TravelPod’s Local Expert for the United Kingdom, Joanne Poulter is one of the most prolific contributors to the forums. You can find her telling jokes, chatting about the latest political controversy, or just talking about the most random subjects all over TravelPod’s forums. Now living in Japan, she knows everything there is to know about London, and has lived in the Middle East. She’s a real world citizen and she enthusiastically helps anyone out with travel advice whenever she can.

I wanted to get to know Joanne a little better, so I asked her some questions about being a TravelPod Local Expert.

Why did you become a Local Expert?

Because I am very passionate about London. I am proud to be a born and bred Londoner and I love the whole melting pot of cultures and sights, smells and sounds that make London so special. I was born in London in the East End and I lived and worked there for most of my life until I moved abroad.

What are the best and worst things about living in London?

Definitely the cost of living is one of the main problems people have about London, the exchange rate for the pound against the dollar is really bad and as the UK kept the pound rather than changing to the Euro, is makes for a more expensive trip all around unfortunately. Aside from that parking is usually considered a problem and the amount of traffic (so I would try and avoid renting a car to get around). Some of the pros are definitely the sightseeing and the history and the amount of free attractions to be visited (not everything has to cost).There are some really lovely parks to visit and don’t be afraid to venture outside the usual tourist areas of the West End of London and go to the East and South of London instead, where you will find a lot more culture and history that travellers do not usually think of experiencing. London has a pretty good underground system, and it works out cheaper to buy tickets for a whole week rather than by day if you are staying longer. It is very easy to get around London via the “tube” as the Underground is known to locals! There are some really fabulous restaurants and clubs to go to in London and of course no trip would be complete without fish and chips and my be a good curry.

What are the top five or 10 things for travelers to do in London?

Going to the Tower of London is a must and a trip on the London Eye is a must for most visitors now, but be aware of the queues, they can be pretty horrendous. I would definitely recommend the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum also. If you do go out to East London then visit Roman Road Market, which is a real old traditional east end market with the original greengrocers and butchers! I would also recommend going to Madame Tussauds and the London Chamber of Horrors for a bit of fun! Also, the Law Courts in Fleet Street are worth a visit along with St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey (which is where Princess Diana married Prince Charles). If you want to go a little further outside London then go to Hampton Court Palace, which used to be home to King Henry VIII. Also visit Carnaby Street for a real 60s flashback and don’t forget to take a photo at the Abbey Road crossing from the Beatles era!

What are some of your best and worst travel experiences?

I can’t really say I have had any worst ones yet, I am not a fan of long plane flights and they bore me to tears. For some of the best ones it has to be when I went to Thailand and visited the Maio Tribe in the hills of Chiang Mai and they let us visit they houses and showed us around the village etc. It was a real privilege. Also when I went to the South of France and went to St Paul de Vance, a 16th century hilltop village, it is absolutely breathtaking and the history is staggering.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

The fact that I decided to go live abroad and went to the Middle East alone and stayed for a whole 2 years and then came to Japan.

Where are you planning on traveling in the future?

No real travel plans as yet, but I am still hoping to do some volunteering for the Mirror Art Group in Chiang Rai, Thailand.

What do you do with most of your time?

At present all my time is taken up looking after a very energetic toddler!

What’s a typical day like for you?

Usually getting woken up at some ungodly hour by a little bundle of energy! Making breakfast for him and lunch for his dad and after drinking a “unhealthy” amount of coffee, I get down to mother/housemaker business!

Lately we have been spending weekends outside Misawa and we recently took part in a Flea Market at Lake Towada and saw the Nebuta Festival in Aomori. At present in Japan it is Obon, which is a festival where people celebrate the spirits of dead relatives and place lots of flowers at the cemeteries and visit family and there is a lot of fireworks and singing and music to celebrate the life of their relatives. Later in the year there is a garlic and beef festival and a salmon festival where you can go and catch your own fish!

Chat with Joanne, aka inasia2008 in the TravelPod travel forums anytime!

See you there,
Louise Brown
TravelPod Community Manager