Meet a traveller: globetrotting Thorn Tree member Alex Banks, AKA Fwoggie

fwoggie

When we asked our moderation team to nominate a member of our online community to feature on Lonely Planet’s blog, they suggested fwoggie. We’re blown away by this traveller’s patience and diligence in organising extensive itineraries for complete strangers. A member since 17 January 2001, fwoggie has made more than 10,463 contributions to our Thorn Tree travel forum. He is full of facts and really cares about fellow travellers – so we wanted to hear all about his tips, plans and (of course) travel fails.

Smiling on the banks of the Li River near Xingping in Guilin province, China – complete with a sling from a bicycle crash two weeks prior. Sinophiles might recognise the backdrop from the 20 yuan banknote. Image courtesy of Alex Banks.

Where was your last trip?

The Algarve in South Portugal last October. One of the major budget airlines flies from my local airport down to Faro and I decided to go down for a week. I’d never been to Portugal before and booked myself a secluded quiet cottage in the beautiful rolling hills near the airport. It was wonderful: warm weather, very friendly local people, and the seafood was amazing. I ate out every night in the seafront restaurants in Olhão and loved every dish I tried, especially the local specialty cataplana.

Where is your next trip?

I have a study trip for my part-time degree so I’m off to Sri Lanka for a week and a half! It’s another country I’ve never been to but I’m really looking forward to it, I’ll be working for a charity providing help to a tourist agency that wants to start selling tours and accommodation to visiting backpackers. We get the weekend off though, so we’re thinking of maybe heading down to Galle to check it out or maybe visit some tea plantations.

What is your first travel-related memory?

I spent many a happy school summer holiday in Southwold – it’s halfway down the East Anglian coast of England. It’s as if time was suspended at the end of the Victorian age: no arcades, no enormous supermarkets, no fast food restaurants. We would walk from the campsite into town to the butcher’s, buy some streaky bacon, take the rowing boat ferry across the creek to Walberswick and sit on the bridge over the creek dangling bacon on hooks to catch the crabs. Once the bucket was full you’d pour them out onto the side where they’d promptly scuttle back into the water to sit under the bridge to wait for another piece of bacon. Those crabs had it all figured out!

Aisle or window seat?

Window for short haul, aisle for long haul. I like to stretch my legs and top up on water regularly during long flights.

Do you have any travel habits or rituals?

I like to try the local food as much as possible. Some memorable dishes have included Peking duck in Beijing, clam chowder in Boston and in Goa a red snapper …read more


 

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