Meet A Traveler – Interview with DontStopLiving.Net
I’m Jonny Blair, a traveling Northern Irishman. I grew up in the town of Bangor in Northern Ireland in the 1980s. But I left there a decade ago to see the world and have now been to every continent and run a highly informative travel blog called Don’t Stop Living.
2. How did you meet your partner in crime? How long have you known each other? or What are the pros & cons of solo travel?
I have traveled the world for 10 years, sometimes alone, sometimes with friends, sometimes with girlfriends. I met my current girlfriend, Panny Yu (Travelling Hong Kong Girl) in Antarctica in 2010 on a cruise. The pros of traveling with her is I always someone to share the joys of travel with. The cons are having to adapt to her ways and culture. The pros always outweigh the cons. The advantage of solo travel is you end up meeting more people as you interact with strangers more.
3. What job did you kick to the curb in order to travel?
I’ve had over 20 different jobs in the last 15 years so I can’t really say I jacked in a job to see the world, as I work as I move. Though when I left Northern Ireland in 2003 I was working behind a butchery counter and writing a football fanzine. My passion for writing never left me…in the meantime I have worked in PR for Apple, in a bar on ferries, in farms, pubs and offices as well as doing some teaching. I don’t have a set career and always see myself as simply a traveler and a writer.
4. Explain your website name, where did it come from/how did you come up with it?
Good question! My website is called Don’t Stop Living. It’s my motto in life, but I must admit I stole it! It comes from Toronto, Canada where I visited first in 2001. The words were graffiti-ed onto a wall in the city and I jotted them down and noted them for future reference. The biggest irony of all is that I started my travel blog by coincidence also in Toronto in Canada in 2007 (on my second visit), yet I have spent less than 2 weeks of my life in that city! For these reasons, Toronto probably has a place in my heart somewhere. I didn’t have a digital camera in 2001 so I don’t have a photo of the graffiti of Don’t Stop Living which inspired my site’s name. I actually have a separate site called Travelling Northern Ireland flag which is just for my photos of my flag!
The fun ?’s
1. What’s the most under-estimated country & why?
I’ll pick 3 – Paraguay and Belarus because nobody else ever goes there. I loved the experiences I had there and they were bereft of tourists!
And thirdly China because the amount of travel you can do in China is endless and totally underestimated! China has over 1000 cities that you have probably never heard of, some of them over 5 million people live there. My recent China exploits have taken me to Kunming, Luoping, Gaobei, Yao Tang and Shuhe. I never get tired of visiting China and I’m off to Shenzhen and Hangzhou next!
2. What’s your biggest travel mishap?
Escaping a mugging in Venezuela. Getting ripped off in Venezuela. Getting strip searched at the Colombia to Venezuela border. Pretty much Venezuela. A horrible country to visit.
Aside from that in Laos I lost my wallet and camera in the Nam Song river while tubing and in Australia my broken laptop was nicked from our flat while I was out at work – whoever stole it got a laptop which didn’t work and was password protected!
3. What luxuries did you forgo in order to save for your travels?
I have owned 2 cars in my lifetime so they had to go. Other than that my CD collection turned into my iPod playlist and off I went with a backpack!! I was working 7 days a week in 2 jobs before I left so I can save well when I need to, it wasn’t a case of selling lots of stuff.
4. What country has the best $1usd menu? What can one expect to get for $1usd?
China. Without a doubt! In Jin Ji Cun last week I got 3 beers for $1. Or I got breakfast including a tea for the same price. Or a bus to a waterfall for 50 c. China wins hands down. Though Belarus and Swaziland were also extremely cheap places for me.
Quick & Dirty (1-2 word answers)
1. Favorite beach
I can’t just pick one!! Ballyholme Beach, Bangor, Northern Ireland is my favorite but a close runner up is the beach at Neko Harbor in Antarctica. Penguins and icebergs replace sand and surfers. Bliss. Kenting beach on the south tip of Taiwan is also a top spot for sunset.
2. #1 must have travel items
My Passport. My passport is always my number one. Wallets, cameras and clothes can be replaced. A passport (and especially the dated stamps on it) can never be replaced. Camera is a close second as some photos you can never take again.
3. Zip-off pants or no zip-off pants
I’ve never owned zip off pants! I carry two pairs of trousers with me – one tracksuit bottoms, one jeans.
4. Favorite beer
Guinness. Hands down winner! But my hat goes off to Sibebe in Swaziland, Beerlao in Laos, Bintang in Indonesia, Sokol in Slovenia and Kokanee of Canada. I’ll try any beer and it’s a big part of traveling to me!
5. Favorite ice-cream flavor
Funny you ask that, as I used to work as an ice cream salesman too. My favorite is caramel.
6. How many stamps in your passport?
I just had to replace my last passport as it had no empty pages. It had 86 stamps/visas on it. My latest one is getting full now too! I’ve had it less than a year but filled 15 pages. I also carry a spare passport as I have dual nationality so if you can get dual nationality, take it!
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