In this edition of Celebrity Travel Addicts, we chat with Robert Diggs of LostXpat, a travel YouTuber from California who has spent the last eight years of his life living abroad. We speak with him about what inspires him to travel, his suggestions of things to do in his favorite travel destinations around the world, a unique circus he recently volunteered with that’s doing important work in the world, and much more. Check out his favorite destinations and find out where he’s going next!
How did your passion for travel get started?
My passion for travel started when I was 22. I got a chance to visit my cousin in Beijing and found that it was so exciting to see a new culture. Trying all the different varieties of Chinese foods was also a big selling point. Once I started I could not stop. I wanted to figure out how to make my life more adventurous and break out of the normal lifestyle.
How many days/weeks are you traveling in any given year?
I would get 15-20 days off during October holiday and Chinese Spring Festival. On average, I traveled between 2 and 3 months out of the year while I was living in China.
What are the types of places you like to visit?
I like to go to places that are off the mainstream tourist path. For example: Pai, Hue, Bagan, Xishuangbanna, Novi Sad, Antwerp, and Mostar. I love each place for different reasons.
You recently met and volunteered with members of a circus in northern Thailand. Can you tell us a bit about their mission and what that experience was like for you?
Their mission at the circus is to help the local refugee children access schools. They supply some of the schools with clean water, and in some cases, pay the rent for the schools. Every year, volunteers from all over the world come for about 6 weeks and do shows for the refugee camps, hospitals, schools, and orphanages in the region of TAK. They work with local teachers in the area and through fund raisers locally and Koh Phanon. In the future, they hope to have year round staff in Ma Sot. The experience was very eye opening and emotional. By the end of their 6 week tour, none of the volunteers wanted to go home.
I met them at my hotel’s garden doing their rehearsal for the show that day. When they explained what they did in Ma Sot I knew that I wanted to join them. I plan to head back next year to help them again.
You have been living abroad for seven years and recently started a YouTube channel. What inspired you to begin vlogging your travels?
I have always wanted to encourage people to travel and see the world. Since I was in China, I was blocked out of youtube, so I had no idea that travel videos were a thing. 2 years ago, I got a VPN and stumbled across this exciting genre. Some of the youtubers I found to be special were Mark Wiens and The Food Ranger, but my biggest influences would probably be Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern.
I started out with buying a gimble phone mic and a smart phone with a better camera in February 2018 but did not release anything until late November. I took that time to learn how to put together a video that accurately portrayed the experience of my travels. I try to make every episode better than the previous one.
What do you want audiences to gain and learn from your work?
I hope to inspire people to explore the world and get out of their comfort zone. Lots of people in the USA have not even been out of their state, let alone out of the country. I hope with my experiences, people can get an idea what to eat and where to go depending on their travel ambitions. After my time with the circus, I also would like to get into more videos about charity making a difference and ways to volunteer.
What are the top three destinations you’ve visited?
Budapest, Hungary; Kanchanaburi, Thailand; and Bagan, Myanmar.
Give us your ‘Top 5’ list for one of your top 3 destinations. Like a mini-guide or a to-do list of sorts. It can be anything from your favorite hotel, best place to have lunch, best sightseeing, etc.
Top 5 things you should do in Budapest, Hungry
Budapest has over 1000 years of history and has an amazing international scene for nightlife.
- Ruins Bar Pub Crawl – In the early 2000s, the Jewish Quarter was made up of crumbling buildings that were abandoned. Some creative artists and entrepreneurs turned the ruins into bars and night clubs. They kept the buildings in almost the same condition but added creative art pieces and graffiti to liven up the scene. Szimpla is a ruin bar with many different rooms. Each room provides its own environment and unique atmosphere. They happen to have great craft beer there too for $2.50 or local beer for $1.50 a pint. During the day sometimes they turn ruin bars into a famers market or art gallery.
- Caving Under The Capital – Caving is a great way to spend a day. The biggest cave in the world is found under Budapest. They were created by thermal springs and are a UNESCO world Heritage Site.
- Capital Of Bathhouses – Budapest happens to be home to over 100 bath houses. Most people have swimming suits, but if you really want to get out of your comfort zone, you can visit one of the traditional, gender segregated bathhouses in your birthday suit. The minerals in the springs are said to have healing benefits. Weekends sometimes have college parties in the hot springs pools that can get a bit crazy in there, so if you’re looking for a more traditional experience, I’d go on a weekday.
- Take the free walking tour – There is a lot of history to learn about the city. The local guide will share a lot of good details such as the Mongolian, Turkish, and Soviet occupations.
- Go on a party cruise down the DanubeRiver – It is a great way to meet other travelers and enjoy the city from the water. After the cruise, they normally all go on a pub crawl.
Top 5 things that you Must do in Yangon/Bagan Myanmar.
- Get lost in temples in 2200 temples/Free E Bike Tour – You have to rent a electric bike to explore Bagan properly. For $3-$7 USD per day you can rent an E-Bike. It is very easy roads to drive on there and cars do not drive very fast. Don’t go for the normal bike because Bagan has a lot of hills. There is also a free E-biking tour that you should not miss. They cover thousands of years of history of Bagan.
- Bagan Sunrise – See the sunrise/sunset while hanging out on a tall pagoda in Bagan. Or, if you can spend the money, see it on a hot air balloon. It is a bit pricey for Myanmar standards but it’s worth it.
- Lost World Abandoned Park – In Yangon, there is an abandoned amusement park that everyone should take the time to explore. I made two videos about it. It was just like being in Lost World: Jurassic Park. Dogs, Cats, snakes, and huge spiders have taken over the area, and I would recommend watching out for them. Wear long pants long sleeves and close toed shoes. They plan to close it down and develop it in the next few years, so I would prioritize this visit!
- Crazy Train Ride – The Yangon circular train is a great way to hangout with locals and get a feeling of going back in time. It’s about a 3 hour journey to go all the way around. I recommend you bring some snacks and beer. Enjoy riding on the rails on a crazy train.
- Colonial Urbanization – Yangon has the most colonial building in all of south east Asia. You need to make time to walk around the city and enjoy the old architecture. You will feel like your going back in time.
Top 5 things to do in Kanchanaburi, Thailand
Kanchanaburi is a town west of Bangkok. It is famous for its Death Railway built during WW2. There is a lot to do and see in this city.
- Erawan Waterfalls National Park – It has some of the most clean, blue water in all of Thailand. There are 7 levels of waterfalls and you are allowed to climb up the falls and swim in the pools. I need to emphasize that if you are able, you must climb to the top and enjoy these natural pools. The views are fantastic!
- Tiger Temple – Founded in 1994 and has been trying to save tigers from poachers. You can get up close and pet some tamed tigers. I’d also recommend seeing a tiger show. They closed in 2016 for a controversy but reopened under the name “Tiger Petting Zoo”. This attraction may not be available forever and I recommend experiencing it while you can.
- Experience one of their luxury hotels – Despite its proximity to Bangkok, accommodations in Kachanaburi are very cheap. I always spring for luxury while there, and never regret it.
- Wat Than Khao Pun – It’s a temple inside a cave that has 9 rooms with various Buddha statues and natural formations. It’s accessible via water taxi, which is an experience in itself. The structure and design of this temple are extraordinary. Spend some time exploring.
- JEATH War Museum – This is a museum about the death railway built in 1942 to 1943 under Japanese supervision. It has a number of interesting exhibits and offers a good deal of historical knowledge.
Bonus tip: Kanchanaburi has got an amazing night life on the weekends. The locals all go out for live music and dancing. It is a lot of fun actually and more simple to get around than Bangkok for the night life. No need for a taxi.
How many countries have you visited so far?
I have been to about 50 countries/ territories all together.
What is your favorite thing you’ve learned about a particular place or people in your travels?
I appreciate the culture in Myanmar. Comparatively, they have very little, but the people there seem so content. I felt I learned so much from my time with them.
What are your top 3 favorite cuisines?
My top 3 cuisines are Thai, Veitnamese, and Lebanese.
What is your favorite restaurant in the world? What dish do you recommend there?
In Yangon, there is a restaurant called Monsoon. They specialize in Burmese food and also have a great selection of south east Asian cuisine. I recommend the Tom Ka Gai a.k.a. Thai Coconut cream chicken soup or for Burmese food their Ohn No Kyawswe (“oh no”) a.k.a. coconut noodle soup is amazing. “Oh No” is way more thick coconut cream than Tom Ka. Burmese food at Monsoon is very high quality and is authentic plus it is affordable. Best bang for your buck in all of southeast Asia.
What is your favorite travel movie?
What is your favorite international airport?
Narita Airport because of the whiskey samplings you can take while you wait for your flight.
Which city had the friendliest people?
Yangon maybe has the most genuinely nice people. People will ask you to have beer or tea on the street with them. I was there during Chinese New year and the Indians Burmese and Chinese were having a amazing time celebrating together. Many different religious communities cultures living in the same area all getting along.
Who is your favorite travel companion?
I almost always travel alone because no one is able to get time off work to join me. I honestly love to travel by my self because you never know what kind of people you can meet on your journey.
What is the best way to kill time while traveling?
Hanging out with locals and people from the hostel. I love to learn about what the city is special for, and research all the history. Free walking tours can be a great way to get to know a city. I also think it’s fun to experience the night life options in every city.
What is the most exotic place your career has taken you?
The most exotic places i have been is Myanmar because the culture has been so well preserved. It is just so different compared to it’s surrounding countries .
What is your best bit of travel advice for someone who wants to, or is about to, embark on a life of travel?
Pack light and enjoy the time getting to the destination instead of being anxious to arrive. Go with the flow and do as the locals do. Don’t be afraid to try new things.
What are 4 things you could never travel without?
I am a minimalist while traveling. Since I started doing videos, I have to travel with a Smart phone, mavic air drone, video camera and my clothes, but before i started my channel, I just traveled with a small backpack, and my basic necessity items. Just clothes, tooth brush, and passport. Less is more for me.
What is your ultimate dream destination?
My dream destination would be to travel to travel more places in West China in the areas of Xinjiang and Tibet. In these autonomous regions is a great mix of cultures and diversity. There are some zones foreigners can’t go currently. This summer I will go to a place close to Xinjiang called Ningxia.
What is your favorite travel quote?
“If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food. It’s a plus for everybody.” – Anthony Bourdain
Where are you headed next?
I am going to go to Philipines to meet up with another YouTuber, Max Mcfarland, to explore deep into the cuisine of Manila’s back streets. I will also be seeing if I can find another organization doing something to help the kids.
Originally I come from California. I have been living abroad for almost 8 years in China. I speak Chinese fluently and speak Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Spanish on a basic level. My passion is to travel, and make videos showing the struggles and inspiration of every life abroad. I love different cultures from around the world. Traveling is not easy but what you get from it is a new understanding of every place you go.