Looking for Sean McLachlan? He mostly hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog these days, but feel free to nose around this blog for some fun older posts!

You can also find him on his Twitter feed and Facebook page.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Posting on Gadling

Hi everyone. Yeah, it's been two weeks since I posted on this blog. I've been pretty busy with various writing projects, including a new gig as a travel blogger on Gadling. I just started yesterday and should have a post or two on there every day from now on. As an introduction they sent me a bunch of interview questions and posted the interview here. They didn't use them all, so here's the rest of them. It's been so long since I posted you probably need to be reminded who I am anyway.

Favorite travel author? Sir Richard Francis Burton. He was an adventurer in the nineteenth century and helped discover the source of the Nile. Burton was able to pick up a language in only a few days and learned more than twenty in his lifetime. Unusually for English travelers of his day, he had a real sympathy and understanding of the African, Asian, Arab, and South American cultures he explored.

You may become the leader of any country in the world. What country and why? How would you rule? The United States because I’d have the most potential to make a change in the world. Hopefully I would get to rule as an absolute dictator so I could force a switch over to renewable energy and say goodbye to Middle East politics forever.

Person you’d most like to interview for Gadling? Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the adventurer.

Favorite tourist trap? The pyramids in Egypt. They’ve been a tourist trap since the days of Herodotus, but they’re so stunning it just doesn’t matter.

Hotel, hostel, or other? Couch surfing with friends.

Dream travel destination? Ethiopia. I’ll be going there in early 2010, so keep an eye out for my trip report!

Most remote corner of the globe you’ve visited? The border of Pakistan and Afghanistan (on the Pakistani side!). Sadly, that's Taliban territory now, so I guess I won't be seeing it again.

The ideal vacation is... me, a small backpack, a strange country, and no guidebook.

The most unusual food I’ve ever eaten is... Fried eel, in Denmark. Oh, and the various mystery meats I’ve had in some of the more remote countries I’ve visited. Best not to dwell on that too much.

Where do you hide your emergency cash? This is a family website so I better not say.

Leeches or mosquitoes? Mosquitoes. They’re harder to avoid and carry more diseases.

Favorite foreign dish? Restaurant? Pretty much anything Ethiopian. Currently my favorite restaurant is Merkato Ethiopian Restaurant at 193 Caledonian Rd., London. The owner brews his own tej, an Ethiopian mead or honey wine. It’s delicious, as is his cooking!

Worst place to catch a stomach bug? Anywhere is the worst place when it’s happening to you. The worst place I caught one was Cuzco in Peru. A beautiful city that I saw nothing of for my first two days staying there. That time in Allahabad, India, was pretty rotten too.

Solo traveler or group traveler? Solo is my preference, but one of the reasons I married my wife is because she’s one of the few people I can travel with for long periods of time without wanting to kill. She also found me ginger ale to settle my stomach when I was sick in Cuzco. Any woman who can find ginger ale in Peru at a moment’s notice is a keeper.

Connected or disconnected (re: phones, computer)? When I’m at home I’m way too connected. When I’m on the road I want to be totally disconnected.

Favorite music to listen to while traveling? None. I want to hear the sounds of the place I’m in.

First culture shock experience? When I was sixteen I was an exchange student in Denmark. My host family owned a farm. I was jetlagged and disoriented when I got there, and the first thing that happened was I discovered there’s a nasty variety of stinging grass in Denmark. The second thing I discovered was that the Danes serve fried eel as a delicacy. Then the horses started getting friendly with each other. All this happened within my first five minutes. The trip got better after that.

How did you get started traveling? I went on an exchange program to Denmark when I was sixteen and got hooked. I worked as an archaeologist for a while and that got me lots of travel. Now as a freelance writer I still get to travel.

How did you get interested in travel writing? By reading it. When I was a teenager I loved the old Victorian travel narratives. Most were horribly stuffy, but some of the adventures these folks had were truly amazing.

Type of traveler -- vagabond, luxury, camper, package, adventurer, etc.? Vagabond/adventurer when I have the time, but more and more of my trips lately have been work related. Even my trip to The Gambia later this year is partially to do a magazine article!

Favorite Gadling story? The Cuba series has gotten me terribly jealous. I need to get there.

Favorite means of transportation? I love trains, especially in India because you get to see the countryside and meet lots of people.

Other jobs? Freelance writer. I’ve written several history books and a couple of guidebooks. I also appear in magazines occasionally.

Favorite travel book? Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al Madinah and Meccah by Sir Richard Francis Burton.

Where would you buy a second home/retire? I love Oxford for its academic atmosphere and good pubs. I’m not sure the weather would agree with me when I’m in my seventies, however.

Country with the most beautiful women? Spain. Why do you think I live there?

Favorite foreign film? Kagbeni, a Nepali film. It’s a remake of the famous story The Monkey’s Paw and features beautiful shots of the rugged Nepali landscape. It’s also a really creepy ghost story! I reviewed it here.

Worst armpit visited? Taftan, on the Pakistani side of the Iranian/Pakistani border. It’s a sandy dump of a place strewn with trash and feces, both animal and human. The air is thick with flies, and the streets thick with pickpockets. I got my pocket picked the first and only hour I was there. They only got $5 in Iranian rials, but it’s the thought that counts.

Languages spoken? English (obviously!), Spanish, and I can kind of bluff my way through French and German. I learned but have forgotten Arabic, Latin, and Danish for lack of anyone to practice with.

The first thing I set out to pack is...? Spare contact lenses. They’re not easy to replace on the road. The second thing I pack are my glasses, just in case.

When I'm not writing for Gadling, I’m...? Writing for someone else, playing with my son, reading, hiking.

Most recent trip? To London, to attend the London Book Fair.

Celebrity you’d most like to sit next to in first class? Neil Armstrong. I’d love to talk to him about what it was like to walk on the Moon.

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