About

Hi, my name is Du! (It’s pronounced like “Yo”)
  • How did you discover this place?
  • Did you go with anyone or did you go alone?
  • What was it like in Ukraine/Tanzania/Nepal?
  • What would you bring for a hiking trip in Nepal?
  • What are some interesting things to do?
These are just some questions that my friends have been asking me for years! And don’t get me wrong, I am more than happy to answer these questions,
but I started to think that perhaps there was a way to tell my friends about what I’ve learned during my travels other than telling each one separately.
With this blog I hope to answer these questions as well as any future questions for my travels. I hope this blog will be informative,
entertaining, inspiring and worth your time to read.

 

Why I travel

I haven’t always been the biggest traveler. My parents took me to Vietnam a few times when I was younger to visit my extended family but I didn’t grow up thinking that I would travel the world.
Where it started was in 2011 where I went on an Interrail with two friends to see Europe. We went to Amsterdam, Paris, Geneva, Milan, Florence, Rome, Venice, Budapest, Cracow and Prague and admittedly we were very homesick at the end of the trip.
Although it didn’t take me long before I longed to see different places and cultures. More travel followed as I continued traveling around Europe with friends.
Growing up being very shy, I hit a turning point in the summer of 2013 where I first went to Vienna and then Chicago. While it may seem like two very nice places (and they really are!), it was because I went there all by myself.
Venturing out into the world alone taught me a few things. I found out that I wanted to travel to satisfy my curiosity by taking in the culture, the surroundings and the people.
I learned that I had the power to stand on my own and be independent by being able to survive in a foreign country where I didn’t quite speak the language (I’m referring to Vienna here, I consider my English passable).
And I discovered that I could make friends everywhere, that our shared humanity and the connections we make beyond borders, colors and languages enable us to share the that special feeling there is about traveling, the endless curiosity, the boundless fascination and the simple joy of sharing experiences.
After this realization, I only got more hungry for travel. Balancing studies, money and time, I went to California in the end of 2013 with a particular highlight of the Grand Canyon.
Studies turned into work for me and while waiting to start at a new job, I took the opportunity to go to Nepal to do the Annapurna circuit in the spring of 2015.
Nepal turned out to be one of those times where you quickly realize that you experienced something that you would cherish for the rest of your life.
I arrived alone in Kathmandu but only a few hours into the trip, I would meet people I call friends to this day.
Nepal started my love for hiking and nature as I embarked on the Annapurna circuit with the most amazing group of people. In the end not all of us would make it through but the friendships forged on that trip was and is more important to me than any completion could ever be.
Nepal didn’t just start my love for hiking, it started my interest in mountaineering as it was where I summitted my first mountain. At almost 5000 meters, snow-covered and completely ill-prepared for it, I still stood at the top with an intense feeling of fulfillment. It would not be the last mountain I climbed.
Tragedy struck while I was in Nepal as a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck. Seeing this beautiful country and amazing people get hit by tragedy made me realize how lucky I am to be traveling and aware of my responsibility to travel with respect for the locals and the environment.
While few events can truly be said to change you, the entire Nepal trip changed me profoundly that I felt like a completely different person when I returned home.
Since Nepal I’ve fuelled my love of traveling by balancing work, small weekend trips and bigger trips. I set new goals for myself in order to force me out of my comfort zone and try new things.
One of the goals is to visit all 50 European countries which led me to visit Ukraine and Belarus. Another is the 7 summits which led me to Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and Mount Elbrus in Russia.
I’ve been combining new hobbies with traveling leading to me scuba diving in Malta or running a halfmarathon in Berlin.
I still have plenty of places to visit and plenty of places to revisit and I can’t wait to go explore and tell you all about it.

What this blog is about

This blog will probably not be a structured blog where I write about the 5 best places to eat or make nice videos of where I go to.
It will be a mixture of travel reporting, musings on travel and how it relates to life and everything else and anything practical about travel that I think others would benefit from.
I will also be writing about the races that I run around the world, the mountaineering expeditions I go on, the scuba sites I dive and hiking trails that I take.
In short it will be just about anything I selfishly think is interesting and what I think someone would be interested in reading.

What’s up with the name though

Yes, my name is pronounced like “Yo” that’s apparently the Vietnamese pronounciation.
Oh, the unknown unknowns. It comes strangely enough from a Donald Rumsfeld speech about lack of evidence of WMD. It’s usually referred to in risk management
but I like the larger meaning. Unknown unknowns means the things we don’t know we don’t know. In exploration terms, it would be Columbus and America. This entire continent was something he didn’t even think was possible.
I chose to name this blog Exploring the Unknown Unknowns. To discovering those things we couldn’t even imagine and to never stop being curious about our world.

How can I get updates

You can always check in on this site every so often. That is of course a lot to ask of you, so I have created a newsletter where I will send out updates a maximum of once a week about new articles and content.
And follow me on Facebook to receive updates.
If you have any feedback at all, feel free to write to me on du@exploringtheunknownunknowns.com