Liv Gaunt from The World is Waiting has lived an awesome life. Currently based in Cairns, Australia, she’s a scuba-diver, former shark photographer and eternal traveler. Read on to get to know more about her!
GGG: Your blog chronicles your crazy adventures in life (and you’ve had quite a few!) Tell us your story. Where are you from originally?
Liv Gaunt: I was born to Europhile parents busy living it up in Luxembourg. I grew up in the UK and was introduced to travel by my parents exploring the world on family holidays. I got 40 drachmas for my first tooth, which I lost in Zakynthos, Greece.
GGG: So cool! Where are you now? What’s pushed you to keep traveling?
LG: I have recently started a new chapter of my life downunder. I am living in Cairns, Australia and so far I have made friends with sharks and rays scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef, proved I am terrible at beach volleyball, had dinner with a kookaburra, been platypus-spotting, attended an ANZAC day dawn service, finished two tubs of vegemite and been bitten (twice) by a possum.
I am a curious creature and I think my curiosity as well as my diving habit is what has kept me travelling. I love going to new places, but the best bit for me is meeting people, getting to know them and learning about how their lives differ from mine.
We all share one world, but it has so many different faces. I enjoy learning languages and the interaction opportunities it brings, when I try out what I have learned on locals wherever I am, often with mixed results.
GGG: If you could relive one travel experience, which would you choose and why?
LV: When I was 18 and based in Kenya I managed to swim with whalesharks. There are some places in the world where whaleshark encounters can be pretty much guaranteed, but Kenya is not one of them, so the first time I swam with a whaleshark I felt really lucky to have done so. They are such beautiful and gentle giants. I am feeling lucky again as I am going to Ningaloo
Reef, Australia to swim with whalesharks again in a few weeks. Ningaloo is one of the places they are pretty much guaranteed, so I’m looking forward to reliving that experience.
GGG: You’re a scuba diving instructor! Where’s a good place to learn to scuba dive? Where did you learn?
LG: My first diving experience was on holiday in Turkey and I loved diving, as well as Turkey, so much that within two years I had qualified as a diving instructor and was introducing other people to scuba diving. Since then I have dived in many places but I still maintain that the easiest place to try diving for the first time is Turkey. Some of the glossy facilities of other locations may be missing, but the water is crystal clear, mostly flat calm and you won’t meet anything scary underwater.
GGG: What is it like to work as a shark photographer? Have you had any scary moments?
LG: I always found sharks intriguing. They are beautiful sleek creatures with an enormous reputation. Getting the opportunity to dive with them every day was brilliant and the more I learned about them, the more I wanted to know. Like any other animal though, they cannot be relied upon to co-operate. So, once I had got used to being surrounded by them my main concern was to ‘get that shot’ as my wages depended upon it!
I worked at a dive centre operating daily shark feed dives and the scariest moment was probably the first time I was bitten. Getting between sharks in ‘feeding’ mode and their food is not something I’d recommend. We wore chainmail gloves during the feeding dives as we were shoving cameras in the faces of feeding sharks. The sharks would get it wrong occasionally and while chomping at the food would get our arms instead. The gloves protected against most damage, but of course, the first time I was bitten I had no experience of this.
GGG: What a crazy job! Where are you going next?
LG: I intend to spend the immediate future exploring Australia, which is a country I have quickly come to love. I have seen a lot of Queensland and am heading over to Western Australia next month. After that I’m not sure where is next. I would love to explore the South Pacific and spend some time in Asia, but who knows where I will actually end up!
GGG: What advice would you give to women setting off on the road?
LG: Do some pre-trip research, so you are not totally clueless when you arrive. It makes you less vulnerable when you are travelling if you know where you are going and you are also less likely to miss out on the best bits.
Be aware of local norms and cultures and respect them. This especially applies to women visiting Arab nations as something as
simple as wearing shorts that expose your legs can be offensive. It can also be interpreted as a come on, which can lead to unwanted attention. This is not restricted to Arab nations though; there are plenty of places in the world where ignorance can get you into trouble.
Be friendly but don’t be stupid.
One of the best things about travelling is the different people you meet, but don’t trust too easily. There are wonderful people in the world, but there are also sadly a few opportunists who will take advantage if they can.
Travel light, take as little with you as possible. Dragging heavy bags around the world gets old really quickly and you cannot
assume you will meet a chivalrous young man who is keen to help you.
Check in with people at home regularly. Even if you are fearless, there will be people in your life who will worry if they
don’t hear from you for long periods of time. Put their minds at rest.
GGG: Just-for-fun country awards:
– Prettiest Sunset: Barbados
– Best Eats: France
– Friendliest People: Turkey