Many countries in SE Asia have a sordid and fabled reputation. From movies about mercenaries trying to free POWs in the jungles of Vietnam to novels of colonialism and forbidden love, the region has served as a backdrop for more than a few of the world’s great tales and legends. Some true, others not so much. On this episode we’ll chat with American journalist, radio broadcaster, and documentarian, Patrick Winn about his life covering truly wild sides of life in one of the world’s most colorful corners.

Patrick walking on the wild side of Asia (image courtesy of Patrick Winn)

Trevor & Scott chat about when we first ‘knew’ of Southeast Asia:

Scott: Missing in Action and Rambo: First Blood Part 2. It was mostly movies that schooled me about the area: Good Morning Vietnam, Broke Down Palace, Bridge on the River Kwai and a few others.

Trevor: The Vietnam war was about all i really knew growing up about mainland SEA, as you said, Rambo. I really never was exposed to much about Thailand except maybe from the occasional James Bond film. I knew more about all the surf breaks in Indo and Philippines from surfing magazines when I was a kid. Southeast Asia to me was just where we fought a war when I was a kid and some really exotic and far flung but amazing surf breaks.

Scott: Until I visited Thailand for the first time, I really thought it was a super underdeveloped, semi-lawless region.

Trevor: The first time I came, was in 1996. I went to Bali for a month which was still a bit undeveloped. Legian was only just starting to become part of Kuta. Then I went to Thailand for a month, to Sumatra and then down the coast of Malaysia and through Singapore. I was in Bangkok for 4th of July and I had heard of a bar called Woodstock so we took a tuk tuk from Khao San road to nana plaza and A, I had no idea how far that was (which is a distance I would probably NOT do by tuk tuk nowadays) and B, I had NO idea what nana plaza was. It was quite a culture shock.


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Patrick Winn walking on the wild side of Asia for Talk Travel Asia Podcast (image courtesy of Patrick Winn).

Talk Travel Asia Episode 98 guest: Patrick Winn (courtesy of Patrick Winn)

Guest Intro: Originally from North Carolina in the United States, Patrick Winn has called SE Asia home for more than a decade. A professional journalist, he’s produced pieces for The New York Times, BBC Radio, NBC News, The Times of London and many others. He joins us via Skype from Bangkok.

To listen to Patrick answer the following questions,

Download episode 98 of Talk Travel Asia podcast on SoundCloud or iTunes Now!

  • We always like to start at the beginning with our guests – what first led you to SE Asia and when?
  • What made you decide that SE Asia/Bangkok was where you wanted to be full time and to make it home?
  • You write about some pretty fringe subjects that aren’t covered elsewhere. Was your reporting always geared that way or did it evolve?
  • What do you love about SE Asia?
  • You write about a really wide variety of things, from how plastic waste is impacting our environment to war elephants in Myanmar. How do you find your stories?
  • You’ve produced quite a number of stories about Myanmar, from war elephants in the Kachin State to rape used against Rohinga and child labor. What attracts you to writing about that country?
  • Are you still able to enter Myanmar?
  • How many countries are you banned in?
  • Have you ever been arrested while reporting?
  • You served as a consultant for Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown on CNN, notably the Myanmar episode. We like many people, are big Bourdain fans. What was it like working with him?
  • A few of your stories featured on your website really caught our attention. Can you tell us a bit about your story How North Korean hackers became the world’s greatest bank robbers? How did that story come about?
Hello Shadowlands by Patrick Winn, guest on Talk Travel Asia podcast

Hello, Shadowlands cover by Patrick Winn

  • You have a book out – HELLO, SHADOWLANDS: Inside the Meth Fiefdoms, Rebel Hideouts and Bomb-Scarred Party Towns of Southeast Asia. We actually first learned of you by listening to a podcast from Carnegie Council where you spoke about the book. Give us some background on the book.
  • Did you ever feel in danger while writing the book?
  • What’s the craziest spot you visited while working on the book?
  • Without sanctioning traveling to dangerous places, if travelers are looking for something really out-there, are there any spots in your book they can visit?
  • When you’re not working and reporting, where do you enjoy traveling in the region?
  • Are there any great spots to travel in SE Asia that aren’t on traveler’s radar you can share with us?
  • You’ve won a lot of journalism awards. Which are you most proud of?
  • How can people learn more about you and your work?

Patrick Winn interviews a thief

Patrick Winn interviews anonymous criminal (courtesy of Patrick Winn)

Links about our guest:

To learn more about Scott & Trevor:

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