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Johnny Ward: “I Decided to Revolt against my Finance Degree and See the World while I’m Young”

18 July 2012 interview 7 comments

Johnny in Hong Kong.jpg

I just learnt that Johnny Ward passed through Romania (even worse, through my backyard, in Bucharest) and did not share any beer with me… So, as a revenge, I had to ask him a few questions… regarding himself, his blog and his travels. Hi Johnny… first of all, just tell me who is Johnny Ward ?

Hey Cezar, thanks for interviewing me mate. Ok cool, so im a twenty-something Irish guy who decided to revolt against my finance degree, to redesign my lifestyle and to see the world while I’m young. I make money online which allows me to travel constantly, and when I’m taking a  break from the open road, I’m based in Bangkok, Thailand. That’s it in a nutshell!

Ha… so you got a finance degree. Why you did not want to become a toxic banker, an extra nail in the Irish budget coffin ?

Actually, when I graduated in 2006 my plan was to take 18 months out, teach English in Asia and then go back to the ‘real world’ of finance, move to London, work in a bank. After about 2 weeks in Asia I knew I was never going back, there’s so much more to life than grinding it out in an office, answering to some middle manager who you hate! I’ve never looked back since.

So, you as a finance expert, how do you finance yourself – even if travelling on a shoestring, it costs something.

I have a business in Bangkok, Teach dot Travel (website getting redesigned) which trains people to become English teachers, we train them in Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Phuket.  Most most of my income comes from the travel websites I own, with OneStep4Ward, being my flagship site.

Which is the golden recipe to make money from a travel blog ?

Without doubt it’s traffic. If you can generate traffic you can generate revenue – simple as that :)

For whom have you advertised ?

Wow, so many. Big companies like easyjet, hostelbookers, Irish tourism board, the list is endless!

So, let’s pass to the travel. Reading your blog, I start to believe you really like Thailand. Why ?

It’s my spiritual home mate. I love Ireland and I’m grateful for growing up there, but if I ever get homesick, it’s for Thailand, not Ireland. I love the culture, the climate, the weather, the attitude of the people, the cost everything. It’s really awesome, and there’s so much to see and do. I don’t have enough words to really represent my love for the place!

Tell me the best and worst experiences in Thailand.

Best? Hmmmm, I guess teaching English in Chiang Mai would be one of my best, because it was the event that set me off on the awesome path I’m on now. Without it I wouldn’t be working for myself, I wouldn’t be free to travel, my whole life would be different.

The worst? Having to bribe the police every time I get stopped for driving without a helmet!!

Do you like Khao San Road ? How would you describe the area for a guy who has never been to Asia, but wants to go.

KSR is what it is. When I was new to Thailand I flocked there, and I loved it. I still go there when friends visit so of course it’s great, however it’s not a fair reflection on true Thailand, in fact it’s almost not Thailand at all! It’s great to buy a new pair of fake flipflops and sun glasses, drink some buckets and party until sunrise with other backpackers,  but you don’t get any insight to the country whatsoever. For a newbie, I’d say go to KSR, party hard, eat street food, then after a day or 2 pack up and leave, find the ‘real’ Thailand and you’ll be even more impressed.

What about Patpong or Nana Entertainent Plaza ? Any insider tips ?

Afraid not Cezar, that’s not my scene at all buddy. Actually I’m hugely averse to sex tourist exploiting their stronger currencies in a poorer country. Thailand is 99% perfect, the 1% blight? Sex tourism. If you really need an inside tip.. avoid them like the plague.

You were also a Thai TV celebrity. Just tell us the story how you got involved and about the story of the program shooting.

Haha, I dunno about celebrity! I’ve been on Thai TV a few times as an extra but I got an opportunity to film a Thai travel show in Taiwan, I was flown there, recorded for a month. I presented in English while my co-presenter presented in Thai. He found my website, then contacted me and asked me to copresent with him, simple as that. 3 weeks later I was in Taipei getting a mini photo shoot done in a subway!

Currently, you are in South-Eastern Europe… You even passed through Romania and avoided me. Shame on you. I think you deserved to be arrested. Not in Romania, here the cops are mild, but in Ukraine !

Sorry about that mate!! Next time I promise. Yeah, I got arrested twice in Ukraine actually, long story but both involved corruption and alcohol, but all’s well that ends well so no stress!

So, forget about Ukraine… How was Romania ? Where have you been ? What did you like and what you did not.

Romania was so beautiful, I really feel in love with the place. Bucharest’s old town was breathtaking, I had no idea it would be so nice. Then Brasov was something else, I road tripped around Transylvania too, the whole thing was immense. Exceeded my expectations massively.

Tell me a country which is not so much in the travelers radar, but it deserves. What can you do there, experience, eat or see ?

Ethiopia – absolutely amazing. They have these churches built into the ground at Lalibela, they should be a wonder of the world to be honest, I’ve never seen anything like it. Also, in Harar you can feed wild hyenas in the city, pretty scary stuff. That combined with the friendliness of the people and the delicious food, it’s a real gem.

You traveled almost 100 countries. Where are the nicest girls ?

Good question mate! I’m a sucker for Asian girls, my girlfriend is Thai and for me, Thai women are the sexiest (with my gf as number 1!). After that I’d say Japan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Lebanon and Somalia. I haven’t been to South America yet but I hear good things there too!

Which was your most luxurious travel experience ?

That’s actually pretty recent. I got a free press trip to Santorini, Greece to spend 4 nights at a 5* boutique hotel. The room was normally $500 per night and I stayed for free, hot tubs, breakfast overlooking the sea, completely unreal, and a huge luxury.

And the roughest ?

I have too many to list, but sleeping on a rat’s nest in Khartoum, Sudan, sleeping on a cardboard box in Djibouti, in a locust infested room in Agra, India, 49 hours on a bus. I could go on and on, the roughest experiences always turn out to be the best stories actually!

So, you are now in South East Europe… Where have you been recently and where do you head from here ?

I’m traveling quite fast at the moment, which I don’t normally do. I’m in Montenegro right now, off to Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Hungary and then from Hungary I’m taking a detour to Israel and Palestine, then fly back to Eastern Europe to continue my attempt to visit every country in mainland Europe before Christmas.

Johnny, good luck, have fantastic experiences and hope you will not avoid me again :)

Johnny and a hyena.jpg

Kissing a hyena in Harar, Ethiopia

in jordan with the Bedouin.jpg

In Jordan, with the bedouins

Johnny in Burma with kids.jpg

With kids in Myanmar

Johnny on Mt Kinabalu.jpg

Climbing Mt. Kinabalu, in the Malaysian Borneo

Johnny in Hong Kong.jpg

The compulsory pic of Hong Kong

Johnny at Macau bungee.jpg

And the not-so-compulsory bungee in Macao

Până acum există "7 comentarii" la acest articol:

  1. Larissa says:

    What do you mean “forget about Ukraine”, Cezar? 😉 Cool interview, need to dig much deeper into this dude’s blog than I already have, seems we’ve got some goals and experiences with Ukrainian police in common.

  2. Monica Suma says:

    Hmmm, feeding hyenas? I should try that! :)

    • Imperator says:

      I was pretty close to do it, as well, but I did not make it so far as Harar in Ethiopia. Next time, together with Danakil and Somaliland :)

  3. Hm Johnny does not go to Khao San Road that much haha, no comments lazy ass!

  4. johnny says:

    alex! oi – u mad!? 😛

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