A Long Time Between Bites
It’s been a long while since I got to enjoy a bite with a fellow travel blogger. My last opportunity to sit down over a meal with a travel fanatic was the double team effort with Gerard and Kieu from the fantastic GQ Trippin’. You can read all about that here.
This one actually took place some time ago now but Tony, who may just be the single busiest man in the universe, didn’t get a chance to send back his answers between his marathon running, world traveling, and numerous other commitments. Seriously, I have never encountered a man with as much energy and drive as Tony. He’d have the #1 website in the world if he focused solely on It’s Good Overseas.
For those who don’t know Tony’s blog, you’ll be hard pressed to find a guy who has been to as many unique locations and had as many unique experiences. I read a hell of a lot of blogs (the count is at over 300 now) and very few of them have covered the broad, seemingly random selection of countries that Tony has. The guy has attended cock fights in Timor Leste and had adventures throughout the Middle East and Central Asia.
Hell, as I type this up – he and a few other lucky souls are trekking across Asia and Europe on the Trans-Siberian Railway.
Tony actually has the honor (?) of being the first travel blogger I met. I had moved to Sydney with my then girlfriend a few weeks earlier and learned that an old friend from my university days lived not so far away. When she invited us to her Willie Wonka themed birthday party, we jumped at the opportunity to escape the humdrum of watching Glee ad nauseum in our apartment.
Or it could have been Buffy…
It was at this party that my old friend introduced me to her new beau, who just happened to be the globe-trotting marathon enthusiast who I have had many a ‘fancy’ McDonalds lunch with over the last year. Two is ‘many’, right?
With our mutual interests in travel and running (although mine never extended quite so far as Tony’s) it seemed natural that we’d hook up for Bite with a Blogger. Of Sydney’s fantastic travel blogging scene, Tony is easily the one I keep in closest contact with and it was a pleasure to share a bite with him (and his lovely, non-blogging girlfriend) before I left Sydney.
Tony’s a far more experienced Sydneysider than I, so I let him nominate the venue and he certainly didn’t disappoint with his suggestion that we hit up the very trendy Norfolk Hotel in Sydney’s Surry Hills district.
There’s no shortage of fantastic pubs and eateries in Surry Hills, but the Norfolk’s offering of $3 soft shell tacos gave me a food boner and a wallet boner simultaneously. The Norfolk has food and drink promos every night of the week and if the crowd of hipsters on this particular Tuesday was any indication, the place does brisk business.
With a selection of tacos (I sampled the vegetarian, fish, and pork and loved all three) and an ice cold Dr. Pepper on hand, it was time to get down to brass tacks.
So, how long have you been travel blogging?
Since 2006. Six years or so.
And what made you start a travel blog?
I’d been to quite a few countries before 2006 but it was my trip to Pakistan that kicked things off. A mate of mine bugged me about sending him updates so I decided it’d be better to start a blog and tell the world.
Why did you choose the “It’s Good Overseas” name?
Choosing a good name for a blog isn’t easy. I thought about it for a while and decided since in my opinion it is good overseas, why not use that thought as the name for my blog. The URL was kind of long but I managed to get around that easily.
Where have your travels taken you so far?
I’ve been to circa 50 countries so far across all continents except Antarctica. In the last few years I’ve travelled to Timor-Leste, the UAE, Myanmar, Syria and Lebanon.
What’s been your favorite travel experience so far?
It has to be the ‘wow’ moment I had in Yemen after an unplanned plane stop in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. I arrived bleary-eyed in Sana’a at sunrise and caught a ride into the old city. The way the beauty of Sana’a’s old city unravels itself as you drive in from the airport is something else. I arrived at the hotel, headed straight for the rooftop and said to myself, “wow”. The architecture leaves you in awe.
What about the worst?
This has only happened once *touch wood*. In New Delhi a few years ago, I caught an auto rickshaw out to the Sulabh International Museum of Toilets – strangely, a real highlight of the city.
Stupidly, I allowed a ‘mate’ of the auto rickshaw driver to navigate us there and back. On the way, back he got aggressive and demanded money from me.
I hopped out when they tried to take me down a dark alley but the guy went after me. Thankfully, a local shopkeeper told the guy to leave me alone and he relented. They then rode off shouting they’ll report me to the police. Slightly disconcerting.
Where are you headed next?
I’m off for a Trans-Siberian adventure this month taking in China, Mongolia and Russia. On the way back, I’m dropping by the Cayman Islands at the start of hurricane season. Hopefully the winds don’t get up early this year.
I plan on sticking around here (in Australia) for a while. I’ll do some small trips before planning something bigger. I have my eyes set on the Northern Territory, the West Coast and Tassie.
What’s the scariest/most exciting thing you’ve done while traveling?
These feelings came crashing together between the dusty Benin border and half way across Togo to the town of Notsé. The only way from the empty border post to the next town was on the back of a motorbike. Travelling at blistering 70kph speeds through clouds of dust on bumpy roads, I thought this could be game over at any time. Instead, it was thrilling and I lived to tell the tale.
Had any travel romances? Share a story!
Numerous, but here’s one. I was in Edinburgh for one night a few years ago. I arrived at a hostel, dropped my bag on the top bunk, a German girl walked in and the rest is history. Funny how sometimes you hit it off right away, even without alcohol.
You can read all about Tony’s globe-trotting adventures on It’s Good Overseas. He’s currently crossing the world courtesy of the Trans-Siberian railway, so there should be no shortage of weird and wonderful stories over the coming weeks.
His other blog, focused on running, is also worth a look. Visit The Tone Trains to see just how insane this man is about his running.