This week’s NileGuide 5 interview is with Matt Kepnes of Nomadic Matt. A self described twenty-something vagabond, Matt has been on the road regularly since 2005 and calls “everywhere” home. Keep tabs on Matt’s travels on twitter @NomadicMatt.
1. What’s the most underrated destination you’ve been to?
I love Phnom Penh. Most people think it’s this boring capital and don’t spend long there, but I found myself there for a few weeks and loved it. The people are great, and there’s a lot going on which makes it pretty interesting. Cambodia has this lawless, wild west feel to it- not in an unsafe way but just in a “anything can happen” way. It made for interesting experiences. I think if you really spend extended time there, the city grows on you.
2. How do you kill time when you’re stuck on a bus or plane?
I listen to a lot of music on my ipod. I also tend to write a lot. If I’m on a bus, I’ll usually take out my notebook and draft some blog posts, read a book, or just relax with music. If I’m on a plane, I’ll do the same except that if it’s an overnight flight, I sleep. No work- just sleep.
3. What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen or experienced traveling?
I went on a trek in Belize and saw an ancient Mayan burial site in a cave, complete with skulls and skeletons dating back a thousand years. It was quite an experience.
4. What’s the first thing you do when you arrive at a new destination?
Well, it depends on when I arrive but if it’s late in the afternoon, I’ll just relax with my computer and catch up on work. I like to do my sightseeing early in the morning, so if it’s late I’d rather just rest. If I arrive somewhere early, I’ll drop my bags, shower, and then head out to “get lost.” I usually spend my first day wandering around the city trying to get as lost as I can so that I know my way around. I don’t go see any sites- I simply walk. I find it’s a great way to familiarize yourself with a place.
5. If you could give one tip or piece of advice to travelers, what would it be?
Go slow. Too often many travelers try to see as much as they can. While it’s understandable you want to see a lot on your trip (who knows when you will be back there again right?), the more you race to see, the more you are simply just taking pictures since you have to run somewhere else. Traveling slowly allows you to really take in a city, get to know it a bit, and spend time at the sights. When you travel, less is more.
[Phnom Penh photo by Jeremy Burgin/Creative Commons]