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6 / 10Ili-Alatau Mountains“The journey, I realized, is not about me becoming someone new. It is about me letting go of expectations of becoming anything—and instead simply being who I was supposed to be all along: a traveler, a citizen of the world, and a human being who aims to spread a message of kindness.”
Plan your trip: Kazakhstan
Photo by @insearchofperfect
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You could say that photographer and writer Yulia Denisyuk is a born traveler. Denisyuk—who is originally from Kazakhstan, but raised in Estonia—embarked on her first solo trip at the age of five, and has not stopped since. Although she now calls the United States home, she’s touched down in Morocco, Greece, Vietnam, and Thailand, to name a few countries. We fell in love with Denisyuk’s journeys when her Instagram handle, @insearchofperfect, first popped up in #traveldeeper. We jumped at the chance to chat with her about her recent trips, travel advice, and where she’s headed next.
Can you tell us about your instagram handle?
“My handle, @insearchofperfect, is influenced by the paradox of perfection. It’s based on the thinking of the Greek philosopher Empedocles, who suggested that the greatest perfection is actually an imperfection, as it contains the potential to improve and to become perfect. So, recognizing that there is beauty in imperfection—in being human—I strive to inspire others to travel more and to get to know the world around them with my work.”
Tell us about your most recent trip. Where did you go and what did you see?
“My most recent trip took me to my city of birth, Almaty, Kazakhstan. I haven’t been back in a long time, and it has been wonderful to see the contrast of new and old in that city. Many things have undoubtedly changed—there are new high-rise developments, a number of global brands have been introduced, and people in general are looking to better their lives. But, fundamentally Almaty still has the same values, which include a deep love for the wonderful snow-capped mountains that surround the city, serving good food (including the famous horse meat beshbarmak), and spending quality time with family and friends. It is incredibly powerful to see that those values are lasting, irrespective of what the world may seem like right now.”
What was one of your most unforgetable travel experiences?
“The most memorable experiences I have from my travels are always connected to the people I’ve met on the road. One of the most unforgettable nights of my life was spent with Moroccan Amazigh tribes in the sands of the Sahara, 30 kilometers away from the Algerian border. Although we were unable to speak each other’s languages, we shared food and mint tea, and sang songs together around the fire. At that moment, underneath a brilliant carpet of starry skies, I experienced a fundamental truth that travel always teaches: We are all the same. At the beginning of each new day, I am most excited about spreading the message that beneath our different skin colors, body shapes, cultures, and experiences, we are all bound by the same values—curiosity, hospitality, storytelling, and a desire to connect.”
Any advice for fellow travelers?
“The number one item I always bring with me is an open mind. If you’re open to new experiences, you stand to gain so much—including a fresh way of thinking, a broadening of your horizons, humility and respect towards cultures and viewpoints different than your own, and a deeper understanding of yourself, the world around you, and your relationship with the world. This is the incredible power of travel, but it only works if you have an open mind.”
Where are you headed next?
“I have been dreaming of going to South America for quite some time now. In particular, I would love to visit the Andes and get a glimpse of the way people live there today.”