Kevin Cook documents his journey starting from the day he made a decision to leave US and travel the world one country at a time. His travel style is quite different from most of the travel blogs that I’ve read before as he usually stays quite longer in one place to get to know a particular place better.
His plan to gain a new perspective in his life brought him to Pua Nana, a small town in Thailand where he stayed and worked for around four months as an ESL teacher. Just recently though he left Pua Nan to move on to his next destinations – China to live there and teach for one year.
Kevin’s writing style is personal and will make his audience feel as if he’s talking directly to them, sharing his views, opinions and his sentiments on every thing he experiences on the road.
Get to know more about Kevin and join him in his adventure at Monkey Abroad.
But before you leave this page, check out my short interview with Kevin.
How did you discover your passion for travelling?
“Once the “American dream” lost its luster, I moved to Thailand to immerse myself in a foreign world. The impromptu decision to live half way across the world has been an eye-opening experience for me. It’s awoken an urge to travel and experience new cultures and foods that I didn’t know was within me until I left my home country.”
What’s the most horrible experience that you’ve had on the road?
“My travel experiences are limited, so I (fortunately) haven’t encountered too many bumps in the road. But if I had to put my finger on one, I’d say that hosting an all-day ESL camp with very short notice was an experience I’d like to forget. Two other foreign teachers and I corralled 100 Thai children and played games from sunrise until sunset with little preparation. To say that it was a trial of improvisational grit is putting it lightly.”
What’s the best travel experience that you’ve ever had?
Ironically, the same well from which I draw my frustrations is also the source of my joy: teaching ESL. It’s a bittersweet profession, but it’s been far more sweet than bitter for me. When my students grasp a difficult concept and I see them apply it, nothing is more fulfilling for me. Teaching ESL isn’t a single experience, but an ongoing on, and I’m glad to have the opportunity to work in this profession.”
What’s the biggest realization that you’ve got out of travelling?
“Since traveling, I’ve reflected a lot on my home country and on American culture. I’ve come to realize that most of the USA lives in a bubble, and I was stuck in it. The rest of the world is far more inclined to whip out a passport and explore while most Americans forgo this adventurousness to pursue a lucrative career that they probably won’t enjoy. America is a great place and it’ll always be my home, but as a country, it lacks worldly perspective.”
What keeps you going? What keeps you motivated?
“I’m motivated because there’s nothing holding me back. I have a poverty of desire, so I’m happy eating cheap street food and sleeping in cheap hostels. As a result, I can experience foreign culture whenever I please. That’s what richness is about; not the number of zeros in my bank statement.”
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?
“Hands down, Anthony Bourdain. He’s outspoken and coarse, but damn it, he’s an excellent writer with great opinions about foreign culture and cuisine. Plus, I could hire him as a ghost writer for my blog and earn some unwarranted recognition.”
Where’s your favorite place in this planet and why?
“Chiang Mai, Thailand sits at the top of my list. It has the charm of a centuries-old city with amenities and attractions that rival Bangkok. A lot of folks think Bangkok is the ultimate city to visit in Thailand, but I stand firm in my belief that Chiang Mai is Thailand’s real cultural paradigm. As the best representative city of Thailand, it’s modernized, but hasn’t lost touch with its country’s rich history.”
What’s your best tip for newbie traveller?
“Before you leave, lay out all of your travel clothes and all of your travel money. Bring half the clothes and twice the money. I read that on the wall in a hostel bathroom and it really struck a chord with me. Who knew such wisdom could be shared via bathroom graffiti?”
What’s the funniest and silliest thing you’ve ever done while travelling?
“In a small town in rural Thailand, I staged a parody “showdown” between two Thai crepe vendors and created a short video. These vendors worked directly across the street from each other, so I imagined this scenario that they’re fierce competitors and I had to decide the ultimate crepe champion once and for all. I’m pretty sure the vendors had no idea what was going on. The video was poorly written, edited and produced, but I got a real kick out of making it.”
How do you keep yourself safe on your travels?
“I try to appear as tough as possible, even though I’m not. I exercise every day to try to maintain some muscle. Handstand push ups, pull-ups and running comprise my exercise regime. I’m not a great fighter, but I figure that if I look intimidating enough, thugs will be less likely to target me. So far I haven’t encountered a single safety hazard (that I’m aware of).”
What do you think about yourself?
“I don’t take myself too seriously. I’m just a spontaneous person with a carefree attitude and a love of all things edible.”
“Monkey Abroad is a blog about deep cultural immersion and teaching ESL in Thailand. Most travel blogs have a fly by night approach to visiting countries and cities, but I prefer to hunker down and give foreign culture time to sink in. For me, that’s what travel is about. My blog shares insights, opinions and tips for
anyone interested in pursuing a similar lifestyle. – Kevin Cook of Monkey Abroad
Editor’s Note: All pics are provided by Kevin.