Thuy was strange… but very kind and brilliantly determined, and now owns a very popular backpacker guesthouse.
I soon met my partner, Nguyen, the only person for me in this world of strangers. It is so strange how two people can be born without any inkling that the other might somehow exist, in totally different locations, cultures, communities, looking totally different and growing up with totally different ways of viewing the world, only to be exactly the same in every way that counts. At around this time, I also began to practise the skills I had gathered as a young girl and started to freelance my way into new opportunities.
I was contracted by CityPassGuide in 2015 and spent a year doing content writing and email marketing for them, learning the ins and outs of SEO, targeting their B2B and B2C audiences respectively, being concise but very clever, fiddling with Mailchimp, with the WordPress CMS, with cPanel and with the basics of html/CSS/php. I absorbed everything and anything around me, something that every person has the opportunity to do and only some enjoy.
Following this, I freelanced for Asia LIFE for a time and other platforms online, before joining Word Vietnam as a feature writer and photographer. I spent a year as Content and Marketing Manager for Saigon Outcast and I now work for a range of regional publications on a freelance basis. I currently contribute to Mongabay and the Asia Times and contract regularly with local clients looking for stunning lifestyle and portraiture photography.
Please feel free to contact me below if you would like to ask me questions or work with me, or head to my portfolio page for examples of my work.