Before I went on my RTW travels, I could be often found stalking other travel blogs but what really interested me was the person behind the witticisms of their writing. Who are they? Are they real? Are they fit? So hence, for a long time coming, I wanted to do some travel blogging interviews and crack them open for their rawness inspiration of travel inside. Think Michael Parkinson.
This week’s interview is no other than the most abstractingly cultural travel blogger around. He’s currently working in London, Britain (Woo! Britain is the best!) and going off on his travels every now and then, thus wandering the world. Not only does he write about travel but the inspirations for travels whether they are music, films etc. I found out about him when he popped up in my blogging team for a competition and since then, I have been following him with avid interest. I finally met him at the World Travel market with Neil of Backpacks and Bunkbeds and all of us proceeded to get ‘merry’ at the HostelBookers Awards Party! Without much further ado, I give you Brendan of Wanders of the World!
1. Name: Brendan Wan
2. Twitter: @worldwanders
3. Facebook Fan Page: www.facebook.com/wandersoftheworld
4. Blog URL: http://www.wandersoftheworld.net/
5. Where are you originally from and where are you now?
Originally from Melbourne, Australia but currently have been based in London for the past 7 months. Wow, I can’t believe it’s been 7 months of me living amongst the British…
6. Describe yourself in 3 words.
Creative. Cultured. Man-Child. (Ed Note: Man-Child is TRUE!)
7. Tell us about your blog. What makes your blog unique from all the other bloggers out there?
In short, Wanders of the World is about pop-culture and travel culture. I am forever a student of culture and I love learning about the habits and traditions of a country’s inhabitants. If you think about, as humans, we generally do the same thing – we eat, we drink, we marry, we have children, etc. The only difference between all of us is how we do all these things. It is through this diversity in approach that makes the world continually intriguing. The pop-culture aspect of the blog springs from my love of music, film, TV and the creative arts. I do occasionally intertwine the two these of travel and pop-culture together, for example, I wrote a post about the Best Films about Paris, which I hope would psyched people going to the great city.
8. Why did you start writing a blog? And did you find it easy to set up?
Originally, Wanders of the World started as a platform to show case my writing to a wider audience, sort of a portfolio of my skills and work, but eventually the blog developed into what it is now. I just use WordPress for my blog, as I am not enthusiastic about technology and all, but we’ll see how that goes. I am continually learning about computers, websites, plugins, SEO, blah blah, so let’s see how website-savvy I can become eh!?
9. If you had to travel with 3 other travel bloggers who would they be?
That’s a good question because there are so many travel bloggers out there that to pick 3 is hard enough! I guess I would pick the following three bloggers/writers because of their expertise in the area:
Jerome Parrone from 25 Travels – simply because I have never been to the Philippines and he would be an outstanding host and representative to the country!
Neil Barnes from Backpacks and Bunkbeds – he’s one of the first travel bloggers I met when I arrived in London and he’s a typical East-side Englishman!
Simon Petersen from Man vs World – Even though he’s a kiwi and I’m Australian, we’ve put our difference in the name of travel blogging! 😛
10. What’s the best advice you can give for new bloggers?
Just write and don’t listen to the disheartening politics of travel blogging, such as the dreaded issue of SEOs. I mean I’ve been blogging for just over a year and I still have no understanding of SEO. (Ed Note: Preaching to the masses here!) Is that hurting my stats? Most likely. Is it destroying my writing in which I put so much effort and research into or is it killing my passion for writing? Hopefully Not! Again, I just write and send it out like a message in a bottle. A travel writer once said that blogging was like sending a message in bottle to an ocean where there are millions of other bottles! Also, ask yourself the reason why you want to write in the first place, is it to share experiences, inspire people or to make money from it. Whatever your reasons are, establish them first so that you have a much more clearer vision of what you want to achieve.
11. Other than a job, what’s the easiest way to make money for travels?
Somehow become a celebrity and organise endorsements? I have no Idea! I work to fund my travels, so if you know of a way, immediately contact me! (Ed Note: What about selling your body?)
12. Where have you been in the world? And which was the best, worst, funniest, most random and scariest?
Where: Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, China, Hong Kong, Macau, USA, France, Belgium, Czech Republic, UK, Australia, Germany and Spain. Not enough really…
Best: That’s a hard one because I lived in Japan and Taiwan for a year each and they were the best years of my life for different reasons.
Worst: I have said this before; but I really, really didn’t enjoy LA. To the people from Los Angeles, USA, I apologise but it wasn’t the greatest place I had visited.
Funniest: In Beppu, Japan, a place famous for its hot springs, I once visited a (Ed Note: Not surprisngly) sex museum…it was very weird, funny, surreal and slightly creepy! They had medieval pleasure machines for the ladies on display and moulds of animal sexual organs…the whale vagina was quite impressive, it’s HUGE!
Random: Again while I was studying in Japan, my friend and I decided to catch a boat from our home town of Kumamoto to Shimabara for a day trip. On returning home, we had missed the last boat and since there was no real place to stay in the town, we decided to go back to Kumamoto the long way and travel up around the Shimabara Bay, going up north to Fukuoka and then changing trains to ride the train down to Kumamoto. It was a crazy way to get back home but it was nonetheless an adventure!
Scariest: The scariest experience happened to me while I was living in Taiwan. For 4 days, I did a scooter journey around the southern half of Taiwan – it was me and the road, classic road journey! Now, Taiwan is quite a humid and tropically hot country so when I was riding my scooter (which was dubbed ‘The Green Hornet’), so I was only wearing two layers of clothing on my ride. When I was approaching the mountainous area located in the centre of Taiwan, I didn’t realise that it would get that cold. My final destination for the day was a hostel located at the highest point in Taiwan, but the Green Hornet’s headlights were dim so for the long three hour ride, I was basically riding in the dark, in the cold, with only the moonlight being my only light. I had to reach that hostel or else I honestly believed I would’ve suffered from some serious hypothermia. When I reached the highest point, there was no hostel to be found, so I was freaking out, jumping like a madman for warmth. Luckily though, there was a car parked on the top and the gentleman kindly came out and told me that the hostel was just a few kilometres down the other side of the mountain. (Ed Note: Glad to hear that happened!)
13. Naughtiest experience on your travels?
Well there was this one time at band camp…No, I can’t really think of one but I do have some very childishly caught photos. Look below!
14. Luggage or Backpack?
Backpack. I feel like an adventurer that way!
15. Top 3 items that you would save from your backpack if it was about to be sunk in shark infested waters?
Passport, Money and Camera. Basically it’s my identity, my funding and my memories that I will protect.
16. Skydiving or Bungee Jumping?
Now I am a coward so I don’t see myself doing either or those. Having said that however, I would probably pick skydiving because it’s the closest I will ever get to feel like superman when he’s flying!
17. Best travel idol (aside from me, of course) that you would want to sit next to on the plane?
I wanted to say Doctor Who but Neil already chose him! But if I think about it now, I really wouldn’t mind a journey with Karl Pilkington. He has a very odd view of the world that somehow makes sense…You’d never be bored when traveling him…although the moaning could get to you!
18. What’s your party trick to show to other backpackers in hostels?
My knowledge of drinking games! (Ed Note: Definitely from this alcoholic!)
19. Hostel, Guesthouse, Hotel or Couchsurf?
Hostels because they’re cheap and I do love the hostel atmosphere. Recently on my travels though, I’ve been fortunate enough to stay at my friend’s houses which has been great not only because I meet my friends again, but also I’m living with a local!
20. Day Trip, Backpack or live? UK, Australia or Vietnam?
Live. If I could in every country, I would! Travelling to a country only allows you to touch the surface of that culture, whereas when you live in a country, you experience the country and its culture and become a part of it much more effectively than travelling by. UK, Australia or Vietnam…well I’m Australian who lives in London, so I would have to pick Vietnam eh?
21. Lonely Planet or Rough Guide?
Before I say anything, I do want to make a point that both are excellent guidebooks. My personal preference is Lonely Planet because I have been brought up on them when my brother would borrow them from the library. I like the amount of cultural detail that goes into Lonely Planet, but I do find that Rough Guides includes some smaller places that aren’t included in Lonely Planet.
22. Will you go out with me, a sexy, tall, dark and handsome god?
I don’t know man; you’re not exactly Hugh Jackman or Daniel Craig… (Ed Note: I’m the one and only Ed Rex!)
23. Did you find love on your travels?
Yes I did. When I lived in Taiwan, I met this beautiful French girl who was studying at the same university where I was studying Chinese. We stayed together for the entire year we were in Taiwan, and then we did the long distance for a year and a bit, but unfortunately the distance got to us in the end. C’est la Vie as they say in French.
24. Would you go on I’m a Celebrity and eat pig’s testicles?
You don’t need me to appear on a reality TV show to eat pig’s testicles! I’m adventurous with my food, so put it on a plate and I’ll give it a try. My dad always taught me to at least try something.
25. And possibly, the most important question…Neighbours or Home and Away?!
As an Australian, I know the words to the theme songs! I think I watched Neighbours when I was younger simply because of Holly Valance…but did you know that Thor (Chris Hemsworth) use to be on Home and Away!? Thor, son of Odin, once walked the sands of Summer Bay!
26. Which 3 songs have you played the most on your iPod on your travels?
Jack Johnson – Breakdown.
I remember listening to this song on a train from LA to San Francisco and it was such a beautiful experience. The song is essentially about wanderlust and the line ‘I hope this train would breakdown so I can walk around’ was so fitting when I saw the Californian landscape.
Coldplay – Viva La Vida
The first line of ‘I use to rule the world’ always gets me psyched about travelling because when I travel I essentially do feel like I’m on an adventure conquering the world one country at a time.
Tentai Kansoku – Bump of Chicken
This Japanese song, written by a Japanese band strangely named ‘Bump of Chicken’, was the first song to ever capture the sense of wanderlust for me. For me, the song sounds of freedom – I always picture myself on a scooter on the open road, not having a care in the world.
27. You travelled on your own, how did that go for you and did you find it easy to make new friends on the road?
I enjoy travelling on my own because I can do whatever the hell I want to. I might be walking my way towards La Familia Sagrada and happen to come across a tiny alleyway which sparks my curiosity. If I was with someone, I probably would’ve ignored it but because I’m by myself I am just go in and see what it’s all about. It’s mainly through the hostels that I meet new people while on the road and I find that depending on the mood and state of mind you’re in affects how easily you make friends. Sometimes, I genuinely feel like a solo hermit trip but other times I may feel like wandering the streets with someone I just met.
28. What are your next travel plans?
For the Christmas break, I’ll be off on a family holiday to Singapore and Bandung, Indonesia for my cousins wedding. I’ve been to both countries several times so it’s nothing new, but you never know what adventure could pop up! After that, we’ll see how much money I have left…
29. What’s the best advice you can give to first time travellers?
Embrace the fear and go with the flow. Simple as that really.
30. Finally, tell us a funny travel story.
During my study abroad year in Kumamoto, Japan, my friend and I were simply walking down the main shopping strip of Shimatori where suddenly we feel an arm hang over both of our shoulders. We instantly turn around and realise it’s the Department Head of the International Programs Office at my host University – the man responsible for keeping ties with its international partners. His face was tomato red and he just says to us ‘Do you boys want to have a drink with me’. Normally for any sane person, a stranger danger alert would signal off but we were bored and didn’t want to go home so we obliged. The man took us to a hotel where we met the President of the University! Together we went to a ‘snack bar’ which is a bar where the drinks are insanely expensive and you are served by beautiful woman who are paid to flirt with you through conversation. We sang karaoke and drank expensive whiskey and didn’t pay a cent! (Ed Note: Legend!)
Thanks Tom for doing this interview! If you would like to know more about his World Wandering, please click here.
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