Travelling to beat the clock: Raymond Walsh
Having been confined to a cubicle for too long, Raymond Walsh of Man on the Lam travel blog decided to break free of the telephone cord shackles. He traded in his uniform of grey for a camera, sunscreen, and a serious interest in the 'off-beat'!
This fall at Canada Writes we have been featuring entertaining, informative, and well-written Canadian blogs. For the next instalment, we caught up with Raymond somewhere between Rosala, Finland, St.John's, Newfoundland and Las Vagas, Nevada.
Your blog is called Man on the Lam, which means “on the run”. What are you running from?
Well, I’m not running from the law (a fact my family is quite proud of) so let’s rule that one out. Partly, it’s running away from cubicle life. I had it good at my old corporate training job, but good’s not great now is it? I just felt that there had to more to life than PowerPoints and pie charts. Mostly though, I guess I just felt I was running out of time. There’s a great big fat wonderful world out there and, as I got older, I realized I was never going to see it with three weeks vacation a year.
Why did you start your blog?
Why does anyone start anything? Because of the voices of course! I had this nagging feeling for a while that I should be doing something a little bit more creative. It started as a New Year’s resolution to get back into writing, and it’s since morphed into a full-time gig. I've been very fortunate so far.
You write in a conversational tone, frequently causing readers to LOL (along withthe zebras, wildebeest, and the Biebs). How did you find your writing voice?
I struggled with that in the beginning for sure. I just found that if I thought too much about it, or tried to emulate someone else’s style, my writing sounded stiff and boring. It was garbage. So I gravitated towards conversational—like I was letting folks in on a secret or something. It just sounded more like me.
What inspired your "5 Quirky Things " and "Offbeat" series? What is the quirkiest thing you have done?
I'm naturally drawn to odd and offbeat activities, so finding things that were unique in each place I visited turned into a bit of quest. After a while I started to find so many that I turned it into a list series.
The quirkiest thing I've done has probably been rat hunting in Indonesia. I went with local hunters who use dogs to track jungle rats. The tour guide said I was the first non-Indonesian to ever take the tour. There’s an optional “rat tasting” at the end when they show you how to cook it. And yes, I did try it. It’s crunchy, spicy, and no, it’s not at all like chicken. And not something I need to try again either.
You can encounter some shocking things through travel—scary looking edibles, injuries, signs. How do you choose what to include on your blog?
I like to get a reaction. Travel is not always pretty, but oftentimes that’s what makes it interesting. I try to include things that folks haven’t seen before, or if it’s an attraction that many are already familiar with, then I’ll try to present it in a different light. That’s why there are posts on questionable menu items like dog in Vietnam and bat in Indonesia right up there with posts on LEGOLAND® and
McDonald’s in Florida.
How do you travel differently for pleasure and for work?
Work trips tend to be more fast-paced, with heaps of activities jammed into a shorter time frame. While that’s good from time-to-time, I prefer pleasure trips where I can take my sweet time and linger a bit. It doesn't change how or what I write, but with work trips I sometimes feel I have to be hyper-observant to really find the oddities.
You are constantly on the go. You will have covered four cities in three different
countries throughout the month of October. What keeps you moving?
There’ll be plenty of time to rest when I’m on life support. (I mean, there’s a machine that will even breathe FOR you right?) In the meantime I’ll stick with my motto, “Cover the earth before it covers you.”
Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring travel writers?
Don’t try to mimic anyone else. Everyone has his or her own voice—it may take some time to find it, but it’s definitely there. And once you find it, run like hell with it.
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