Talk time: 3.45pm, Saturday, March 9, 2012
Talk name/title
: Unexpected China
Speaker’s name: Helen Elfer
Company:  TNT!

Why do you love to travel?
Because it puts you in that ‘this could be my only chance’ frame of mind and pushes you to try things you wouldn’t ordinarily.

Who would be your ideal travel partner and why?
Depends on the kind of holiday. But if I’m going somewhere new I prefer to go by myself – it’s easier to soak it all up with no distractions.

What was your favourite destination last year and why?
I went to Kerala in India last year, it was absolutely stunning. Great food too – lots of coconuts!

Describe the most unusual situation you’ve found yourself in while travelling.
I went to meet a Qi Gong master in Shanghai, and he threw me out of his clinic because he said I had such intensely bad energy it had given him a migraine. That was very, very surreal…

Name two up-and-coming destinations for 2013.
Since the Foreign Office lifted its long-standing travel warning against parts of Kashmir late last year, everyone’s talking about Srinagar. Dal Lake, where you can hire a houseboat, would be my top pick. Also travellers are really starting to pay attention to Brazil as it gears up for the World Cup next year and the 2016 Olympics.

If you could return to any country you’ve been to, what would it be and why?
I’ve been to Thailand quite a few times already, but I always have such a brilliant time there I’d go back in a second.

What’s the one thing you can’t travel without and why?
I have an old, huge cotton scarf I take everywhere, which has doubled up as sunscreen, a pillow, a curtain, and even a skirt on one occasion.

Give us an overview of what you’ll be discussing at the TNT Travel Show:
I’m going to be talking about the kinds of trips you can take in China that you probably wouldn’t associate with the country – tropical beaches, extreme sports and arts hubs.

Who will find your talk relevant?
Anyone that wants to visit China, but wants to do more than a classic sightseeing tour while they’re there.