Monday, March 19, 2012

the awesome lawyer-backpacker named Kim

I was a failed (my college friends prefer 'disgraced') mathematician until my family decided I should be a lawyer. Whenever possible, I try not to be a lawyer after sunset and during weekends, during which time I am a wanderer or an alcoholic, or both declares Kim Anthony Castro. 

If the statement is not enough to jolt you on your chair while he goes animated about a funny incident during one of his travels (that or he hollers to a friend across the bar and calls the friend many vicious names), either Kim oddly volunteers to teach you calculus or slaps you with a lawsuit for not drinking your beer. And yes, Kim isn't tipsy yet. Just kidding.

Kim, like most interesting travelers I have met, is uniquely crazy. His punch lines are muscled with wit, peppered with irony. Most of all, he is disarmingly candid.

He has extensively backpacked across Asia and Europe. Of the many destinations, it's Europe that he can't seem to get enough of. In fact, he is visiting Europe again (for the third time) a couple of months from now.

I immediately wandered around Zamin-uud carrying my backpack. It was my first time to see a ger/yurt (traditional houses of mongolian nomads) so I was amazed taking photos of them until I was stopped by the Mongolian border patrol. They asked for my passport and checked the photos in my camera. Convinced that I’m just a stupid tourist and not a terrorist or a spy, they let me go.--Kim

In the many times that I hang out with him, I'd have to say that he is one person who knows well how to have a good time, earning him the monicker awesome!

In this playpool interview, Kim sounds sober though.
10 questions for Happy Mondays Playpool. Let's get started.

1.       Anda or Panglao?
Anda. But I’m biased. Anda is just a few minutes away from my parents’ house. Caves, rocky cliffs, white sand beaches, turquoise water, without old sex tourists with teenage girlfriends.

2.       Beer or vodka?

3.       Remedial Law or Criminal Law?
Remedial Law. But my highest rating in the bar exams was in Criminal Law.

At the outset, I have to say that the trip to Yangshou was one of the best trips I made. It helps that Yangshou, with its soaring limestone cliffs, is one of the most naturally beautiful places I have been to. --Kim

4.       A couple of years ago, you went through a huge lifestyle change from being a corporate lawyer to traveling solo for weeks at a time through Europe. How did you arrive at that big vision of experiencing the world alone?
I didn’t have a choice really. My travel buddy backed out. Others thought that quitting my job to travel was crazy and irresponsible while the rest were too poor or scared to see the world. I did not want to wait for someone to travel with so I packed my backpack and went solo. But I was hardly ever alone in Europe for 3 months.

5.       You went to Europe again the following year. What new experiences were in stored for you?
Snow, snowball fights, snow angel, snowman. It was my first time to experience winter. It was also my first time to spend the holidays (Christmas and New Year) out of the country and away from my family. But the people I spent the holidays with were like family.

Venice was not part of the itinerary. But when we found out that it was too expensive to take the train from Florence to Switzerland, our next destination, we decided to go to Verona and Venice instead. I guess the photos show how beautiful Venice is and how happy I was that I went to see it.--Kim

6.       Does the excitement and novelty of new places, cultures and people ever wear off or has it become tiresome?
Not yet. I don’t think it will ever wear off or become tiresome. Being stationary is tiresome.

7.       What was the most hilarious or craziest thing you did while on the road?
It’s a bit difficult to pick one. Choose among the following: Threw ripe tomatoes at strangers and waded through streets flooded with tomato sauce at the Tomatina Festival in Buñol, Spain; Got drunk for a week at the Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany; Covered myself with snow in Engelberg, Switzerland; Crashed a motorbike and, after being treated, convinced the nurse at the clinic to drive me around the island and then went to the full moon party with bandages around my hands and feet in Koh Phangan, Thailand; Got robbed at the metro in Barcelona, Spain. Maybe the last one was not so hilarious.

8.       You have this favorite spot, more like a secret beach somewhere, could you tell me something about it?
Sadly, it is no longer a secret now. It’s a beach found at the Caramoan Peninsula in Bicol. When I went there about 5 years ago, I had the beach to myself. The beach is surrounded by mountains and, from the shoreline, you can see islands with limestone cliffs and white sand beaches. A few years ago, the show “Survivor” from different countries started using the area. I heard more tourists go there now and fancy resorts are starting to sprout.

By the way, Kim finished BS Mathematics from the University of the Philippines-Diliman; his Law degree from the Univesity of San Carlos

9.       Have your experiences changed the way you view opportunities, money, or just the world in general?
Opportunities, yes.  Money, no. My experiences just affirmed my view of the world that it is filled with unbelievably generous and kind people. One night, I was having drinks at some street corner in Paris with a guy from the Netherlands and another guy from Brazil. Three guys from three different continents, with very different cultural backgrounds, drinking the same beer, talking about our common interest to travel and laughing about the same jokes. I guess people from different parts of the world are just the same on things that matter.

10.   What is your next adventure?
I can’t seem to get enough of Europe. I am addicted to it. I am going back again this summer to drive a vespa around vineyards in Italy and go around the islands in Greece, among others. Then I will move on to another continent, maybe Africa or South America.

Kim trying to hitch-hike in Japan. Awesome! These two ladies took him in when he did that. Just kidding :) 

And if you may ask what is his favorite Math subject? Plane geometry in High School and Calculus in University.

There you have it. The awesome Kim!

Follow his travel adventures and misadventures in the travel blog called 

 *You've just read 10 questions: Happy Mondays playpool, a series of features on discerning and inspiring (and of course uniquely silly) Filipino travelers. If you know of somebody who fits the profile to a T, please shoot a message at

*all photos courtesy: Kim Anthony Castro

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