It happened one day, that Clint Brimson posted a couple of interesting blog posts in our Google+ Community “We love Cambodia”. I was curious and visited his blog and from this moment, I felt excited and wanted to know more about the person behind A hungry Traveller with amazing descriptions of what happens during their trip around the world. Each country get´s a recap and I was wondering about his recap of Germany, which is my home-country. Read his answers to my questions in this interview and you will learn about two persons, who are not just backpacker but really open minded. Enjoy it and feel the spirit!
Where are you and your wife from and what are you doing, when you both do not travel around the world?
We’re both from Perth, Western Australia.
I work for our State’s Department of Treasury and am in the enviable position of having a job to go home to despite travelling for close to eighteen months. My wife was an assistant accountant at a small marketing firm however quit her job so that we could travel long term.
Since when do you travel and which countries will you see on your travel?
We left home in September 2013 and, being big beer geeks, began our journey in Europe’s two big beer nations, Germany and Belgium, whilst our bank account was still looking nice and healthy. Then after some time in the UK visiting family and travelling to Nuremberg’s and Brussels’ Christmas Markets we headed further east to take in the Christmas Markets, beer, meat-centric food and culture of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Serbia and Romania.
After that it was time for a change of scenery (and weather) so we jetted across to the hive of madness that is Morocco and spent seven weeks eating, bartering and mint teaing our way around the country before crossing the Strait of Gibraltar into Spain and Portugal for very welcome beers and pork.
We then undertook a bit of a whistle stop tour through Scandinavia (given how expensive those countries are) seeing Stockholm, Copenhagen and the fjords of Norway before flying to Iceland and spending a week campervanning around the island (this was the absolute highlight of our trip).
Again it was time for a change of scenery and some sun so we drifted through Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Albania (an off-the-beaten path highlight) before cutting inland through Macedonia and Bulgaria for five weeks of amazing experiences in Turkey – seeing Cappadocia at dawn with 100 other balloons, watching turtle hatchlings make their way to the ocean and seeing the fallen heads of Mount Nemrut to name a few.
After Turkey we hopped into a campervan again in Scotland and cruised through the wildlife rich Isle of Mull and smoky whisky capital of the world, the Isle of Islay, before flying to Southeast Asia (SEA). So far in SEA we’ve been to Penang and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and spent a month in each of Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. We’re currently in Vietnam for a month and our next stop is a couple of the islands in the south of the Philippines.
In which country and city did you start and why?
We flew into Frankfurt in early September and hopped straight on a train to Cologne to drown ourselves in ice cold Kolsch.
Germany itself was a logical first stop. From Perth we can get cheap flights to Frankfurt, we wanted to be in Germany for Oktoberfest and the German drinking scene and its traditions fascinated us. And that’s not mentioning the pork. We would constantly marvel at just how moist and juicy the pork was and how mind-bendingly moreish the Germans could get that pork skin. Germany ticked all of the boxes and it was most certainly the best country for us to start in.
Do you already know where your journey will end? If so, where will it be and why?
We will finish up in Sri Lanka in March this year. We’ve both been to SEA as kids and previously together before this trip but have never been anywhere in Asia similar to Sri Lanka. We’re looking forward to getting up close and personal with wild elephants and leopards and tucking into some spicy Sri Lankan curries. We also look forward to spending a week or so at the end of our time in Sri Lanka on a palm fringed beach, coconut in hand, reminiscing on the year and a half that was.
How did you come up with the idea: a hungry traveller?
You can be hungry for anything: experiences, another beer, getting off the beaten track and we had a fair idea that a lot of our posts would be food focused so a hungry traveller just sort of rolled off the tongue, so to speak. If I had my time again, we’d probably be ‘the hungry travellers’, the hunger is certainly not just confined to me.
Surely you have many great experiences in different countries. As our readers primarily interested in Cambodia: What has impressed you most in Cambodia?
Cambodia can offer something for everyone. If you’re a templehead you have Angkor Wat in Siem Reap (arguably the best temple complex in the world), if you love big bustling Asian cities you can’t go past Phnom Penh, there’s good food to be had everywhere in particular the seafood along the coast and if you want to just kick back there are more than enough hammocks to go round on Cambodia’s stunning islands. And that’s not to mention the diving and snorkelling, sunshine, the historical significance of the brutal KR regime, and most of all the lovely, smiling Khmer people. At every turn there is something to keep you engaged, that’s what impressed me the most about Cambodia.
Which places did you visit in Cambodia and how did you become aware of these places?
Over four weeks, we visited Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Chi Phat, Koh Totang, Koh Rong Samloem, Kampot, Kep and Koh Tonsai (Rabbit Island).
We find blogs to be the most helpful resource when working out our next stop. They’re more relatable than a guide book and sometimes much more exhaustive. It was via peoples’ blogs that we found out about Chi Phat and Nomad’s Land on Koh Totang.
Chi Phat is a small village located at the foothills of the Cardamom Mountains that over the last decade or so has transformed itself from a community of poachers and loggers to one that provides jungle treks and authentic Cambodian experiences to tourists, aimed at preserving the surrounding forest. You are made to fell extremely welcome within the village and leave knowing that you experienced real, Cambodian village life.
The other great place we discovered through someone’s blog was Nomad’s Land on Koh Totang. Nomad’s Land is five bungalows owned by a lovely Swiss couple who have created a slice of paradise on earth. Idyllic is the word that floats around your head as you kayak, swim, snorkel or relax around the island. Once you Google it you will know exactly where you want your next holiday to be!
On a scale of one to ten: What’s your rating of Cambodia compared to the other countries you’ve visited?
- Food – 7: we had some great food around Cambodia namely Kep crabs, a particularly tasty bai sach chrouk (pork and rice) from a roadside restaurant on the way to Koh Totang and plenty of Kampot pepper flavoured dishes.
- Beer – 8: it’s cheap, it’s cold and it’s refreshing. Tick, tick, tick! Sometimes you win a free beer. Tick! And with a few brands to choose from you can find one that suits your tastes. Tick!
- Hospitality and Friendliness – 9: the Khmer people are just about the friendliest, most smiley people we’ve come across. In most countries if you smile at a local it’s only then that they will smile back at you, in Cambodia they’re smiling at you before you even look at them.
- Sightseeing – 9: Angkor Wat just about gives this rating off of its own back. The sights that we visited were very easily accessible and well organised.
- Adventure and Nature – 10: there is great, quite raw jungle trekking all around the country and some beautiful diving and snorkeling to be had also.
- Accommodation – 8: we had quite a mixed bag from cheap hotels in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh to beach bungalows on Koh Rong Samloem and Koh Tonsai. You very much get what you pay for. Everywhere we stayed was clean and good value for money and sometimes even came with a giant gecko to keep your bungalow free of bugs.
- Wireless Lan – 6: great in cities and mainland towns but in the jungle community and islands we stayed on it’s either non-existent or like going back to dial-up but that’s where the beauty of those places lies!
- Value for Money – 10: the coffee is strong and cheap, beer is cold and cheap, local food is tasty, fresh and cheap and accommodation is tidy and cheap. VERY good value for money!
What are the three most important things to look for on such a journey? How do you finance your trip?
These are the three ideologies that I believe have helped us in getting the most out of the countries we’ve visited:
Sweat the big costs not the small ones – spend your time researching the cheapest flights that you can get for your particular route and if booking a train ticket two weeks or a month in advance means a 50% discount then consider doing that. It may reduce your flexibility a bit but when you balance that against being able to have that extra beer or a coffee every morning, because that’s what makes travel more enjoyable to you, then you can afford those small costs because you saved a heap by booking a flights at $100 six months in advance rather than for $400 a few days before.
Travel through regions not just countries – don’t think that you have to do everything in every country. Travel through a region like SEA and know that if you spend your time inland in Thailand then you can do the island and beach thing in Cambodia. Unless you’re really into temples is it really worth your while going out of your way to see a temple in Laos if in two weeks time you’ll be at the grandaddy of them all – Angkor Wat. Give every country the time of the day and never just rush through ticking boxes but don’t feel as though you’re a bad traveller if you don’t see everything because chances are you’ll have other experiences that the ‘box tickers’ never will.
As an aside, it’s important to travel to the places and do the things that YOU want to do. Don’t travel to appease your parents or for likes on Facebook and Instagram, travel for yourself and take away the memories that may not sound like much to someone else but mean a lot to you.
Do your best to see a place through the eyes of a local – I believe the best way to achieve this is to eat where locals eat and have coffees and beers where the locals drink them. That’s where you have the opportunity to stop, sit and watch. I liken it to going for a trek in the jungle or bush: it’s not until you stop and take a break that you hear that bird in the distance or see the insect camouflaged against the bark of a tree. It’s no different in a city or town.
You sit and watch and begin to see exactly how the locals exist and interact. If you spend all your time wandering from sight to tourist restaurant to sight the gulf between you and the locals will remain. Step outside your comfort zone and you’ll begin to realise that we’re not really all that different. Sit down on a tiny little squat stool for a coffee on the streets of Vietnam and the locals will watch you and you’ll see the moment where it dawns on them that you and he or she have a lot more in common than initially thought. Oh, so he likes coffee like I like coffee. He’s not just some strange looking long haired man from a faraway place.
The way we’ve financed our trip is through extreme saving and sacrificing before we left to the point where some of our friends began to question our friendship as I don’t think they really grasped exactly what we wanted to undertake and for how long we were going.
Once we were away we’ve set realistic daily budgets that vary from country to country and done our best to stick by them. However it’s important to take a view of your budgeting over a few days and not look at each day in isolation. If you overspend one day just make it up over the following couple of days and if you underspend one day don’t think that that provides you cash to splash the following day as it’s either making up for the inevitable under- or overspend in the previous few days or in the future.
Is there anything special you want to tell us?
If the opportunity to do what we’ve done ever presents itself don’t miss it as it will probably only come around once. When you travel long term you can afford to lose a couple of days to burnout, sickness, weather etc. but when you’re on a quick two week stop through seven different destinations you can’t afford for anything to stand in your way.
Travelling long term gives you the opportunity to travel slowly and really get under the skin of a city or country. You get the chance to really travel, to make mistakes and learn from them, and to learn tips and tricks and apply them. You will go home with a completely different perspective of the world and yourself, and what you then want to get out of your life.
Last but not least a personal question in regard to my home country Germany. In your recap about Germany you write, that „Germans make drinking beer look like a sexual experience“? I would really like to know how we Germans were able to get this memorable reputation.
Haha! I love this question.
I remember exactly where I was when I made that observation. I was in a dimly lit bar in Düsseldorf enjoying the great local brew, Altbier, and looked over at a man with a big bushy German moustache who inspected his beer, put it to his lips and took a couple of huge, pleasurable gulps and for a few seconds you watched him go to his happy place.
Around the rest of the country, in particular the cities and towns around Germany that take beer very seriously, I saw many more people, both men and women, go through a similar process. They were very intimate moments between that person and their beer and that’s how I made the connection between Germans drinking beer and sex.
Dear Clint – thank you so much for taking your time and finding so many wonderful words which describe your journey. Next time – you have to promise, that we will drink a beer and a Killepitsch together, when you are in Düsseldorf again :-) Wish you all the best for you and your wife!! And you fellows who want to follow The Hungry Traveller, here we go:
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