Meet The HONey: Claude Monthé
Imagine how many people in the world have asked you for the time or for a lighter. The moment usually takes a couple of seconds until it’s over and you never see or speak to them again. Little did I know that five words leading to a question would result in a lifelong friendship. “Do you have a light”? It was August 2014, docked along the Seine at a boat party in Paris. This radiant being with a smile for miles presented me with those five words, that seemed meaningless at the moment but instantly turned into a conversation that lasted all night. We danced, we laughed, we smoked and drank and enjoyed everything that this effortless, warm, Parisian summer night had to offer. We literally were attached to the hip until sunlight. It was one of those moments where the universe perfectly timed two souls together. A friendship was made, without having to say it out loud. And so our journey began… Both Claude and I are avid travelers. As a matter of fact, it feels like we’re more up in the air than steady on the ground. Two years ago, she moved to Australia to embark on a personal adventure and I’ve been admiring her journey from afar. With House of Notoire we want to connect with HONeys around the world. So it only seemed fit to start this interview series with a true worldwide woman. Meet The HONey: Claude.
MEET THE HONEY
Claude Siewe Juimo Monthe
Follow her journey on Instagram: @claude.monthe
Who are you?
I am Claude Siewe Juimo Monthé. I’m 28 years old. I was born in Cameroon, Africa, but raised in Paris, France. At the moment, I live in Melbourne, Australia. Being a world traveler all my life, I’ve also lived in New York and Tel Aviv, amongst maybe other places in the world. I consider myself a citizen of the world, but mostly a life lover. I want to live life to the fullest and experience as much as possible and all that life has to offer me. Career-wise; I’m an aspiring stylist and I want the ability to express my creativity with any job I do.
What made you decide to travel to Australia?
I decided to travel to Australia when I returned to Paris, after a whirlwind summer. That summer I visited five different places. I first went to New York, from there straight to Brazil, continued to Tokyo and then circled back to Europe and ended the summer in Sweden and Belgium. Five countries in two to three months! When I came back to Paris after this crazy summer, I was going through a form of depression. When you’re traveling, you’re on such an incredible high. It made coming back home very difficult. I felt extremely low. I didn’t really have any perspective on life and wasn’t happy to be back. I had no clue as to what I was going to do with my life. Until I kept on having these signs that told me to go to Australia. I literally kept seeing them everywhere.
One day I woke up crying and then and there decided: if I don’t do it now, I’m just going to be the most miserable person ever. I remember the moment clear as day. It was in November (two years ago), I woke up sobbing, grabbed my laptop and applied for my Australian visa. I probably had €486 on my bank account and the visa cost about €470. So, I literally put all the money I had left in my bank account towards this visa. When I booked my visa, I told my friend that lived in Tel Aviv about my plans. She said: “okay, with the money you have left, book a ticket to Tel Aviv and come here to work with me, save some money and then go to Australia” - and that’s what I did. Within a week, I had my visa for Australia and a couple of days later I booked my flight to Tel Aviv. I stayed there for four months and worked at my friend’s company. I had made enough money that allowed me to do a little tour through the Middle East in the meantime and a solid amount of savings to start my Australian adventure. It was pretty impulsive and maybe reckless, but I don’t regret it for one moment!
Best memory or moment in Australia so far?
In the two years that I’ve been here in Australia, I’ve been living one amazing moment after the other. However, one particular moment that I recall the most is probably the time I went to Uluru, which is in the heart of Australia. It’s where most of the Aboriginals live. I visited the Uluru rock (the symbol of Australia) and that was a very spiritual moment for me. I felt like I was being kissed by the universe and its magic. I met an amazing indigenous Australian family there, who were so touching. We spent a night together drinking, talking and sharing stories about their ancestors. The moment that we left, they cried. We all cried. That was a strong moment and an example of how you can connect with people that you’ve never met before. But because you have this strong soul connection, you can love each other very quickly. Although I’ll probably never see them again, it was the most beautiful experience I’ve had in this country.
on taking travel pics
You should understand that I’m crazy. I don’t feel any shame in asking people to take pictures of me. And once the camera is in their hands? I shamelessly direct them with the angles. Once the angles and backgrounds are settled, I definitely don’t have a grain of shame in me to pose in front of a crowd of people. I really don’t care. I need my perfect shot, and no one will stop me from getting it.
What do you love about traveling alone?
I’m a very social person and always surrounded by a lot of people because I make new friends easily. However, I always feel like I need to put on some kind of show. Being social is nice, but at the same time very draining because you always have to be your best self - almost put on a show. Life is a big stage. Traveling alone is a very rare moment where I can unapologetically be myself. I can do whatever I want when I feel like to. If I want to take three naps a day, I can do it. If I want to eat six meals, I can do that too. I can choose where I want to go and how. The freedom, that’s what I love about traveling alone. I also find more time to reconnect with myself, because being alone is being with your own thoughts. I use that time for self-reflection and to explore things that I wouldn’t do in a group. Also, the vulnerability of being alone pushes you to go out of your comfort zone. You’re going to have to talk to people in order to get somewhere, those are the moments where you get in touch with the locals. You get to do amazing things that you perhaps wouldn’t do with a group of friends. Filling in your own time and journey, that’s what I love about traveling by myself.
How do you stay safe during your solo travels?
To be honest, I put it all upon luck. The only reason I’m still alive is because I’m lucky AF! I’ve been pretty reckless. I would do stuff that you’re not supposed to do alone in a foreign country, but I’d do it anyway. I don’t know why, but I feel like I have this force upon me that protects me no matter what. But one thing I always do is listen to my gut feeling. If I feel something is dodgy, I’m not going to do it. Even if something seems pretty crazy to do by myself, but my gut gives me the feeling that I’ll be safe - I’ll still do it. When you’re alone, you should have common sense. Obviously, there are things that aren’t wise to do alone as a woman in certain countries. Of course, it varies per country. Things that would be okay to do in Sweden will be the complete opposite in Jordan. When I was in the Middle East I would take fewer risks than I would in European countries or even Japan. I would take risks in Japan, but I would definitely not do the same in other Asian countries. Learn about the social norms in the countries you visit, so you understand how to apply them when visiting.
that summer we met and instantly became friends!
Who takes your bomb ass pics when traveling alone?
*laughs* Oh goodness, my pictures. That’s probably my most frequently asked question. You should understand that I’m crazy. I don’t feel any shame in asking people to take pictures of me. And once the camera is in their hands? I shamelessly direct them with the angles. Once the angles and backgrounds are settled, I definitely don’t have a grain of shame in me to pose in front of them or even a crowd of people. That happened once, I was posing with at least a hundred people around, but that wouldn’t stop me from doing my crazy, dramatic, poses. I really don’t care. I need my perfect shot, and no one will stop me from getting it.
I literally scan through the crowd for people of whom I think has a good aesthetic and a good eye. You need to know who you’re asking to take your pictures. If you’re asking a middle-aged man, who is quite butch - he probably is not going to give a f* about your shot. However, if you pick a girl to start with or a guy that has a nice “je ne sais quoi” style, then that already gives you an advantage. Once you have picked a person, just go for it wholeheartedly. Pose, direct them and make the most out of the moment, because you never know when you’ll be at that place again.
What is your next destination?
This is a tough one because I’ve been changing my mind way too often. I literally want to go everywhere on this planet. However, you have to choose because of money, time and priorities. I think that after Australia, I have to go home for at least a month. But between now and going home, I might stop somewhere along the way. Also because there is no direct flight back home. A layover is inevitable, so I might as well visit the country while I’m at it. It will most likely be Central Asia. But I definitely also want to go to the Caribbean and spend a summer there wearing amazing carnival outfits and party with them - because they sure know how to celebrate life! I might do that next year when I turn 30. Exploring more of South America is also very high up on my list!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Living in New York, having a kickass career doing an amazing job that is well paid and allows me to be well traveled!
What do you do to keep yourself inspired?
Being surrounded by beauty in all its shapes and forms; landscapes, music, fashion, and people. All my friends are beautiful people inside out. I’m also good at finding beauty in things that others don’t normally see. I’m constantly observing and soaking my surroundings in, whether I’m walking down the street or during my travels. Also, the internet, because it gives you an incredible access to the world. I can travel through my laptop! I’m always searching for something new to keep me inspired.
What’s your life motto?
As corny as it might sound: we’re all going to die, so we might as well live. Live life to the fullest and make it the best possible life we can. Because we take it for granted. There have been so many times that we have been spared from death and we don’t even have to think about it. We’ve made it so far, we’re the lucky ones and we have access to so many amazing things. So use it to live your best life. All that’s going to matter on my deathbed is how I lived. If I don’t do what I want in life now, I will eventually live to regret it. As long as you don’t hurt people, you should do whatever the f* you want.
Name a HONey that has impacted you or that you admire, and why?
I’m inspired by so many different women around the world, which makes it hard to pinpoint one. But what all those HONeys that I have admiration for are having in common is that they live life unapologetically. They will take risks. They might do things that people might criticize at first, but later on, will glorify. I commend people who do not give up on their dreams. Who work hard, even if it takes years, to realize what they believe in. I’m a sucker for success stories! I also admire women who are connected with themselves and are able to share their truths and are able to help others to share theirs.
Which one of these women would you nominate for the next “Meet the HONey”?
The first one that comes to mind right away is @mamacaxx. She’s this mega-babe that I might in Paris, but now lives in New York. It’s funny, we met on a night out and discovered that were dating the same guy at the same time!
She was diagnosed with bone and lung cancer as a teen, resulting in needing her leg amputated. She has grown to become this amazing, bold, brave, divalicious, fierce girl. Through social media, she is trying to raise awareness around her life story. Not only is she gorgeous, but she’s such a grounded and beautiful soul. She has taken a situation where you can easily fall into the victim role and has turned it into an unstoppable force.