Who's out there now?

Who’s Out There Now: Jaime and Martin

Written By: jeff

Posted On: June 7th, 2010


travel advice, career break advice, travel the world, career break travel

Trekking toward Stok Kangri in India. Copyright SeatofourPants.com

In this week’s ¨Who’s Out There Now¨ feature, we bring to you Jaime and Martin, who are traveling the world and blogging about it the SeatOfOurPants.  They´ve been traveling on their current trip since April 2009.  They´ve spent the past year covering great swaths of Asia: Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, India, Nepal and many others. They then popped over to Europe focusing on Germany and Sweden. They are wrapping up in Turkey before heading back to the US.

1.  So, where in the world are you answering these questions?

We’re sitting in a nondescript airport hotel ten minutes outside London Heathrow on a one night lay-over between Istanbul and New York City.

2.  From reading your site, it sounds like you like living literally by the seat of your pants.  Do you ever plan anything?

Of course we plan some things. Long term, strategical things need some planning. Life is easier with a bit of structure, after all.  But the day to day details are more fun when they come as a surprise. Granted, we are only looking after each other at this point so we have the flexibility to fly by the seat of our pants.


travel advice, career break advice, travel the world, career break travel

Bacon on the trek to Stok Kangri in India. Copyright SeatofourPants.com

3.  So, you travel with Bacon, your stuffed pig. I love that he has his own page and bio on your site.  He apparently is a fan of Shakira.  Do you have any plans to take him to Barranquilla, Colombia, her hometown?

Though we’ve heard a ton of great stuff about Colombia from people we trust, it wasn’t in the cards for this trip. Plus, taking travel advice from a stuffed pig isn’t advisable. Just the other day he was insisting we return to Bangkok. For those of us familiar with his behavior there, we know it’s not the best idea.

4.  Over the past year, you have seen some amazing places definitely off the beaten path.  How do you adjust to the variety of cultures you encounter?

One of the unexpected lessons we’ve learned on the road is that people aren’t really all that different from one another. Yes, there are differences in culture, religious beliefs, diet, etc. But at the end of the day we’re all just people. Knowing this makes adjusting to cultures easy. With a little careful observation and sensitivity toward cultural taboos (not wearing a tank-top in rural India, for example) adjusting to local cultures is a snap.

5.  I noticed in your itinerary that you left Vietnam to fly to Sweden for a few days and then went to Singapore. Martin, have you been gone from Sweden for so long that you forgot that Sweden isn´t in between Vietnam and Singapore?

True, Sweden isn’t between Vietnam and Singapore, but the month of June is between May and July: and this happens to be a magic month in Northern Sweden; a time when the sun never sets and people go a bit wild and crazy. My wife had never seen the Midnight Sun, and I was eager to show her what the best part of the year in Northern Sweden is like.


travel advice, career break advice, travel the world, career break travel

Dancing around the Midsummer Pole in Sweden. Copyright SeatofourPants.com

6.  Career break, nomadic adventure, backpacking, how do you characterize your trip?

We think of ourselves as Career Breakers with a backpack twist. It’s undeniable that we’re living like backpackers; Martin is carrying a 90 liter one to prove it. I know, what was he thinking? But we’re not 21 anymore, so do enjoy some luxury every once in a while. And by luxury I mean staying in a room with its own bathroom, not four star hotels.

7.  You seem to be total foodies. I love the stories of some of the local dishes you´ve found like Palt from Sweden, Bengali Fast Food and Kachapuri Acharuli from Georgia (which I think was my favorite).  How important is food to your travel experience?

Are you kidding? Food is one of the great things about travel. Mealtime becomes a window which lets us explore a culture through our sense of taste and smell, rather than just what we see. Actually, it really is a wonder that we’re not fat. I mean, spending three weeks eating Kachapuri Acharuli in Georgia just has to do bad things to the body, right?


travel advice, career break advice, travel the world, career break travel

Catching the sunset in Bagan Myanmar. Copyright SeatofourPants.com

8.  What are some of the secrets to travel that you´ve discovered that you think more people who aren´t traveling should know?

I think the single most important thing we’ve learned on this trip is that the world is not a scary place. Some of the places that we’ve enjoyed the most (Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh, both in India) were originally not on our list because they were supposed to be dangerous. It was only after arriving, ready for tough times that we found only wonderful people. The world is filled with genuine, fascinating, wonderful people who are happy to welcome other people to their culture when given the chance.

9.  Your site has a feature called ¨SOOPics¨ (Seat Of Our Pants Pics).  What was your inspiration to focus on ¨weird, wacky¨ photos?

SOOPics were born after acknowledging that we’re traveling with a poor excuse for a camera. We loved the idea of sharing a Picture of the Day or Week, as other travel bloggers do, but we had a problem: our picture quality was lacking. So, we turned to what makes us laugh. Some of the most memorable things caught while traveling are the quirky ones. SOOPics are a nod to that.

10.  What was your first ¨We´re not in Kansas (San Francisco) anymore¨ moment?

We flew from an overcast San Francisco to a hot and humid Bangkok, where we checked into a hotel and slept for ten hours straight (jetlag is a real pain when you fly west to east). So all of that was a bit of a blur. Our ah-ha moment came when we tried our first street-vendor food after waking up. Standing on the side of the road, eating our first mango/sticky rice while watching an elephant stroll past us left us giggling like school children.

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Bamboo worms in Chiang Mai Thailand. Copyright SeatofourPants.com

11.  What´s been your most ¨local¨ experience so far?

We’ve traveled in both heavily touristic areas and to the far off the beaten path places. We realized after a few months on the road that it’s the later that make us most happy. It’s tougher to get off the beaten track but it’s really worth the work. Our most recent experience was in eastern Turkey where a Kurdish man invited us to stay in his village for a night. Our day was spent wandering the local hills with a local sheepherder, being taught how to make fresh sheep cheese and dining with his family.

12.  What has been your most embarrassing moment?

Ah, well, that’s a tough one. We’re constantly putting ourselves in awkward positions. Most recently I was trying to explain to a non-English speaking man in Georgia that San Francisco has a huge population, but only because that includes the entire Bay Area. The city itself is quite small. It’s a tough concept to explain with hand motions, so I brought out my notebook and drew him a picture. It wasn’t until a few days later that I realized why the man looked at me strangely after I was done. Check out the drawing for yourself.


travel advice, career break advice, travel the world, career break travel

Jaime after the Holi Festival in Kolkata India. Copyright SeatofourPants.com

13.  What´s your secret for getting the most out of your journey?

Taking a break! We’ve been on the road for thirteen months. That’s a lot of travel time. The impressions that we are bombarded with far outnumber our ability to digest them, so we take a day or two a week and do nothing. We find a nice place in a room with a sunny balcony or a great view of some water and we read or play games or do anything other than sightseeing.

14.  Do you have any idea what you will do when you get back to the states?

Actually, we have a better plan for our re-entry to the States than we have for our destinations on the road. We’re spending some time visiting family, then holing ourselves up in a trailer-home to write the novels we’ve been cooking up on the road. No, they’re not travel books. They’re both works of fiction. And yes, I did say a trailer-home.

15.  Finally, our lightening round.

a.  Best dish you´ve found so far: Turkish breakfast plate of honey and clotted cream

b.  Most exotic food eaten: A tie between boiled pigs intestine noodle soup and deep fried bamboo worm

c.  Most breathtaking moment: Martin: The peak of Stok Kangri (6,139 meters) in northwestern India literally left me breathless.  Jaime: Sunrise over the Anapurna mountain range in Nepal

d.  Biggest disappointment: Jaime: not being able to join Martin in the peak of Stok Kangri due to a nasty bout of altitude sickness  Martin: arriving after a night bus in Sumbawa, Indonesia to realize that the ferry we needed to take was 14 hours delayed

e.  Most memorable place: Jaime: Aya Sofia in Istanbul  Martin: the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India

f.  Most memorable person: Our landlord Arjun in Kathmandu (we rented an apartment there for 3 months)

g.  Best thing to have on a long bus ride: Ipod

h.  Worst thing to have on a long bus ride: Diarrhea

i.  Best thing you packed: Super strength deodorant

j.  Dumbest thing you packed: Money belts, we didn’t use them once.

k.  Funniest travel habit your partner has: Martin never packs things in the same place twice. He can never find anything in his backpack.  Jaime likes to pick up and carry rocks from different places. Rocks aren’t the lightest thing to backpack with.

l. Place you wish you could´ve stayed longer: Jaime: Pokhara, Nepal  Martin: the Arunachal Pradesh province in India


travel advice, career break advice, travel the world, career break travel

Martin above the Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal. Copyright SeatofourPants.com

You can follow Jaime and Martin online at SeatOfOurPants.com, on Facebook and on Twitter @SeatOfOurPants. Every week, Career Break Secrets profiles a different traveler or traveling couple who are embracing the ¨Because Life Is Out There TM¨ travel spirit.  These are people who have taken the plunge to embark on a career break and are currently traveling the world.

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