The following is an interview with Stray Asia Tour leader “Nate” by power blogger Cindy Fan.
Meet the Stray Crew
Meet Nate, Stray Asia tour leader, tatted herbivore, all-around cool dude.
Tour Leader – Nathaniel
Home, before Straying: Australia
Stray nickname: The first local Lao guide called me “ga ti” which means sensitive – actually, it means coconut milk but it’s used to call someone sensitive – and he said it’s because of my dietary requirements, so they were giving me a hard time. No one else has liked that one because I think it was a bit more offensive than he led me to believe.
So the nickname is still up for debate?
(laughs) Yeah, I suppose so.
So you’re a vegetarian. Do you find it difficult to be a vegetarian in South East Asia?
Yeah, more so in South East Asia than, say, in other regions in the world, mainly because it’s not very common and there’s a lot of fish sauce used and there are not as many beans used in foods. I love Indian food – that’s my favourite, so pretty much if I see an Indian restaurant I eat there because that’s where I know I can find something good.
But no, I don’t find it too hard. People usually take care of me, even if they give me funny nicknames.
I played drums in a touring band, worked for the United Nations, worked for the government in Australia for the railways, I worked at the biggest yoga studio in Vancouver – we had Sting practice there once! – I’ve written for music, arts and entertainment magazines … lots of things.
You’re a yogi?
Yeah, I did my teacher training this year.
I like to travel, I like to write and I like yoga and meditation … I don’t really ever think too heavily about what I am, it’s more of what I’m doing that’s of interest to me. So I don’t know what I’ll be but I’ll keep doing the things I love because they make me happy.
What’s your favourite place on the Stray trip?
Chiang Mai, for Thailand, and then in Laos, I would say Luang Prabang, because there is so much going on. But if I want somewhere that’s nice and quiet, a bit more chilled out, I like Kong Lor and Don Det – I love all of the spots. Everywhere is good.
Any tips for Khao San Road?
If you don’t get to a point where you think that you’re too good for Khao San Road like a lot of people who travel do – I hear people say, “Oh no, that place, too many foreigners there” – if you don’t get to that point then you’ll always enjoy yourself there because there are so many different cultures, so many people from all over the world who have converged upon this one street in Bangkok, there to begin or end or in the middle of their journey in Asia, for so many different reasons, looking for so many different things, full of ambition – just so high on life. If you don’t become too good at all of that, then you’ll always have a good time there. You’ll always meet great people, you’ll always find new things, new places to hang out, new stories to give you a spark of inspiration to try something new. It’s a very good place.
What inspires you to get a new tattoo?
I haven’t had any new ones for about three years because I’ve been spending my money on travelling but I have ideas about what I want next. And for the ones that are more recent which I’ve thought more about, usually, I think a tattoo represents a time and a place in your life and a particular mindset. It’s like a scar or a stamp in time, whatever inspires or influences me to get a new one is what is relevant in my life at the time.