10 questions for Brendan – getting to know our blogger at the end-of-the-earth

For 10 days from 1 January, Brendan van Son’s our man in Antarctica. Brendan’s one of the web’s most popular bloggers, his website chronicling his passion for travelling and photography. And at the start of 2011, he’s off on Peregrine’s 10-night Antarctic Explorer adventure, crossing the Drake Passage from Ushuaia to the Antarctic Peninsula. Below we get to know Brendan a little better before his journey to World’s End.

Best meal

In my travels I've eaten everything from fried tarantula in Ecuador to blowfish in Japan to sheep testicles in Mexico. However, if I had my choice I’d probably choose to eat a nice plate of sushi or an Argentinean steak. Hmm, I wonder what steak sushi would taste like??

Essential item of hand luggage

The two essential things travellers should pack are duct tape and ziplock bags. Duct tape fixes everything, I've even taped up wounds with it, and ziplock bags protect your electronics, they are also good to throw your shampoo into, in case it decides to explode all over the rest of your luggage.

Best natural sight you’ve visited

This is not even a fair question.  It's like choosing which son is a father's favourite.  I spent last week near Perito Moreno glacier, which was pretty spectacular. It's one of those places that will have you running towards it as if it's going somewhere.

Some great snaps on your website, give us a couple of photography tips

I actually wrote an eBook on this full of tips.  The biggest thing is to work your subject like a boxer does his/her opponent. Most people just shoot the one angle, the same as everyone else.  You should shoot from low vantage points, high points, and odd angles.  Also, don't focus too much on getting the big picture – take photos of features as well. The other day I shot a tree hanging over a river, the photo turned out amazing and I had shot it about 5 feet from a crowd of 30 people photographing a waterfall.

Most memorable journey

My most memorable journey happened in Nicaragua as a bus driver told me he had no space for my backpack below the bus.  He told me that he could put it on the roof, and although there were rails he couldn't tie it down.  Out of fear of losing all my possessions I decided to ride on the roof along with the bag.  As the bus passed through the countryside I really felt an understanding for Nicaragua, and a sense of peace about what I was doing.

Tell us a useful phrase in a foreign language

As soon as I read that nothing but bad phrases run to my attention.  I actually speak English, Spanish and French, read most Portuguese and Italian and murmur phrases in some other languages. Since I'm in South America at the moment I'll give you the four most important phrases no matter where you are.  Donde esta el bano? (Where is the bathroom), cuanta cuesta? (how much?), una cerveza por favor (a beer please), Que es lo que estoy comiendo? (What is this that I'm eating??).

You love your sport. What is your favourite travel sporting tale? 

I am a sports fanatic, and I played just about everything you can imagine. I actually travel with my basketball shoes and ball, and play everywhere I get the chance. I once played each and every night at a court in Caye Caulker, Belize with six members of the Belizean national basketball team.  The thing I love about sport and travel is that it brings people together.  All I have to do is bring my ball to the court and I'm guaranteed to be joined by others, and often have locals watching along as well.

Scariest travel experience

Did I mention I rode on the roof of a bus in Nicaragua?

What are you most looking forward to about your Antarctica trip?

I would tell you penguins but I think everyone probably says that.  For me, it's just a great chance to have a new experience in an amazing part of the world.  Having an Antarctica stamp in the passport would be cool, if possible, too.

What’s with avoiding Australia?

I'm not avoiding it, it's just a long way from Canada.  Actually, after Antarctica the Australian continent will be the only one I’ve yet to set foot on.  I do plan on visiting it, but I want to give it justice and spend at least a couple of months exploring. I have a lot of really good friends and travel buddies from Australia so I'll be making a visit at some point, I promise.

Thanks Brendan, and happy travels!  Brendan will be blogging about his trip here, so look out for his thoughts and photos. Have a look at the trip he’s taking by clicking here.

You can follow Brendan on Twitter @BrendanVanSon or join his community on Facebook.

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