Today we are traveling with Stefan and Sebastien from Nomadic Boys.
We are Stefan and Sebastien from Nomadic Boys, gay couple from London.
Stefan is 33 years old, ex lawyer, from London and brought up in a Greek family.
Sebastien, also 33 years old is an IT geek from France who moved to London, met Stefan and together set up their life there.
After many years of planning and saving, in 2014 we left our lives and jobs in London to travel the world and Nomadic Boys is our travel blog chronicling our adventures along the way.
What type of traveler would you say are you?
We started as budget travellers because we were literally that – paying our way via our savings, so the less spent, the longer we could travel. However, as our blog has grown over the past year, particularly amongs affluent male readers aged 25-40 years old, we have been invited to promote the luxury market more. As a result we worked with high end brands like the Shangri-La, The Four Seasons and boutique spas like Mandala Spa in Boracay.
The blog requires a great deal of work, so we have had to travel slower, longer, basing ourselves in places for long periods of time. Which suits us just fine!
What’s inside your backpack? What is that one thing that you ALWAYS have to carry.
We have a 70 liters backpack each, which has proven to be more then enough space. We carry no more then a week’s worth of clothes. That’s all you need. You’ll do laundry wherever you are at least once a week and will bin/buy new clothes along the way as needed.
Technology is a key part – a decade ago none of this existed, but today’s traveller relies so heavily on the smartphone, tablet, laptop, kindle, digital camera, headphones, meters of wires to charge everything and plugs.
Sebastien accuses poor Stefan of snoring so he packed a 2 years supply of ear plugs with him…
Other items we always pack include elastic bands (with all those wires these are so handy), Swiss army knife, easy to pack camping bowls, cups for those train journeys, head torch, whistle, copies of important documents and flip flops.
Where are you now? What are your plans?
We are now back home in Europe spending much needed quality time with the family: Stefan in London and Sebastien in France. We are planning our next big trip which will take us to Latin America later this year.
How was the experience of the Trans Siberian? Do you recommend to us readers to do the same kind of trip?
This was Stefan’s lifelong dream and for train lovers, highly recommended! It was incredible and something we will never forget. Sebastien was less keen on the idea – 3 days of being in a train without showering/bathing? The journey takes just under 2 weeks from Moscow to Beijing/Vladivokstok. But we broke the journey up by making stops along the way.
We definitely recommend doing it this way so you see more of the places you pass along the way.
Which country during your trip was the least gay friendly? Why?
The least gay friendly countries where the ones where being gay can land you a prison sentence or get you stoned/whipped/lashed in public…! So India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Myanmar, Malaysia and Singapore. Brunei probably the most extreme (Sharia Law is in place there) but we didn’t visit.
Of course, no one has been convicted under the anti-gay laws. But the fact that they’re still in place and not repealed sends an unfortunate, strong, unwelcome message by the political establishment to its LGBT community and of course the police will use this as an excuse to get bribes.
One example was in Delhi, we went to an underground gay club. All was going fine until 1am the police arrived, lights switched off and everyone told to remain calm inside and quiet. The police were there looking for a bribe from the club promoter and then left!
Which one would you say is the best gay-friendly country? Why?
Thailand, the Philippines and Taiwan. Thailand is the pink gem of the continent, really starting to wake up to laws to protect its LGBT community. It’s got far to go, but the fact that you can register a civil union here is a big difference to across the border in Malaysia say, where you can be thrown into prison. The Filipino hospitality is well known, and despite the strong influence of the Catholic Church, they remain so welcoming and friendly to everyone, straight or gay.
Finally Taiwan! We didn’t know this before, but it’s super gay there – they’ve got the largest pride in Asia and making really progressive steps to protect their LGBT community and welcome pink tourism.
Where do you usually sleep while traveling ?
We tried hostel beds once in Moscow and quickly realised it’s not for us. Neither is it economical when you’re two. The price of a room is usually the same or cheaper then the cost of two beds. Plus there’s no privacy in a dorm.We tried couchsurfing in Shanghai and loved it. It’s an excellent way to meet locals: Check our Shanghai’s couchsurfing experience.
Is there anything/anyone you miss from home?
Friends and family of course. For Sebastien (French), cheese! It’s hard to find it in Asia and for a Frenchman, 18 months without it is quite hard!
What do you prefer? Traveling alone or traveling with someone? Why?
Stefan backpacked around South America 10 years ago alone and loved it. You’re never alone, as you meet people everywhere along the way and you get alone time when you want. It’s definitely worth trying. But we love travelling together and can’t see us doing it separately. Travelling together has meant we’re constantly around each other. It’s certainly changed our relationship for the better and made us much closer.
Which country did you find the most hospitable people?
The Philippines! The Filipino hospitality is famous in the region. Every single Filipino we met was only ever welcoming – they just exude this warmth and friendliness. You will quickly fall in love with them.
Tell us about a day in your life when you are not traveling.
Before Nomadic Boys existed, we were in 9-5 full time jobs – Stefan a lawyer and Sebastien an IT consultant in the finance industry. It was comfortable and routine – too comfortable.
During our travels, we’d base ourselves for a long period of time in a particular city like Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur. This allowed us to take a break from travelling and work / catch up with our blog.
What is the big reason why you travel?
Travelling and food have always been the 2 things we had in common from the start of our relationship. These are our passion, and if we aren’t cooking something together, we are planning our next trip. We got to the point where we decided to combine the two, and aim to make it a lifestyle and eventually Nomadic Boys was born.
Can you tell us about your longest trip?
We just spent 18 months travelling around Asia. We entered with the Trans Siberian, then spent a month in each of Russia, Mongolia, China, Nepal, India, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia.
How much did you budget for this trip? How were you able to save that money?
We saved for around 2 years, prior to leaving London in June 2014. When you have a goal to aim for, it’s amazing what you will sacrifice to just save as much as you can to achieve it. That £15 cocktail in a class Central London bar is a night’s accommodation in quite a nice hotel in Siem Reap…
What’s your favorite gastronomy/food cuisine that you had in your travels?
We loved Sri Lankan food. They make an amazing curry from everything they touch – garlic curry – pineapple, jack fruit, you name it! Vietnamese food was also really good – the variety of delicious noodle dishes on offer like Mi Quang or Cao Lau is amazing.
You can’t beat a Pad Thai or Som Tam (spicy papaya salad) from the streets of Bangkok. Oh and Penang in Malaysia – a mix of Indian, Chinese and Malay foods rolled into one orgasmic mix!
Has there been any challenging and bad moments?
The Trans Siberian did take its toll on Sebastien. We went during the Russian summer in July and it gets very hot! Our carriage had no air conditioning and the Russians on board refused to open their window. After 3 days on a train it starts to get quite smelly. Mix that with the humidity and you’ve got a recipe for several French tantrums.
What has been your favorite destination on all the trips you’ve done?
In terms of scenery, Mongolia and Nepal blew us away. Mongolia is like nothing you’ve seen before. It has some stunning scenery like you’re walking on Mars. In Nepal we trekked the Annapurna Circuit, reaching Thorong La Pass at 5,416 meters. The view across the Himalayas from 5,000 meters in the freezing cold at 5 am is incredible.
What’s the worst place that you have stayed in for sleeping? What’s the best?
Worst was hostel dorms.
Best was renting condos from AirBnB in Bangkok. For around $20-25 dollars a night, you get your own apartment in a block with its own gym and pool. You can’t beat that.
Which one was the best moment during your trip?
During our travels in the Mongolian Gobi Desert, we stayed with nomadic families in their gers. They lead a basic life, which they are extremely proud of, holding on to traditions they’ve strongly maintained since the days of Genghis Khan. They also keep a lot of animals, particularly goats, sheep, yaks and camels.
There’s a famous film, The Story of the Weeping Camel, in which a camel mother fails to connect with her new born baby and a fiddler is employed to play his morin khuur (horse headed fiddle) to her. The sound of the fiddle resonates with her, making her cry and is therefore supposed to make her reconnect with her calf. Well, this is what happened in the film.
At our camp we got lucky and watched a fiddler playing to the camels. The aim was just to soothe them so they could sleep (in this case there was no mother/child issue). And you know what? It worked! Tears started to fall down the camels’ cheeks and gradually, one by one, they closed their eyes and went into a deep slumber. This was one of the most beautiful moments we’ve experienced during our travels.
Can you tell us how did you meet each other? How long it was?
We met in February 2009 in a gay bar in Soho, the heart of the London gay scene. We’ve been together since and celebrate our 7 years this February.
How do you finance your trips?
We saved for 2 years and during our travels kept a record of our spend – The Spread sheet. As the blog took off, we started to receive sponsored accommodation: when you cut the accommodation budget from your expenses, you save a lot of money.
Moving forward, we are aiming to monetize our blog even more with the long term goal of travelling indefinitely as a lifestyle.
How do you share the tasks in your blog? How many hours do you spend working in the blog?
Almost every waking hour, because things like social media are on going. Stefan deals with the photos, content and social media. Sebastien does all the IT/SEO, videography and planning for our travels.
Do you have any recommendations which blogger/traveller should I interview next?
Alice of Tea Cake Travels is quirky, delicious and extremely interesting person you must know. Also Vanessa of the Island Drum for an American perspective of what it’s like living on tropical Malaysian island.
Amazing interview and travel experiences with Stefan and Sebastien from Nomadic Boys! Thanks for your time guys!
How Stefan and Sebastien from Nomadic Boys changed their life. Living and working in London to become a full time travelers. Amazing trip 18 months traveling! The Trans Siberian and great stories in Mongolia. And enjoying Thailand gastronomy and Filipino hospitality. We would to hear your travel experiences in South America guys.
If you want to read more crazy travel stories check Tomislav Perko interview. Tomislav was hitchhiking around the world for 6 years. Or Patrick Martin Schroeder story who’s been traveling around the world by bike. So far 130+ countries by bicycle.