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Travel blogger Su Wai Phyo on how travel has transformed her life

Written by Stephanie Li Published on     5 mins read

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Su Wai Phyo unpacks the meaning of being a travel blogger and how she shatters the blogger stigma.

Travel has the power to transform one’s life in surprising ways. That’s what happened to Su Wai Phyo, a Burmese travel and lifestyle blogger after traveling extensively in Europe, India, and her home country Myanmar. Her voracious passion for traveling and writing led to the creation of her own blog, Su Wai Go, where she recounts her learnings from each adventure. She also won the Youth’s Choice at the Myanmar Influencer Awards Ceremony in December 2017, just six months after she began blogging.  

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. 

KrASIA (Kr): What made you decide to start a travel blog? 

Su Wai Phyo (SWP): It’s down to passion and the people I love.

Prior to starting my blog, I had already been travelling a lot and posting about different places of interest on social media. It’s something that I enjoy very much. My family and friends kept urging me to start a travel blog, and I also wanted to share my adventures with people I love. So I became a travel blogger in May 2017.

Kr: Who is constantly on your mind when you travel? Why?

SWP: I believe in living in the present moment. Typically, I focus on travelling instead of keeping things on my mind.

However, I sometimes get reminded of loved ones while travelling, especially because I wish I could show them all the things I get to experience too. For example, if I chance upon something that my mother would like, I often think to myself, “How nice it would be if she could be here.”

My long-lost father left home 14 years ago after his business failed and he needed to earn money. But he didn’t tell us that he was leaving home, and sometimes as I wander around on my travels, I do imagine I could bump into him. I feel like he’d be able to reach me easily if I were more famous; or if he’s not planning to return, I still hope he is proud of what I’m doing today.

Kr: Most of your followers wouldn’t know about this aspect of your personal life and travel background. Speaking of tough times, how has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your travel blogging? 

SWP: This is definitely not a good time for travel blogging. But for now, I actually have a backlog of travel content to work on and upload, because I was previously busy with my 9-to-5 job and some of my earlier travels haven’t been documented.

The COVID-19 pandemic serves as a good chance to update my travel blog, and bring people to various parts of the world from the comfort of home.

Kr: What is the most beautiful place you’ve ever visited?

SWP: Oh, this is a tough question! Every country or place has its own beauty and offers a unique experience. I really like Switzerland because I think it’s so beautiful.

But if I had to pick an unforgettable trip – the most gorgeous and peaceful sanctuary that made me want to stay on instead of returning to Yangon – it’ll be Indawgyi Lake in Kachin State, in northern Myanmar. That’s one of the largest inland lakes in Southeast Asia. And apart from the scenic aspect, the level of calmness in the surroundings was absolutely magical. I would say that’s my favorite place.

It’s not always rainbows and butterflies and pretty Instagram pictures. Photo courtesy of Su Wai Phyo.

Kr: What are the frustrations of being a travel blogger?

SWP: Of course, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies and pretty Instagram pictures. One challenge was dealing with judgment from people. There are people who ask what I’m doing, and when I mention the term “travel blogger”, they immediately assume that I’m paid to travel or I have very rich parents who sponsor my travels. Sometimes we get a fee but 80% of the time, I pay out of my own pocket.

So it does get frustrating when people think that travel blogging is an easy job. In reality, it takes a lot of effort to work a 9-to-5 job, save money on the side, put aside time and energy for travelling, as well as churn out content.

Kr: Can you talk about your proudest accomplishment? 

SWP: As I visit different countries, I tend to ask the young children that I meet, “What’s your dream?” Naturally, most of them are not sure because they’re kids.

But I like to share with them my dream and how I’ve pursued it. I tell them that I’m a travel blogger, working a 9-to-5 job and saving up money so that I can do what I love — traveling. I think those are proud moments for me, because I’m able to earn money through hard work and spend it on what I love.

Another accomplishment I’m proud of is the Myanmar Youth’s Choice Influencer Award that I won in December 2017. I only started blogging in May 2017, so I didn’t expect to win an award six months later. I remember going to the toilet and getting a huge surprise to see my name on the screen when I walked back!

Kr: Going forward, what are your plans for the travel blog?

SWP: I want to share more engaging and meaningful content on my blog. Technology is so advanced and everybody is on the Internet now. It’s a great platform to tell people my stories, reach out and connect if necessary. At the same time, I know that as more and more people use the Internet, it’s easy to spread toxic content and information as well. For any influencer or even a blogger like myself with an audience, I feel that it’s all the more important to produce useful content and filter out any toxicity. I hope to spread positive vibes for our country.

Kr: If you could go back in time and tell young Su Wai one thing about writing and traveling, what would it be? 

SWP: I’d remind her to live every moment to the fullest and create precious memories with loved ones. Because you never know who is going to be by your side, and for how long, so when these people have left, the memories are all that remain. And I want her to be as happy as possible.

I’d also like to tell the young Su Wai that, “You’re going to be fine. You’ll do great.” There were many instances where I felt like giving up, or I wasn’t sure if I was pursuing the right things. But looking back, I just needed some reassurance that I have everything in order.

WRITTEN BY

Stephanie Li

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