I know Helmi for 27 years now. We have been neighbors, classmates and most of all friends! I’m flattered and honored, to present you my dear friend and traveler Helmi Ismail. His unique way of telling you a story will glue to the screen.

“Japan is the most amazing experience I had…”

Q: Hi, Can you present yourself in a few words?

HI: Helmi Ismail, 36 years old. I work as special advisor to health minister in Tunisia. Both Algerian, Tunisian and French, very Mediterranean by definition. I love street art, theater, gardening and traveling. I do specifically care about ecology, social progress and wealth.

Christ Redeemer – Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)

Q: How many countries and independent territories have you visited?

HI: I am not really sure about the exact number, but it should be about 30 to 35 countries

Q: What is the first country you have visited?

HI: Tunisia

Q: What is the last country you have visited?

HI: Morocco

Japan, India, Australia, France and Tunisia are my Top 5 countries

Q: What would be the best 5 countries u have visited and why?


  • Japan: Best experience ever! I lived there for 1 year. This country is a mixture of wonderful aspects: nature, culture, technology, history and nice food 😉 I really enjoyed everything except earthquakes 😉
  • India: Incredible India! I visited northern part, plus Rajasthan and Varanasi. That was full of spices, colors, though souvenirs that shake your beliefs, and wonderful food. It took me sometime to realize how much this country contributed to make me better understands life.
  • Australia: I loved this country. I loved diving by the barrier reef with sharks. The life in Sydney or Melbourne is extremely enjoyable and offers a real example that modernity, work and enjoyable life can be compatible all together.
  • France:  I love this country. It offers all what I love: good food, good wine, long history, extremely diverse nature, very welcoming population, central location in Europe, wonderful social system. I don’t classify it as first best country just for humility reason (being French myself) and because I am careful about exotics (even though French islands can offer this)
  • Tunisia (Especially after Jasmine revolution):   Each time I visit this country during the last years, I feel alive. The country suffers from huge problems but most Tunisians are struggling to fight for their rights and for better future. I am not sure there is any other country in the region facing similar challenges and treating them bravely as Tunisia does. I love this unique experience

“I know that a pen and a paper notebook bring some unique authenticity”

Q: What countries are on your wish list?

HI: Iran, New Zealand, Uzbekistan, China, Koreas, and Vietnam

Q: Can you tell us about the most “unique” travel experience you have lived?

HI: Actually they are two unique experiences one in Japan and the other in India. Both are thoughts shaking.

First experience was in India with a friend. Our hindu driver was driving madly. We were praying not to die. At one point the driver said: “don’t be afraid, this experience is just a part of life and most probably if we die today, we will be back again hopefully with better chance to have a better life” (his Hindu philosophy). That was not our “monotheist” philosophy and for the first time in my life I realized how much religion can impact our relationship to our lives and how much it can model our behaviors on earth. Even though I come also from a “religion based” culture, it was the first time in my life to realize how much my own life philosophy is also based on the religion, just as much as the Hindu driver one.

Today many of them are careful about dedicating part of their life to humanity.

Second experience was in Japan meeting some families from Hiroshima, who suffered from WWII. I was impressed by their humanity and humility. Many of their relatives were dead after Hiroshima bombing and the survivors were able to transform their sadness into introspective analysis and to change into very peaceful people caring about other humans after having experienced the total annihilation of humanity during WWII. I was not expecting them to be warriors but honestly I was scared to meet some “psychological and social injured” people. That was not what I found. I met very balances people criticizing the Japanese imperial invasions and implication in nonhuman war. Today many of them are careful about dedicating part of their life to humanity.

walking in the streets is the unique way to breathe the city/place I visit…”

Q: If you have to pack only one thing in your luggage, what would it be?

HI: The question is tricky and indeed I am questioning myself what should I bring for my next long trip. I hesitate between two things: a pen and a notebook or a go pro camera. I know that both bring immortalize each one unique experience bit in two different ways.

Even though I am IT engineer, I know that a pen and a paper notebook bring some unique authenticity. I remember my first student experience through Europe in 2001 when I had the chance to afford only a paper and a pen and went through a unique human experience where people I met writing me notes with sincere and simple words that I will never forget. No hashtags, no likes, no sophistication, only their sincere thoughts between them and me! I love that souvenir.

Rocky Mountains (USA)

Q: What are the first three things you do when you arrive in a new place?

HI: First thing is to walk in the streets of the city. This is the unique way to breathe the city/place I visit. Museums and tourist spots are second priority spots to visit

Q: What ultimate advice can you tell people that are crazy about travelling?

HI: My unique advice would be to create opportunities to meet people instead of visiting places. That’s a big difference. Traveling for me is more about human meeting that discovering new places

1 Comment

Zina · 24 September 2021 at 08:49

Thank you for sharing your travel experiences !

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