Interview With Traveler – Keith Hancock of Saigon Districts
On this round of traveler interview, we managed to track down Keith Hancock, the UK writer who run the travel website called Saigon Districts. He is living inSaigon for nearly a year and have some interesting things to say now!
1. Where are you from and please introduce yourself?
My name is Keith Hancock, I am a singer / songwriter and writer, from Manchester in England.
2. How long have you been travelling and how many countries you visited?
I have been travelling for about 30 years, and have been to about 35 countries, I think, I was checking only a few weeks ago, I thought it was more. I must get my travelling head back on.
3. What is your reason for coming to Vietnam and how long have you currently been here?
As a writer, I can be based, pretty much where I choose. I made a decision to move to Southeast Asia 7 years ago and have been here ever since. I lived in Thailand and Cambodia and fancied a change, came to Saigon and love it.
4. What is your favourite destination within Vietnam and why?
Probably, Hoi An. I loved Halong Bay, but obviously that is not an ideal place to live. I could live in Hoi An and never move out. My work keeps me in Saigon for now, but if I could make Hoi An work, I would. It’s a beautiful town with great food, fabulous beaches and a real laid back feel to everything.
5. What was the craziest thing you’ve seen here, or the biggest culture shock for you when you arrived Vietnam for first time?
It’s a cliché, but it has to be the motor bikes. The sheer number of them is staggering. I never thought that I would get on one, but I own and ride my own all the time and love it.
6. What is the weirdest food you’ve seen in Vietnam and did you try it?
I am very open minded about food, I’ve eaten the insects in Thailand, fried frogs in Vietnam and many weird things in between. However, seeing a fertilised egg, dropped into a pan of simmering sour soup, was a bridge to far for me. It’s just a grotesque, bloody, gloopy mess with a beak. I simply couldn’t bring myself to try it.
7. Do you think Vietnam is a good long term location? Please give your reasons.
Yes, emphatically. Vietnam is incredibly interesting, extremely beautiful scenically and packed full of places of historical and cultural interest. Couple that with a cost of living that rivals anywhere else on earth and it makes for a pretty impressive list of criteria.
8. What is the weirdest experience you have had, whilst travelling?
Wow! Now this really is a tough question. Far too many to pick one out. Had a gun stuck in my neck by German secret service police at Munich Airport, a shocking twice-aborted landing at Wellington in New Zealand, got invited onto the flight deck of a 747 landing at night at Kai Tak Airport in Hong Kong in 1987, that was extremely special, Flying the Euro fighter simulator at RAF Bruggen in Germany, meeting amazing people all over the world, working with ladyboys on a professional level in Bangkok, sitting in a seaside restaurant in Thailand with my beautiful girlfriend and somehow managing to damage my spine so badly that I needed 5 and a half hours of spinal surgery, I could go on and on. It has been quite a ride!
9. If you could choose a famous celebrity, to travel with, from anyone in history, who would it be and why?
Probably Oscar Wilde, he had such a razor sharp wit, I’m sure there would never be a dull moment. It would be worth going through immigration with him, just to see if he really would say, “I have nothing to declare but my genius.” Of all living celebrities I would choose either Billy Connelly or Stephen Fry.
10. If you could choose one place to live forever, where would it be and why?
This is probably your hardest question. There are so many places that I haven’t been to yet. From my experiences so far, it would be with the right partner at a seaside destination either in Vietnam or Thailand. The more secluded beach areas of Phu Quoc in Vietnam or Phi Phi in Thailand, certainly whet the appetite.
Thank you Keith.
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