Who’s Out There Now: Michael

Written By: jeff

Posted On: July 19th, 2011

career break travel adventures

Michael Channeling Rick Blaine. Copyright GoSeeWrite.com

In this week’s ¨Who’s Out There Now¨ feature, we bring to you former (recovering?) -attorney-turned traveler, Michael, who runs the site GoSeeWrite.com. He’s been to over 44 countries and has a snarky writing style that I really appreciate. He was in Colombia for a bit of time last year. He invited me to hang out near Bogotá but, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it. His next big adventure is go overland from Lisbon to Saigon by train. I can’t wait to follow his adventures across some of the most rugged terrain in the world.

1. So, where in the world are you answering these questions?
Ironically, you have caught me during my five days home for the rest of this year, so I am answering from my parents’ lake house on Beaver Lake in Arkansas.

2. First things first. You claim to have seen Casablanca (my all-time favorite movie) over 100 times. Team Rick or Team Laszlo, and why?
Totally Team Rick – I’ve actually enclosed a picture from my goodbye party back in December of 2008, before my RTW trip, where I sported the white dinner jacket and cigar look (though Bogart was more a cigarette guy) in Rick’s honor. And you just reminded me… I haven’t watched Casablanca in months. Need to break it out in Spain in a few weeks. (Editor’s note: Team Rick IS the right answer!)

3. You’ve got to get through some pretty remote parts of the world to get to Saigon. Any country that you’re particularly nervous about?
Right now I am really only worried about getting visas. Russia, China, Vietnam… they all take some time and since I will be in Europe when I am going to be doing it, I am going to have to FedEx my passport back to the States to get it down and hunker down somewhere without a passport.

career break travel adventures in Cambodia

Shot of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Copyright GoSeeWrite.com

4. Your known for you fondness of traveling in the Middle East. What’s the allure for you and why do you keep going back?

It was such an unexpected and pleasant surprise that I loved the Middle East so much. First, the people are amazingly friendly. They have been beaten up in the world media for years now and they simple open their hearts, minds and homes to you, in order to counter the prejudice they see in the world media against them. Secondly, everything is amazingly compact. Until you get over there, you really have no idea how close everything is to each other. I’ve taken cabs now between various capitals a number of times. A cab – could you imagine doing that in many other places in the world?

5. How has your travel style changed since you first started traveling back in 2008?
When I was on my 16 month RTW trip without flying I got in a really good rhythm. I love overland travel anyway, because it really is the best way to experience the scope of the world, but I was really hard-core back then. I could do 12-14 hours on a bus without blinking.  But now, I am a bit out of practice.  Thirty straight days on trains should get me back “in shape.”

6. Career break, nomadic adventure, backpacking, how do you characterize your travels?
Well, I still haven’t found my next good source of income, so career break might be a understatement, since I have nothing that I want to go back to. I guess I classify myself as a challenge traveler. I like to do somewhat offbeat travel things (like circling the globe on the ground or going Lisbon to Saigon on trains in 30 days) that are realistic for others to do. I totally admire the people that cross the Pacific by kayak or such, but those feats aren’t within the normal realm of possibility for most travelers – I think the things I do are things that anyone can do, with enough time and willpower and desire.

7. You’re a known cigar aficionado. Best place to get a cigar in the world and the worst you’ve found so far?
Shockingly, it is really difficult to get a good, cheap cigar outside the U.S., because almost all the cigars I have found elsewhere are Cubans.  I love a good Cuban cigar, but at $20 or so per stick, I can’t afford it (though I am up for sponsorship, if someone is listening). In the States, I smoke Padron’s from Nicaragua and love them. At about $4-5 per stick, I can manage that cost for a good hour and half smoke. Taking a box with me next week, actually.

career break travela dventures in Kenya

In Kenya on top of a lorry heading to Ethiopia. Copyright GoSeeWrite.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?

Hostels.  I had done a reasonable bit of traveling before I chucked it all in 2008 and started doing this full-time, but I’d never been to a hostel before my RTW trip. They not only are far less expensive than normal hotels, they are such great ways to meet people on the road.  When is the last time you meet a bunch of cool fellow travelers staying in a Sheraton?  I’m 43 years old and yes, usually one of the older ones in the hostel, but you can get private rooms in many of them and hanging out with some fun travelers in their 20s and 30s helps keep my travel energy up.

9. What was your first ¨I’m not in Kansas anymore¨ moment?
Crossing the border from Mexico to Guatemala. It was like a scene out of a Wild West movie. Lean-to shops everywhere. Thousands of people bustling around. A shack where you got stamped into Guatemala. Money changers running up to you shoving pesos in your face. I just walked around for a couple hours going from one country to the other in awe of the apparent chaos.

10. What’s been your most ¨local¨ experience so far?
Tough question. Hitchhiking on top of a cargo truck in northern Kenya, perhaps. There is no public transport at all to get you from about halfway up Kenya to the Ethiopian border, so you have to buy passage on big cargo lorries – and you spend most of the time sitting on the top, holding on for dear life. I think I was probably the only white person within about 300 miles when I did it and had so much fun talking to the locals on the top of the truck, through one of them that spoke English.

11. What has been your most embarrassing moment?
I’ve had a couple. Accidentally going to a whore house in Brazil with the Filipino crew of the cargo freighter I was on was one of them. They told me we were going to a karaoke bar, which is actually was, but the local hostesses there were also more than willing to take you upstairs – not based on your singing talent, which was unfortunate for my new Filipino friends, because they can really belt out an American pop song, though they didn’t speak much English.


career break travel adventures in Jordan

Michael at Petra in Jordan. Copyright GoSeeWrite.com

12. What’s your secret for getting the most out of your journey?
Don’t book anything in advance. Or at least, book the bare minimum. I can’t tell you how many times I can rolled into a town, meet some cool travelers that told me about this place or that sight and I immediately changed my plans. If you are locked in with your plans and everything is pre-paid, you are going to miss out on some good deals, fun new travel companions, and things you’d never know about until you are on the ground.

13. Finally, our lightening round.

  • Best dish you’ve found so far – Ceviche. Bang – done. Must try, if you haven’t.
  • Most exotic food eaten – Fried Grasshoppers. Put it on the “don’t need to try” list.
  • Most breathtaking moment – Summitting Mount Kilimanjaro. I tear up just thinking about it now.
  • Biggest disappointment – not making it around in 12 months. It just wasn’t feasible, with the route I took.
  • Most memorable place – I’d say Kili again, but how about Petra. Wow.
  • Most memorable person –(Unanswered)
  • Best thing to have on a long bus ride – iPod, but in Central or South America, you damn sure better have really warm clothing for the AC in the buses.
  • Worst thing to have on a long bus ride – A lack of patience or need for personal space (African buses, at least).
  • Best thing you packed – Tempted to say iPod again, which is probably true, but let’s go with quick-dry boxer shorts.
  • Dumbest thing you packed – fancy water purifier. Never used it once.
  • Funniest travel habit you have – I can’t stand fingernails, so I have to clip them pretty much every time I see any white.
  • Place you wish you could’ve stayed longer – O lord. Everywhere except Ethiopia and Russia, I think. Let’s go with southern Africa though; the scenery and animal life is breathtaking.

You can follow Michael online at GoSeeWrite, on Facebook and on Twitter @MobileLawyer

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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2 Responses to “Who’s Out There Now: Michael”

  1. Not sure I should have admitted all this stuff ;)
    Michael Hodson recently posted..Running with the Bulls in Pamplona

  2. Natalie says:

    Great interview Michael. So glad that you are not insisting we put fried grasshoppers on the menu!! Eating them would make me do exactly the same thing as my friends dog! :)
    Natalie recently posted..Bafa Lake – Part Two

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