Travel | February 14, 2004

One of my big passions in life is travel. It started during my first summer break at university while living in a small surfing village in Devon. Lots of the other surfers were also travellers. They would work the summer season then head off to tropical climes, following the endless summer. At the time I wasn’t that adventurous, but wanted to do something more than another summer season in the west country. So I bought an interail ticket and trained it all the way through Europe to Morocco. Morocco was amazing and sparked an interest in both travel and travel photography, that I’ve been pursuing ever since.

When I left university I spent 6 months travelling around Asia. On my return all I could think of was going away again. I worked loads of bum jobs and saved up for what would become a year and a half trip around Asia and Australia. During this time I spent 6 months travelling around India, and it was on a trip to the India Andaman Islands that I learnt to dive. Several months later, I ended up in the beautiful Thai Island of Koh Tao where I spent the next six months learning to be, and then working as, a Dive master.

I then went on to Australia where, amongst other things, I worked on a Great Barrier Reef liveaboard boat doing shark encounters in the Coral Sea. Running out of money I headed back to Thailand for a few months, and then back to Blighty. I’d caught the diving bug so, after another year of saving, I went back to Thailand to sit my Dive Instructor course. I spent the next 12 month travelling around SEA working as a Dive Isntructor.

Returning to the UK, I started working on the web. At the time, the web was big business. If you knew HTML you were in huge demand and I figures I could work 6 months of the year and travel the rest. Unfortunately the bubble quickly burst and I never managed to secure that idea lifestyle. However travel is still hugely important to me. Unlike many of my friends who spend all their money of gadgets, I save up my money and manage to get in one big trip every 9 months. Last Oct I was lucky enough to visit Vietnam/Cambodia and In April I’m planning my second big dive trip to Borneo.

Map of the world outlining all the countries I've been to

While surfing the web, I came across this cool site. You can put in all the countries you’ve visited and it produces a map outlining all the places you’ve been. It also tells you how much of the world you’ve seen. Putting in my details it turns out that I’ve visited 19 countries, and have seen 8% of the world. I was quite impressed, however my girlfriend did the same and got a stunning 11%.

I have to admit that I’m a person of habit. I’ll find a place and go back several times. Here is a quick run down of the interesting places I’ve been and the number of times I’ve been there

As you can see I keep going back to Thailand. This is where I trained as a professional diver and somewhere I keep being drawn back to. The diving’s good, the food is great and it’s got an amazing combination of culture, beaches and lifestyle. I’ve been to Malaysia a bunch of times, although often it’s been to renew my Thai visa. I went to Borneo a few years back to visit friends who run an underwater filming company out there, the same people I’m going out to see in April. They do documentaries for the BBC and Discovery Channel but are probably best known for filming the in water scenes on the Survivor TV series.

Australia is cool and Sydney is one of the few places in the world I’d like to live. NZ is also great as you’ll see from the pics in my gallery. Truly a landscape photographers paradise. Another place I’d quite like to live is Hong Kong. I love Asia and you can’t get much more Asian than the bustle of Kowloon. However many visitors completely miss the beaches and islands of Hong Kong, which there are many. If you have money in HK, you live in the mountains or by the beach and only go downtown to work.

India, Indonesia and Morocco are probably the most “exotic” places I’ve been to. Culturally they are just so different from any thing I’ve ever seen and I’d love to go back at some stage. I was lucky enough to work on a dive boat in the north of Indonesia for a few months where I dived pristine reefs and even an active underwater volcano (which was way cool).

I love the diving in the Red Sea, Egypt. It’s the closets reef to the UK at a little over 4hrs and you can get some great deals year round. However the best places I’ve dived have to be Manado in Indonesia, Layang-Layang and Sipadan in East Malaysia (Borneo) and Richelieu Rock in Thailand. I’m getting stoked about this next trip though, as not only will we be visiting Sipadan, but we’ll also be heading into Indo to visit a place called Sangalaki. This island is extremely difficult to get to, but boast some amazing diving including schools of resident Manta rays and a fresh water jellyfish lake, only two of it’s kind in the world. It’s probably been 2 years since my last diving trips so I”m looking forward to getting back in the water.

Posted at February 14, 2004 9:46 PM


jeff said on February 15, 2004 7:10 AM

no love for Canada eh.

James said on February 15, 2004 4:48 PM

I live in Hong Kong and I’m glad to see one visitor who’s seen beneath the stereotype. The Hong Kong Tourist Association are really bad at advertising the region’s natural beauty as they tend to focus more on what makes them richer.

It’s a real shame but also means that the loveliest beaches are generally untainted. Well, except for the local pollution of course…

Let me know if you drop by the region again and we can arrange some sort of standards geek lunch :)

ephi said on February 18, 2004 6:30 AM

Wow, this is your longest entry since I started reading your blog. I live in Indo, and I’ve never been to Manado—where my family name came from :)
Have you ever heard about Banda Island?
Its volcano is still active, bring your own fresh water supply if you want (water there taste weird, but I don’t know about the ones in the hotel, though), and the seas are just amazing. Great place to dive, they say.

Daniel said on February 18, 2004 1:05 PM

Andy, you’re giving me itchy feet. I want to hop on a plane right now!

I just returned from a short trip to Queensland (from my home in Sydney) and it was just beautiful. From the sounds of it, you’d know all about that :)

Hopefully i’ll be travelling to Thailand later in the year, finances permitting.

Andy Budd said on February 20, 2004 8:56 AM

Cool. The Barrier Reef and Coral Sea are great. If you ever get the chance to go diving there, you should.

If you’re in Thailand I highly recommend visiting Koh Tao, and Koh Phi-Phi, two of the places I lived and worked as a dive instructor. Koh Tao is a cool little diving island on the east coast. It used to be a real chilled little place, but is getting more and more popular by the day. Koh Phi-Phi is stunning, and was the location for the movie, “The Beach” (incidently I was there when they were fiilming this). Both these places are quite touristy these days, but are still well worth the visit.

Farrow said on February 22, 2004 8:47 AM

Wow, small world, although somehow i wasn’t too surprised when i noticed you were from Brighton, also. Brighton seems to be the “in” place to be in England. Just want to say you’ve gone and given me “travel syndrome” which i’ve managed to lock away for a few years. I travelled alot when i was growing up but never quit managed to go outside european borders, i’d love to go to NZ but so far its too expensive, i’ve never had much interest in Thailand but your praise of it has made me curious…anyway heres to travel syndrome! heh