This weekend at TBEX only reminded me that no matter how busy I get, I need to stay on top of our weekly travel bloggers interviews. This week we sit down for some beers and banter with Simon of Man Vs World, a fellow I have actually been meaning to interview for a while now and the anti-Bear Grylls. An avid traveler, since January Simon has been on the road again, this time through Southeast Asia.
Some of you may know him already, some of you may not, but either way I would like to formally introduce you to another aspiring travel blogger whom has embraced the backpacker lifestyle and is now helping to inspire others — and that’s exactly what we like hear at the HoliDaze 😉
So Simon, tell us more about yourself and your blog… what makes you unique?
I’m a Kiwi who has gone and flown the nest in search of a life of adventure and cheap beer. I’m an amateur backpacker with a penchant for doing things the hard way, having moved to London in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression. Four years later and I’ve hit the road again: this time backpacking around South East Asia.
Man vs World is my attempt to chronicle the good times and the great, the best beaches and beers, the greatest sights to see and places to be. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you will be entertained.
In recent years I’ve shifted from a “tourist” to a “backpacker” mentality and I have found my travels to be much more fun and engaging. It seems that you too are enjoying being a backpacker. What are your best/favorite experiences backpacking?
Half of my favourite backpacking moments involve drinking beer in an exotic locale, reflecting on life, culture and the nature of travel. The other half usually involve fulfilling some sort of boyhood ambition – whether it be learning to surf in Spain and Bali, skiing in the Swiss Alps, visiting Disneyland or pretending to be Indiana Jones at Angkor Wat.
And I’d really be in the dog box if I didn’t also say that one of the highlights was getting engaged recently to my long-term traveling girlfriend in Bali.
What are some of your must-have items while backpacking or in hostels?
Five years ago when I was backpacking through Europe I owned no electronic devices. Now, I’d be lost without my little netbook computer or my iPod touch – both of which probably save me hundreds of pounds in internet usage not to mention hundreds of hours sitting in dingy internet cafes. But my most essential travel item – besides my passport – would have to be the bottle opener I have on me wherever I go.
I definitely love good food, especially when with a great beer. What has been your favorite brew so far in all of your travels?
That’s a very tough question and one that I’ve spent countless sleepless nights pondering the answer to. You see, I’ve been fortunate enough to have enjoyed some of the world’s finest brews in Germany, Denmark and Belgium and I’ve yet to decide which the best was. My favourite beer so far in South East Asia, though, would have to be Beerlao – preferably at Utopia, the best bar in Luang Prabang.
Speaking of Utopia, you seem to have found some really unique destinations. Are most of the spots you visit during your travels merely random findings or do you do some groundwork through research prior to your trip?
To be honest, the future Mrs Man vs World does most of my travel planning for me – but you’d be right in thinking from my blog that some of my favourite places have been the ones where we’ve left it a bit more up for chance. When lady luck smiles on a backpacker she really does smile – and you’ve got to be open to these opportunities for fun and hijinks.
I have an unhealthy fascination with Turkey and culture…but tell me, what was your favorite thing that you did there? What part of the culture/local life amazed and/or intrigued you the most?
The food was what really amazed me the most about Turkey. Uncomplicated and inexpensive but so very good, I just couldn’t eat enough hummus,
kebabs or *balık ekmek*, barbecue fish sandwiches that are cooked fresh on boats moored on the wharf.
The highlight of my time in Turkey, however, was visiting ANZAC Cove on the Gallipoli peninsula. A World War One battleground, ANZAC Cove is more than just a place where a lot of soldiers lost their lives; it’s arguably the birth place of New Zealand and Australia’s national identities. War has never seemed more pointless – and I’ve never been prouder to be a New Zealander.
Most of the places you go seems to be tropical… is that by desire or coincidence?
Oh, I’m definitely a beach person. I was born and raised in Whangarei – sometimes called the “City of 100 beaches” – in Northland, New Zealand. I’d far rather be at the beach than almost anywhere else and I love swimming in the ocean. I have no idea, then, why I lived in London for four years.
Speaking of London, I understand you’ll be heading back there soon for the Olympics?
That’s right, Derek. Unfortunately my travels through South East Asia will be coming to an end shortly and I will be going back to Blighty to watch me some sport. Since January I’ve visited Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore – and I’ve loved every minute of it.
But that doesn’t mean I’m through traveling just yet. I may have no idea where I’ll end up next but you can be sure Man vs World will continue to chronicle my adventure.
Any closing words with which to leave the audience? (last chance for glory! 😉 )
I may have drawn inspiration for the name of my blog from Man vs Wild but in many ways I’m the anti-Bear Grylls. You’ll never catch me eating grubs, goat testicles or anything to do with dung – no matter how much beer I end up drinking on my travels.
I’m afraid that’s all the time we have here but if you’d like to pick Simon’s brain further or see what adventures he and his new fiancee get into, be sure to follow Man Vs World