I know it has been a few weeks since our last travel blogger interview here at the HoliDaze, but like a fine wine that gets aged just perfectly, this delay has only sweetened this week’s fantastic interview. Yes, it seems like every week the interviewee bar only gets upped, and this one is definitely no exception. I pity whoever has to follow Nate’s interview 😉
So Nate, tell us more about yourself and your blog, Yomadic.
Hey Derek, I’m an average guy from the most isolated city in the world – Perth, Western Australia. Yomadic is my outlet – and although I’m still finding my online feet, and what exactly my message is – it could aptly be called “travel evangelism”. I want to encourage people to travel. I also get a kick out of showcasing my photos from around the world. It kind of forces me to get better at photography, and constantly search for new creative angles on a destination. So, Yomadic is the collection of often unique sights, always delivered with a unique perspective, and always with an interesting series of photos. Mostly travel. Mostly.
How do you go about choosing your next destination? Have any tricks up your sleeves?
Seriously, I just wing-it. The benefit of long term travel is that I can plan-as-I-go. I have no method of choosing where to head to. I’m going to Mozambique, because I had a dream about it. As simple as that. I’m normally travelling with my girlfriend Phillipa, so I’ll often say to her “where have you always wanted to go?”. Whatever her first answer is, that’s where we’re going. We ended up in Romania using that method. I mean, I had no desire to go to Romania, but, wow what an amazing country. So glad I went there. I have no tricks – just be spontaneous, and take a few chances.
You seem to be great at finding off the beaten path local attractions, which is definitely my favorite thing to do. Tell me though, do you achieve most of this through research beforehand or just talking with the locals when you arrive and kind of living spontaneously?
Locals are the biggest source. I have some tricks here. I come from a skateboarding background, and an artistic background. Skaters, and artists, know more about the less trodden parts of a locality, than almost any other sub-culture. It’s a huge resource, as crazy as it sounds – ask a skater. Research always helps – but then I’ll always confirm that research with the locals. And, yes, spontaneity helps a lot. But, it doesn’t always work – you should see the places I end up that I *don’t* photograph! I’ll purposely try and get lost, whether in the city, or in the countryside. You just never know what’s around the next corner. Talk to the locals. Most locals love to talk to tourists or out-of-towners. Locals are better than any guide book.
Out of the 7 Least Visited Countries, which one would you like to visit the most?
Definitely the ski fields of Afghanistan. Unfortunately, current events mean that Australians, and Americans, are not exactly safe there at the moment. But, one day, I’m sure Afghanistan will become the hot “new” tourist destination. I want to get there just before the crowds do. I’m keeping my eye on things, the time is coming! Read the full article at Yomadic
It seems like you have done some pretty daring things in the name of curiosity and fun (just my style LOL). But ell us, in all of your travels has any of this led to brushes — or near brushes — with the law?
Umm, well… yes! Nothing serious – I have never ended up in a jail cell, but have had more than my fair share with run-ins with law. Nothing a small bribe can’t fix, or maybe just a bit of smooth talking. The problem comes when there is a language barrier, as happened to me in a remote part of the Great Wall Of China. But, I think I’ll save that story for another time. The other side of the coin, is brushes the seedier elements of society. This happens to me frequently, and I have no idea how I get out of some situations. A pinch of bravado, some street-smarts, cross my fingers, and it all works out. I have a hobby of exploring abandoned buildings, and there is always the odd security guard that needs the standard explanation, that always boils down to an Obi-Wan styled “forget you saw me, just run along now”. But, Derek, seriously, one day I’m going to get in some serious shit. It’s just a matter of time. Send me your number, you can bail me out when I’m in the USA. Or Mexico.
For people who don’t have much capital and are looking to start long term travel, what would your advice be?
It’s always easier with cash. That’s the facts. But don’t let it stop you. I think more important that cash, is a complete lack of debt. Nothing. No credit card debt, no mortgage debt, no car loan debt, no store-card debt. Debt will crush you. Debt will stop you from long term travel. There’s plenty of journeys that require little cash – get yourself to Thailand, or Cambodia, and you will see how far a small amount of cash can go. Then, get a job if you run out of cash. So my advice, is get out of debt, save some cash, then go.
The more I read of your blog, the more admiration and appreciation I have for you and your travels. When you buy a one-way ticket and wind up in some other country on a new adventure, is it through Couchsurfing and chance or because of research and smart budgeting? Or maybe some combination of the two?
Couch surfing is always a bonus. But, as I normally travel with my girlfriend, couch surfing tends to be limited to people we know. In any case, I look for budget options first. I have very low standards when it comes to accommodation, Phillipa’s standards are higher. We compromise. On my birthday last year, my “present” was staying in a $14 a night hotel in the middle of Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur. It was my choice. Budget accomodation is far more “real” to me. As for budgeting – I am smart at budgeting, but what it genuinely comes down to is just living and travelling within our means, and having a cheap lifestyle. We don’t tend to shop for “stuff”, we will spend the money on experiences instead. Research is critical – before I get to a new destination, I’m on the lookout for good value, and cheap, accommodation.
You have some fantastic photos! Are you still using your Leica as your primary camera?
Thanks Derek, I appreciate the compliment. The Leica is still my primary camera, but to be honest, film is a pain in the ass. The results from film are just so soul-ful, so special, compared to digital, that I find it difficult to give it up. I also have a Nikon DSLR, with a group of lenses. But, my real secret weapon is a fifteen year old cheap-o film camera, it takes the most incredible photos, and cost me ten dollars. It’s important, really important, to note that photos are all about the photographer, not the camera. My blog is testament to this – half the photos that people assume were taken with the Leica (a camera worth thousands of dollars) were actually taken with my ten dollar camera. Certaintly, the Leica is a great and reliable tool, and that’s why I stick to it. Now that I’ve said that, I’m about to pull the trigger on a new digital camera, so things may change here. I don’t get attached to the “tool” it’s all about the image to me.
Sulphur miners at Mount Ijen in Indonesia
When you visited Mount Ijen, was it an official tour? Or did you have a local connection, or possibly just stumble through?
Only two days before that series of photos was taken (some of my favourite ever, and one of my most intense experiences ever), I had no idea about Mount Ijen. I was headed for Mount Bromo, in East Java, Indonesia – when a local told me about Mount Ijen and the sulphur miners inside an active Volcano. I paid a guy to pick me up from the hotel, drop me at the base of the mountain, and hang around for about ten hours until I came back down. So, I very much stumbled upon this one, and was so glad I did. That day changed my life, forever. It gave me the most real example of what some people go through – for decades – just to get a few bucks. Read the full article at Yomadic
Compare to when you first started traveling, have any of your reasons for doing so changed? How come?
The main reasons haven’t changed. I travel, so I can see the world. That’s really the only reason that matters.