Michael Turtle is the author of the TimeTravelTurtle.com one of the newest blogs that I’ve been reading lately. The way he writes and presents the places that he goes to offers readers like me a chance to see those places in a different light.
One of his posts that I really like and struck me the most was his feature article about an 89 year old backpacker, John Waite whom he met in one of his trips. Michael wrote the article very well which makes it an easy read yet it leaves a mark to his audience.
Learn more about Michael and check out his blog at Time Travel Turtle.
Here’s my short interview with Michael.
How did you discover your passion for travelling?
“If I look back on it all it seems like I always had the passion. Ever since I was a child I wasn’t doing the same kind of holidays as most people. When I was 10 years old I begged to go to Egypt and see the pyramids rather than go to Disneyland. When I was 14 I went trekking in Nepal rather than spend the school holidays at the beach like everybody else. And when I was 18… Well, when I was 18 I went to Bali and got really drunk. I guess you can’t always be the intrepid adventurer…”
What’s the most horrible experience that you’ve had on the road?
“There was an awful time when I was backpacking in Europe with friends. We arrived at Vienna train station and someone there offered us accommodation at a B&B. We’d had a terrific experience in Florence a week earlier from a similar approach so we went with this man. As it turned out, he drove us to a drug den, took our money and showed us to a room that hadn’t been cleaned in weeks. When we saw our neighbours emptying syringes into the rubbish bin we left in a hurry and found somewhere else to stay.”
What’s the best travel experience that you’ve ever had?
“That’s a really tough question. But to offset my previous answer I’m going to say that my best travel experiences have all been when strangers have shown me kindness. Just recently I ended up in a tiny town in Uruguay late at night with nowhere to stay because of a mix-up. A family took me into their house, gave me dinner, rang around to find a hotel, drove me there and even explained in Spanish to the staff what had happened so they would take extra care of me. (By the way, the dinner they gave me was pizza, if you were wondering. And it was pretty good.)”
What’s the biggest realization that you’ve got out of travelling?
“That everyone is the just the same. By that I mean it doesn’t matter where you live, how you grew up or what you’ve faced in your life. Human beings are ultimately the same people deep down and that’s why we’re able to connect despite language and cultural differences. The strangers you meet around the world may look different on a superficial level but you quickly realise they have the same values and emotions as you do. Except taxi drivers in Asia – they’re evil!”
What keeps you going? What keeps you motivated?
“Coffee. At least, that’s the short answer. The long answer is that I get my motivation from discovering. There’s nothing more satisfying than learning about the world – the people, the cultures and the histories. I get bored too easily if I’m not finding out information and trying to understand its context. That’s why I love writing my blog so much because I can share all those stories with everyone else.”
This is a silly and hypothetical one. If you would be given a chance to travel with a popular person or a celebrity, who would it be and why?
“If I was doing lots of flying it would be with Richard Branson so we could travel in style. If I was doing doing lots of long bus trips then it would be with Dan Brown so he could tell me page-turning stories to pass the time. And if I was doing lots of train trips it would be with Agatha Christie so she could solve all the murders that happen in the tunnels. *I only chose those people because I didn’t think you’d let me say Batman.”
Where’s your favourite place in this planet and why?
“That’s an easy one – home sweet home in Sydney. I have travelled all over the world and visited some amazing places and beautiful countries. But I still have never found anywhere I would like to live more than my birthplace in Australia. As well as having my family and friends there, I honestly (without any misplaced patriotism) think it’s the world’s greatest city.”
What’s your best tip for newbie traveller?
“Don’t be afraid to look stupid, don’t be embarrassed to admit you don’t know something and always ask questions. You will get lost, you will get confused and you will hit language barriers. But people are good-hearted and they’ll almost always go out of their way to help you.”
What’s the funniest and silliest thing you’ve ever done while travelling?
“Karaoke. It’s silly for me to do it because it’s funny for everyone else. But it never seems to stop me. I’ve done Karaoke all across the world from the USA, to Denmark, to Japan (obviously) and even in North Korea. For the record, I am terrible. Really, really terrible.”
What do you think about yourself?
“I think I know a lot more than I actually do. That’s the problem with travelling – you think you’re finding out more about the world but you’re actually just finding out how much there is to learn. It doesn’t stop me trying to impress people I meet with a constant barrage of travel stories and weird facts and figures. It’s just embarrassing when someone realises I’m making half of it up.”
“I made a conscious decision with Time Travel Turtle not to write a diary-style travel blog about my own experiences. Instead I use the places I visit and the people I meet as inspiration for travel stories that give the readers a better understanding of the world. The posts are the stories behind the brochures. They tell the tales of the history and the culture of the countries I visit. Oh, and occasionally some of the things are just plain weird… but that’s what the world is like, isn’t it?” – Michael Turtle
Editor’s Note: All pics are provided by Michael