Howdy all and it’s another insightful interview this week from the brilliant travel bloggers Maggie and Richard who run the travel blog ‘Monkey’s Tale’. They hail from Canada and they love to hit the mountains and hike and seek adventure. They really inspiring and they take you places with their blogs that are truly breathtaking! Please enjoy!
- Hi there Maggie and Richard!. Thanks for agreeing to do this interview. Would you mind starting by telling us who you are and where you’re from, and of course the name of your blog?
Hi Andy thanks for the opportunity to talk about our blog Monkey’s Tale. We’re from Calgary, Canada. Although Richard grew up in Poland and Maggie in Winnipeg, Canada, we’ve both called Calgary home for more than 20 years.
- What do you do when you’re not blogging (doesn’t have to be work, could be hobbies or interests etc) Where are you based at the moment?
We’re both recently retired! We do as many mountain activities as possible, but when that’s not possible, Richard is interested in photography and Maggie reads and bakes. We spent 3 months this winter in South and Central America. The Covid-19 lockdown happened within a few weeks of returning to Canada so we decided to spend most of the pandemic time in our place in the mountain town of Golden, BC.
- When did you start your blog and why did you decide to start a travel blog?
We began the blog at the start of a 20-month trip to South Asia as a way to let our friends and family see what we’re seeing. It turned out that we really enjoying sharing our stories, experiences and lessons learned with more than just our friends so we’re slowly evolving it to be a travel reference for other travellers.
- What do you like to write about and why?
Maggie does most of the writing and tries to inspire others to travel to the same locations. The blog also showcases Richard’s photographs to bring the reader along on our travels. Since we’re writing for other travellers, we try to give an honest picture of an area, but highlight the best places.
- You hail from Canada and are passionately into your hiking. What are some of the best hikes in Canada that you’ve done?
We’re lucky to live close to the Rocky Mountains. It’s difficult to pick favourites, but special ones for us are The Bugaboos, Rockwall, Jonas Pass and Mount Assiniboine. In the time of Covid-19, we’re redoing many of our top hikes and including them in the blog.
- Is the hiking better in Canada than the rest of the world? Why/why not?
We spent a lot of time in the mountains in Canada and I think we took the scenery for granted. After hiking around the world, and then spending this last summer in Canada, we regained our appreciation of the incredible beauty of the mountains in Canada. The scenes are as good, if not better than in most other countries we’ve hiked.
- Who do you see as the audience for your blog?
Most of our readers are those who love travel, nature and a bit of adventure. Whether it’s to look for a future trip for themselves, or as an arm-chair adventurer we seek out fun activities in many locations. We also love to learn about the different cultures and historical architecture around the world so there is a large component of that to our posts.
- What advice would give to someone just starting out blogging?
Write from the heart about something you love and it will come through in the posts.
- What is the hardest thing about running a travel blog?
Well obviously right now there’s no travelling so that makes it difficult. We began our blog while we were travelling full time, which we will continue to do as the world opens up, and it can be exhausting at times. After sightseeing or travelling all day, we spent many evenings writing and reviewing pictures. As well, wifi can be very slow in many locations so working on the blog is a lot more difficult.
- How has your world changed due to Covid-19? What restrictions are in place where you are right now?
Our plan was to travel half the year and be home for half the year, but obviously we’re not travelling now. In Canada we are encouraged to stay local, although most provinces now allow inter-provincial travel. Most restaurants and shops are open with a limited capacity and larger patios. In Calgary it is required to wear masks in public indoor spaces. Nearby cities and towns where masks are not required, they are still encouraged. Most people abide by this and although covid fatigue is a problem, the general belief is that they are necessary to get through this.
- How do you think travel will change due to the pandemic?
I was wondering the other day if the new plastic shields that have been placed in front of cashiers will eventually come down or will this be a part of our new-normal for the future. I think travel will slowly return to a normal level as everyone will be sick and tired of their cities. But crowded planes, trains and buses will probably see changes, such as more mask-wearing, sterilizing of seats etc.
- What will be the first (international) destination you think you will head to once it’s safe to do so again and why?
That partly depends on what time of year it is. Right now, we’re looking at Mexico or Cuba if we can travel this coming winter (unlikely). We hope to go to Uzbekistan, Armenia, Georgia and Pakistan if things are open by next summer. Uzbekistan has increased in our interest after seeing your and a couple other blogs and we’ve wanted to go to Pakistan to trek to K2 basecamp for a while.
- Aside from incredible mountains and hiking, what else does Canada offer the visitor that you think they shouldn’t miss?
Canada has a lot of natural beauty. The east coast had pretty towns on a wild coast and a strong, musical culture. The interior of Canada is filled with pristine lakes great for camping, fishing, canoeing. The west coast has tall mountains close to the Pacific Coast for amazing landscapes. The north is very wild and open, with people really living off the land. Of course the different areas have different customs, from the east-coast Celtic background, Quebec’s francophone culture and the laid-back vibe in the west. It’s a large country with a lot of wilderness and farmland between cities. Similar to Australia that way. A comment that many foreigners make about Canada is that there’s so much space. Those planning to visit Canada need to plan a long trip, or multiple smaller trips to see it all.
- Please recommend three posts from your blog you’d like people to read (and why!)
We’re recommending four – you try to choose your favourite child!
A Canadian hiking post that really shows how beautiful our mountains are is ‘The Granite Spires of Bugaboos’ It’s one of our favourite spots in Canada. The post combines pictures from over a dozen of trips to the area with a little information on what to do and how to access the park.
Seven Summits – Climbing Vinson Massif is a recount of Richard’s ascent of one of the Seven Summits, Vinson Massif. We’re slowly posting his pictures and stories from all of the Seven Summits (highest mountain on each continent). Vinson Massif on Antarctica is visually stunning and is a unique climbing story.
The Rock Cut Temples of Ajanta and Ellora is a post that highlights two fascinating spots in India that don’t receive many international tourists. They are located far from other major tourist sites, so it takes planning to visit them. These two areas have dozens of centuries old temples beautifully cut into rock cliffs. The temples are Buddhist, Hindu and Jain and are fascinating architectural achievements.
7 Days in Tibet, Part 2 Lhasa & the Incredible Potala Palace We feel very fortunate to have been able to visit Tibet. It’s a fascinating place that is desperately trying to hold on to its culture and beliefs. The capital city of Lhasa has many Buddhist monasteries, with Potala Palace being the highlight. The post gives the reader a tour through this special area.
- Finally, how can people find you on the net and social media?
- Finally (again!) what are you hoping or dreaming for in 2021?
Normalcy. Honestly Maggie’s mom celebrated a monumental birthday over the summer and the large party we had planned was cancelled. Living in a different province, I haven’t even seen her since last fall, so my biggest wish is that I can visit my mom.
Thanks so so much to Maggie and Richard for sharing! Please check out their amazing blog – you won’t be disappointed! Take care, and May the Journey Never End!