Photo Credit: Courtesy of Honorine
Traveler Story: "We Were Covered In Glitter And Late For Our 3 AM Cambodia Flight"
World traveler Honorine Nsengiyumva was born in Kigali, Rwanda. Working as a flight attendant for a major airline, the 36-year-old Toronto resident and mother of one has traveled to over 50 countries, including Nicaragua, the U.K., Qatar, Indonesia, Tunisia, Italy, Antigua, Korea, and Malaysia, to name a few.
Honorine refers to herself as “Jetsetta on a Budget.” For amazing travel experiences with prices that won’t break the bank, she recommends Southeast Asia.
“This region will allow you to stretch your money and travel comfortably,” she told Travel Noire. “The countries are full of adventure and so lush with their rice fields, greenery, lakes, mountains, and majestic temples. Some of my favorite places are Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. “
Another top destination for Honorine is Greece.
“Greece is great for a more romantic experience. Especially the islands of Santorini and Mykonos. The views and food alone make the country so romantic.”
Honorine spent two years living in Japan, where she says she felt very welcomed.
“When I lived there, the people were extremely welcoming and genuine. They ushered me into their homes and really helped me feel at ease and get settled in. I moved there for work thinking I’d be staying for just six months, but that turned into two years because I loved it so much.”
“I formed some amazing friendships in Japan,” she said. “One of my closest friends was Japanese. She helped me navigate and learn the language as we traveled all over the country together. The connections I made with the locals were extremely heartfelt, and I still keep in touch with many of the people I met there to this day. I even got my hair braided on numerous occasions at a Japanese salon. I’m talking cornrows, too.”
However, Honorine admits to not always receiving such a warm reception during her travels. Some countries were not quite as welcoming.
“While climbing the Great Wall of China in 2018, many locals were running up to me and holding up their phones to take pictures and videos. Some were even on FaceTime. I’m sure the convos went along the lines of ‘Look! There’s a Black person on the wall!’ The first few were fine, but when they start to surround you and interrupt your excursion or enter your personal bubble (because some places don’t know what that is) it can get uncomfortable.”
“The same thing happened to me in Russia in front of a cathedral. One young man asked for a picture. I obliged, and then came another. Then it turned into a group of them surrounding me taking pictures. Once again, no personal bubble. I always wonder what they do with those pictures.”
Honorine says discomfort is inevitable when traveling the world, and travelers must be prepared to step outside of their comfort zones.
“As much as I prepare myself with ample amounts of research on a country before I embark on a new journey, there will be instances where you run into situations that may make you feel uncomfortable. It can definitely get overwhelming with language barriers and cultural differences. It’s always best to use your judgement and intuition to guide you out of those situations in the safest way possible.”
“In 2018, whilst in China, my girls and I fell in love with the nightlife in Beijing. We made our China leg short thinking that we would not enjoy it, but it honestly blew our minds. Our flight to Cambodia was at 3 a.m. We decided since it was Friday night, we would go out for one last night. We were at the club until 12:30 a.m. and then our friend got us a cab to take us back to our hotel and paid the driver to ensure he stayed as we gathered our luggage.”
“We headed into the hotel and checked out only to come back outside and find our cab GONE. It was now minutes to 1 a.m. and we were still at the hotel with no cab in sight. We were stranded covered in glitter and running late for our 3 a.m. flight, which we should have already checked in for. The hotel was in a secluded alleyway and there were no cabs in the vicinity.”
“In pure panic, we decided to start walking to the main road to try to get a cab. No cab was stopping at this hour for three foreign girls with a bunch of luggage. It took a while, but finally, my friend managed to get one to stop. I’m sure she showed her leg or something. We made it to the airport, still wearing our club outfits and shining. We tried to check in to our flight only for the counter agent to tell us they were only accepting cash. So, we quickly had to find an ATM an withdraw money to pay for our luggage.”
“We finally made it onto our flight, but there was no in-flight service. Not even water! We landed in Cambodia early in the morning dehydrated and still covered in glitter. Can you believe once we got to Cambodia we were still trying to return to China for the nightlife?”
Experiences such as this come along with the territory in the life of an avid world traveler. There are ups and downs. It may leave you exhausted and drained, but at the same excited and ready for more. Honorine has experienced many such moments–moments that have left her exhilarated. There have been moments that have taken her breath away. And moments that have left her utterly humbled.
One such experience took place while she was traveling in the Philippines. “I was on an excursion to go canyoneering and swimming with whale sharks. Canyoneering entails engaging in the extreme sport of jumping off cliffs and waterfalls. We had just finished swimming with the whale sharks, which was an amazing experience. I wasn’t aware that canyoneering entailed riding a motorcycle through a small town, then hiking up with all your gear. I was under the impression the motorbike would take us to the start of the water activities, so I was only wearing a bathing suit and water shoes.”
“Mid-hike, my shoes broke from all the rocks. Our guide literally took off his shoes, gave me his, and wore mine for the remainder of the three-hour excursion. There were so many rocks that by the time we had finished, the bottom of my shoes were grated to nothing but shreds of rubber. It was one of the most humbling experiences. A true act of human kindness.”
Experiencing moments like these and meeting amazing people are just two of the ways Honorine says travel has enhanced her life. However, the biggest benefit, she says, has been to her overall mental health.
“I am always at my happiest and most stress-free while traveling. With all my crazy adventures, I still allow time for self care and reflection. Travel has opened my eyes to so much of the world and allowed me to gain knowledge of other cultures worldwide, as well as to learn languages like Japanese and Spanish. Cultural barriers have taught me to be more understanding and patient with others.”
“Travel broadens my sense of adventure and exercise to increase my overall health. Excursions like hiking Mount Fuji in Japan, bamboo rafting and elephant trekking in Thailand, or seeing the sunrise over Angkor Wat in Cambodia have left me with lifelong memories.”
For her next trip, Honorine is considering either Bolivia and Peru or Myanmar and Vietnam. She is also looking forward to returning home to Rwanda a.k.a. ‘the land of a thousand hills’. “I would like to showcase more of my country and show others how it has truly blossomed over the years.”
“I left Rwanda at a young age right before the war that turned into a genocide, but it will always be my home. I have returned twice so far and it has become a hidden gem. The country is lush, safe, and full of life. I can really see it becoming one of Africa’s must-visit countries in the years to come. If ever there, make sure you try the brochettes (meat skewers) with a cold lemon Fanta. You will thank me later!”
Follow Honorine on Instagram: @jetsetta2.0