Today’s interviewee has a rather unique experience of having a cocktail with a pickled human toe inside! Please meet Arnab Nandy of Travel Andy.
What is your name?
Though my passport calls me Arnab Nandy, you can call me Andy.
Which country do you come from/call home?
Can you guess from these clues — too many people, too much poverty, too colourful (Nah, there’s nothing that’s ‘too colourful’!)? No? Try this, too many dogs, cows, elephants and camels on the city roads. Ah now you’ve guessed it — India!
Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/business traveller/live and work abroad?
I travel as a backpacker. I want to be a long-term traveller at some point.
How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
I have a regular job as a newspaper journalist. So, at the moment, I save up and travel.
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
I’ve been travelling with my parents all over India since I was couple of years old and I don’t really remember my first trip.
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
The Full Moon Party in Thailand. It has all the required ingredients and I’d imagined it would be utter chaos. But it was surprisingly well-organised. They even had a cordoned-off place in the middle of the beach where you could sleep if you got too drunk!
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
There have been experiences that were a little unpleasant but I can’t really think of one that I can classify as “bad”. In any case, I’m having to think a little to much to dig out such experiences and if I have to think that much, they weren’t that bad!
What is the craziest thing you’ve done on your travels?
I have had the Sourtoe Cocktail in Dawson City, Canada. This cocktail has a pickled human toe in it!
Where is your favourite place in the world?
Koh Phangan, an idyllic island in the Gulf of Thailand, which incidentally hosts the famous Full Moon Party.
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
Sure I do! But I keep checking stuff on it and adding to it every now and then. But here’s what’s on it right now:
1. Seeing the northern lights and experiencing the -50 degree Celsius winter in Dawson City, Canada
2. Going to New Zealand
3. Going to the Galapagos islands
4. Backpacking through South America
5. Road trip in Western Australia
Can you imagine life without travel?
Wouldn’t be much of a life then, would it?
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
Perpetually planning a trip!
What is the name of your travel blog and the url?
My blog is called Andy’s Budget Travel Site and the url is www.travelandy.com
When did you begin your website?
I launched my site in March, 2014.
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
I love to write. In fact I’ve been writing for newspapers and magazines since I was in school. With this blog, I hope to connect with those who think they do not have the enough money or resources to see the world. I want to inspire and tell them that you do not need to be rich to see the world.
What makes your site unique and why should people read it?
My site is a one-stop destination for budget travel from the perspective of someone with an Indian passport. If you want to travel more while spending the least amount of money, read my site. And if you have any questions, feel free to mail me. I’m happy to help.
Do you have any products or services to offer?
Not at this point, but I am writing my first book!
What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?
I am a big fan of solo travel and I think it’s the best way to see the world. And it’s a post on solo travel that’s my most successful post. Check it out – Why travelling solo is awesome.
What has been your favourite article to write either for your blog or another publication?
I enjoyed writing the travelogue on Dawson City in Canada for The Telegraph.
What is your favourite mode of transport? (plane/train/boat/car)
Train. I think it’s a nice way to see a new country and also cover long distances within a relatively short time.
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
You will never find the perfect time to travel. Something or the other will come up. So, zero in on a date and whatever happens, make sure you leave on that date.
What has travel taught you?
Patience, acceptance and to attempt to cross the bridge only when I get to it. I rarely get bugged if things go to plan because I know lots of things don’t. And another thing, the “big, bad world out there” is a myth. People are generally good and a genuine smile and a heartfelt thanks will earn you many friends.
How do like to discover a new place?
I am not a touristy traveller. I hate queuing up to buy tickets for getting into museums and the like. The way I go about it is, I try to experience a slice of the life of the local person. I try to get in touch with someone who lives in the place and visit the cafes and pubs where they’d go to eat. I try and use the public transport and if possible, stay with local people. I often skip the “biggest attractions” in the area because of my style of travel.
How important is knowing a local language when you are visiting a new place?
Knowing a few words and phrases certainly come handy. The locals will appreciate if they notice that you’re making efforts to learn their language. But I have been to places where neither me nor the locals understood each other. It was then that I discovered the power of the sign language! There have been quite a few miscommunications in such situations, but it’s all part of the fun.
What are the stuff coming up on www.travelandy.com in the near future?
I’m adding more budget travel guides of various countries and places. Not too detailed, these are the kind of guides that help you start with the planning of your trip. These are helpful in chalking out rough itineraries, making the initial things-to-do list and estimating your expenses. I am also planning to introduce a new section that will have all kinds of information on visas.
Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline? China Eastern Airlines (Some very good and cheap connections from my hometown, Kolkata)
Favourite country? Thailand (Not too far, not too costly, very foreigner-friendly)
Favourite city? Berlin (It’s energetic and complex)
Favourite beach? Palolem beach in Goa, India
Favourite food? Keeps changing! It was Sri Lankan cuisine last year and right now, it’s the Japanese ramen.
Favourite language? German! I’ve been trying to learn it for ever lol!
Please provide the following:-
Website url? http://www.travelandy.com
Twitter handle? @Travelandysite
Facebook page? https://www.facebook.com/travelandysite
Google+ profile/page? https://plus.google.com/u/0/104362303467086513763/