The Gauntlet [2 April 2012]

Give me a Gaunt. Give me a Let. What have you got? The Gauuuuuuuuntlet! That’s right, travel junkies, we’re back for another week of the internet’s favourite quick-fire-questions-to-an-STA-Travel-Expert-and-a-traveller style feature.

In just a few sentences time, you’re going to be submerged into the murky depths of The Gauntlet [insert echo], where we pitch five of the very same questions to two randomly picked travellers. One from inside the company, and one from over the border, in our bubbly travel community.

Don’t be a spectator your whole life! If this sounds like something you’d like to take a shot at, get in touch now! You never know, you could soon find your rosy red cheeks staring right back at you. Which we imagine to be kind of freaky.

Facing up to The Gauntlet this week, we have…

Travel enthusiast, Oli Brown, from London a student at York university. Strike a pose, Oli:

Here's Oli, taking it easy in the slow lane of Chiang Mai

We quizzed Oli about this photo, and he told us “the picture was taken in Chiang Mai, Thailand. We were checking out the local markets and temples on two wheels, albeit two wheels with flat tyres and no brakes!”

And here comes Oli’s fellow Gauntleteer, none other than our very own Charlotte Randell, Travel Expert at the STA Travel store in Reading.

Charlotte pulling off a classic, "Near, farrrrrr, wherever you are" pose.

Warning! Here comes The Gauntlet

These guys are looking pretty ripe! There’s only one thing for it, Charlotte and Oli, gather your goods, we’re going through The Gauntlet!

  Charlotte Randell, Travel Expert at STA Travel Reading Oli Brown, a travel junkie from XXXX
Where in the world have you found the tastiest food? It’s hard to choose the tastiest food because it’s all so different! The best steak I’ve ever had was in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The best ice cream award goes to the ice cream parlours in Sydney. Of course, you can’t miss out on Pad Thai in Thailand either. Having said that, when you’re drunk, anything tastes amazing — even weird meat on a stick! Fish amok in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It’s the country’s signature dish and I can understand why! First time I tried it was at Mama’s Restaurant and it brought a smile to my face, that’s how good it was! Fish amok with rice and a cold Angkor Beer, all for less than $3 — the perfect way to spend an evening in Cambodia’s capital.
What’s your weirdest travel experience? I’ve had a lot of random experiences, one of them has got be be having Karl Kennedy from Neighbours serenade me on my birthday in front of a pub full of people at the Neighbours quiz night in Melbourne – great fun regardless of if it’s your birthday or not! I lost the bar I was drinking in. Sounds silly, right?

I was in Hanoi, Vietnam and had stepped outside to get a bit of fresh air. Popped to the shop across the street and picked up some water. Turned around and where once there were bright lights and other backpackers, there was a very dark, closed looking bar. I walked up an down the street thinking I had maybe walked further than I thought. On my second pass, low and behold the bar had reappeared, backpackers and all! It turns out that while there is a curfew in Hanoi, no one seems to obey it. If the authorities go by, the music and lights are switched off and the place pretends to be closed.

Urban hunter, or rural explorer? Much like my sandwiches I like the Best of Both; sometimes I can be a Rural Explorer — I love the natural beauty of the world, such as Iguassu Falls and Uluru. But having said that there are some wicked cities you can’t miss out on — like Sydney — when you need a great night out! Definitely the urban hunter. The smells, the sights and the sounds attack your senses 24 hours a day and make for an amazing experience. It’s very rewarding just to stop, and retire to a quiet cafe to watch the world go by.
Guidebook, app’d up, or travelling blind? How I like to travel depends on my mood. I do some research before I go, book the essentials, then see what happens after that. Guidebook all the way. Invaluable in so many ways beyond the information it provides you with. I’ve used them as pillows, door stops, drawing pads and (animal lovers look away) cockroach squashers. Top tip: Don’t crack the guidebook out in the middle of a busy street unless you want hundreds of people saying “where you going?”, “cheap tuk-tuk for you” and “I take you to “. Grab a seat in a restaurant, memorise what you need and put it back in your bag.
Before I’d gone travelling I wish someone had told me… …not to leave fruitcake in the tent on Fraser Island… turns out dingos are quite fond of it! Not a good thing when you wake up to them ripping up the outside of your tent! …to say goodbye to personal space. From living in dormitories for months on end, to the cramped public transport. You’ve got to be comfortable getting intimate with strangers.

Nice work, Charlotte and Oli! You took on The Gauntlet and smashed it home! That’s the way to do it… no mercy, no fear, just get stuck in! Thanks for taking part.

Do you want to get on-board The Gauntlet? Now’s your chance, we’re opening up the window for admissions for a short period, so drop us an email and we’ll take it from there!