Interview With Joel of JTrek
Joel, please give my readers a background about yourself. What made you want to start jtrek.blogspot.com?
I started JTrek just as a way to keep in touch with friends and family back home. Some of them told their friends, who told their friends, and that's what got it to where it is today!
In all of your travels, in your opinion what country has the best food? and the worst food?
Anywhere they tell you they have great food, they do. If you can go to a restaurant in America where they serve that style of food (Thai, Italian, Mexican) you can bet it's going to be amazing in the country that food comes from. But there are also a good number of places where you wouldn't think of trying the food necessarily. Cambodia and Malaysia might be my two favorite examples-- they're some of the oldest "fushion" cuisines around, and they have some spectacular dishes.
The only place I really had a tough time with food was Mongolia. Lovely country and people. Terrible food. If you've ever been to a "Mongolian Grill" in the western world, you were probably eating Inner Mongolian food, which is from part of China. Real Mongolian food is mostly fried or cooked potatoes, rice, and overcooked mutton for everyone, just about all the time. Vegetables are considered suspect. I did have some very good yogurt and berries there at one point, but by and large, Mongolian food just didn't do it for me.
When you first started traveling, did your family support your decision?
Absolutely! But then again, I'd been talking about doing this basically since I can remember talking, period. So they knew it was coming.
If you had to choose one favorite destination, which one would you chose?
I get this question all the time, and my usual response is to ask whoever's asking me to specify a category. But I always feel uncomfortable doing something like that because it feels like lining your friends up against a wall and telling them all who you really like the best and least. Not very nice.
That said, there are a number of places I keep naming, no matter what the category: New Zealand, Argentina, Spain, and Hong Kong, all stand out in my mind for many different reasons, but I'd love to return to any or all of them.
What has been the least exciting destination you've traveled to?
I realize I just named Argentina as one of my favorites, but I got stuck in a town in the south of Argentina called Rio Gallegos for a couple days. I think if someone asked a resident what the town's population was, they would have started counting on their fingers. It was dreary and deserted. I basically sat in a bunk and read for two days straight while I waited for my next bus.
Did you always have a love of travel or did you develop your passion for traveling as you got older?
Always. Though I confused my parents a bit by coming home from my first overnight summer camp, and when asked if I wanted to do it again, saying "no thank you." They thought I meant I'd be a homebody. I meant I wanted to go somewhere else next. So when I came home from school a couple of years later and told them, matter-of-factly, that I was going to Costa Rica, they were a little startled. It was a great trip I found out about through my Spanish teacher. He'd handed me a flyer that had the word "adventure" in big letters on the top. The rest is history.
What impact has jtrek.blogspot.com had on your life?
I've become a much better writer, just by virtue of how much I've had to practice, and I've met a ton of people who have gotten a lot more interested in travel through reading about places I've been. That makes me very, very happy. If I can inspire one person to go somewhere they've never been before, I'm thrilled.
What has been the most surprising destination you've been to? Meaning, you had a specific mindset about a certain destination but it was totally a differnet experience than you had imagined.
Antarctica was something I expected to be a frozen wasteland. It is, but it's also jaw-droppingly gorgeous and photogenic. I thought it would be cool to see, but ultimately boring after the novelty wore off. It wasn't.
If you had to decide which destination has been the most influential in your life, which destination would you chose?
India. Not because it was India, but because it was the first I'd traveled under my own steam, with my own cash, and no plans but the ones I wanted to make. Meeting other people doing the same thing really taught me that this trip around the world would be something I could actually do.
Joel, if you could travel with any celebrity for one week, who would you chose and why?
That's an interesting one! Anthony Bourdain, Bill Bryson, and Jimmy Carter would all be obvious picks for obvious travel related reasons, but if I had to pick one who you don't normally think of in relation to travel... well I'd want someone smart, resourceful, and funny, out for an adventure. I bet Justin Timberlake and I could get into some interesting kinds of mayhem if we hit the road!
What advice would you give to a newbie traveler?
Pack quick-dry clothing. Being able to do laundry in the sink and have it try soon after will make your life so much easier that it otherwise would be.
In 10 years, do you see yourself still traveling or slowing down?
No clue. I'd love to be on the road often, but I do have my friends and family back home. I guess I'll find out in ten years!
Thanks Joel for the interview ! Please visit Joel blog @ Jtrek !