In 2010 when I came back from my first solo backpacing trip, I started missing Thailand like crazy. I missed laying around in the pristine beaches, tasting good food, having cheap beer and talking to the friendly people.
And then, I came across a podcast called Bangkok Podcast, hosted by two friendly, funny, witty, intelligent, down to earth guys, Tony and Greg. As I started listening to the podcast, I realised that Bangkok was much more than Go Go Bars and cheap beer. It is a real city with real city issues. I realised that life in Thailand, Bangkok more specifically, as great as it is, can be just as stressful and busy as our lives back home. Apart from that, the show also hosted a lot of guests that helped me (and people like me) understand the country and its culture better. The guests included ambassadors, ministers, writers, film makers, travelers, and many more super interesting people.
All in all, it was a fantastic show, one that I find myself listening to again and again whenever I miss Thailand.
Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with one of the hosts, Greg Jorgensen, who also happens to be my favourite blogger (gregtodiffer.com), and talk to him about the show and more.
Have a look:
- L to R: Greg, Tony, and Ron Hoffmann, Canadian Ambassador to Thailand
1. You have been in Thailand for many years now. Why did you choose Thailand? And, What is it like living in Thailand, a place where people come to holiday?
I came to Thailand with a friend for a 4-month vacation. We weren’t sure what would happen at the end of 4 months, but we had a friend here and chose Thailand just because it seemed like an easy place to travel in (as compared to Burma or Vietnam, for instance). He left after 12 days but I stayed, ran out of money and got a job. That was in 2001. I love living here – it’s a very ‘lifestyle’ oriented country; that is, the lifestyle you can lead can be as varied, interesting, adventurous or as traditional as you want it to be. There are opportunities here for expats that don’t exist back home, where you’re sort of expected to fall into line. I guess it’s the same in many countries, but being an ‘outsider’ here has its advantages.
2. How hard was it to put together The Bangkok Podcast? And how did you guys decide who to invite on the show?
Not hard at all. I met Tony at a party and we both wanted to do a podcast, so we decided to do it together. We just wanted people on the show who were interesting and represented a good cross-section of life in Bangkok. Thankfully, there are a lot of interesting people here.
3. Out of all the episodes of The Bangkok Podcast, which one was your favourite?
Interesting question, I’ve never thought about it before. The Halloween episode we did where we invited fans to join us in the studio and eat bugs was fun. The interviews we did with Voranai Vanijaka were good too, as was the interview with Jerry Hopkins, a legendary rock journalist who lives in Thailand.
4. What is the one advise or insider information that you will give to any first time traveller to Thailand that he/she can’t find in any of the travel websites or guidebooks?
I think so much has been written about Thailand it’d be hard to find some bit of advice that isn’t out there yet. I’m still amazed at the number of people who get taken in by scams. Rule is, if anyone – anyone – starts a conversation with you on the street, they’re most likely trying to hook you into a scam. If you’re going to be using the BTS/MRT, buy a stored value card – nothing sucks more than having to queue at rush hour for change, so you can queue to buy a ticket, so you can queue to get through the gate. The transit system here is in dire need of upgrades and rush hours, especially during the rainy season, are a total disaster.
5. You mentioned in an episode of The Bangkok Podcast once that Agra was the worst place that you have ever travelled to. I have been there myself, and kind of know what you mean. But still, what were the things that bothered you the most about Agra and India? What are the things that you liked about India, if any?
India was amazing and awful, terrible and superb. It was like a whole other planet and I hope to go back one day. There was just so much of everything – people, color, food, shit, garbage, flowers, beauty, death, poverty, traffic, dust, noise, music…it was like plugging your senses into an electric socket. What I didn’t like was the desperation and poverty. In western countries when someone “lives on the street” they usually mean they sleep in a cardboard box and get food from a shelter sometimes, and have a support network. In India it means they literally have to fight to keep a piece of pavement that they live, sleep and raise children on, and are only a few meals away from starving to death. I always say if every spoiled, dumbass high school student from a rich western country lived in India for a year, they’d never complain about anything ever again. Absolutely a place everyone should visit, if only to see the vast variety our civilization is capable of.