I am a strong believer in fully understanding the why and the who behind anything and everything. So take a peek into the life and times of one half of Chickenfeet Travels, (me!) in the format of kindergarten (acrostic) poem of my full name, Junxiu Lu (unofficially pronounced Gin Sue, same as the Korean male character Jin Soo from Lost.)
J is for Jaded
One of my closest friends nicknamed me “Jaded Jin”. It was his first time to Asia and he was impressed by everything and I was the human form of “jaded” and lacked enthusiasm. Don’t get me wrong, I live and die for travel and my company but I am (self-proclaimed) one of the most fortunate people in the world so I have seen and experienced so so so many things that it takes a lot to make my jaw drop. Pair that with the fact that I am generally a super chill, give zero fvcks type of person, I come off as unimpressed but on the inside, I get those fuzzy feelings on a daily basis because I live for small intangible wins like random acts of kindness and patience.
This matters to you because when you travel with Chickenfeet, know that you will never be brought to a place that is a spectacle out of nothing.
U is for Underwater
Underwater is where I would rather be; specifically, tropical oceans and un-specifically, I just prefer to be near the salty air. My background lies in marine biology and geology (I studied fish and rocks). I vividly remember Shark Week circa 2000 where they showed a videographer who jumped onto a dead whale to film a great white shark feeding and right then and there, I decided I wanted to study sharks. The obsession with the ocean and sharks eventually evolved to saving the whole planet single-handedly, and then to influencing and inspiring everyone to save the planet. Finally it morphed into Chickenfeet Travels; inspire people by showing people because “people protect what they love”, famously said by Jacque Cousteau. It’s important that you also know that I am a certified dive instructor since 2009 with a guesstimated 1500 dives, primarily in Asia mostly but also in Africa, the Caribbean, and Australia.
This matters to you because when you dive with Chickenfeet, know that you will be diving in unbelievable places, experiencing the best with operations who do their part in protecting the largest and arguably the most important part of Earth and its inhabitants.
N is for Non-conformist
I have lived an unconventional life. By the age of 9 I had lived in 3 countries. I have lived as a minority and then became part of a majority. Lastly, my formative years were spent under the guidance of my artsy fartsy aunt who was frequently mistaken for a teen mom. It has always been relatively easy for me to “fit in,” but I have mostly felt like I do not quite belong. There is a German word Fernweh, meaning “feeling homesick for a place you have never been to,” and that’s probably the closest way to describe my general vibes/feels. All of this is critical to the development of my non-conformist antics, which always drove me to embrace the different, the weird, the overlooked, the forgotten, and the underdogs.
This matters to you because when you travel with Chickenfeet, know that you are choosing to allow the thrill of a new place transform and inspire you, just like countless vagabonds before us.
X is for Xenogogy
My vocabulary is not great enough to know this word which I used the Google Machine to find along with the most epic list of other words beginning with X. It was so hard to chose, I had to dedicate another blog to more X-words and stories. Xenogogy is just a fancy word for guidebook, which is essentially what I am. I have been “non-stop” slow-travelling since 2006; interrupted rudely by 3 years of university and 3 years of working for a pseudo-travel start up with loose holiday time rules. And it only took me until May 2019 to realise that I am definitely the most well-travelled enviro- and socially-conscious person of everyone I consider close to me. Humble brag, sorry. Despite technically being a “professional traveller” with a positive impact travel company, all my closest friends using me as their go-to person for advice, and of course, Chickenfeet’s other half Simon’s blind belief in me, it really did take me this long to get a perspective shift. But when I really break it down, I have been #blessed (sorry not sorry, no better word for it) to travel the world the way I have, and I want to show it off in a way that gives back to these incredible communities.
This matters to you because when you read anything on Chickenfeet’s website, know that you will always be learning about the people, places, and things that we have personally experienced followed with extensive research.
I is for idealistic
When we meet anyone, we have an effect on them and they us. When we buy something, we are indirectly supporting and affecting the livelihood of hundreds if not 1000s of people and in they will do their part to protect the planet. Example, traveling locally supporting local-own restaurants, shops, and hotels, you are directly impacting the local economy and therefore access to medicine and better education and a brighter future. Conversely, if you stay at a very expensive all in one resort only drinking coffees with green straws, the only person you are making richer are the CEOs of those large corporations. There is only one Earth, and everything down to the bees and plankton are interconnected and important.
This matters to you because when you explore with Chickenfeet know that you are supporting our local partners on the ground who all run responsible operations protecting the planet and in addition a percentage of profits are paid forward to support environmental and social causes and we also put a lot of our personal time to making a difference locally.
U is for Uncomfortable
I thrive in all things awkward and uncomfortable. Let’s be honest, when you explore, you are generally pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Foreign lands have different foods, culture, history, and people. When I explore the world, I am on a mostly self-induced tight budget because I love the challenge of spending as little money as possible on “everyday comforts.” BUT (and a very big but), I am always ready to bleed money for an experience (especially one that supports animals, environment, or a social cause.) I’ve slept in bed-bug infested hostels and have travelled from point A to B in the cheapest way possible so you don’t ever have to. Being uncomfortable has opened up unexpected (see below) encounters that culminates into every adventure you see on Chickenfeet. I slow travelled uncomfortably to learn as much as possible; and pair it with my hereditary need for efficiency without sacrificing quality, you get a well designed holiday that maximises your time, money, and experience.
This matters to you because when you travel with Chickenfeet, know that you will get the better (and our biased “best”) version of a place with as little hassle and, most importantly, not missing out on any worthwhile experiences while on your adventure.
L is for Listen
I listen to my gut and follow my instincts. I listen to the most experienced people because they know all the secrets, legends, and stories. I listen (mostly eavesdrop) to randoms because I want to go to places not talked about. I listen to learn because when you learn you change, grow, evolve, and the world becomes a better place. I travel because the people and the places I haven’t met/been to yet intrigue me. I ask deep and meaningful questions to listen and to absorb knowledge and local intel. So I ask you "Are you a seeker? Seeker of truth?” because personally “I'm more of a chaser, really" (from Fantastic Beasts and How to Find Them).
This matters to you because when you travel with Chickenfeet know that you will learn something new while seeing and experiencing something different.
U is for Unexpected
I am the luckiest person to quite literally have been travelling for more than a decade straight. With all this time and experience and by going into everything with an open heart and an open mind expecting the best to happen, a lot of unexpected and magical things have happened. Most of incredible memories were because of some of the guides that will be taking care of you on your Chickenfeet Travels Adventure. I have crashed a wedding of an indigenous tribe in Vietnam and then been given a private gong performance by the village elders. I have had to get stitches in my knee and paid almost nothing for it. I have shared so many free meals in peoples’ homes because I go places where tourists are still a gimmick. I have seen some of the most incredible wildlife and climbed some of the most beautiful mountains. And I have met incredible local talents just about everywhere by being in the right place at the right time.