- In how many countries have you been?
Not too many – just the countries in Asia mostly including Japan, China, Macau, Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, Singapore, Nepal, India and Sri Lanka. I have not been to South Korea.
In Europe, I’ve been to Great Britain, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia.
Plane trip around the world
I’ve done a plane trip around the world before – a long time ago – going from Penang to Singapore, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Chicago, Alabama, back to Chicago, to Munich, to Manchester, to Hamburg, to Frankfurt, to Bangkok and back to Penang.
- Which country or countries did you like at most and why ?
I have not seen enough of every country to do justice to the appraisal. I still do not consider myself as having travelled enough. I like exotic destinations, so I think I am most fascinated by Laos, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. Possibly because I find the culture related to Theravada Buddhism to be very fascinating, with its temples and stupas, even though I am not a Buddhist myself.
- Tell us some favorite attractions from your travels?
Unlike many people who go places, simply to see and take photos, I am fascinated by culture and history. If I see an ancient temple or monument, I want to know who built it, in which century, and how this ruler relates to another ruler in a different kingdom, if I have visited that destination also. This is reflected in my website.
Every page has several cross-reference hyperlinks that connect whatever I am writing, to another page I have written about. I love information, especially when I have opportunity to understand how one thing relates to another.
Favourite attractions almost always has something to do with ancient temples, like those in Bagan, Myanmar, or in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, or Kathmandu, Nepal. When I look at these ancient buildings, I often seek relationships between one culture to another.
- What is your favorite transportation and why ?
Let me tell you honestly: I am an incredibly lazy traveller. And I had to be in any form of discomfort. I almost always travel with a lot of baggages, a heavy tripod, a laptop, one or two camera bodies, so I can’t describe myself as a backpacker. During the year when I travel internationally, my mode of transport is usually the coach bus, which is dedicated specially for my group and me.
That’s how my travel club AsiaExplorers was formed. Because I am reluctant to be exposed to any form of discomfort, I created a travel club where I can organize trips to exotic destinations, with a small group of like-minded travelers to join me. I would then all the necessary transports and arrangements made beforehand to take us to places according to my own specially tailored itinerary.
- Describe as a great landscape that you visited in your travels ?
I love the landscape in Laos, China and Nepal. I remember hiking in the Himalayas in Nepal, and it was a memorable experience to see snow-capped mountains, especially during dusk, when the mountains take on a golden hue.
- Did you ever feel any dangerous in your travels ?
I have had a number of irritating experiences, like in India, where almost every person who approaches you is a person who is not trustworthy, or in Vietnam, where the taxi swindled us, the cyclo swindled us, and my wife almost had her wallet stolen. But I’ve only been through a few personally dangerous moments. I remember the time, in Nepal, where we had to climb from one steep cliff to another, with the river far, far below us.
At that moment, my lens cap fell off, dropped to the ground a few feet from me. Should I try to reach for it, and risk tumbling to my death? Very gingerly I squatted down, reached for my lens cap. I could see small rocks fall from my feet and disappearing into the river below. I was safe, but my heart was pounding.
- Some of the most amazing beaches that you visited ?
I haven’t been to as many amazing beaches as I wanted to, as most of my travels are inland, far from the coast. The beautiful beaches I have been to are in Malaysia, Thailand and Bali, Indonesia. I have been to too many beaches where there are too many people, and I do not quite enjoy that. I like secluded beaches. I remember, many years ago, exploring the beaches on Pulau Redang. I was able to explore bay after bay, and have each to myself. I haven’t been back to Pulau Redang for many years. I am not sure whether I could still enjoy the seclusion of before.
- What are the things to do for you in Penang, your hometown ?
We live in an age where we do not have to travel to travel. We can travel right from the comfort of our chair. And that’s what I do. Many days, I do not even get out of the house. A single trip somewhere could produce so many photographs that it takes me a long time to put them up on my website. Most of my time is spent on research, finding out information about buildings, street, history, and so on.
Writing my website is a very time consuming process, but I find it absorbing, for I love seeking out information. The travel process begins from planning a trip right to the writing process, long after the trip is done, because even after I have come back, I might still make discoveries about the places I visit, which I do not have the information at the time I was there.
- What is the future of tourism in Southeast Asia ?
This is hard to say, as Southeast Asia is such a large area. The future of tourism in a well developed destination like Singapore might not be the same as that of a developing destination like Laos. I would expect that tourism infrastructure to continue to improve, especially in the less developed countries that rely heavily on tourism, but this might happen at the expense of their culture.
Travellers may have a feeling that they are being fed with cultural recreation, where ancient temples, dances and souvenirs are all spruced up for the purpose of earning the tourist dollar, but those seeking to find the “authentic Asia” will find that it is lost. This is also partly because most travellers come to see, not come to understand or appreciate, so local culture will more and more be put on show across Southeast Asia.
Timothy Tye’s websites with full of information about Malaysia can be found at