My life in travel started at 17 with a 6-month trip to Israel and Egypt. At this age I couldn’t begin to imagine places like Jerusalem and Cairo existed and was fascinated by the history, sights and chaos of these fascinating cities. On completing my A-levels I journeyed throughout India and Nepal for nine months and by this point travel was in my blood and there was no going back.
I have been travelling and living abroad ever since and have visited over 60 countries in 5 continents. I worked in travel from the late 90s for over a decade for a variety of companies in the UK and New Zealand.
I took a break from the industry for 15 years and worked as a teacher in Cambodia and Thailand, where I obtained both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. I recently returned to the UK to pursue my love of travel again, joining Audley.
Travel has been my life and I love to talk about and share my passion for the world and particularly the countries of Southeast Asia. I am now a dedicated family man with three small children. I love most sports and am an avid and long-suffering fan of Crystal Palace Football Club.
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Q&A with James
What’s the best local dish you’ve tasted?
On my most recent trip to Vietnam with Audley I went on an evening Vespa tour in Hoi Chi Minh City, to experience some of the best street food the city has to offer. We ate many delicious and exotic dishes but the one that I enjoyed most was clams with chili and lemongrass. The levels of complex flavours and zesty taste made this dish memorable. The array of tasty food coupled with sitting by the street watching the evening activities was something that vividly stays with me now.
What’s your most vivid travel moment?
On my most recent trip to the magnificent Temples of Angkor in Cambodia my breath was taken away yet again. I had already visited the temples seven times previously as I had lived in Cambodia for six years and would visit regularly. This time I visited the temples by bicycle on the Hidden Trails of Angkor excursion with Audley. My guide and I began the ride cycling on jungle paths on the outskirts of the temple complex. After cycling for a few miles he led me down a path and out into a clearing where I was amazed to see in front of me the majestic Banteay Kdei Temple Gate, dating from 1181. We were the only people at this historic monument, with the eyes of the warrior Khmer King Jayavarman the 7th staring down at us. Even though I had visited the temples many times before I had never seen this particular site. By bicycle is such a magical way to see these sites and you get to experience them without the crowds. I can’t recommend this activity highly enough.
Which book, film or artwork captures Cambodia the most?
If you are interested in Cambodia’s recent history a must read book for me is ‘First They Killed My Father’ by Cambodian author Loung Ung. Loung was a child when the communist Khmer Rouge took control of the country. This harrowing but beautifully written book is a first-person account of this devasting time in Cambodia’s history and although it's dark it celebrates the human ability for survival in the toughest circumstances. It was made into an equally hard-hitting film in 2017, which I would also recommend.