INTERVIEW WITH A TOURIST

‘Yes, Europeans will love Saipan!’

Battle of Saipan relic hunter Fabian Indalecio, bleisure travelpreneur Hasse "Chris" Wiersna from The Netherlands, and passionpreneur author/guide Walt Goodridge on Saipan. (Contributed Photo)

Battle of Saipan relic hunter Fabian Indalecio, bleisure travelpreneur Hasse “Chris” Wiersna from The Netherlands, and passionpreneur author/guide Walt Goodridge on Saipan. (Contributed Photo)

“European tourists who wander far from home are usually interested in culture and history to some extent to add a little education to their escape and relaxation. The combination of activities as well as significant history on Saipan, Tinian and Rota will surely be a treat for European travelers!”—Hasse Wiersna

Hasse “Chris” Wiersna is a globe-trekker from The Netherlands. On a recent business trip to Singapore, he decided to do some island hopping, with a side trip to Saipan, Tinian, Rota, Yap, Guam, and Palau. I had the pleasure of giving him a World War II pilgrimage tour of Saipan and Tinian over the course of two days.

Chris is the quintessential “passionpreneur” and “nomadpreneur.” While others only dream of turning their travel passion into an income strategy, Chris is actually doing it. Since graduating from the University of Twente in The Netherlands with a degree in Chemical Engineering, a minor in Entrepreneurship and one in IT, he’s never worked for anyone—and, instead has been able to parlay some of that formal training into creating his own passion-centered lifestyle!

He’s combined two distinct passions—that of coins and his love of world travel—into a mutually-sustaining business model where the income and travel requirements of one passion finance and facilitate the other! His IT and entrepreneurial training have helped him create and grow a popular and high-ranked business and leisure travelblog (www.christravelblog.com). He writes about his travels, teaches others how to follow in his footsteps, wakes and jetstreams, and has amassed a global following of free independent travelers, culture and history buffs, and even “stay-cation” homebodies who enjoy his adventures vicariously.

 “Since I was young I always wanted to travel the world and beyond,” he said. “My ultimate goal is to visit all continents, countries and UNESCO sites and finally go to space one day!” He’s well on his way. Last year he spent about 200 days out on what he called “bleisure” (business and leisure) travel, has seen over 60 countries and plans to explore at least five new ones each year.

To make it happen, Chris does all the travel planning himself. Through a combination of loyalty programs (frequent flier miles, hotel points, etc.) as well as in-kind sponsorship arrangements with destination tourism boards, airlines, hotels, car rental companies, tour guides and activity vendors, he reciprocates with valuable links on his popular site as well as mentions in his articles. The coverage drives business to his sponsors, and offers tourism-boosting attention to various destinations like the CNMI.

Speaking of the CNMI, what did you like most about Tinian?

“Well, Tinian was very fascinating. This island’s story is history that changed the world. It’s a tiny island but of so great importance in world history. Seeing the bomb pits and standing on the actual runway the Enola Gay took off from was awe-inspiring.”

…and Saipan?

“Saipan is a mix between a resort-style holiday, but with a lot to offer history-wise. It’s a great combination for those who don’t want to be on the beach all day. Activities like fishing on the ocean, watersports and more make Saipan a great choice for any family. Also, based on the advanced research I did on Saipan, I knew I couldn’t visit without documenting its World War II significance. So, getting to see that amazing collection of Chamorro, Japanese and Battle of Saipan relics that Fabian [Indalecio] has in his private collection was very special! Thanks for that!”

…and Rota?

Rota is totally different from Tinian and Saipan. I do suggest going there for several reasons which are the extensive latte stones; some WWII relics but also the nature with its birds. The best, however, is how relaxed the island is with its deserted beaches where you can sit all day without anyone disturbing you. I tend to do too much on a day and on Rota at some point I only could sit on the beach, just do nothing, which was a good thing!

Chris is heading back to spend Easter with his wife and two children in The Netherlands, and then will hit the road and skies again to Taiwan and beyond! Let’s all hope that his Saipan, Tinian and Rota adventures will inspire others to discover Saipan, too! (Special thanks to Star Marianas, Islander Car Rental, and Saipan’s “Relic Hunter” Fabian Indalecio for making Chris’ CNMI adventure possible and memorable!)

Chris’ articles on Saipan, Tinian and Rota will appear on his www.christravelblog.com site over the coming weeks.

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WALT F.J. GOODRIDGE, Special to the Saipan Tribune Author

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