Peter Moore Interview with The Travel Tart!
I’m really chuffed today – I have an interview with one of my all time favourite Travel Writers, Peter Moore. I’m a massive fan of his work, which tends to take the piss out of his travels.
Peter Moore was silly enough to accept my offer to interview him for The Travel Tart website, so here it is!
The Peter Moore Interview
The Travel Tart: Hi Peter, thanks so much for the opportunity to chat. You’re an Australian travel writer who is now based in the United Kingdom. How have you found the lifestyle change? Would you like me to email you a picture of the sun? ;-P
Peter Moore: I’ve been here five years now and I’ve got to say the novelty is only just starting to wear off. I found myself complaining about the snow the other day and thought, Oh God, I’m becoming a whinging Pom!
Having said that, when the sun is out it’s almost perfect. Not too hot, not too cold. And Fullers do a really nice Honey Beer that hits the spot. Just need Global Warming to speed up a bit and it’ll be like that for a couple of months a year instead of a couple of days!
The Travel Tart: I was wondering where the travel bug bit you. For me, it was post war Kosovo in 2001! I was there for work, and that experience gave me a taste for places most package tourists would avoid like the plague! Where was the place (and time!) where you thought, ‘I just love doing this travel thing!’ ?
Peter Moore: It was when I was nineteen and I went over with my dad to Vanuatu. Dad was a plumber and a Seventh Day Adventist and had volunteered to build a shower block at a mission school on a tiny island called Aore. When it was finished the headmaster took us over to another island, Malekula, to meet the Big Nambas.
There are two tribes on Malekula, the Big Nambas and the Small Nambas. Both gad about with only a red cloth wrapped around their penises. But they have different opinions on the importance of size. Let’s just say the Big Nambas go through a lot more red cloth.
Anyway, we climbed up this mountain, got invited into the village enclosure and had a few drinks with the Big Nambas chief (it was obvious why he was the boss!). And I was just smitten. It hit me that there was all this stuff going on in the world I had no idea about and I just wanted to see it all.
The Travel Tart: I’m guessing that travel has changed so much since your first overseas trip, thanks mostly to this revolution called the internet. Actually, I remember watching a funny news bar headline from the Chaser’s CNNNN program, which said ‘Backpacker Spends Entire Round The World Trip in Internet Cafe.’ What do you think has been the biggest change regarding travel during this time?
Peter Moore: Yeah, the Internet has definitely had a huge impact, both good and bad.
On the up side, it’s much easier to keep in contact with people you meet. And sites like couchsurfing make it easier to meet locals and get a real insight on things.
On the downside, people spend too much time in Internet cafes telling people about what they are going to do rather than just doing it. And there’s a tendency to research a trip to buggery, booking rooms, looking at pictures of the beach etc rather than just turning up and being pleasantly – or unpleasantly surprised. As you know, some of the best experiences come when things go horribly wrong. I worry that we’re researching those kinds of serendipitous disasters right out of the equation.
The other big thing has been the emergence of budget airlines. Especially here in Europe. All of a sudden you can get somewhere for the price of a packet of chips. Over the next couple of months I’m going to a mate’s 40th in Stockholm, Marcos’s 50th in Livorno (he was the Vespa restorer in Vroom with a View) and out to Diyabikar and hopefully into Iraqi Kurdistani, all for less than a return flight to Brisbane from Sydney.
The Travel Tart: Which one of your books was the most enjoyable to write? I know that’s like saying who your favourite child is, but my personal highlights of yours are No Shitting in The Toilet, and The Wrong Way Home. I’ve also enjoyed your other books as well, as they all have a great sense of humour injected into them.
Peter Moore: It’s funny that you refer to the books as children, because that’s how I feel about them. And like you said, I shouldn’t have favourites but I do. The Wrong Way Home is my golden child. I loved that trip and I think that comes through in the book. Travelling from Cape Town to Cairo for Swahili was also fun. And I really enjoyed doing Italy by Vespa. I was a little worried that Italy would be less adventurous than my other journeys and that I’d have problems meeting locals. But my little Vespa took care of that – on both fronts. OK, I love them all!
The Travel Tart: I’ve eaten and drank some strange substances in my time, such as Tea with Egg, Cow’s Nose with Peanut Sauce, and heaps of other stuff that have appeared in my 52 Travel Tips for Weird Food and Drinks. What’s the most bizarre or awful thing you have ever drunk or eaten, assuming you could identify the ingredients?
Peter Moore: Man, I’ve eaten it all. And most of the time, didn’t find out what it was until after the fact. Dog in the Philippines, cat in China, a deep-fried Mars Bar in Scotland. (OK I knew what that was when I was eating it but that didn’t make it any less gross.)
As for the worst, well there was the gristly, congealed soup I couldn’t finish at a bus stop in Albania. It was simply inedible. And then there was the Yakatori sparrow I couldn’t finish in Tokyo. It was quite tasty – like chicken – but I couldn’t bring myself to eat it’s head. Even though my Japanese friends insisted it was the best part.
The Travel Tart: Italy, Egypt and African minibus drivers made my list of the Worst Drivers in The World (I’m sure you would be familiar with African minibus drivers in Swahili for The Broken Hearted). I know you’ve travelled to a truckload of countries, but which place tops your list for the Michael Schumacher Award for Most Outstanding Defensive Driving, or otherwise, the worst drivers?
Peter Moore: You know, I’ve become immune to minibus drivers over the years. I realise that there is a very good chance that I will die and accept that with a kind of Zen calmness. Unfortunately that calmness is almost immediately shattered when they put on music. It is invariably bad and played very, very loud.
Maybe there should be a new award for minibus drivers with the worst taste in music. I would nominate the guys in Indonesia with their penchant for Asian death metal and the African drivers who insist on playing tapes that sound like ice cream van music. If I had to nominate one driver though, it would be the guy in Antisaribe in Madagascar who played the Vengaboys nonstop. I’ve still got ‘Kiss (When the sun don’t shine)’ stuck in my head!
The Travel Tart: Actually, the Indonesian example I can relate to! One CD was the Asian death metal, but this was followed up by Air Supply’s Greatest Hits! It was a strange juxtaposition. Speaking of dodgy forms of transport, I recently hopped on a Vespa for a ride around Zanzibar. I think Zanzibar is the place that Vespa’s go to after they die in Italy. This one was so unroadworthy, I wouldn’t have entered it into a demolition derby (I think brakes were an optional extra). But you seem to have a great relationship with your Vespa in Vroom with a View and Vroom By The Sea! Are you planning to ride one in any future travels?
Peter Moore: I think I rode that same Vespa when I was in Zanzibar! The only way I could stop it when some cops waved me over was to ditch it in a muddy puddle beside the road. They weren’t impressed!
As for riding a Vespa again for a book – probably not. I’d wanted to ride a Vespa around Italy since I was a teenager growing up in the western suburbs of Sydney. In the end it was the Vespa that made the trip – and hence the book. Italians loved the fact that there was this crazy Aussie guy riding around on a forty-year-old Vespa and dragged me off on all kinds of adventures. It really was like being given the keys to the city.
So yeah, it worked for the Italy books. Let me see a side of the country I wouldn’t have seen. And got me in with the locals – a tricky proposition in a developed country. But I don’t want to become ‘The Vespa guy.’ There are way too many other adventures I want to have.
The Travel Tart: I see that you’re writing your latest book, titled ‘Blimey’, in honour of your recent travels around the United Kingdom. Has this trip confirmed or denied any Pommy stereotypes for you?
Peter Moore: A bit of both. For one thing I’ve never eaten as many curries or drunk as much real lager. Everyone thinks that their local Indian or brewer is the best in the UK and are keen for you to confirm it. And showering is a minefield. I’ve never seen so many different or complicated hot water heaters in my life. I couldn’t turn one off in Bristol and thought I was going to flood the place.
On the other hand, the stereotype of the Brits being uptight and inhospitable has been blown right out the window. As you probably know, I put the call out on my website for people to suggest where I went and maybe offer me a bed for the night. The response was amazing and I’ve had so many Poms go out of their way to put me up, feed me, show me around that it has been really humbling.
Worse, they’re suddenly better at cricket. I’m just hoping the Socceroos get to the final sixteen and do them over in soccer (or football as they call it here.) Man, that would be sweet!
The Travel Tart: I agree, go the Socceroos! I’ve read on your website that since kids have come into your life, that you’ve found it a challenge to travel like the way you used to. Are you planning to turn your kids into travel addicts like yourself?
Peter Moore: Just one – my daughter, Daisy. She’s only five, so at the moment we’re just doing family trips – getting an apartment somewhere for a week and exploring. She’s already been to Australia three times, Fiji, Singapore, Norway, Italy and Poland.
Will she become a travel addict? I’m not sure. At the moment, Disneyland Paris is top of her list. But the other day I caught her watching a show called Lost Tribes of Africa and she was absolutely fascinated by the Dogon people in Mali. So much so that I had to take her into the British Museum to see the collection of African bronzes there. So there is hope!
The Travel Tart: Thanks once again for your time Peter! Looking forward to ‘Blimey’ coming out!
If you want to have a good laugh and feel the spirit of adventure, I highly recommend reading any of Peter’s books.
Peter Moore Travel Books
Peter Moore’s Titles are, in chronological order:
- No Shitting In The Toilet
- The Wrong Way Home
- The Full Montezuma
- Swahili For The Broken Hearted
- Vroom With A View
- Same Same But Different
- Vroom By The Sea
He will have a new publication called ‘Blimey’ coming out soon.
Hope you enjoyed this Peter Moore Interview as much as I did!