Counting Countries

With a membership of only around 100, it’s one of the most exclusive clubs on Earth. In fact, more people have been to outer space than have earned their way into this, the ultimate travel club. According to the United Nations there are 193 sovereign nations in the world. Welcome to the only podcast to bring you the stories from the dedicated few who’ve spent their lives on the singular quest of traveling to them all. Welcome, to Counting Countries. With your host, Ric Gazarian.

https://globalgaz.com/counting-countries/

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episode 68: Debjeet Sen … and the seduction of travel


Key Links

  • https://www.patreon.com/CountingCountries
  • Counting Countries Apparel
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I am announcing that Counting Countries is now partnered with Patreon. Patreon is a platform that allows patrons, that’s you, to support creators, and that is me.  I have been extremely fortunate to be be able to create this podcast and to meet so many interesting and compelling travelers, but I have also spent a tremendous amount of time and some money creating this podcast.   This is an opportunity for you to support Counting Countries.  I have created several tiers of support, each one offering something in return.  I will highlight the Senior Executive Producer tier which will give you access to extended interviews with guests of Counting Countries.  To check out how you can support Counting Countries, go to patreon.com or https://www.patreon.com/CountingCountries.  On another note, due to time constraints, Counting Countries will be publishing one episode a month starting in 2019.    More about Debjeet Sen:
  • Born in: Austin, Minnesota
  • Passport from: USA
  • Favorite travel book: Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage
  • Favorite travel film: The opening scene of Up.  While not a travel film per se, the introduction of the film beautifully summarize the wonder of travel and discovery that is inherent in all children and how said wonder transfers to adults and remains a constant fixture in their lives even when “reality” gets in the way. “Adventure is out there.” Truer words have never been said!
  • Favorite app:   One of my biggest travel-related fears is getting lost or not knowing how to find my way in a new country or city. I religiously use Google Maps on my phone, but also make sure to download the relevant maps on maps.me prior to arriving in a new country/city, so that I have some reference even if I am unable to purchase a local SIM card. I used to be a bit of an anti-tech sort of person back in the day (I am still a technology-phobe in many ways). Let’s just say that I learned my lessons after relying on my father to navigate using a paper map, which led us up an unpaved mountain track in Turkey on a dark moonless night; or when I followed the flight paths of airliners to trace my way from Fontainebleau to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport through morning rush-hour traffic.
  • Must carry: Funnily enough, a wad of toilet tissue tucked into a side-pocket in my backpack and sanitizer. Without going into specifics, let’s just say that I’ve needed these two essential items in places as varied as in the middle of the steppes of Kazakhstan, or in the middle of the vast desert of northern Kenya.
  • Favorite food:  Oh man, it’s like asking me to choose a favorite child. I am a total foodie and will eat anything and everything. It’s hard to select one specific food, but I’ll list a few dishes that I love eating and cooking: deliriously spicy and flavorsome Thai drunken noodles, a simple bowl of rice with either Indian dal or chicken curry, fish wet fry with a side of local greens from western Kenya, meze from Lebanon, a steaming bowl of Japanese ramen… okay, I will stop here.
  • Favorite drink:   A glass of refreshing water straight from the tap. Nothing beats the thrill of opening a tap and pouring a glass of water that needs no further filtration or treatment.
  • Favorite Airline:  I am one of those weird travelers with little/no loyalty to any airline or alliance. I am mostly driven in my choice of airline based on my country/city of residence. I have been mostly living in Kenya and South Africa for the past 6.5 years, which implies a heavy reliance on Kenya Airways, South African Airways, and Ethiopian Airlines. I also use Emirates quite often. However, I definitely have a soft spot for certain airlines that I have taken during the course of my travels. I love Emirates for their in-flight service and entertainment options; Swiss for their complimentary chocolates (I’m one of those gluttons that will pick up a fistful of said delicious treats J); Kulula for their irreverent humor; Cathay Pacific for their fabulous premium class that is great value for money; IndiGo for showing that low-cost does not necessarily mean terrible service and seats that don’t recline—to name a few. I even grudgingly admit respect for Ethiopian. Flight schedules are perennially wacky, connection in Addis can be tight, crossing security in Addis tests the patience of the calmest of travelers, and luggage has a tendency of taking a route distinct from your own itinerary. Nevertheless, their Africa network (and increasingly connections to other continents) is unbeatable and they will get you from point A to point B, even if it means wheezing and puffing as you sprint between gates in Addis’ rarified air to make your connection when your flight arrives late (the norm, rather than the exception).
  • Favorite Hotel: I am a big fan of patronizing locally-owned hotels and guest houses. Most times, I will book a relatively cheap place through booking.com or AirBnB, as opposed to an international chain hotel. Don’t get me wrong; there are times when I will happily fall into the embrace of a Sheraton or Hilton, knowing that I won’t need to worry about the shower pressure or not having a kettle in the room. But to me, these international hotels are often sterile. I mean, you could be in Dushanbe or Nairobi or Milan and not really perceive a difference in the way such international chain hotels are designed and laid out. On the other hand, no two locally-owned places are the same and plus, the money you pay goes more directly to support the local economy. Be it the amazing bed and breakfast in northern Greece that took us on an impromptu stroll through their orchards at dawn to pick fruits for breakfast; the cute hotel in Swakopmund, Namibia that left a bottle of wine and a huge box of chocolates on my bed to “warm” me up when the hot water wasn’t working; or the AirBnB in Nairobi that filled our fridge to the rafters with home-cooked food (“you kids will be out partying and there has to be healthy food in the fridge when you return”)—nothing beats a locally-owned property.
  • Instagram: Everyday_traveler
Debjeet has traveled to 119 countries On today’s episode I will be speaking with world traveler Debjeet Seb.  Debjeet was brought to my attention by Ryan Gazder, a fellow moderator of Every Passport Stamp.  Ryan spoke very highly about Debjeet and I believe you will be charmed with my conversation with Debjeet. Before I introduce Debjeet, I am announcing that Counting Countries is now partnered with Patreon. Patreon is a platform that allows patrons, that’s you, to support creators, and that is me. I have been extremely fortunate to be be able to create this podcast and to meet so many interesting and compelling travelers, but I have also spent a tremendous amount of time and some money creating this podcast.   This is an opportunity for you to support Counting Countries.  I have created several tiers of support, each one offering something in return.  I will highlight the Senior Executive Producer tier which will give you access to extended interviews with guests of Counting Countries.  To check out how you can support Counting Countries, go to patreon.com or https://www.patreon.com/CountingCountries. On another note, dueto time constraints, Counting Countries will be publishing one episode a month starting in 2019.    Debjeet had a unique upbringing splitting time between the US and India. And Debjeet’s parents were a strong booster of family travel road trips, which planted a travel seed that stayed with him as he got older.  In fact, even today, some of his favorite travel companions are his family. Sadly, Debjeet’s father passed away unexpectedly, but Debjeet and his mother celebrated his memory with a meaningful trip on the Pamir Highway.       Debjeet shares with us the humanity and fight for normalcy he experienced in Erbil. Debjeet tells us of the magic of Machu Picchu at first light and why he loves New Zealand.  He scares us with a life threatening story in Maputo. And he shares with us what is is like working for a NGO in Africa and living and traveling in multiple places on the continent.       I encourage you to subscribe wherever you listen, Apple Podcast, Google Play, Stitcher, or Spotify. Remember it is Christmas time...go to Amazon to pick up your Counting Countries T-shirt. But for now, here’s my conversation with Debjeet, who was in the Johannesburg between trips while I was in Bangkok.  Please listen in and enjoy.


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 2018-12-13  1h28m