Australian actor Ben Lawson (“13 Reasons Why,” “The Good Place,” “Designated Survivor”) loves his homeland, but says there are parts he has yet to explore. “The Great Barrier Reef is so beautiful,” says Lawson, 38, who resides in Los Angeles. “And I recommend Uluru, although I’ve never been myself. It’s on my bucket list to go to what we call the Red Center. Actually, I’d love to drive across the Nullarbor Plain and experience that part of the country, too.” Fans may stay in touch with Lawson on Twitter (https://twitter.com/imbenlawson) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/bennyvegas/).
Q. Are you a fine-dining or street cart type of guy when it comes to food?
A. I try to have one fancy meal in a new city. Otherwise, I use Yelp to find the joints the locals love. Lima is a really great culinary city. If you go to Peru, you have to try guinea pig. It’s actually pretty good! That also goes for haggis in Scotland. It’s crazy how good it tastes for what it is. There are foods that I associate with certain cities. Whenever I’m back in Sydney, I have to eat Thai, for example. The Thai food in Sydney is so good! But they can’t make a burrito to save themselves, so that’s usually my first stop back in L.A.
Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?
A. This is a really tough one to answer but in terms of a place that I keep returning to again and again, it’s New York City. I lived there for a little while in 2015 and completely fell in love with it. No other city fills me with excitement the way New York does. It’s not a relaxing place, but I don’t really travel to relax; relaxing’s what I do at home.
Q. What untapped destination should people know about?
A. I think Colombia is such a cool country and I had a great time at the port city of Cartagena. I definitely want to go back and explore more of Colombia and South America in general.
Q. What was the first trip you took as a child?
A. When I was about 6 years old, my family moved to South East Asia -- Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong -- for my dad’s work. My memories of it are mostly of all the new foods we were suddenly eating. I’m obsessed with fried rice to this day. Another memory is of a certain parade where men with hooks pierced through their backs pulled a float down the street. Very different to Brisbane. I think it’s fair to say my 6-year-old mind was blown.
Q. Have you ever done something on a trip you regret?
A. When I was in Bolivia, my brother really wanted to ride Death Road, a treacherous 35-mile road that’s famous for being the most dangerous road in the world. It’s become popular for tourists to get on a bike at the top and ride down to the bottom. I have a fear of heights and really didn’t want to do it, but eventually he convinced me. On the way there, we made friends with Christian, who was traveling by himself from Norway. Long story short, Christian accidentally went off the side of the road and lost his life. It’s easily the worst travel experience I’ve had and it did nothing to conquer my fear of heights.
Q. What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?
A. I’m the kind of person who spends a lot of time online first because I never want to come back from a place I may never go to again and have someone say, “Did you see the catacombs?” (and think) “What? There were catacombs?”
Q. What is your best travel memory?
A. When I was in my 20s, I took a bus around Ireland with a bunch of other tourists, mostly Aussies, Kiwis and Brits. Every night, we were in a different city and instead of drinking with the rest of the backpackers, I’d usually head out by myself to wander around. In Galway, I met a girl at a bar and when she found out I was leaving the next day, she took me on a walking tour of the city. It was after midnight and everything was closed, but we looked through the window of her favorite gallery and walked along the river and saw the swans. I walked her home, thanked her and went back to the hostel where everyone else was sleeping. That was a pretty good night.
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow “Go Away With...” on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)
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