Welcome to round 81 of ‘Meet a Random Traveller’. The series dedicated to bring attention to fantastic people all around the world doing their thing.
Random Traveller 81 – A follow up!
This week we’re returning to one of our earlier Random Travellers to see what has changed since we last caught up with him. You can see the original interview here: Random Traveller #24
Who are you?
I’m Jonny Blair, a nomadic Northern Irishman with a passion for travel, work, beer, football and people. Sometimes all at the same time. But rarely ever am I in the same place. I first wrote for Poi and Kirsty back in 2010 when I was based in Parramatta in Australia. I was due to head to Antarctica next when I wrote that piece, so having now lived my dream, stepped foot in Antarctica and been to all seven continents, it’s time for an update. It’s a mad world…
“outside inside out, living la vida loca”
Don’t you have a home to go to?
The thing is, I have many places I have been that I could call home. I lived in my tent in Poatina, AUSTRALIA for a few months, I stayed with a local family in Montevideo, URUGUAY, I sailed on a boat through ANTARCTICA and I now find myself renting a flat in HONG KONG. In between times I’ve also worked on boats in Europe, milked cows in Colombia and worked in an Irish pub in 3 different continents. I’m currently teaching English and doing some part time PR ahead of my next adventure. My original home is Bangor in Northern Ireland. My family aren’t quite as nomadic as me and indeed they all still live there. It’s been almost ten years since I left my hometown behind. I can find a home anywhere. I really believe that. I have no idea where I will end up next.
“all these places feel like home”
Where have you been?
I’ve been to all seven continents now: Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Oceania and Antarctica (as most people class them). But if you were to add in Middle East, Central America and The Caribbean then I’ve been to all those places too, I’m aged 32 now so it took me a while, but I’m satisfied that I’d been to every continent by the age of 30. By no means is that a lot of travelling however as when I am on the road, I always meet people who have travelled a lot more, especially older travellers. I am still aiming for 100 countries, maybe then I’ll stop all this moving around…
My favourite trip so far was to Antarctica. Nothing can compare with the true ice cold magical wilderness. From hiking up Cuverville Island, to posting a letter at the world’s southernmost post box to standing on mainland Antarctica for the first time, that was a true trip of a lifetime. I cannot recommend it enough. I made a lot of friends on that trip, and indeed also met my current girlfriend on board our boat.
Aside from that hiking the four day Inca Trail in Peru was a phenomenal experience as was staying with a local family in Soweto, in South Africa. Other surprising highlights have included stepping into North Korea during the DMZ Tour at Panmunjeom and partying in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
I’ll pick my top 2 citys/places and countries from each continent so far –
EUROPE – Northern Ireland – Belfast/Germany – Berlin
ASIA – Taiwan – Shinying/South Korea – DMZ
AFRICA – South Africa – Soweto/Botswana – Gaborone
OCEANIA – Australia – Parramatta/New Zealand – Taupo
NORTH AMERICA and Caribbean – Canada – Toronto/Trinidad and Tobago – Port of Spain
SOUTH AMERICA and Central America – Paraguay – Asuncion/Uruguay – Montevideo
ANTARCTICA – Peninsula – Neko Harbour/Islands – Port Lockroy (British Port)
“Ain’t no stopping us now”
A Few Favourite Places I’ve Visited:
– Machu Picchu, Peru
– Borobudur, Indonesia
– The DMZ and Panmunjeom, North-South Korea Border
– Iguazu Falls, Argentina – Brazil Border
– Neko Harbour, Antarctica
“These sacred moments of sillyness are where I find my heaven”
A Few Recent Beers I like:
– Zulia, Venezuela
– Sibebe, Swaziland
– Tsingtao Stout, China
– Bintang, Indonesia
“I drank til I was thirsty again”
A Few Places I Haven’t Been and Want to go:
Egpyt (Pyramids, Cairo,Nile)
Mexico (Chichen Itza, Guadalajara, Mexico City)
“where do you go, buttoned in your favourite coat, stepping out to a different world?”
Where are you heading to next?
While based in Hong Kong, I really want to take advantage of seeing more of Asia while it’s easy to get to. I plan to go back to China a few more times, visit Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. Then it will be just about time to go to the west coast of Africa and hopefully “The Stans” (Kazakstan, Turkmenistan etc.). I really just want to see the whole world while I still can. Time and money are the only things stopping me at the moment.
Oh and in the longer term future, the North Pole, the countries in Europe I’ve neglected and the Caribbean will be my next targets…
“one more step along the world I go…”
My Top Ten Travel Essentials To Take:
4. Guide Book (I normally use Lonely Planet – I love reading on trains, buses and planes)
5. Insect repellent
6. First aid box (I custom built one to suit my needs)
7. Warm clothes
8. Cold clothes
10. Northern Ireland flag
People may find it odd that I carry my country’s flag, it’s one of my travel gimmicks, getting a photo of it taken in various places. I met a girl once who travels the world eating gluten free food and writing about it and a guy that takes a photo of his brother on a stick and photographs it everywhere.
“take what you need and be on your way and stop crying your heart out”
Five things I Try To Do in Every City/Town:
1. Meet the locals and have a chat with them
2. Try the local beer
3. Try the local food
4. Visit a local football stadium
5. Keep a folder with my tickets, beer labels, receipts and souvenirs from that place
“travel the world and the seven seas, everybody’s looking for something”
Until I settle somewhere I’m happy being a nomad…
Don’t stop living,
My Country List – (for something to be classed as a country, I used my own logic of if they have any out of these 4 then they are a country – 1. Own national football team (hence why Wales and Northern Ireland qualify) 2. Own government/visa restrictions (hence why Hong Kong qualifies) 3. Separate land mass (hence why Antarctica qualifies) 4. Own currency (also qualifies places like Scotland and Macao,but I excluded Guernsey, Sark etc.)
USA, Canada, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Chile, Uruguay, Antarctica, South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Iceland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, Republic of Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, San Marino, Luxembourg, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Latvia, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Belarus, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Russia, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Phillippines, Indonesia, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Greece.
(at each place I’ve done 3 of either got a passport stamp, left the airport, stayed overnight or had a beer)
Fancy being Random Traveller 82? Contact us.