Ever since I invited Will to become TravelPod’s Local Expert for Tasmania, he’s jumped right into the discussions in the TravelPod forums participating not only in his own forum, the Tasmania forum, but he’s also been helping people out with general travel advice and various tips from all points all over the globe. Let’s find out what makes this guy tick, shall we?
Why did you become a Local Expert?
I first started a blog with Travelpod back in December 2004, and since then have blogged trips through Central America, South East Asia and Europe. The site gave me everything I needed to keep a record of my travels, and once I found myself with a little extra time on my hands, I decided to give something back. And if there’s one place I know better than any other, it’s Tasmania. I was born there, spent my first 19 years there and have been living there on and off for the last 10 years. A lot of travelers to Australia leave the island off their itineraries, so I thought I’d promote it a little and try and encourage a few more people to think about visiting.
What are the best and worst things about living in Tasmania?
The best thing about living in Tasmania, or ‘Tassie’ as we call it, is without a doubt being surrounded by such amazing and pristine wilderness. Not only that, but my home city, Hobart, is one of the most picturesque cities in the world, with beaches and a mountain all within a short drive. Within two hours you can find yourself on top of a peak, in virgin rainforest, or on a secluded beach, far from anyone. There’s no better place to clear the mind. However, if there is something that’s not good about Tasmania, it’s the thing that made me get on a plane in the first place. The lack of opportunity. Furthermore, people are very set in their ways, and if you’re not settling down, raising a family, paying off a mortgage and supporting a local football or cricket team, you can feel a little alienated. Being separated from the mainland has left Tasmania with a strong ‘island culture’.
What are the top five things for travelers to do in Tasmania from your personal experiences?
Travelers could spend a month in Tasmania and still not see and do everything. So when I give a recommendation, I try to encompass all aspects of the state. For culture, a few days in the capital, Hobart, is essential. Salamanca market is Australia’s largest outdoor market and sells everything from fruit and veg through to arts and crafts and other assorted oddities. A trip up Mt Wellington is another must do for a great birds eye view of the city. For history, I recommend Port Arthur, the penal settlement ruins which serve as a harsh reminder of the dark days of Tasmania’s past. For virgin rainforest, I recommend a trip to Mt Field national park to see the largest trees in the southern hemisphere, some beautiful waterfalls and plenty of wildlife. For mountains, it’s hard to go past the world renowned Cradle Mountain, in the central highlands. And for beaches, you can’t beat Wineglass Bay in the stunning Freycinet National Park, or Lonely Planet’s top travel destination of 2008, The Bay of Fires, which is a little further to the north.
What are some of your best and worst travel experiences?
I’ve travelled to 37 countries, and the best experiences I had were spending a year in Cambodia, where I first taught English and gained a love of ancient civilisations by frequenting the amazing Angkor Wat. Other countries and regions which I have fond memories of are Cuba, Burma, and the Balkans. They all opened my eyes up to cultures and ways of life which I could never have experienced from books or TV.
Without a doubt, the worst travel experience is getting sick. I’ve had plenty of bugs, but getting typhoid in India in 2006 and being forced to cut short my trip and return home to recover was something I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
This is a tough one. Probably, I’d say having the guts to give up the day job I hated, which involved spending 8 hours a day at a desk, to change career and embark on a new journey. I’ve met a lot of people who are unhappy with what they do, and I never wanted to be that person.
What do you do with most of your time?
I moved to Suwon in South Korea in late August, so most of my time is spent either teaching English to adults at a private language school, reading up about Korea or getting out and visiting the country. Unfortunately, I do feel I spend a little too much time on the internet, but I justify it given I am always reading about something new or hatching some new travel plans. Whether I’m working, relaxing and reading or travelling, I’m not wasting time.
What’s a typical day like for you?
Whilst I do have a Monday to Friday job, my working hours are from 2pm until 9pm, which leaves me with my mornings free. So, there’s breakfast, followed by a short run and some exercises before a couple of hours spent on my notebook catching up on the latest news, updating my blog, or preparing lessons for my classes. Teaching English is a great job, as you spent the majority of your working hours meeting interesting people and doing very little except encouraging them to speak. Here in Korea students have studied grammar to death, so as a native speaker it’s my job simply to encourage conversation to improve vocab and fluency. Although I’ve had a six month break, I’ll be continuing my Master of Applied Linguistics in 2010, which will ensure my days remain chocka block full.
What’s your favourite part of the TravelPod forum?
Probably the general dicussion, travelpod community and Travelpod support forums. It’s a great place to throw ideas for improvement around, and unlike Facebook, these ideas are heard and very often implemented, meaning the site is continuously improving. The country specific sites are also a great place to get a little extra information from people who may have done the same thing before you.