Irreverent responses from our favourite travel ninjas.
Travel blogger and photographer
@ottsworld | ottsworld.com | meetplango.com
in: Peoria, Illinois
living in: Nomadic since September 2006
would you rather be right now?
At this very moment I’m sitting in an albergue (hostel) in Belorado, a small
town in northern Spain, after hiking 100 miles along the Camino de Santiago route. I can’t imagine wanting to be anywhere else
right now! I wish my feet felt better,
but it’s an amazing experience to walk across Spain!
Famous person (dead or alive, real or fictional) you’d most like to go on a
Andrew McCarthy was my teenage heartthrob in St
Elmo’s Fire who has turned into a travel writer I greatly admire. If I travelled
with him I would not only get to fulfil a high school dream, but I could get
writing tips too!
Everyone asks what’s #1 on your list of places you want to go before you die.
But what’s your #3?
For me it’s not a matter of place, but of experiences.
So – my #3 experience is to live in
Argentina for a few months and learn how to tango.
(or worst) person/people you’ve had to sit next to while travelling:
Technically I didn’t sit next to this man, but
we were on the same bus in Mongolia and I saw a moment of camaraderie that I
will never forget. I was on my way to the Gobi Desert and an older man dressed
in traditional Mongolian herder attire got on. He did something I’ve never seen
done before, he entertained the whole bus; sharing his snuff, talking to
everyone, making them laugh and even leading the entire bus in group song. I
sat in my cramped little seat as the only non-Mongolian, in awe of the
solidarity of everyone on the bus. I gladly joined in, accepting snuff, singing
along and gave rousing applause when everyone finished singing. When the man
got off the bus in the middle of the desert, the entire bus clapped and said
goodbye. It was one of those memorable travel moments - experiencing something
that most of the world will never experience.
Strangest meal abroad:
In a small village in Thailand I was introduced
to the delicacy of rat. The villagers were excited about my arrival, and a
couple of young boys had gone out hunting that day and caught two rats. They cooked
it on a fire and offered me the leg. I gingerly took a bite as all of the
villagers watched for my reaction. All I could think about were the large rats
I frequently used to see in the New York subway when I used to commute to work.
Surprisingly it tasted quite good – like chicken, of course.
most embarrassing travel faux pas:
I was mortified when I realized I had
taken someone else’s luggage at the airport in Honolulu, Hawaii. I didn’t
realize that I had the wrong bag until eight hours later when I went to put on
my pyjamas! The person whose luggage I had accidentally taken had written me an
email as my business card was in my suitcase. They had a go at me, finding it
rather ironic that I was a “professional traveller” who had made such a stupid
Coolest mode of transport you’ve taken:
I think I’ve taken it all – helicopter, hot-air
balloon, train, local bus, boat, van, police car, F1 pace car, bicycle, horse,
donkey, camel, motorcycle, tuk tuk, jeepney and rickshaw. But, driving my own
motorbike in Ho Chi Minh City has to be the coolest and scariest thing I’ve
done! If you have been to Vietnam and have seen the six million plus motorbikes
in Ho Chi Minh City, then you will understand -- it’s a complete adrenaline
rush. I had been living there for four months, always taking motorbike taxis to
get around, when one day my regular driver said he would teach me how to drive one.
I decided to rent my own shiny Yamaha bike for a month, but I chickened out and
it sat in my living room (the standard place to park your motorbike in Vietnam)
for a week before I got the nerve to drive it. Eventually I eased myself into
the afternoon rush hour – and it was one of the most terrifying things I had
ever done! I had no idea how to turn left across traffic so for the first few
days I could only go around the block and take right turns. Eventually, I
learned that being a part of Ho Chi Minh City traffic was like being a part of
a school of fish. You operated in a big group, separating and coming back
together as various other vehicles crossed your path. So – I guess you can say
that I learned how to “swim” in Vietnam.
Travel-related film or book that inspires you to pack your bags:
The film Revolutionary Road makes me want to
ensure that I never give up on my travel dreams. When the two main characters
decide to uproot their lives and move to France to try something completely different
and realise their childhood travel dreams, I love the excitement of their
preparation. However, they ultimately chicken out and everything goes awry. To
me it demonstrates the importance of being true to yourself, following your
dreams and living outside of the world of “should”.
travel story you’ll never stop bragging about:
Last summer I drove from London to Ulanbaatar,
Mongolia in a completely inappropriate little car (a 2002 Nissan Almera) with
absolutely no mechanical knowledge. I took off from London with three other
travel bloggers who I had never met before, and we made it across 13 countries
and 9,000 miles in five weeks to complete the Mongol Rally --
and raised a great deal of money for Christina Nobel Children’s Foundation.
on us a priceless bit of travel advice or wisdom:
Instead of taking a vacation, consider really
breaking away and take a larger leap into the world of longer-term travel, reaping
the benefits of a travelling career break. Look for experiences rather than
tourist sites. Once you strip yourself of your everyday life and throw yourself
into another world for an extended period, you will come out the other side a
much more balanced and appreciative person.