Travel Talk with David Sandel – the man in the van.


The travel community is a great one to be part of and is full of amazing stories. I’m so thrilled I took the leap to book tickets and travel to Thailand alone, I can’t wait to meet the other wonderers and likeminded soles who will be there on the other side. I managed to catch up with one very different traveller named David Sandel who gave up his corporate life in the USA to take on the world in his van and scale sheer cliffs in his usual climbing gear. Sounds excellent right?

David has just returned from a 14 week adventure in Thailand and I couldn’t wait to hear about his experience and prepare me for mine so he kindly answered my curiosities;

Among your many adventures and destinations what drew you to Thailand?

The climbing, the beaches, the affordable prices

What was your favourite location in Thailand and why?

Tough question. The whole country is amazing. I’m going to choose Chiang Mai in the north of the country. The city itself is VERY friendly to foreigners, tourists, and expats, but it’s still very, very Thai, as opposed to the southern beaches and islands. And if you want to get real rural, just drive 25 min. outside of the city limits and you’ll encounter many people that have never spoken English in their lives.

The food is quite different to what you find in the states, did you love it or hate it and what was your favourite dish?

I loved every morsel of food I put in my mouth. The strangest thing I ate, aside from toasted grasshoppers which are mostly a novelty, was squid eggs. But my favourite dish was called Kha Koa Moo — stewed pork and eggs over rice. It’s traditionally a Chinese dish, but of course, the Thai have put their own spin on it throughout the decades.

Khao Soi Chiang Mai

Compared to your favourite snowboarding destinations Thailand is a bit on the warm side, how did you cope with the weather?

You know, that was one of the hardest things. You just have to accept that sweating is a way of life and bring a small cloth to wipe yourself clean every now and then. Also, in Chiang Mai and Bangkok, there’s air conditioning (AirCon) in every building. But heading south, it’s a little more remote, and you just have to accept a lot of sweat and wearing little clothing.

What’s your top tip for me as a lone female traveler in Thailand?

Hmmmm, I never found myself in any sketchy situations whatsoever, and I did not hear from other female travellers that they every felt at risk either. That said, human trafficking is a big concern in Thailand so as a woman, I’d just suggest that your common sense and situational awareness is always on alert. But seriously, I’d see single females, Thai and tourists, walking dark back alleys all by themselves. If anything, I was probably the most imposing figure they encountered that night.

Anywhere special that should be on my list to visit?

It really depends on your interests and what you like to do. It wouldn’t make any sense for me to suggest Tonsai beach in Krabi if you’re not a rock climber. Likewise, if you want pristine beaches, don’t go north. It also depends on how much of a cultural experience you want. If that’s the case, avoid the south altogether unless you go to some of the far off, undeveloped islands. I’m not big on shrines and temples and preferred going to places where I could interact with the local people and avoid tourist traps.


What is one piece of travel kit that came with you and is an essential for your travels?

The right combination of luggage, though I might be a bit different. I was traveling for 3.5 months and needed to bring all of my digital freelance gear, climbing gear, and the daily essentials. I needed MUCH more luggage for many more activities than the average 1-week vacationer. But if I did it all over again as just a tourist, I’d say a camera, comfortable flip-flops, and plenty of tank tops.

What Thailand experience will stay with you forever?

All of it. The whole trip was unforgettable. But what I will remember the most isn’t the stuff I did, but the people I connected with. Locals, travellers, instructors, climbers….everyone. It’s hard to believe you can be ANYWHERE for 3.5 months and not come across someone that gets under your skin, but it happened here.

Will you take on Thailand again in the future?

I’m not sure I’ll go back to “do” the country again. There are far too many other amazing places to visit in this world and my money is pretty limited, if not non-existent, haha. But, would I go back to Thailand for a couple of days on my way to some other Southeast Asian country? Absolutely. I made lifelong friends there, and it would be amazing if I could see them again outside of social media

Longtail Island

Hearing about David’s Thai experience has made me even more excited to explore the beautiful country. Check out David’s site to catch up with his many adventures all around the world and show him some love whilst you’re there.

Tweet David here

Share your travel tips in the comments and tell me where you’re off to on your next adventure.

Little Lottie. xo

2 thoughts on “Travel Talk with David Sandel – the man in the van.

  1. Your last photo looks like in Palawan, Philippines 🙂


    1. This is a beautiful shot David took on the islands in the south of Thailand

      Liked by 1 person

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