This week on World Travellers I’m delighted to introduce Allan Wilson. Allan runs the popular travel blog Live Less Ordinary, which covers South East Asia (and beyond). Allan is a Northern Irishman like myself (also from the town of Bangor) and is currently living the dream life in Bangkok, Thailand. I caught up with Allan during the summer for beers, now it’s time to read his story!!
Who are you?
Where are you from?
Northern Ireland (UK)
Where have you been?
Lots of places, mostly in Asia these days where I now live.
Where are you now?
At my condo in Bangkok taking a few weeks respite before planning new adventures.
What are the top 3 places you’ve visited?
Recent travels I would say Sikkim in the Indian Himalayas was a cool place to see; zero tourists and a whole lot of charm with Tibetan temples and a mountain backdrop. Next a favourite haunt of mine would be Langkawi; a tad touristy but the booze is crazy cheap (duty free) and mamak food offers some of the best eating around. Of course Bangkok Thailand tops this list; if you can escape the tourist and backpacking area there is no beating this city.
What is the best travel experience you’ve had?
My recent wedding in Ubud, Bali would have to top this. Bali is an island I love and will always go back to. When you have a bit of cash to splash and a whole lot friends and relatives in tow the experiences are endless.
What is the worst travel experience you’ve had?
Recently I have been missing and rescheduling a lot of flights, wasting money and losing opportunities. Of all time however it would be during travels in Europe where I once took on a road trip from my hometown of Bangor, NI to as far as we could get. We had covered the UK, Ireland, Spain, France and Italy and were now about to travel east when my car’s engine exploded leaving us stranded in the Pyrenees mountains between Andorra and a small town called Ille-Sur-Tet. Few people travel this road at night so we bunk down and wait. About 3am some random Frenchman pulls up (blaring Scatman John) and offers us a tow to Ille-Sur-Tet.
Here I find my car is totaled and the last of my money used on my car being towed to the nearest scrapyard in Perpignan. We train to Paris then fly back home. Depressing.
What is the funniest travel experience you’ve had?
I remember first coming to Asia and visiting a park in Bangkok to kick round a mini football. When we get to the park we find an elderly man meditating on a bench next to the court – a fascinating Miyagi-esque elderly man. While I stand in awe my mate drops the ball and hoofs it with his 50p foot. As we say in Northern Ireland the ball sconned yer man on the loaf. First touch but obviously not on purpose – Ronaldinho would struggle with that shot. The ball hits the man direct on the forehead, bounces straight up in the air then lands at his feet. The man barely flinches, opens his eyes looks up and smiles at us as we both roll on the ground in uncontrollable laughter. I should probably feel guilty but to be fair he was meditating at the side of a games court.
What is the scariest travel experience you’ve had?
One of my pet peeves living in Asia is taxi drivers trying to rip me off. I normally get out if they don’t start the meter but this one time the guy asked for the money after I refused to go further. I refused to pay and photographed his plates and of course when he saw this he was straight out ready to attack me. Luckily a group of Thai bystanders chased him off. I reported the taxi and he was charged so not a wholly bad thing but not something I would do again. A few weeks later something similar happened and an expat was chopped up by a machete wielding taxi driver. Be very careful in these situations as they can escalate fast.
What is the most random job you have had on your travels?
I’ve never worked a paying job before but I would help Thai friends when they need help with document translation etc. In return they buy me food or booze.
How do you fund your travels?
Currently online stuff but before I would work back in the UK before travelling. As working back in the UK had little appeal to me I spent a few years saving every penny I could scrape to make a more permanent move to Asia. I bought property in Thailand and am now living in Bangkok rent and debt free. I live simple, eat cheap and travel when I can.
What 3 tips would you give a new traveller before they set off on their adventure?
1. Travel by personal interest and don’t follow the crowds
2. Immersing in one culture is often more rewarding than skimming past a dozen
3. Drink lots of cheap local booze because it’s fun.
What are your future travel plans?
I have family visiting in the New Year which is always fun. Mum will be joining us across Burma (Myanmar) and other unplanned destinations. For Christmas I will be in Xian, China and New Year in Beijing for snowboarding and hot springs. Otherwise there are no immediate plans. I will more than likely be lazy in Bangkok.
Allan is inspired by the unfamiliar. In 2002 he first travelled to Thailand and quickly immersed in local life. He now considers Bangkok to be a second home and Asia is his playground. An obsessive food fiend with a passion for Asian street food he is often found stuffing his face at some random street corner. Also a bit of a booze hound.
Thanks to Allan Wilson for being the latest in my series of World Travellers! If you travel the world and run a travel blog or are a travel writer, please get in touch, you can be featured (there’s a HUGE waiting list at present), either e-mail jonny (at) dontstopliving (dot) net or head to my contacts page and get connected! You can also subscribe to Don’t Stop Living by filling in the form below! Safe travels!