[Editor’s Note]: I met Thomas in August 2014 at the Lutheran Guesthouse in Goroka, Papua New Guinea. Together we attended the weekend Sing-Sing festival and then visited a village in a rural area outside of Goroka. Thomas is one of the happiest people I have come across, and he just loves mingling with the local people. He really sets an example of how a great foreign traveller should embrace the locals and their culture. Happy travels Thomas, and thanks for showing people in far away places just how nice and warm hearted some foreign travellers are! You are truly an inspiration to your fellow travellers!
This interview was conducted via email in mid October 2014:
Globerovers (GR): How many countries have you been to?
Thomas Antenen: About 21 countries
GR: What are your top 5 most preferred countries for leisure travel?
TA: Indonesia, India, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand
GR: Which is your most preferred country for travel and why?
TA: My favorite country is Indonesia. Somehow it has the flair of India. Next to countless beaches, lots of adventure, non-touristy places, it’s cheap and full of friendly people.
GR: Where do you wish you were right now?
TA: On a big wave in Bali, Indonesia. “Bali Rocks” is the place to be. The atmosphere is soul relaxing. Eat, sleep, surf!
GR: Among those countries you have not yet visited, which ones are at the top of your “must do” list?
TA: Mexico, Guatemala, Japan, Congo and Austria. Yes, as a Swiss citizen i have never been to Austria, my neighbor country.
GR: If you could spend the rest of your life somewhere other than your current home country, which country would that be?
TA: I have to disappoint you, there’s no better place than Switzerland, sorry.
TA: The most incredible experiences are the spiritual ones. No doubt! It happened in August 2014. My brother and I celebrated my first year of travels with warm beer in the middle of the Bolivian jungle when i had the idea of asking the Almighty to ease our loneliness with some female beings. An impossible task, one might think, even for God. However, that same evening our campsite was taken over by 30 other tents and twice the inhabitants. This is how my brother met his wife.
GR: Based on your travel experiences, if you were to recommend the one most amazing destination for intrepid travellers, which place would that be, and why?
TA: Go visit the Rock Graves in Tana Toraja (southern Sulawesi in Indonesia.). When it’s dark, cloudy, raining with thunderbolt and lightning. Be alone!
GR: Which people by nationality or subgroup e.g. Greeks or the Tartars, would you say have been the most hospitable during your travels and why do you say so?
TA: Kenyans and Melanesians as i experienced so far, are the most hospitable people I know. When someone has nothing and still share it with a stranger. That’s real humanity. Honestly, how many Westerners would do that?
GR: How do you think traveling around the world for independent travelers has changed over the past 20 years?
TA: Wait, wait! I just turned “something over thirty”! So how it changed over the past 20 years, I can just guess. Did it get more comfortable, more pricey, more hectic. Atmospheric places and greens vanished while hotels and shopping malls sprouted. Most hidden places are caught in the net.
GR: Lets get a bit more personal. Do you have any “must take” items which you travel with that you think most travelers don’t have?
TA: I got a water heater with me which costs $2 which you can put in a cup to boil the water. Got my coffee always in bed. Found it in the Philippines and Indonesia. Take care as they can be dangerous!
TA: The usual ones. Hostelworld.com and Skyscanner.com. If i need specific information I use Google.
GR: Lets talk about food. Which one country that you visited has the best food in the world?
TA: I’m kind of blind when speaking of food. But I do remember eating good food in India and Thailand.
GR: Where was the best meal you have ever had during your travels?
TA: The vegetarian food served up at El Paisano in Baños, Ecuador, was orgasmic!
GR: And where was the worst food during your travels?
TA: One of those street sellers in Bombay, India, had dirty hands, I’m sure!
TA: The hour hostel in Manila, Philippines. No comment.
GR: Based on all your travel experiences, what is the best tip you can offer to new travellers?
TA: Go slow, make decisions fast.
TA: The lesson i learned is that God is always next to you.
GR: Do you have any strange, weird, or even bizarre travel rituals which you can share with us?
TA: I like to picture my messy rooms and the altering rucksack content on the bed.
GR: What is the main focus of your travels?
TA: When you travel, you are free and the life lessons are clear to see. Freedom and Spirituality.