A: Age you went on your first international trip: 2 years old, when my family moved to Canada. On my own, 19, overland to L.A. via ridesharing, then Australia and onwards. I returned for a few weeks two years later, then was abroad for another two in a row.
B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where: I used to drink really dark English ale, the darker the better. Newcastle Brown sort of dark. But then I discovered the local versions of the wheat/white beers like Hoegaarden from The Netherlands and Germany’s Hefeweisen. Belgium has witbier. I like the fruity, summer beers — more refreshing.
C: Cuisine (favorite): It’s probably a tie between Thai and Indian, but I love sushi, too.
D: Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why: Favourite — I am pretty fond of Switzerland, visually and gastronomically. Say what you will, the whole country is one big postcard. You could say the same for New Zealand, too, although they have more variety of climate. Least favourite — ?
E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”: Everyone knows about Oktoberfest, but “Silvester” (New Year) in Germany is pretty crazy! Especially along the Reeperbahn in Hamburg, the city’s red light district. But if you’re at all spooked by large-scale fireworks, I highly recommend you do not go.
F: Favorite mode of transportation: I love to mix my modes of transportation — too long on anything makes me restless. I never get motion sickness, which helps, so bus, train, boat, motorcycle, taxi, camel, anything goes. I’ve gone horseback riding a bunch of times, but I’m a little scared of horses.
G: Greatest feeling while traveling: when people make an assumption about where I’m from and by how I look, and I completely shock them when I open my mouth and speak. Canada is an immigrant country, and many people either forget that or simply aren’t aware. I believe I’m a good ambassador for Canada, however, and am always looking for opportunities to up-end stereotypes and racial biases.
H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to: for both dry heat and humid heat, Australia. I prefer dry heat, though, six months in the tropical north of Queensland sapped my energy.
I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where: I don’t actually like service, I am a self-serve sort of person. I’ve had good service everywhere, maybe it’s because people who look like me are usually the ones serving.
J: Journey that took the longest: it probably was not the longest single trip, but fourth-class rail in Thailand from the Malaysian border to Bangkok was overnight and took FOREVER. There is no guaranteed seating, and the toilet is literally a hole in the train floor. There was lots of mekong whiskey-fuelled drunken singing, chickens, and taking turns sleeping and standing because there were more people than seats most of the time. I don’t think fourth-class rail even exists anymore on Thai trains?
K: Keepsake from your travels: I steal airline blankets, ssshhhhh… (I use them for picnics and outdoor shoots!) Pictures are my only keepsake, and even then I have big gaping holes of time with no photos at all because I didn’t own a camera. I try and find local music to bring home, too, CDs with covers I can’t read. Music is universal.
L: Let-down sight, why and where: I remember seeing the Sydney Opera House for the first time. It was smaller than I’d expected (see how postcards can be so distorted?), and the sails didn’t look white to me. It’s the most photographed thing in the harbour, but I lost interest right away.
M: Moment where you fell in love with travel: I can’t remember a time when I chose to stay at home when I had the means (and even times when I didn’t), so I would say always.
N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in: hard to say, but the best hotel BED I’ve ever experienced was a weekend at the Grand Hyatt New York, at Grand Central Station. It was like sleeping on a cloud. I wanted to take that bed home with me!
O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?: Food, street scenes (when I’m feeling brave), children and the elderly.
P: Passport stamps, how many and from where?: I’m nearly at the end of my fourth passport (since 18), and I don’t know if I can count them all. Some countries I’ve been to five times (Germany), four times (Netherlands), lots of transit-type trips, and one trip in 2003 involved 8 different airports around Europe.
Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where: I was travelling with this English bloke north through Australia, and he managed to convince me to detour with him to find The Pub With No Beer. It was literally in the middle of nowhere (like many things in Australia are), and it took ages to get there. I probably shouldn’t tell you this but The Pub With No Beer is a lie: they have beer.
S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling: the most amount of money I’ve spent at any one time on goods was in 2007 when I had two leather jackets custom made in Fez, Morocco.
T: Touristy thing you’ve done: dress up in traditional clothing and pose for a cheesy photo, in Volendam:
U: Unforgettable travel memory: some near-death experiences involving the ocean (before I taught myself how to tread water), river surfing on the Kawarau River in Queenstown, NZ, on a ferry boat racing to Mersing (Malaysia) because there was a man on board bleeding to death who needed to get to the hospital, the shared taxi racing to Malaka for Chinese New Year (we all thought we would perish), and other adrenaline-fuelled events like bungy jumping over the rainforest in Australia. I have a pretty good memory for moments where I felt like I was in danger!
V: Visas, how many and for where?: with a Canadian passport there aren’t many places that require visas, but my old passports have visas from Thailand, Australia, and other places. The most colourful one is from Thailand.
W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?: I don’t drink wine anymore, but I still love sangria, especially homemade with Santa Rita merlot (from Chile).
X: eXcellent view and from where?: the views from my former office on the Sunshine Coast are pretty spectacular. Actually, much of British Columbia is pretty amazing.
Y: Years spent traveling?: After moving to Canada, I travelled with my parents to the Philippines once but mostly regular trips to the USA. I’ve been travelling solo since I was 18. I’ve only travelled with a companion internationally on three occasions in 21+ years (Stuart, Cetin, and Tyrone).
Z: Zealous sports fans and where?: If you’re at all familiar with the sectarianism in Glasgow (Celtics vs. Rangers football clubs), it’s only a little less intense in Edinburgh, where I sat in the Protestant section wearing the “wrong” colour, i.e., something that had a bit of green on it. (Protestant colours are mostly blue and also orange.) They asked me to take off my shirt but I turned it inside-out instead.