Odd Things in Odd Places: Intro

A couple months ago, May Tim got inspired.

“You know what would be cool?” May Tim thought to himself, “To send June Tim, July Tim, and August Tim, alone, to a bunch of places where they don’t know anyone and can’t speak to anyone, and they can do a big awesome blog series about it!”

May Tim could hardly contain himself.

There were some obvious questions—what will June, July, and August Tim actually do in these places, what will the blog posts be about, how will those Tims feel about living out of a bag for the whole summer, how will they answer emails and keep up with normal things while frantically trying to keep May Tim’s promises to readers and live up to the hype May Tim created?

Luckily, those questions weren’t May Tim’s problem. “Oh they’ll figure it out,” May Tim mused from his bed as he sipped his morning coffee.

The only question that did need to be addressed was where exactly he was going to send those other Tims. Since the whole thing was mostly inconsequential to him anyway, he decided to let a large group of anonymous Wait But Why readers in on the planning and emailed a poll of possible countries to WBW’s email subscribers. Those readers, not giving much of a shit either, sent the future Tims to Russia, Japan, Nigeria, Iraq, and Greenland. Cause fuck it, why not.

May Tim bought tickets, arranged visas, got some shots, and moved on with his life, wiping his hands clean of the whole thing.

Then a funny thing happened. May Tim disappeared forever, and now I, July Tim, am in the middle of Russia with only these instructions from May Tim: “Okay do a big blog post of some kind about this, but make it good and original, and also go to Siberia cause that’s funny, and also find someone around your age to switch lives with for a day cause I told everyone you were gonna do that, but also figure out exactly why you’re doing that cause I wasn’t sure. Oh and there’s not really a budget so just work that out somehow. K I gotta go now since I have a lot of non-planning of this trip to do, because I’m just not gonna use this valuable month of May to help out with your current situation, cause that’s the kind of guy I am. Good luck!”

So that’s how we ended up with the Odd Trips in Odd Places series, which will take place between now and late August.

In each of the five places, I’ll learn as much as I can about the culture by talking to as many locals as possible and by delving into the strangest corners of society to see what’s happening there. And at some point, I’ll find one person along the way to live the life of for a day, to see what a totally different person’s life is like.

At the end of each leg, I’ll write a big post about everything that happened. I also have a video camera and will incorporate videos and pictures if I can.

Finally, I’m going to ask 50 random people in each country the following question: If you had a magical Aladdin genie who granted you any three wishes, what would you wish for? I’m not totally sure what will come out of it, but I think it’ll be interesting to see how the answers differ from country to country. I’ll write about this part after I’ve done the interviews in all five places.

So that’s the plan.

Here’s the whole picture:


Now that I’m done, here are the posts:

The genie question I asked people in all five countries

And another time, North Korea

  • Mark

    Hey, if you take me with you, I’ll help you figure out why when we’re done.

  • Chris


  • Danny

    I wasn’t expecting much from this intro post but it made me laugh out loud. You never disappoint!

  • Kait

    Currently in Vietnam sure you don’t want to venture here 🙂

  • Rob

    I’m in Erbil, and for 3 weeks now I have been constantly not killed to death. I’m going to be here in August, too, hopefully not being killed to death then, either.

  • Rafał

    Man! Erbil or called also ‘Hawler’ is a safe place like nowhere else, to be honest it’s not Iraq – it’s Kurdistan. You can hitch-hike there without problems. To have a REAL adventure You should go to Baghdad, or even better – Mosul



  • Jane

    I am also in Erbil, working, flew here from Tel Aviv via Amman this morning. This is the fifth time I’ve been here, first time since things kicked off in Iraq last month. It’s fine, as others have said. Get yourself a beer in Einkawa (Christian quarter = they have liquor stores) and you could be in New York. OK, not really. But it’s safe. Enjoy.

  • Clay

    Erbil is where all the newsies are reporting from these days…… Richard Engle, Martha Radatz, etc. Great opportunity to photobomb.

    • Rob

      Yeah, I was in a lift (elevator) with two of them, today. I asked them where they’d been too. The replied “where haven’t we been?” I suggested Kirkuk and Mosul. “Oh no, can’t go there, too dangerous”. They’d been to Sulaymaniya (“Sulli”) which is basically where folk from Erbil go if they fancy a different mall at the weekend….

      The BBC crew have breakfast in the Rotana each morning. In fact, all the news crews return to the hotels about 5pm. Intrepid!

      I did see Arwa Damon last month, too. Need to brush up on my photobombing.

      • Clay

        Cool. Glad to know you still haven’t been killed to death. Keep up the good work!

  • Writa Obscura

    Don’t go to Iraq. Go to the United Arab Emirates and go see the giant man made islands and Burj Khalifa. DO NOT GO TO IRAQ.

    It’s not worth it, it’s not worth it – it is not worth it.

    • Writa Obscura

      I’m not so sure Nigeria is a bright idea either. Why not check out Machu Picchu and the Nezca Lines?

    • Rob

      Writa, you’re kidding, right? Right?

      • Writa Obscura

        Repetition has it’s uses. Besides, as he pointed out he is going to these places because readers wanted him to go them. Fan-fulfillment isn’t worth the danger at some of these places.

    • Johnno

      @Writa – Classic comments from a non-traveler. (p.s – Read this blog on the difference from travelling and holidaying.)

  • Tarad

    The map is wrong. Crimea is not the territory of Russian Federation.

    • Julia

      You are not following up the recent events, aren`t you?

  • Gy

    Cool idea, come to France, Paris also and I’ll be your guide 🙂

  • Justin

    Godspeed. If you happen to lay over in London you’ll have people to hang out with here!

  • Steanne

    …i think you need more southern-hemisphere readers.

  • Morgan

    Could you please find out if any part of Greenland is really green? Not just one huge defrosting iceberg and a few volcanos?

  • Beth

    Indeed, Godspeed! I hope you stay safe, Tim.

  • Cesium137

    I would be most afraid of visiting Japan: If you happen to breath-in, or eat a radioactive particle you will be killed to death …slowly. Particles are still constantly released; they are in the air, water, food, up to 300 miles away from Fukushima. Much higher chances of being hurt there than anywhere else!

    • Keln

      Can you eat particles with chop sticks? I usually have mine sprinkled on a slice of yellow cake.

  • Mike

    Good luck!

    Let me know, if you need any help/info in Russia. I’m from Moscow, e-mail: garvash@yandex.ru

  • kajsalajs

    Wow, what a cool trip. Looking forward to read about it. Best wishes from a wbw fan in Sweden!

  • Rena

    I love your blog and I love your writing! This is the most excited I’ve been since your post on N. Korea. Woohoo! – Teen from India

  • Rob

    Yeah, be careful of the Fukyu sashimi.

    I chickened out of my photobombing opportunity this morning. al Jazeera were interviewing a Peshmerga General next to me, and I bottled it, not wanting killed to death and all. The cameraman was telling me when the were near Mosul, the general had a team fire off a mortar round, so they could film it. He said that was pretty cool.

    He also said that they could see the ISIS sniper positions about 600m away, but nobody seemed to be in too much of a shooty mood right then. He described it as “tense”.

  • N00less Cluebie

    May Tim sure was a dick. good riddance!

  • :D

    Haha vietnam is so hot and has so many scary animals and insects. 🙁

  • Eeek

    I would skip Iraq.
    Sure, some places might be okay, if you look of arab descent. Westerners (caucasians in general) are the prime targets for kidnapping. I would avoid countries with the Red warnings. Red seems like an important color.


    There are countless countries where you can have great adventures, lots of fun, with much less terrorism, kidnapping, crime. There’s no pride is taking unnecessary risks.
    Some people here might see this as a wussy scaredy-cat type of thing. But I’m writing this as someone who works in the customs and immigration field.

    • Rob

      Eeek, Tim is flying into Erbil. In Kurdistan, looking of Arab descent is possibly more problematic as looking Caucasian. More bombs have gone off in London than in Erbil in the last 10 years.

      I like my friends, and certainly don’t want to see them in danger, yet I have invited them over to Kurdistan to go an motorcycle tour with me, here. There is Iraq, and there is “The Other Iraq”. That reminds me:


      I’m not afilliated, just as some great pics.

  • ZiadM

    Erbil is pretty safe, my friend was there on business recently. You won’t get the entire picture but It’s still worth visiting. Technically you’re in Iraq but really you’re in Kurdistan.

  • Caro

    Tim, on your next trip come to South America, come to Argentina! lots of interesting places and people to see here too!!! Really looking forward to read your next post!

  • Mary Beth

    this is GREAT!! can’t wait to read about your adventures. don’t worry about what the dimwits are saying about safety. it’s not a good trip if you don’t shit your pants at least once!

  • Saniya

    Oh, Russia, I’m from Russia, Oktyabrsky, it’s between Samara and Ufa. If you’re in our town – call +79625375993, a bed and food and a few entertainments are guaranteed. And a great idea – about three wishes, I’ve even thought out my three.

  • Roja

    So many foreign folks in Erbil!

  • robotic

    I’m curious what you have to say about Japan! Have been here for quite a few years now, and am beginning to find it pretty normal 🙂

  • Rose

    Anything outside Kurdistan in August is an extremely bad idea (unless you really know where you are going), as been pointed out by many. If ever you need help or info while you planning your trip to Iraq or once you’re over there, dont hesitate! Been living there for a little while and would be more than happy to help you on your odyssey!

  • Prince

    Dont be crying wussies , Ive been to the deep south of Iraq twice and never had any problems, the Media is giving the idea that Iraq is a massive war zone but that is not true, even now with all the Mosul stuff.

    Just avoid certain tight spots in Bahdhad and you should be fine, also Erbil does not give you the real Iraq exprience, like the middle and the south do.

    • Rose

      Not sure what your sources are, or if you are even here at the moment, but that is very poor advice.

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  • wobster109


    Maybe you want to skip Iraq this time of year. We won’t judge you harshly for it, really and truly.

  • Peter

    Ooh, I’ve been to Greenland! When you are in Nuuk, you have to eat dinner at Nipisa, which is the best restaurant in the country. It’s really, really good.

  • Lisa

    Well, it looks like Iraq is up next. It’s a bit worrisome given the situation right now. Good luck Tim! I can’t wait to read this one.

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  • Mallory

    It’s officially September and the Iraq post isn’t up, which hopefully just means you’re running a little late. Just a quick shoutout to let us know you’re ok would be much appreciated!

  • Lisa

    Yes, let us know!

  • Shayna

    Hope all is well.

  • Mike

    What a bunch of pussies!
    Yeah Erbil and Kurdistan is safe. but you wouldn’t get what Iraq means unless you visit some south and middle areas! and it’s not what the media tells you. believe it or not, there’s no bombs or clashes once you’re in Najaf or Karbalaa or any south city, even baghdad isn’t that bad.
    BTW, both Erbil and Duhok are not farther than 50 miles from ISIS, so yeah, I think you would be even safer in the south.

  • Anon

    Mike, so rude. Oh yeah, Iraq is safe, ummmm doubt it. I imagine you are probably one of those idiots that would swim with sharks too. Go f yourself.

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  • Lucas

    Go to Gaza!

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