There comes a time in everyone’s life when we feel the need to break free. For some this means starting their own business, writing a book or putting together the rock band they were dreaming about in high school. For others, the need of freedom is brought to life when their inner nomadic spirit takes over.
Whether they’re bored working in a weary system, or want to break the routine or maybe their soul will never find peace and happiness unless is able to unveil the world’s wanders, these are the people for whom the answers lie in the journey.
Bradut ‘Brad’ Florescu, a Romanian travel journalist, who has worked in advertising and media for over 13 years, decided to leave everything behind and follow his passions somewhere else in the world. There’s probably nothing new to this scenario, but unlike other people, Brad has actually succeeded in keeping this dream alive for almost 3 years now. He moved to Thailand and dedicated his life to travelling blossomed into writing and photography.
These 3 years scattered with stories, lessons and experiences have turned Brad into a traveller who can now understand better the world and himself.
He took a tour of Thailand on a sidecar motorcycle to find secluded beaches and meet the locals; he travelled to Sumatra, Indonesia, to taste the most expensive type of coffee in the world; he went to see the shocking, yet miraculous effects of the tsunami that hit Indonesia in 2004; he experienced a spectacular around the world trip with the Romanians: a one of its kind project in Romania which covered 3 continents, 10 cities and 35.000 km in 21 days.
What does a typical day in your life – when you’re in Thailand – look like?
There are two types of typical days: when I’m home and when I’m not.
In the first case, my days start around 8.30 with a cup of Thai Arabica coffee and a quick review of the overnight events and articles of note from around the world. Then I move on to writing, editing photos, publishing on the website and social media. Afternoons are dedicated to development: research for the future projects, reading, learning new languages, improving my guitar skills. I spend most evenings with my international group of friends in Chiang Mai, discussing news, sharing travel experiences and making music.
The days on the road start before sunrise, continue for 12 hours of field work followed by 3-4 hours of photo editing, preliminary writing, fine tuning the next day’s plan. I usually go to sleep around midnight.
You left for Thailand with some of your friends. Was it easier for you to make this step knowing that you wouldn’t have been totally alone on another continent, at ‘the end of the world’(like your mum says:)?
I’m not the gregarious type. I treasure solitude. However, in this case, being with friends added a few precious dimensions to the whole experiment. It gave me a lot of clues about the dynamics of friendship in a new environment with different rules and challenges. It was much more intellectual fun being with Ioana, Diana, Cristi and Andrei. They helped me learn a lot more about myself and about what I was meant to do with my life.
Meanwhile, 3 years later, the stories have changed. Some stayed, others left. But Elena, your better half, is still living with you in Thailand. How much does her presence influence you in continuing your journey in Asia?
Besides giving me love, care and emotional support, Elena has helped me a lot with my work. She’s doing project management; she’s in charge with sales, website development, finances and all those tasks that ask for a pragmatic, detail-oriented approach (fantastic counterpart to my stormy style). She’s also a very talented photographer, a fantastic networker and a skilled cook. Not to mention how beautiful she is.
Elena’s being here in Thailand makes it sometimes harder for me to travel, because I miss her as soon as I hit the road. So hear my words: being a travel writer is a tough job when an amazing Penelope is waiting at home.
“The culture of freedom”
Although you’ve started this journey as a “Crush Test Dummy ” and experienced the benefits (or not) of a sabbatical year, your passion for travel, writing and photography turned into at least 2 great projects: tedoo.ro and tedoo.eu. What are you aiming to achieve through them?
Tedoo.ro is the rebranded and redesigned version of Amazingrace.ro, the travel blog I started in 2007. Besides the facelift, its very concept evolved a lot during the last 5 years and my being a nomad for quite a while now helped me better understand the world in general and the world of traveling in particular.
The core idea of Tedoo.ro is “the culture of freedom”. I strongly believe that this freedom we’re all craving for should come with an usage manual or it can be mishandled, broken, lost. Tedoo.ro is focused on providing Romanian readers with proper information about what freedom really is and how it should be pursued and used for the benefit of all.
Tedoo.eu is a photo blog I started soon after my arrival in Thailand. It features those photos which really express my view on the world. A bit weird, a bit lonely but definitely honest.
And how is Tedoo.ro different from the other travel websites in .ro?
First off as already stated, tedoo.ro is not about travelling for the sake of it. It’s about freedom. It’s about inner travels, about overcoming misconceptions, fears, ignorance and clichés, it’s about finding the way, reading the world as an open book, pursuing one’s passion and intuition. It’s about a multidimensional way of travelling, where the physical movement from A to B is just a pretext for an inner journey.
Second, tedoo.ro has kind of a patriotic approach, as it tries to build up a Romanian travel culture, adapted to my country fellows’ way of life, cultural perspective, interests and mental profile.
Third, since tedoo.ro was among the very first websites that promoted independent travelling and a nomadic way of life, most of the nowadays Romanian travel blogosphere is somehow trying to replicate the concept, at least partially. Unfortunately, as all copycats, they’re also replicating the mistakes I made in the past.
Have you thought about having an English version to extend your audience?
There is a tiny English/Spanish section on Tedoo.ro (many thanks to Andreea Sminchise and Laura Saracin), but there’s much more to come. “The Thailander” project, comprising my extensive travels around Northern and Southern Thailand, is currently under development. About half of the stories have already been translated and published on the draft version of the website. By the time the full version will hit the internet, it will probably be one of the world’s most comprehensive online guides about Thailand.
Do you have any story about fans of your blog/website who travelled to Thailand and wanted to meet you as well?
Not one, but tens of them. I meet at least one of my readers every week, in Chiang Mai. There are many I cannot see because they travel to other destinations in Thailand. But they e-mail me and I feel good to know they found some useful information on Tedoo.ro.
Setting an example
You left the communication industry in Romania, but you couldn’t ‘close the door’ for good not even at over 7,000 km away. How addictive is the new media system?
Communication is addictive regardless of the channel. Having a face-to-face conversation, singing around a beach fire or sharing photos on Facebook, these are all ways of reminding each other that being human is all about togetherness and playfulness.
If it wasn’t for writing and photography, what else could you have done to make a living in Thailand?
I don’t usually answer “IF” questions, but in this case I’ll make an exception. I’d probably make music.
We think that the path you chose has encouraged other people to fulfill their dreams that until then didn’t seem reachable. How do you feel about it?
Guilty as charged.
Is Brad Florescu a trendsetter or a brand (that people identify with and trust)?
I couldn’t say that from where I’m standing.
“Find your way”
What are the three main things that would define, in your view, the people of Thailand?
The Buddha, The King and The Family.
During these 3 years spent in Thailand, can you share with us a story that was a turning point in your life?
Every moment of freedom is a turning point in one’s life. If you feel comfortable with your life, if you know what tomorrow is going to bring, then you’ve exchanged “a walk-on part in the war/for a lead role in a cage” (as Pink Floyd brilliantly put it some forty years ago).
Tell us about the man you used to be before moving to Thailand and the man you are now. Are there any major differences?
I was selfish, superficial, impatient and unwise. Now I’m slowly healing.
Why should one take a sabbatical year in Thailand?
One shouldn’t. One should not turn one’s life into a postcard. The whole thing about a sabbatical is to put one’s self as far as possible from bias. So it depends on where the bias comes from and on the nature of this bias. One can spend a sabbatical anywhere, anyhow for any length of time. It’s just a way. Find your own.