Welcome to the Roamers Corner! A new interview series that spotlights how travelers, experts, and eco travel advocates we admire incorporate travel into their lives, to live more fulfilling and mindful lives.
In this second interview, we sat (virtually) down with our good friend and fellow traveler, Kim Anh. From her vinyl collecting days, Kim Anh has become an internationally recognized DJ/producer and singer-songwriter. DJ Mag described Kim Anh as a “musical polymath”… “Anh’s vocals are lucid and absorbing, and convey an assertion and power”. Take a musical journey yourselves with the playlist of her essential tracks at the end of the interview!
And speaking of journeys, Kim Anh is clearly someone who is used to traveling, so we were intrigued to hear some of her most memorable stories and thoughts on how COVID-19 may impact travel.
RW: Hi Kim Anh! So, where is your base and how often do you travel?
KA: I live in Los Angeles. For the most part, I travel every month predominantly for work but I’ve been officially bi-coastal between NYC and LA for a year now.
RW: What’s your favorite destination/trip and why?
KA: For ages, I wanted to visit Iceland and experience the landscapes and glacial views. When I finally went it was more than I could have imagined. The fleetingness of the elements and the fragility of nature under climate change came abruptly into view.
I felt really emotional. Since then I’ve returned almost annually, each time discovering something I had not before.
RW: What’s your craziest traveling experience so far?
KA: Ironically, Iceland. The first time I traveled beyond Reykjavik, I knew very little about the greater parts of the country. I rented a super small economical car and routed my trip along the southern half of the island and on the last day, we were scheduled to cut through the central Highlands back down to the airport. Upon entering the Highlands, there was a massive warning sign saying “do not go further unless you have a 4 wheel drive sports utility vehicle”. It was very bold and clear. We didn’t know what to do because driving through the Highlands was the only way we could make it back to the airport in time for our flight. We had ¼ tank of gas and an adventure map I bought on Amazon that indicated there was a gas station halfway along the route.
As we were standing there pondering what to do, a family in a Volvo wagon drove up and I flagged them down for their advice. They were locals and said we would be fine. We decided to go for it and thought we would be fine as long as we stuck close behind them. Right off the bat, they disappeared into a cloud of dust as we ricocheted our way through the bumpy terrain.
We naively thought the roads would smooth out, but the roads became trails of dirt and gravel winding higher and higher into mountain peaks. At times we were sliding backward whilst going uphill and other times careening around corners downhill with little control. It was a total nightmare.
To top it off we had no concept how far we were from any civilization and our gas light was beeping every few minutes. We were a smidge from empty and would see another car about once an hour.
The car was enduring never-ending abuse from the terrain. All the dashboard lights were engaged and the brakes stopped working properly. Too afraid to turn off the car, we continued on.
After hours of gnarled trails, hitting our heads on the roof of the car repeatedly and every indicator in the car blinking, we somehow slid into a gas station on the edge of town. It was a huge relief. I could stop playing the scenarios of us being stranded in the middle of nowhere with no food or water.
I finally got the nerve to take that trip again last year and do it right and it was one of the most beautiful and worthwhile trips I’ve done.
RW: Wow, that must have been a hell of a ride! Glad it ended well. Speaking of... How has the current global Covid-19 pandemic affected your travels? What did you decide to do about it?
KA: Covid-19 has halted all my travel plans. I left for NY on February 21 for some gigs and thought I would be back in a few weeks but that never happened. I had gigs canceled both stateside and in Europe. There were many hard decisions to make during those weeks but it became very clear that staying quarantined in place was the most important thing to do for my health and the well-being of others.
RW: Is the pandemic also impacting your income and if so are there any ways our readers can support you in this time of hardship?
KA: The pandemic has unfortunately completely cut my main source of income which is gigging. There are a few ways supporters can help. I have a Bandcamp set up (May 1 Bandcamp is waiving their fees!), I have a pop-up merch shop where you can buy apparel and you can also simply donate via my Soundcloud.
RW: What impact do you think the current crisis will have on the future of travel and sustainable travel?
KA: I think there are a lot of anxieties about traveling right now and it will continue to affect the travel industry for some time. But as we start to see things open up, I think people will instinctively venture out into places that are adjacent to them and create explorations closer to home. For example, I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon but I don’t need to get on an airplane to get there. Before Covid-19 travel had become accessible on a level that was never seen before. I don’t think we could ever ignore the yearning for adventure and the desire for discovery. It will take time to repair personal and greater economic losses. However, I think sustainable travel will be bigger than ever as we re-examine our impact on nature. In fact, we’ve already seen what can happen when we cut back on society’s daily emissions.
RW: If you could travel now, what would be your number 1 destination?
KA: Vietnam is definitely in the works, it’s where my mother is from. Sicily is where I was meant to spend my birthday in August -- I have family there from my dad’s side. Patagonia is pretty up there for me! Oops, did you say 1 destination??
RW: Thank you, Kim Anh!
Follow Kim Anh: @kimanhofficial
Listen to Kim Anh