Interview with Ed Yap

To incorporate some new travel insights to this site, I invited my good friend and fellow Stanford alum Ed Yap to answer some questions on travel. I would love to do more of these interviews so please send me your feedback on questions that you liked or didn’t like. I want this Q&A to improve as much as possible over time to suit people’s interests.

When I asked Ed to describe his travel background, he said, “travel has always been a part of my life. When I was 10 years old, my family hopped on a plane from Asia and left for the United States. However, it wasn’t until a much later trip to France and a newfound curiosity for other cultures, people, and places that I got bit by the travel bug. That curiosity has fortunately made exploration a big part of my life and has helped bring me to many different parts of the United States and the larger world. Today, I continue to follow that desire to explore to see deeper and wider into the world we’re in.”

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Ed Yap…in action


Without further ado, here is our Q&A:

Tell me about how your love of travel started.
It really started with a college overseas study program in Paris. I had traveled before to visit one of my brothers in the Philippines, and visit various Southeast Asian countries with him, but Paris was a first for me in many ways. It was the first time I made decisions on where to go, the first time I visited a country without knowing the language well, and so the first time I got my traveling legs.

What have been your favorite places to visit and your favorite travel experiences so far?
The Philippines and The United States, my birth country and the country I’ve called home for most of my life. Both places to me hold a great balance of certainty and uncertainty. With an intimacy to the places, I have a visceral understanding of each country, but the two are so vast, rich, and diverse, there are always new things for me discover.


What stimulates you from a travel perspective and what inspires your desire to travel? 
Discovering food, culture, and how the world fits together.


You have also lived in several different countries. Has this influenced your travel or travel preferences at all?
I’ve been very fortunate in getting a chance to live in different countries and different cities in the each country. I’ve discovered that people throughout the world, despite seemingly varying cultures, have a lot of underlying similarities and innately are “human” and relatable. This has helped me go beyond my comfort zone in both traveling to new places and going more in depth in places I’ve been to before.


Do you eat differently when you travel than when you’re home? 
Not particularly when eating out. I try to set my sight on good food everywhere I am.


What has been your favorite place to visit from a food perspective?
Paris. Maybe it was my young palate, but every dish from every cuisine there seemed to just be better.

If you had one year to travel with no restrictions (budgetary, time, no world conflicts) where would you go / what would you do?

Go everywhere in the Philippines. The history of the country is so rich, tangled, and complex, it left such a dynamic and uniquely beautiful people and an oddly disparate set of islands. Admittedly, I have a biased curiosity, but how can you not like a country that feels like 20 different countries and the strongest things that tie the people are their conspicuously love for each other, the country, and the rest of the world?
Do you prefer travelling alone or with a group?
Generally with one to a few other people. I haven’t had too much experiencing traveling completely alone, but enjoying the company you keep has much to do with compatibility of personalities. Turns out it could be really tough and less enjoyable if everybody wants something different.


Do you prefer to travel slowly (lingering in places) or quickly (moving from destination to destination)?
Slowly, going into more and more depth. There’s beauty in each onion layer.


How do you like to plan for your trips?
I do different things depending on my travel duration. For trips a week or shorter, I go recon. Everything is generally superficial and involves a lot of parking myself in an area each day to do some free exploring with one or two designated stops. I find wikitravel and random Googling useful for finding the right areas. For anything longer, I will add more focus on discovering culture, so I’ll make an effort to try to meet people whether they are local or local enough. I’ll try to go to things that locals would go to for entertainment and different ways to pass the time. In Buenos Aires, this involved going with some people in my hostel to go to a milonga (tango club) with some backpackers from South America. However, to what extent I do these things have to do with who I’m traveling with. But regardless of duration, I try to use the promise of good local food as my guiding light of where to go next.


If you could go back ten years, what would be the biggest travel tip that you would give yourself?
Don’t always try to go to new places. Find novel depths in places you have already been to.

One Response to Interview with Ed Yap

  1. Stacy says:

    Very interesting comments.

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