On Holiday With: Nelson Ng, Lost
We were looking at travel as a form of education yesterday with Voyages d’Etudes; today we’re exploring Shanghai with Lost editor Nelson Ng. Lost is a magazine for the traveller who wants to stray from the beaten track and who is ready to do away with the tour guide. This morning we catch up with Nelson as he prepares the much anticipated issue two.
Where are you today?
What was the first magazine you remember enjoying?
I think the first magazine that I really got into when I was a child and read from page to page was Discover Magazine. At that time, of course, I didn’t understand anything about design but I was interested in the content and discoveries that the magazine offered. I would sneakily pretend to be doing homework but then when my Mom wasn’t looking, I would be reading the magazine.
Tell us about your first holiday.
Technically I think my first holiday was with my family to Japan as a child. It was a guided tour with a tour guide and bus with lots of people. I liked Japan but I didn’t like the guided tour. I didn’t like sitting in a bus for many hours just to get off for about 30 minutes, which was what happened most of the time when these tour guides try to bring you to as many places as possible. I always looked out the bus window and whenever I saw something interesting, I’d think, “Why can’t they stop the bus right now?”
Are you a beach holiday or city break person?
Neither really. I don’t really go for beach holidays, but I don’t mind city breaks. I think I’m more interested in exploring places and cultures, and that could vary from cities to villages to hiking in the mountains.
What is your magazine’s approach to travel?
Personal travel stories. I think there’s plenty of magazines out there that recommend the best places to go, which is all fine and well, but I think there’s a lack of magazines that share the emotional and spiritual side of travel. Which is what I think makes travel valuable: personal travel experiences.
Which holiday/trip from your magazine would you most like to experience?
In the first issue, one of the contributors, who also happens to be a good friend and ex-colleague, Driv, had quit his job and after being constantly frustrated with work. He travelled to Nagano and met a local designer by chance at a hostel. He then decided to stay and work with him for about a month. The things that he learned and experienced changed his life forever. He realized that you can do meaningful things in a small design studio too. He then went back to his home country and started his own studio and has been working there ever since. I’d love to experience something like that one day.
Which magazine(s) should people be taking away with them this summer?
I always recommend Apartamento to anyone. Even though it’s not really about travel, it has inspired me to travel. For travelers within Japan, I’d recommend grabbing a copy of D Design Travel, by D&Department.
Why is it better to get lost instead of sticking to the guidebooks?
Because travel isn’t just about seeing sights. It’s about the accidents that happened along the way, the people you spoke to, the things you discovered on your own. These are the things you will remember from any trip. Two people can go to the same place and have entirely different experiences. Of course, guidebooks are still essential to help you get there in the first place, but after a while it’s about closing that guidebook and opening your mind to let the trip happen. It’s nice to make mistakes.
Tell us about your preparations for issue two.
We’re working hard on it as I’m typing this. It’s taken a little longer than I hoped for, but issue two will be splendid with lots of amazing photography and in-depth stories, all thanks to our amazing contributors. The contributors in issue two are completely different from issue one, so the content will be pretty fresh.
Where will you be taking a break this year?
My girlfriend and I are planning to take the Trans-Siberia Railway from Beijing to Moscow. It is a six-day ride through three different countries: China, Mongolia and Russia. It’s not going to be entirely comfortable without a shower for six days, but the views will be splendid and the experience quite special. I hope it will happen.