Margherita Ragg and Nicholas Burns have a strapline for their popular blog, The Crowded Planet. It’s Finding Nature Everywhere. And that’s exactly what they do.
When I spoke to Margherita, she told me how even one of the most crowded places in the world, Singapore, can be filled with the most amazing wildlife. The MacRitchie Reservoir is a “massive slice of wilderness within the city,” says Margherita.
But her favourite wildlife watching trip was to the Faroe Islands. Margherita says they saw “literally millions of seabirds” and each colony had their own distinct character. “Each section of the cliffs was home to different birds. There was Puffinland, then Seagull City, then Gannetville.”
The Crowded Planet blog has a focus on nature and wildlife, but there are also great travel tips on the site too. I asked Margherita about her recent experience travelling on the Indian rail network. She says the trains weren’t dirty but they were very crowded. And she says being in a sleeper meant you were never alone and there was always a chance to talk to local people.
Margherita felt the mountainous north of India was her favourite part of the trip. “They are the most beautiful mountains I’ve ever seen. And also culturally, it’s a lot more like Tibet – most people are Buddhists. Generally the vibe is more relaxed and a lot less hectic than the rest of India.”
Margherita didn’t like Mongolia, mainly because of the food, which she described as, “just so bad.” But she said the food in neighbouring China was amazing. “The flavours are so complex and so different from what we have in the west. I just think it’s fantastic.”
The couple didn’t let their lack of understanding of the Mandarin language put them off. “We just kind of guessed,” she says, “but it was always good.” And she says don’t be detered by the thought you’ll be served something you rather wouldn’t eat, like dog! “They won’t serve you that. It’s a delicacy and too expensive!”
Margherita’s top tip is not to be afraid of eating street food, which can save you money when travelling. You just have to take a few simple precautions. Always go to a vendor with a good crowd of people in front, she says. “That way you know it’s going to be good.”
You can check out Margherita and Nick’s blog at TheCrowdedPlanet.com.