Joshua From Engineer On The Road – Interview
Welcome back to the third installment of What’s The T? I sat down with Joshua Wilkie, a Scottish engineer and blogger behind Engineer On The Road, to get the lowdown on everything from travelling as a gay man in south-east Asia, not kissing drag queens, and answering the question about what Scottish men wear under their kilts.
1. Where did your first international trip take you to?
My first trip abroad was to the Faroe Islands (a Danish territory located between the Shetland Islands of Scotland and Iceland) when I was a baby, a bit random I know but my parents were missionaries so we went to a few random places when I was young. My first trip as an adult, without my family was a Christian missions’ trip volunteering in Swaziland (along with a visit to South Africa and Mozambique). Yeah, I was a respectable boy back then.
2. What top attractions would you recommend for first-time visitors to your native Scotland?
Most visitors head straight to Edinburgh and usually don’t see much else, and what they do see is incredibly stereotypical and not at all like the real Scotland that people here know and love. If you must see Edinburgh go to Holyrood Parliament, Arthur’s Seat and the National Gallery. I thoroughly recommend a day trip to Stirling which is a smaller and quieter city, but more scenic with a much nicer castle. For real, authentic, gritty Scotland however, you should head to Glasgow which is the cultural epicentre of the nation, with excellent nightlife, the largest independent music scene outside of the USA, acres and acres of parkland, great shopping, iconic architecture, good food (chicken tikka masala originated there), and easily accessible to the rest of Scotland such as Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, and the rugged coastline on the way to the Western Isles.
3. What do Scottish men have underneath their kilts?
Assuming the question refers to what we actually have on under out kilts, the honest answer is that it’s really up to the individual, the environment you are in and whether or not the kilt is hired (often the hire company insists you wear underwear).
4. You just shattered the illusions of men and women everywhere. Would you ever go on a gay cruise?
I’m not sure.
5. Concise. What’s the best gay club or bar that you’ve ever visited on your travels?
I’ll always have fond memories of Bee in Gothenburg, Sweden; it’s a “straight friendly” bar so has a mixed, welcoming crowd, REALLY good food and a nice atmosphere, especially on bitter, dark winter nights. It was also named the best gay bar in Sweden when I was there.
6. Which country or city has surprised you the most when it comes to its gay scene?
Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Yangon surprised me as there were reasonably visible gay parties – Singapore I particularly enjoyed. Toronto surprised me in how friendly it was. It’s a really close-knit community with a lot of shared history, and for the first time in my life I felt completely comfortable being openly gay. I liked it there so much I returned this year to report on World Pride.
7. What tips do you have for visiting a country where being gay is actively frowned upon by locals?
You always need to be discerning of the situation no matter where you are, even in “safe” countries, so use your common sense. My Burmese friend said this: don’t kiss a drag queen in the street.
8. You wrote quite a controversial piece about homosexuality in Russia. Do you still stand by what you wrote?
I assume you mean this piece – it was controversial? I found Russia to be disappointing in general. As much as I had learned about the country in that time, the shock of being directly exposed to someone’s strong homo- and xenophobia was really jarring, and was one of a number of negative experiences that coloured my impression. I wrote the article because at the time of the incident I felt I didn’t have a voice, and it was a genuine expression of my feelings, so I stand by it.
9. Tell us one thing about you that would surprise people.
I have grapheme-colour synaesthesia – basically it’s a neurological phenomenon where two separate senses get tied up together – for me I associate letters and numbers with specific colours, even with the Russian and Greek alphabets.
10. Men of which nationality make you swoon the most?
I don’t think you can generalise, but I go weak for Latin and Middle-Eastern men. And Canadian guys have nice beards.
11. What chat up line works the best on you?
Chat-up lines usually make me cringe – a smile and eye contact will get you a lot further.
12. If you could make a cocktail, what would be in it and what would you name it?
I’m not a big cocktail drinker, but if I made one it would involve ginger beer, golden rum and crushed pineapple, and call it a Bermuda Triangle or something of that ilk.
13. Take the name of your first pet and the first street you lived on. That’s your drag queen name. What is it?
Daisy Maxwelton: socialite, philanthropist and purveyor of fine scandal.
14. If you could move to any city in the world, where would you move to and why?
Right now I’m trying to move to Calgary in Canada; there are plenty of job opportunities in environmental science and engineering, there is amazing scenery nearby, and I’ve always found Canadians to be some of the friendliest people I’ve met. Plus they have gay rodeo! I also wouldn’t turn down Rio de Janeiro.
15. Finally, tell us about your upcoming travel plans!
My travel plans are a little up in the air but right now I’m working the Australian bush, and in a few weeks will be flying back to Europe with a long transit to see Dubai. I have one day back in Scotland then I think I’ll be heading to Athens to attend the TBEX travel conference there. Other than that nothing is planned, although I want to return to Iceland and Germany this winter, and hopefully emigrate. Next summer I’ll spend some time in the Canadian Rockies, no matter where I end up working.
Thanks for that, Joshua! If you’d like to stay up-to-date with Joshua and his travels around the globe, you can check out his blog, and make sure you’re following @GI_Joshi on Twitter, and @engineerontheroad on Instagram.