Friday, November 21, 2008

" Through travel I learn who I am. "

On a windy sunday morning, I had a chance to talk to an interesting man. His name is Marco van de Kamp and is behind the idea and founder of a portal, which connects travelers all around the world - Travelers For Travelers.com.


How and when did you get an idea to found TFT web site?

I did a lot traveling in my life and in 2006 I went with my girlfriend for a year around the world. I had my own internet company before I went traveling and when we traveled, the best experiences were with local people, who knew where to go and what to do around their place. So I thought why not make it easy for locals to meet or help travelers, locals become travelers and the other way around.

When and where did you take your first trip in your life?

My first real travel (as a backpacker, not tourist) was 10 years ago, half a year to Thailand and Australia.

Which countries around the world do you find the most interesting and why?

I can start with Holland. I love my country, its cold, its windy, my friends and family are great, everything in Holland is arranged so you have no troubles about healthcare etc.The most beautiful country I think is Venezuela:Beaches, highest mountains, great jungle, strange culture, lazy beer drinking people ;) The most interesting cultural experience we had, was in Siberut Island near Malaysia. People still live like we did 2000 years ago. We spent 2 weeks with those guys and it was a great experience eating some kind of wood and hunting in the forest.

You live in Holland. What other countries could you imagine for a living?

New Zealand, Australia for sure. These, for me, are not the best countries to travel though, but to live in, Yes!

What is your experience with using English as universal language around the world?

Many people cannot speak English so I use hands and feet, that works great. I speak some French and some Spanish, so in Asia/Europe everyone can speak or find someone who can understand/speak English, in South America, you want to learn some Spanish and it makes the trip a lot easier and in Africa you can use hands and feet to explain.

You sure have tasted local cuisine, in which country was that the most interesting?

For this question, I stay with Siberut near Indonesia/Malaysia. Those people do not eat rice or potatoes, they just eat wood. They chop a tree, rasp the wood, put it in water for a few months, dry it, put it in banana leaf and roast it on a fire. It does not taste bad, but to eat it every day, that’s a bit too much.

Ooh. This is really strange. And what was the most delicious food? (Outside Europe :) )

Outside Europe? Thai or Malaysia fresh crispy baked/grilled fish just out of the ocean with sweet and sour sauce and vegetables and some rice - delicious.

How do you decide, where to go next? Could you describe a typical trip somewhere? What do you take with you as an essential equipment?

I like to go everywhere, so it depends on what’s happening. This week, I went to London, because of the World Travel Market and Travel BlogCamp. Last month, I went to Denmark, because of the best windsurfing conditions in Europe.So I always take a sheet. Not a sleeping back, but a sleep sheet, that you can use in hostels. It's great. Sometimes instead of sheet - a hammock, that you can use as a sleep sheet, works great to.

Yep...and what about passport visa? Do you need them often? And I could also ask about visa card as an essential tool in globalized world, when I mention it actually :)

I always bring passport, for sure you need it. And I always try to get money out of money machines with bank card, I try not to use my credit card because it is expensive to get money and they can be copied, that happened to me once. I always bring enough cash to have money to get out off a country without needing a bank.

Lets get more philosophical. What is the point in traveling, in your opinion?

In my opinion "Through travel I learn who I am". It helps to learn what I like, who I like, what I want etc... It is not about the other cultures nature etc, but because the other environment and people, you can learn more about yourselfI think everybody should travel at least 6 months in one go in their lives. You learn so much from it. Let’s say it differently. I think people who have not traveled for a long time have missed out one of the best things in life!

In 6 months, you can probably realize even a trip around the world. That would be a good "know yourself" concept. We could discuss and ultimate "world trip" itinerary. :) What country would yours include?

Only 3 countries and it does not matter which ones, all countries are beautiful. Only 3 are important, so you have enough time to really experience a country/culture. If you arrive somewhere and love it you could stay for a few weeks. It is great to have time. You can relax, let go off planning, enjoy the travel as it happens to you.

Still, is there a travel dream of yours, already realized or yet planned?

Yes, a few dreams. I would love to spend time along the west coast Australia for windsurfing, same in Brazil. I would love to go back to Venezuela again to start the search for diamonds in the jungle with a guy we met. And Iceland must be awesome. Many dreams...

There are probably many more interesting encounters with local people or a local individual. Are there some really strange (or really interesting or hearth touching story) you could share?


I had my appendix removed in Maldives in a hospital where only the doctor could speak English, the beds where really short and the toilet was shared with 50 other patients. The doctor was so nice, he spent (after I left the hospital) a week with us, visiting his friends, the best places to eat around town, the monkeys, it was a really really great experience to get to know him.

The room you see on the picture was as big as the room next door, we had 5 beds (terminal patients and me :)) and the other room 40 beds!

I guess a good traveler should remove his appendix, as prevention, in advance :). It was probably a strong experience. What (and who) influences you in general, in your life?

Deep question. My parents, my girlfriend, my travels, my friends, internet and windsurfing.

The list is understandable, but there is that “windsurfing” part. How did it qualify into the list?

It’s just so my passion. If it is windy I go out and surf, I plan my life around windsurfing. It is the ultimate freedom. With simple equipment, you can use some powers from nature wind and waves to reach enormous speeds, fly high in the sky, float along with waves. It sets your mind free and you are only facing the elements focused on that. It is just great!

Ooh, that was a inspiring description. One would want to try it at once after reading it :)

I hope so. It takes a year or a few to get to a point I describe. Many people stop after a few try’s.
I guess you need a good motivation for everything in life. The TFT people would probably like to know more about your hobbies. Do you read, or listen to music? What genre?

Hobbies: windsurfing, mountain biking, snowboarding, surfing, play the drums, scoutingI like to read books like: “The monk who sold his Ferrari”, “Who stole my cheese”, ”The tipping point”, “Mindmap books”, “7 habits of highly effective people”.I like music, from house to rock, from jazz to tango. I love lots of music, mostly alternative.I love movies - not really the Hollywood movies - but movies like "Into the wild", "Boondock saints" "What the bleep do we know".

Hmm...thanks for interesting tips. I guess we missed to mention a big hobby of yours - the TFT site :) It must really take quite enough time and resources of yours. What are your plans with TFT for the near future?

I spend about 4 days a week full time on the TFT site , so it’s more then a hobby... and the rest of the week only the evenings ;)
Expand the community with more interaction and information for the members. For example the blog posts you are writing. I am working on the Forum for some weeks now, I hope that we can launch that soon.

Thanks for your time and an interesting discussion. And, I have prepared a little test for our SuperTFTAdmin :) Can you identify the location of these three places - It will be enough on the large scale .. So, can you locate these? (No Google allowed and they do not serve hamburgers on the third. :) )

1) Svalbard
2) Galapagos
3) Heard Island and McDonald Island.

Oops, I fail for this test. I only know that near Equador is the Galapagos, Svalbard sounds Scandinavian, McDonald Island must be an island from a British colony somewhere. Same as Heard Island I think.

I think, we could take these as creative (and basically correct) answers, and it proves you will not be lost so easily on your future trips :) Thank you again for your time and we look forward to additional interviews in the future as well as to everything that comes next in the TFT community.

Thank you too.

4 comments:

otilia said...

I really apreciate your experience life till now and I wish I had one so interesting!
I love to read about others travels and to learn from them!
I can't wait to see many beautiful stories on blog and I know that Ivana will take definitely care of it!
Good job, Ivana!
Marco, I know you have many wonderful things to share with TFT members!!...
Show must go on...

Brian Barker said...

I live in London and if anyone says to me "everyone speaks English" my answer is "Listen and look around you". If people in London do not speak English then the whole question of a global language is completely open.

An interesting video can be seen at http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8837438938991452670 or http://www.lernu.net

Marco van de Kamp said...

He Ivana thank you for the interview.

He Otilia I love to see more stories on the blog, great! Soon we release the forum options, and more to come next!

He Brian Our English is not that good, but after that I said: "or find someone who can understand/speak English" Thank you for sharing your site. We will stay with English on ours. ;)

ivana rodakova said...

Hi Brian :),

I do not see any point in your comment, but it is true I do not speak english very well :) so maybe this is my problem.

Of course people speak their languages and of course foreigne english must sound terrible for the native speakers :), but if Marco would try to speak with me dutch and I would try to answer him slovak...no chance :) to understand each other :)
And I am glad I do not have to learn chinese as a global language :)