Name: The Travelling Singh
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I’m a British Sikh in my twenties, born and raised in the Midlands but currently based out of London. I was raised in a (first world) poor family by a single mom so I didn’t start going on holidays until I started work and could pay for them myself, but as soon as I made that first trip alone, I was hooked. Travelling with friends is great, but unless I want to see more than the inside of a bar, going alone gives me the type of freedom I wouldn’t otherwise have.
I currently work in Asset Management Policy (which isn’t as boring as it sounds, but I would say that). I play 6 a-side football once a week and also do Muay Thai Boxing. I like to go to the gym at least 3 times a week and try to stay in half decent shape (I completed Tough Mudder last year which was amazing).
What inspired you to travel?
Ever since I was young, I would watch all these David Attenborough documentaries set in the most exotic locations and I would have this overwhelming desire to go see some of that world that was out there. Coming from a fairly small town, a trip to Birmingham seemed exotic to me, so making it to Bangkok on my own (my first trip alone) was something special.
What inspired me to write the blog was discrimination faced by Sikhs at airports across the world. Following 9/11, Sikhs have been subject to backlash and have even been killed in the United States just because of the way we look. Recently, Sikhs have been humiliated at airports by being asked to remove their turbans and some have even been refused entry onto planes just because other passengers feel uneasy.
80,000 turban wearing Sikhs died fighting for Britain in WW1 and WW2 and over 100,000 were injured (and there aren’t that many of us to start off with). I want to do two things: (1) educate the world on who Sikhs are as knowledge is the best weapon against discrimination and, (2) educate Sikhs on their rights at airports so they are not taken advantage of.
What’s on your bucket list?
I’ll be doing a coast to coast road trip across the United States at the end of 2016/early 2017 that I’m really looking forward to. I also have a few trips to Europe this year (Prague, Stockholm and Rome).
I have a few countries on my bucket list but China, Russia, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa are the ones I’m most likely to do in the next couple of years.
Favourite country so far and why?
It might be a little mainstream, but there’s a vibe about Thailand that I haven’t felt elsewhere. There is always something to do from beautiful temples to golden beaches, and coming from the UK, everything out there is so cheap from Thai Massages to Pad Thai’s.
Best experience and why?
Snorkelling in the waters around Koh Tao was incredible as it was just so clear and full of life. My first glimpse of the Golden Temple in Panjab is something that will stay with me forever. However, doing the Trek to Machu Picchu probably stands out more than anything else. After days of hard climbing, the satisfaction of reaching the ancient Incan Site was amazing.
Those are my favourite experiences, my favourite cities are completely different. Cusco, Chiang Mai and Siem Reap were probably the cities I liked most, although Rio and Hanoi deserve a mention too.
Worst experience and why?
Bolivian immigration was tough, but being taken away by police for questioning in Peru because they thought I might be smuggling drugs (I wasn’t, incase you were wondering) was probably my worst experience. However, I stood my ground and got through it (eventually).
What’s on your travel playlist?
I spent 3 years working in the largest club in the Midlands while I was at university, so my playlist is pretty eclectic. Depending on the mood I can switch between Tupac, Skepta, Bob/Damian Marley, Oasis, Kaiser Chiefs, Chilli Peppers, Justin Timberlake was good, even House music. I wasn’t really into it until I spent a week in Ibiza, now I can’t get enough of it. And of course, there’s always room for Bhangra.
Books are important as between work, sports, gym and blogging, its hard to get a book out and have time to read. Going away for months at a time and having no signal for the most part gives me the opportunities to read some books. I’m a non-fiction guy and my favourite areas are History, Physics and Economics.
During my recent trip to South America I read Malcolm X’s autobiography, Freakonomics, and Siques, Tigers or Thieves (a history of Sikhs from the perspective of the colonial British). On previous trips I have read ‘In search of Schrodinger’s Cat: Quantum Physics and Reality’ which I found fascinating, Warrior Saints and Quantum Philosophy.
Tell us about some of your favourite dishes/restaurants from places you’ve visited?
My favourite dishes are mostly from SE Asia. Eating breakfast on a beach in Ko Phangan watching the sunrise was special. Pad Thai (Thailand) and Pho (Vietnam) were delicious dishes while India has some great Tandoori food. I also had a great home cooked meal in Cambodia.
Las Delicias de Carmen in San Pedro de Atacama (Chile) gave me the largest portions of food I have ever had for a very reasonable price.
Are there any things you miss when you’re not at home?
For some reason, the biggest thing I miss is Crunchy Nut or Coco Pops cereal. I don’t know what Kelloggs are putting in their cereal, but if you’re reading this Mr Kellogg, you got me hooked.
Did you overcome any fears before beginning your journey?
The funny thing is, I hate flying. Every time I step onto a plane, I spend a good 5 minutes meditating to calm myself down. I’m not a huge fan of spiders and on the whole I’ve managed to avoid some, although I did share a room with a family of spiders in Lima. Oh, and I ate a tarantula at Tonle Sap, Cambodia, but that was just revenge.
Have you got any tips for people who want to travel but are perhaps scared or unsure where to start?
Always give yourselves a few days leeway when making connections because flights get cancelled, and if it’s a small airline, this happens more times than you would think. Off the top of my head, I have had cancelled flights from Dubai, Cusco, Calama and Amsterdam.
Be sure to know your rights to ensure you are not being ripped off by airline companies or unnecessarily accosted at airports. Knowledge is the most important tool.
Most importantly, its okay to be nervous. You might not realise it, but even people who have done 70/80 countries will still get nervous when they head to a new place for the first time. It’s normal as psychologically your brain is telling you that you are far from home. Dont fight the nerves, enjoy that feeling and go out and explore!
Thanks for reading, go check out his blog and don’t forget to follow him on Twitter etc.