My name is TTP, yeah you know me, you down with TTP, yeah you know me…
Okay, I’ll stop now. On my last post, I shared with you another traveler’s experience by asking them some questions. You might be curious as to why I didn’t start it with me.
Well, to be honest, I don’t know. Just because I figured it’d be weird interviewing myself. But alas, I should. Just because I can. So here’s the Wanderlust Bonfire of TTP.
1. Who are you and why are you awesome?
My name is Tony Pham, also known as TTP. The T in the middle stands for my middle name. Can you guess what it is? Why am I awesome? Well you can say I’m living the American dream. Immigrated to the US with nothing in my pockets and now I’m jetsetting around the world, popping bottles with them models. Okay, the last part is untrue, but hey, one can dream right? You will never catch me without a smile, and if you do, the world’s ending. Although I’ll probably smile then too. Never mourn over death but always celebrate over life.
2. What was the spark that started your initial traveling journey and caused your current state of wanderlust?
It’s hard to really pinpoint it down to a time, but I would say in the summer of 2011. I had just quit my job of 3 years as an engineer, and was preparing to go study in Barcelona for my MBA. Together with a few friends, I planned 6 weeks of travel throughout Asia. This was the first time I planned something so long and big. And as they say, the rest was history. I met many good people on that trip and have priceless memories that I’ll take with me to my grave, and from that moment on and especially once I got to Barcelona, I realized that I love traveling and that I would devote every moment of my inconsequential life to see as much as Earth as possible. There’s a reason why it’s so pretty. Might as well make good use of such reason.
I also knew that I could never go back and live in the US for a long foreseeable future. It was too boring. Too stagnant for me. Props to all those who enjoy that life, but it’s not mine. Mine’s in the wings of the airplanes and down in the waves with the fishes.
3. How many countries have you visited so far? Most favorite country and why? Least favorite and why?
I have visited a total of 35 countries in 5 continents (Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, South America). The most is Asia and Europe, follow by Africa then South America.
My most favorite country? Man this is tough. Really tough. I shall pick my nose and think about this for a second. Okay, I think I’ll say it’s a tie between the Philippines and Spain. I’m gonna give the Philippines a nod though because their people are much nicer and friendlier than the Spaniards. But both countries got it going on. Partying. Drinking. Sights. Sceneries. Culture. Funny enough with the Philippines being a former colony of Spain.
My least favorite? Arg. This is a tough one too. I’ve generally liked every country I visited. But, since I have to pick one, I’ll have to say Nigeria. I only visited the city of Lagos, but from what I seen, it wasn’t much. Crowded. Dirty. Chaos. It took us 1 hour to move 300 meters, all because people looked out for themselves instead of just allowing others to pass in front of them when driving. The heat and humidity didn’t help.
4. Highest moment when traveling?
Climbing Machu Picchu in Peru. You see it in the photos. But when you’re there, standing on that cliffside, with the clouds rising from the valley beneath, and you look out to see the former city in all its glory, you will realize that you’ve done something that not many people in the world have been able to do. The majestic sight. The morning dew. It’s really just a lot to take in. It was at that moment that I knew that I was meant for world traveling.
Extra: Runner up to this moment would be Full Moon Party in Nov 2011 with like 10 of my friends. That was just epic. Like pure 5 days of epicness. Of fever running. Of stepping on glasses. Of dancing in the rain.
5. Lowest moment when traveling?
I’m gonna have to say India. Not when I was there per se but when I had to deal with the bureaucratic mess to get this foreigner registration thing that took over 2 days to get and lots of back and forth going. In India, if you’re working there, you have to register as a foreigner. When you go the police station to do it, there’s like 15 steps that you have to go back and forth between counters on. It takes an entire day. At the end of it, they told me they had to check the embassy to see if they can give me the stamp to say I register. The sucky thing was that I was only working in India for 2 months, so by around the 6th week, I hadn’t heard anything so I was like wtf is going on. There’s no point in calling because no one can help you. When I went to check again, they told me they hadn’t heard back from the embassy. Luckily, on my way out, I got a call from them telling me it was ready.
Without this stamp, they would not let you leave the country. This experience was a 180 from when I went to Singapore right after India, where my foreigner registration took 15 minutes in line at the office, and coming back 3 days later and spending 5 minutes to grab my card.
6. Strangest moment when traveling?
This was both a strange and scary moment. Remember up above where I said I had planned 6 weeks in Asia before my MBA? well this happened in that trip. I was in Bangkok, in a cab, where I was sitting in the front, and 3 of my friend were sitting in the back. It was a hot humid July day, and we were getting the cab driver to drive us to this location Southeast of Bangkok to visit this one village of monuments.
Anyway, we were stuck in dead traffic, when the lane we were in and the lane to our left was merging. There was a transport truck there, and it was in front of us. I didn’t really see what was happening as I was busy with my head turned talking to my friends. Anyway, when I turned back to the face the front, I guess the truck cut in front of us. Our cab driver stars FUMING. He’s huffing and puffing, and pulling and yanking on his seat belt as if he was gonna run out of the cab and kick some arse.
The truck driver in front apparently sees this through his mirrors and suddenly jump out of the truck with a machete in one of his hands. As he walks to the back of the truck and towards our cab, he grabs a hammer with his other spare hand. So now he’s walking towards us with a machete in one hand and a hammer in the other.
And here I am, sitting in the front of the passenger seat, looking back at my friends, and mouthing “WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?!?”. My heart starts racing. I had no idea what I should do. The only thing I did was I put one of my hands on the door handle. I was getting ready to speedy gonzalez the shit out of there if the truck driver dude even made a swing.
So now, seeing his predicament, our huffing and puffing cab driver quickly calmed down and started bowing his head in apologies and crap like that. The driver made the motion to strike the glasses, but instead I guess took the driver’s apology and slowly walked back to his truck. Need I remind you, we were stuck in dead traffic. Cars to our left and right,and a car right on our ass behind us.
Needless to say, that was an interesting experience. That was actually the closest I had come to fearing for my life and thinking I was in the danger in the last 3 years of my travel.
7. Friendliest people from a country you’ve been to so far?
This is a tie between India and the Philippines. The people of these two countries wins it hands down!
8. Top 5 most crucial necessities when backpacking?
If we’re just talking about actual physical object necessities, I would say the following:
A) Deodorant. Especially if where you’re traveling is summer and/or humid. It does you a favor, the people you meet a favor, and humanity in a general a favor.
B) A durable watch. Your phone will run out of battery. Knowing the time is quite crucial when you’re trying to catch buses and trains, because especially in non-developed countries, you might be waiting a while for the next one.
C) Google Map cache. this is extremely crucial. If you go into your google map, and type in “ok map”, it’ll download a pre-cache map of what you’re looking at. What does this mean? this means that even without data, you can get a detailed look at the map. HOw does this help? Since your GPS should work regardless of data or not, you can at least see where you’re at and which direction you’re going. If you use this with the “starred” feature of google map, it’ll help you find locations 500%!!
D) Diarrhea medicine. Especially for those traveling for the first time. How else would you enjoy the street food?
E) a DSLR or a mirrorless camera. Okay, this is a personal preference, but if you’re traveling and seeing all these beautiful sights, and want to share them with friends and family, your crappy camera phone isn’t going to work. And adding craptacular filters to them won’t make them look better. It’ll just make them look sloppy and trashy. So please, just stop!
9. Share your most favorite photograph from your travels.
This was when I was interning in India, and we had gone out with the company for a weekend trip to volunteer by giving out pens and notebooks to the schools surrounding Bangalore. I wanted to bring a smile to their face and stuff, so I pretended to be a rockstar and started high fiving them all. They loved it, and one of my friends captured this moment. I think the smile on their face said it all.
10. Tips for those that wants to travel but for whatever reason haven’t yet?
Really, if you want to travel, DO IT! There is no better time than the present. An asteroid can hit us tomorrow and we’ll all be dead. Instead of pushing forward a vacation because you’re so busy with work, know this, you can have the rest of your life to work, but your youth is limited. You will grow old. Your bones will ache. You will like to sleep by 9pm. If that’s what you like, that’s fine and all, but I think traveling when you’re young is so much more impressionable than when you’re older, because it will make you wiser, it will make you feel conflicted, it will make you challenge what you’ve learned and seen back at home.
If everyone in the world can travel, then no one would be racist or discriminatory, because everyone would learn to appreciate everyone else.
So take that vacation. Travel alone. Travel with friends. Fly. Bike. Drive. Swim. Do something, but get out of your country. Get out of your comfort zone. Put yourself in situations that you would never think you’d be in before. Stop being so safe. The Earth is gigantic. It’ll take a few lifetimes to see it all. So use our modern convenience and see. Open your eyes. Explore. Experience. I guarantee to you that after your travel, you will be a much more well-rounded person. TTP’s 100% MONEY Back guarantee!
Join me in the state of wanderlust. And thank you for reading today’s Wanderlust Bonfire of TTP. I hope this was an enjoyaful (yes I made up this word) read for you. Cheers!
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