This is an interview with Richard Gordon in El Nido, Philippines that took place at The Alternative Hotel. Richard is a well-seasoned traveler and has good bits to share.
Name: Richard Gordon
Where are you now?
El Nido, Philippines
Where are you off to next?
What are 3 items you cannot travel without?
Silk sleeping bag liner
What do you do for work?
Student studying Economics.
How do you fund your travels?
Student loans and some savings from work I had done during a ‘gap year’ in between school and university.
What is the longest stretch you have gone traveling?
Any advice on long-term traveling?
Be prepared to be flexible. Don’t spend so long in one country that you become completely desensitized to the culture and the things you are seeing – if you feel completely comfortable and as if you understand the people and the culture it’s probably time to move on. Listen to other travelers advice but approach everywhere with an open mind.
What are the top 3 countries you’ve visited and why?
Venezuela – First ‘backpacking’ trip and first real culture shock. Amazing scenery, amazing people, amazing food.
Malaysia – Some stunning beaches which are far quieter and have a much more chilled feeling then their Thai equivalents, some great hostels and places to stay and incredibly diverse cuisine.
Laos – Best beer in the world, slowest pace of life in the world and rewards any effort put in to see more remote areas.
Which hostel/hotel/pension/tent/etc. would you consider your best and why?
Mira Chalets in the Perhentian Islands, Malaysia. Beautiful, secluded location made all the better by the owner who had come to the same beach as a kid, had some crazy friends and a pet otter.
Are you/have you traveled with another person for an extended period?
Yeah it was my friend Liam and was for the whole of my 5 month trip.
The most unusual thing you’ve eaten and where. Did you enjoy it? Please describe.
Snake in Vietnam. Was massively mediocre [and] tasted like tough chicken. The highlight were the crispy fried scales.
How many languages do you speak and what are they?
Only English and a tiny bit of French. I’m far too lazy to learn any others.
What is your favorite word or saying in another language?
Lao-Lao which is the name for the rice whisky drunk as shots with meals in Lao.
What is your favorite or go-to travel guide?
Lonely Planets mainly but seat61.com is an amazingly comprehensive guide for any kind of rail travel.
What has traveling taught you?
To be open minded, flexible and laid back. Getting stressed and angry at people rarely achieves anything.
Can you share your best travel story?
A group of four of us had gone out to celebrate my friends’ birthday. After all the bars had shut we were walking back to our hostel and went past a karaoke bar that was still open and serving drinks. We went in insisting we only had enough money for one more beer each. After polishing off our beers and a couple of horrific renditions of some classic 80’s power ballads, eight guys came into our booth and presented us with a $200 bill. After about 10 minutes of drunken haggling we went to leave only to be presented with a locked door. An hour later and $100 lighter they let us go. One of the strangest turn of events ever. Needless to say, it kind of ruined my friends birthday especially seeing as our present to him the next day was his ‘release fee.’ He was not impressed.