Boarding Pass – Alexander Santillanes

This time last year I was making my way back from a wonderful trip to Cambodia and Thailand that was in part inspired (and aided) by the beautiful blog posts of Xander Santillanes of Primitive Culture (and we were even lucky enough to meet him and his boyfriend for a great dinner while over there). I’m constantly inspired by how he – as a self-described amateur ethnographer – manages to capture scenes from everyday life. Then he takes them a step further as he develops them into a post that gives you an amazing sense of life wherever he is at the time (he has since made his way from Bangkok to Cape Town). . . So while I’m busy navigating my way home today, I hope you enjoy the benefits of vicarious travel! {Thanks, Xander!}last trip taken:
A weekend trip to Waenhuiskrans, a quiet fishing town near the Southern-most tip of Africa.
next trip on deck:
I don’t have any definite plans to leave Cape Town anytime soon, but I’d love to get over to Durban on the East Coast.
one place you would go back to again and again:
Southeast Asia, though that’s maybe too general. I hope to revisit the countries along the Mekong regularly throughout my life.
place you’d most likely recommend a friend go visit:
Taiwan. There’s fantastic food, beautiful bamboo cloaked mountains, and cities teeming with hip young design culture. Plus, I think it’s such an underrated destination, that it’s like sharing a well kept secret.
preferred method of transportation:
Am I in the minority by saying that I like traveling by airplane? After traveling overland in Asia for two years, and suffering through two-day slowboat trips, endless bus trips on potholed roads, and overnight train rides sitting in hard seats, I’ve quite warmed to the speed and comfort of the friendly skies.
place you’ve never been but dying to go:
I’ve been dreaming of getting up to Ethiopia and Eritrea for years; I’d love to see the hyenas, sip a latte in Asmara, and enjoy some doro wat in Addis Ababa.
place you’d never go back:
The Frankfurt airport, if I can help it. I had an eight hour layover there recently, and the best option for passing the time was sitting at a McCafe.
most memorable trip:
When I was 22, I took a coming of age trip traveling through the Middle East. I had no skills in speaking Arabic, and no real clue what I was doing, but with the help of total strangers I managed to stumble from one unbelievable setting to the next, taking in Crusader castles, dazzling mosques, and glamorous cities along the way.
how do you prepare for a trip?
I pack the night before I leave, and usually try to skim through a guidebook for some tips, but I often find that I’m completely unable to anticipate or plan for a place until I’m on the ground there.
how do you record your travels when you’re traveling?
I have a trusty and much beaten-up camera that I take everywhere, and a blog where I describe everything that I see (and taste).
what is your favorite thing to photograph in a new place?
I photograph a lot of food, but I think my favorite thing to photograph is the small details that will help me gain a sense of a place’s sense of style and design: signs, billboards, posters, architecture, etc.
on an average, how many pictures to you take on a trip?
Hundreds a day. When living in Asia, I was more often seeing through my viewfinder than not.
what’s in your “designer travel kit” ?
I carry a sketchbook at all times, but rarely use it to document the world around me. Most often I record things with my camera, a digital Canon Rebel XT, then only develop them into design ideas months later.
what do you do after a trip? how long after a trip does this happen?
I try to blog while I’m traveling, so that I can sometimes write about the world as I’m experiencing it. But often some of the most incredible places are the most difficult to describe, and I end up never writing about some of the places I love the most.
best meal you’ve eaten while traveling?
A plate of curry crab with fresh peppercorns in Kep, on the coast of Cambodia. The crab was so fresh that it was only plucked from the water after we ordered it, and was served with the famous local green peppercorns that burst with spice when you bit into them.
Blog: Primitive Culture

Click HERE for ALL the past Boarding Pass features.


  • I have to agree about the Frankfurt airport. It’s probably the worst airport I’ve had the displeasure of flying into and out of. Security is needlessly strict and rude, the airport is hard to navigate and there is NOTHING to do while stuck there! I avoid it at all costs!

  • This is a superb post and a great idea. I enjoyed reading about Xander and his travels. Thankfully I haven’t met Franfurt airport, although I have encountered some nasty places in other regions of the world. Xander has an eye for photography and understanding the people who live in the area. Thanks for sharing. I’l be back to read more.

  • Hi there! Found my way to your blog from Koala’s. Wow! I love your blog, and I really enjoyed reading this post. I can relate to the favorite places (stories) never even getting written about, but then, those are the moments that add up to everything that we are…

    Hope to be around!
    Warm greetings from West Africa

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