With nothing but a backpack and a one way ticket to Australia, Jack from Rambling Northerner set off into the unknown. Jack tells us all about his travels in Asia and more in our Five Travel Questions!
Why do you love travel?
I sort of accidentally fell in love with travelling! Obviously, when I was a kid I loved going away on family holidays, and I’ve always wanted to see more of the world but never really made any solid plans to do it. Then my step-brother got married in Australia at the beginning of 2013, and I knew I’d kick myself if I went back to sitting behind a desk in Leeds after just two weeks of being on the other side of the world. I saved up my money, quit my job and decided to just wing it after the wedding!
Due to family issues, I had to fly home much sooner than I’d anticipated but this only made me hungry to see more of the world so when the time was right, I booked a one way flight to Bangkok and spent the next year travelling around Asia. I know I’ve kind of gone off topic there, but I guess what I’m getting at is that I love the spontaneity of travel and not knowing what’s round the corner. I often plan little more than a day in advance, and I find these are when I’ve had my best adventures which make me love travel so much.
I also mentioned my ‘hunger’ for travelling; that can be taken in more than one way, as I’ve been known to let a country’s food dictate my opinion of the place too!
What destination is top of your bucket list?
That’s a tough one, as I’ve ticked so many places off in the last 18 months! My two big ones were the Great Wall of China and to do a Trans-Siberian railway journey – both of which I have ticked off recently. I’ve wanted to go to Japan since I was a kid, and I’ve recently signed a 12 month contract to teach English there which is exciting! I think my next ‘must see’ destination however, is South America, but I’m just going to see how Japan pans out first.
Where is your most favourite place you have travelled to?
Another tough one, as there are so many. Vietnam is perhaps the first that springs to mind – I’m one of those people who just absolutely loves big crazy cities where you have no idea what you’re going to see next, and Ho Chi Minh certainly ticks that box!
However, I’m more inclined to say somewhere that took me by surprise. I’ve found that the more satisfying countries are the ones I visited with little to no expectations of, and for that reason it’s probably a toss up between The Philippines, Sri Lanka or Mongolia. I have very fond memories from all three of these countries, and they were perhaps the ones I visited with the least expectations; whether that is a coincidence is another matter!
What is your most favourite memory or experience whilst travelling?
Mongolia was pretty amazing; once we got out of Ulaanbaatar and in to the centre of the country you really got to see the proper Mongolia. Living in ‘yurts’ with real nomadic families, riding horses across beautiful green fields with snow-topped mountains and not seeing another person, building or car for miles on end was really special.
However, the one memory that stands out from the rest was the second month I spent in Vietnam with one of my best friends from home. We decided to buy ourselves a pair of SYM Attila scooters and ride from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi. It was at times testing, stressful, and downright painful (I couldn’t sit down for about three days by the end of it!), but ultimately it was the best month of my life. There’s so much of the country you don’t see when you’re on a 13 hour overnight bus ploughing down Highway 1 (the scariest road in the world!), and although the bikes take longer, it’s worth every second of the delay.
What is your favourite photo from your travels?
It was a toss up between this one, and a photo of me in a koala sanctuary with John Travolta! At the risk of sounding a little obsessed, this photo is also from Vietnam.
This was early on in my travels, during my first trip to the country. I’d only been away just over a month, and was having an Easy Rider tour from Nha Trang to Da Lat when me and my driver, Vinh, stopped off for a break. I asked Vinh to take a photo of me with the mountains in the background, but he also snapped this one as I was walking to get in position.
As I mentioned earlier, family issues had broken up my travels and I’d just got back on the road when this photo was taken. I’d recently lost my mother and in all honesty, travel was a bit of a coping mechanism for me at this point. I felt this photograph perfectly summed up where I was at this moment in time: walking down an open road in to the unknown.