This Travel Interview is a first for Budget Travel Talk.
First cab off the Travel Interview rank is our long time friend and occasional co-traveller, Jake Turner, who thrives on getting to know the local people and food. He is interested in life stories and I can’t wait to hear what he has to say about his own solo budget travel story.
Jake, You have been on the road for twelve months now in Asia, United Kingdom, Europe, and Morocco –
What did you plan to do when you first left Australia?
For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to teach English in Vietnam. Beyond that my plans were quite vague. I had been to Vietnam before, so I knew a little bit about what I was getting myself into. It is probably easier to tell you the things that I planned NOT to do; drink all my money away, go anywhere near Europe, stagger down village streets at 2 a.m. shouting “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie – Oi, Oi, Oi” – all of which I have now done.
So, how did your plans change?
Vietnam was great, and there were heaps of teaching opportunities, but when I looked at my expat friends, they were all leading lives similar to what I had left behind in Australia: bitching about work, having troubles with friends and lovers, fitting travel into weekends or holidays. Sure, they were doing it in amazing Vietnam, and it was cheaper, and they could have house cleaners and drink in swanky bars, but it was really just life as usual. After nearly two months in Saigon, I took off for a short break to clear my mind, and I never went back! I really just wanted to travel and experience total and utter freedom.
You usually stay in hostels – what is your funniest dorm room story?
I love staying in hostels, it is like being a kid again and having a sleep over, plus from a traveller’s point of view, they are a hot bed of information, travel partners and romances. The big dorms can be challenging though. With eight to twelve beds in a room you sometimes wish you could chop off your ears or disappear back into the womb.
My funniest/most horrific night happened in one such dorm in Semporna, Malaysian Borneo. It was one of the diver initiation nights where the new divemasters have to drink hideous amounts of booze as part of their “snorkel test”. Two of them were totally tanked and I somehow ended up with the job of taking them back to the dorm and baby-sitting them. All night they vomited, fought with each other, and kept trying to escape back to the party. It was like herding cats. To make matters worse some of the guys from the party started giving others “tours” of the dorm to see the new divemasters being sick in buckets.
It was an epic night with little sleep, but it was all done in good humour. That is one of the things I love about hostel living – no matter how mental things get, people always have a laugh and just write it off as another travel experience.
Even budget travellers splurge sometimes. What have you splurged on and loved?
Every now and again when my sleep deprivation levels have risen too high, I splurge on a private room. It might be a private room in a hostel, a hotel or a B & B. I normally buy a heap of food and sit on my bed starkers, eating, watching movies and blasting out music. It is nice to have some privacy after weeks of being constantly surrounded by others. In Vietnam I paid as little as 10AUD a night, but in Western European countries it was more like 50AUD minimum. In morocco I could have a huge chamber in a riad (including food) for about 20AUD.
Where did you find the best street food, and what was your favourite dish?
Until recently I would have said the hawker food markets around Malaysia, but in Morocco I fell in love with the grilled sardines that the men cooked over smoking coals. About eight huge sardines are served with a simple tomato, onion and pepper salad and fresh round bread. You pick the meat off the tiny sardine bones with your hands and you end up smelling like a fish shop. For about 3AUD it is a huge meal and total fishy heaven.
What has life on the road shown you about yourself?
This is a hard one! I think the biggest thing I have learned is that I can live very simply and still really enjoy myself. Some of my favourite memories from the year are just about being with lovely people and looking at the stars.
You will be returning to Australia some time in the New Year. What are you looking forward to the most?
I am really looking forward to seeing family and friends. I am also pretty excited about finding a new job and seeing what adventures the new year has in store. Oh, and planning my trip to the Americas. 🙂
Thank you Jake, and see you in the new year!
DID YOU ENJOY MY TRAVEL INTERVIEW WITH JAKE? LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENT SECTION BELOW.
See you on the road. Jan
Note: Photos are the property of Jake Turner.