I remember the first time i met this guy. It was rainy day in Dalat, Vietnam. Me and friend of mine ran through the rain and hastily got into the car that will took us around to see Dalat. Just a second we got into the car and felt relieved that we already got through the cold and chilly rain of the mountainous Dalat, this man beside me suddenly said hello. I haven’t catch my breath and this man not wasting any time said hello to a stranger. Even though taken by surprise, i greet him back.
The surprise is just a start for the next good thing. We learn that this guy, this Singaporean guy, has more than just your average solo traveler. He is a man with a mission: traveling to collect beer.
People travel with different purposes but i rarely meet a traveler with so focused purpose. This interview was made with purposes in mind: people travel with different purposes, i want the reader to know why those people want to do it.
If there are any 3 keyword to describe about you. What would best to describe about you?
haha ok here goes
uncertain, pensive, spontaneous
Uncertain? are you sure. Are those 3 words affecting how you travels?
haha yes, uncertain as in not predictable. Travel wise.. open, spontaneous, thrifty
The first time i met you in Vietnam, the first thing that i remember was: you are traveling to vietnam to taste the beer (and you collect beer). How is it going so far?
yeah that was part of it, and the beers I collected represented that period and state of mind I was in, haha.
it’s now up to 1,400+ bottles, it was about 400 when I went Vietnam. but in the last one year I’ve been quite inactive due to work
I collected represented that period and state of mind I was in –> now that interesting.. What period and state of mind?
Yeah, each beer bottle is like a marker in life, I can still remember where and when I collected a particular bottle.
in Vietnam.. I guess it was my first overseas alone and for an extended time. I guess it’s my first breakthrough to being independent and set the tone in how I travelled in future. the backpacking style I guess
I think that trip also made me more tolerant for public transport, would rather take bus or train to get from city to city rather than the plane. Even if it was cheaper haha
I see there are two things in there, travel wise it set the tone for the rest of your traveling (we’ll get back to that later). How about collecting point of view? does it (vietnam) change anything?
it sort of does, made me more persistent when I really wan to find a bottle, and of course it made me stronger haha! I was able to carry 29-30 bottles while traveling that time. anything less is not a problem now haha!
F! 29-30 botts! Any excess baggage problem so far with that?
At that time no problem as I went back to singapore via train haha
No issues for trips after that cos they were all under 20. manageable. in Syria I brought back 25 I think, no issue too hahaa
Beer in Syria? i thought they were arab world. Do they make their own beer?
Yeah you will be surprised. I found about 3 beers in Syria, 2 in jordan and 5 in Lebanon! haha I think it is because they had a small Christian population and the beer is for them. beer was first made in Mesopotamia (present day iraq) anyway!
Interesting… in what other country that you think is intruiging (beer related of course)
And alcohol the word originated from Arabic. I think beer in the Arab world is the most interesting haha
Okay, tell me more about these beer from arab. how do you get those? are they sold freely in minimarket or just in certain areas?
Yup most of them have a liquor store that stocks them not available in supermarket
You already have 1.400-ish bottles collected so far. From which country they come from? Do you collected them by yourself?
All over.. haha around 75% is by myself, the rest from friends
Mervyn like to collect beers and collect from friends, when i was going to Singapore i’ll ask him does he need something from Indonesia. Off course i’ll bring him Bintang but i never had the chance to bring him other Indonesia beers like storm, Diablo, anker, and other local beer. I remember that his ultimate goal was to have his own brewery! Imagine a man that sampled and tasted beers from around the world and one day decide to make his own beer, if that days come that would be a joy for beer lovers.
You said earlier that the bottles you collected represent the period and state of mind. From those 1.400ish. Could you read the history of your own state of mind?
Yeah, there are major milestones.. like which friend, which job, which travel, who I bought with.
Haha okay, back to the travel. You said that Vietnam set the tone of your traveling style. So before that you never went traveling by yourself? And did after that you always travel alone?
Yes mostly haha
Yup Vietnam was my first. well I went Tokyo to catch a concert alone before.. but that’s like 3 nights only
Mervyn like to bring manual camera, i remember he explaining those little details of manual camera. I can’t remember it but i do remember though that he owns an Agfa. He like to capture what others missed, this photo below taken from his album: Singapore, lorong buangkok. The Last Kampong Frontier.
I also know you an avid fan of photography. What subject/object that most intrigued you?
People doing work.
Any particular reason for this?
Yeah, I’m always curious about other occupations and people always seem very serious about it haha wanted to capture them taking pride in their work
I got three last question, if theres any place you have traveled and want to go back there again, where would it be and why?
India. I’ve been there twice but it’s just such a vast and diverse country that each experience will never be the same. I’ve mostly visited the hillies and next I would really like to go to the plains
What is the tastiest beer that you ever sampled?
Japanese beers are always quite tasty – malty, creamy, fruity, they just have so many styles. my favourite would be beers from the Sankt Gallen Brewery.
Sankt gallen? where does it come from? i thought st gallen was in the alpines…
Haha yeah, I think the brewery has got some Swiss connections, maybe the brewer
Last question: which country you never been and really want to go there
Ahaha great! Argentina will quite expensive though… anyway thanks for the interview man
haha cool man thanks for giving me the honour
I have an update though, I just resigned from my marketing job last week
Whoaaa, now you are jobless?
going to take up oil bunkering, so I’ll be on a ship for ten months haha
Now that is another adventure! Where to man?