10 Questions For (17): Gary Arndt of Everything Everywhere

Happy to present another male in this series: Gary Arndt, a man who is lucky to combine three passions: Real Globe-trotting, Blogging and Photographing:

Gary Arndt at the Sydney Bridge Walk

1) Who Are you?

My name is Gary Arndt. In March 2007, I sold my house, put my possessions in storage and set out to travel around the world. Since then, I’ve visited 43 countries and territories and almost 50 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Prior to this I had a life as an entrepreneur. I started an internet consulting firm which did early web application and database development back in 1994, and which I later sold in 1998. Since then I’ve been involved with several startups and went back to school to study geology in 2005. My previous degrees were in Mathematics, Economics and Political Science.

2) What do you like about what you do?

What is there to not like about traveling around the world? 🙂 I’ve been able to go to places, see and experience things, which most people will never get to do in their lives. I get email from people almost every week who write to tell me how lucky I am and how I’m doing what they would love to one day do.

Clown Fish Great Barrier Reef by Gary Arndt

I also like technology and blogging. Being able to merge both of the things you love is great. Blogging actually gives me a chance to slow down so I’m not always rushing to the next location. I enjoy the combination of having something to work on and being able to travel at the same time. It really is the best of both worlds.

3) What don’t you like about what you do?

There is very little consistency in what I do. You never get to know people for more than a day or two. I haven’t seen my friends or my family in a year an a half. I sometimes go long stretches without being able to wash my clothes. Dealing with my bank from overseas is a challenge to say the least. Sometimes working on the blog or my photography seems like a pain, but in the end it is worth it.

Overall pluses outweigh the negatives and I have no regrets.

4) Please tell us all about your blog and your aims with it.

My travel blog, Everything-Everywhere, is simply the journal of my travels. Unlike many travelogues, it isn’t a diary of my daily goings on. I like to talk about history and oddities I find in the places I visit. I am also a photographer and feature my photography on my site. I have a daily photo where I feature one of the pictures I’ve taken on my trip. It isn’t a travel blog in the sense that many travel blogs are. I don’t review hotels, I don’t talk about airlines or the travel industry. I’m more interested in people, places and things I experience.

My aim for the site is really simple: to let people virtually travel along with me. Unlike reading National Geographic or watching the Discovery Channel, I’m a real person, really traveling, in real time. I talk to my readers, often at length. Most people will never be able to do the type of traveling which I’m doing. I let people travel vicariously, if only a little bit, through me. Many of the places I’ve visited have been at the suggestion of my readers and on a few occasions, I’ve been able to meet up with readers and other bloggers if our paths cross.

5) Your top 5 destination experiences you’ve had to date and why?

1) Swimming with jellyfish in Palau. The jellyfish lake in Palau is the only place in the world where you can swim with tens of thousands of harmless jellyfish. The experience is totally surreal.

2) Watching the sunset on Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong. If you are on the Kowloon side of the harbor at sunset, you can experience the light show of the city. While this is happening you have the ferries crossing the harbor, and all the bustle and craziness which is Hong Kong. There is even a statue of Bruce Lee! You can’t beat that.

3) Visiting Milford Sound, New Zealand. Milford Sound is one of the most underrated natural attractions on Earth. When I was there it had just finished 24 hours of raining. and the walls of the sound had hundreds of waterfalls, some of which were very large.

4) Rennell, Solomon Islands. A very out of the way island in a very out of the way country. I even went to a very out of the way part of the island. I’ve never felt more remote than I have on Rennell. I had the pleasure of going to a beach which probably hadn’t seen a human being in several years.

5) Easter Island. One of those destinations where everyone dreams of going, but few actually make the trip. Being alone with toppled Maoi with a rough Pacific Ocean breeze blowing at me is something I’ll always remember.

Easter Island by Gary Arndt

6) Your top 3 accommodations you’ve ever stayed to date and why?

You will notice a common theme in my choices. All are on island countries and all are very affordable. The best places are not measured by the thread count of the sheets.

1) The Village Inn, Pohnpei, Micronesia. Owned by expat Americans who have lived on Pohnpei for 30 years, the Village Inn is an affordable resort overlooking the Pohnpei lagoon. All the rooms are bungalows and where I stayed had a water bed. Micronesia has no large resorts and is a real undiscovered travel destination. Fresh tropical fruit is available every day as well as locally caught fish. If I ever get married, I’d want to come here for my honeymoon. When people ask me where they should visit, my first answer is always “Pohnpei”.

2) Anywhere in the Yawasawa Islands, Fiji. The Yawasawa Islands in Fiji are a big magnet for backpackers. The resorts on the islands are all owned by locals or villages. You can experience locally grown tarro and cassava and seafood every day. You can sleep in a grass bungalow just a few meters from the sea. Lodging and three meals will run you no more than $20/day. The people who run the resorts are usually the ones who benefit from the money it brings in. As such, the service is usually very good. Most places will be singing songs to you when you get off the boat.

3) Walindi Dive Resort, Kimbe, Papua New Guinea. Also run by expats, the Walindi Dive Resort is the premier dive resort on Kimbe Bay on the island of New Britian in Papua New Guinea. Kimbe Bay has the largest diversity of coral species in the world, as well as having been the site of major battles in WWII. Walindi offers great diving, wonderful food, and unique mix of people. The food was great and the British expats I’d talk to over drinks at night had some of the best stories I’ve heard on my trip.

7) Your top 5 most memorable food experiences to date and why?

1) Poisson Cru, Tahiti. Poisson cru is the national dish of French Polynesia. It consists of raw tuna marinaded in coconut mil and served cold with cucumber. It is the one dish I have every intention of making when I return to the US. In the capital of Papeete, there are food truck called roulettes which will congregate near the harbor at night creating a makeshift food court. Many of the vendors will be selling it there. This is something I’d eat every day if I could. (It is known as Moutu Iki in the Cook Islands)

2) Tskuiji Fish Market, Tokyo, Japan. As an experience, the fish market should be on anyone’s list of things to see if you are in Tokyo. You have to get up very early to really experience it, but it is well worth it. It is organized chaos at its finest. You can see every type of seafood from every corner of the Earth here. There is also a sushi restaurant on site as well as several others close by. Get there very early if you wish to eat at the sushi restaurant because the line goes around the block (yes, sushi for breakfast).

3) Eating samgyopsal in South Korea. I never at much Korean food prior to my trip. I met a girl on the ferry from Fukuoka, Japan to Busan, South Korea. She ended up taking me to a Korean BBQ where I got to experience samgyopsal, soju, and everything Korea. I’ve since developed an affinity for the food.

4) Fen Jeou, Taiwan. I met a woman named Rubyko who was my guide for a day in Taipei. It was national day and we went to restaurant which specialized in Chinese dumplings and later went to the town of Fen Jeou, where we went through the market sampling foods from vendors. I had a desert soup, which was very surreal. It had red beans and sweet potatoes in it, as if it were a normal soup, but was as sweet and sugary as any desert.

5) Asado, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Best meat I’ve ever tasted in my life. Period. I was in Argentina a few years ago doing research and we were temped just to get back to Buenos Aires to gorge ourselves on beef. Not only is it amazing, but it is also cheap. I also developed an affinity for Malbec wine in Argentina. I’ve been tempted in the past to fly to Buenos Aires just to have asado.

8) Your 3 worst destination/ accommodation /food experiences to date and why?

1) Eating insects in Thailand. I got very ill after eating some grasshoppers from a street vendor. I don’t think the problem was with the grasshoppers per se, but with the fact that they were probably cooked a day before I ate them. Lesson: if you buy from a street vendor, make sure it is cooked before your eyes.

2) Traveling to Preah Vihear Temple, Cambodia. I documented my trip there on my site, but it was 14 hours spent on the back of a motorbike over very rough roads. The destination was a war zone, with solders getting killed the day I was there. I was in so much pain from the trip when I got back, I could barely sit.

Kiribati: Forbidden Country for Gary

3) Getting denied entry to Kiribati. After going through great lengths to get a visa to Kiribati and booking an expensive ticket to fly there, I was denied entry into the country because the ink from the pen used on my visa stamp bled off. I ended up in five different countries in 30 hours spread across the Pacific Ocean: Solomon Islands, Nauru, Kiribati, Fiji, and Hawaii.

4) Jollibees in Manila, Philippines. Jollibees is a fast food chain in the Philippines. I went there to try it out and ate a hamburger. It was the worst hamburger I’ve ever had. It tasted as if it were boiled. I then noticed that everyone else in the restaurant was eating spaghetti or chicken. They probably knew something I didn’t.

9) Can you offer the readers 3 travel/ food / accomodation / things to do tips about the city you are currently living in?

Gary via Twitter in Heaven (Mui Ne)

I’m currently writing this on a bus between Saigon and Mui Ne, Vietnam, so I’m not really living anywhere. Prior to my trip I lived in Minneapolis and I can give you a few tips for those visiting the Twin Cities:

1) Arts. Per capita, I’d say the Twin Cities has the best arts scene in the United States. The Minneapolis Institute of Art is one of the best museums in the country. As far as its collection, i’d say it is better than the Kimble in Fort Worth or even the Getty in LA. (both of which I visited at the start of my trip) The collection of Asian art is especially good. I think many people would be surprised to see a museum of its calibre in a city its size. The Walker Art Museum is close by and is Minneapolis’s answer to the MOMA. Minneapolis also has an exceptional theater in the Guthrie and a superb orchestra.

2) Go walk around the lakes. Lake Harriet, Lake Calhoun and the Lake of the Isles are the major lakes within Minneapolis. There are ample walking paths and if you are there in the summer, you can rent boats.

3) The Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul is the best in the country. Held at the end of August through Labor Day each year, it has a great selection of food (mostly fried and on a stick), farm implements and music. Visiting the fair was an annual ritual for me and I’d often go several times each year.

10) Any Question(s) you’d expected me to ask that you would like to answer?

I am often asked the following questions: do you get lonely, how much did it cost, what is your favorite country and when are you coming back home? My answers are, sometimes, less than you think, can’t pick just one, and April 2009 for a few months.

My comments:
Thank you very much Gary. This is an amazing story.You have a very inspiring blog and a beautiful collection of photos uploaded at Flickr (I took the liberty choosing different ones than you indicated). This is a real Travelogue. I take it that you’ve become heavenly addicted to it:-)

Last edited by Happy Hotelier on Saturday, October 17, 2009 at 17:23

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