Saturday, 27 July 2013

{Guest Post+Author Interview} Tom Schmidt - Bumbling Through Hong Kong

Let's welcome Tom Schmidt, author and illustrator of Bumbling Through Hong Kong!

Why I Love Solo Independent Travel
By: Tom Schmidt

1)  Follow Your Heart:  Hop on a night train to an obscure destination on a whim … why?  Because you just feel like it …

2)  Eat When You’re Hungry:  Eat whatever you want, whenever you want …

3)  Meet and Greet:  Prepare to meet everyone and form ad hoc travel groups … a solo traveler meets so many people on the road that they’re rarely lonely …

4)  Reinvent Yourself:  Dress however you like and experiment with new personas … without having a friend bringing back embarrassing stories!

5)  Smell the Roses:  Linger a few days longer in a beautiful spot without being rushed off by a tour guide …

6)  Treat Yourself:  Splurge when you want to … and pamper yourself whenever you’re run down …

7)  Explore Your Inner Self:  Sleep, meditate, dream and reflect upon your life in complete solitude …

8)  Romance is in the Air:  If you’re unattached, get swept off your feet by a romantic local … and see where fate takes you!

Hi Tom! Thanks for stopping by my blog. I have some simple questions for you before you go bumbling off again!

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m an American architect living and working in Hong Kong; I’ve lived here for over 15 years and I travel extensively.  I design hotels and resorts for a living, but also write and illustrate The Bumbling Traveller Adventure Series – armchair travel books that are largely based upon my own travel experiences throughout the world, but infused with additional educational sidebars.  I try to keep myself stimulated with attempting all kinds of different creative challenges.  Most recently, I was thrilled to have won an international design competition for the design of a lunar habitat / hotel on the surface of the moon which I presented to NASA scientists and astronauts at a major Space Conference in the US last year!

How did the ‘Bumbling’ series come about?
The Bumbling Traveller Adventure Series evolved from the daily entries and sketches contained within my hardbound journals which I kept while I was backpacking.  After a long backpacking trip, these were transformed into simple illustrated travelogues that I prepared for my family and friends in order to show everyone where I had been and what I had done.  These also contained in-situ architectural sketches and visual notes of the many buildings and places I visited.  Over the years, I consolidated many adventures, fictionalized some parts to add some drama and mystery to the stories, and created a set of characters loosely based upon actual travel companions who came and went while I was travelling on my own.  Eventually, this culminated in an award-winning travel book series that is now distributed around the world.  I recently did a TEDx talk in Hong Kong explaining how the series came about -- that should be online soon, so look out for that!

I’m just curious, do you write and draw at the same time?
I usually draw “thumbnails,” or small rough sketches, while I’m writing to set up the scene in my head – and of course, there are hundreds of revisions in both the illustrations and the text as the book slowly comes together.  Often, when the illustration reflects an actual travel experience, I’ll try to draw it as I remembered it in my “mind’s eye.” I will also refer back to my original travel sketches and photos of places so the buildings and places are as accurate as possible.  I usually try to include other details in the illustrations so it supplements the written description of the place or situation to impart as much information as possible to the reader, or to move the story along.

While you were writing, did you ever feel that you were one of the characters in your story?
Yes, I can definitely relate to Bumbling Bob …

A personal question: do you prefer ebooks, paperbacks or hardcovers?
It depends upon the book, but I typically prefer paperbacks and hardcovers – especially if the book is rich with illustrations.  I think e-books are great for reference books or information that you need to access quickly and for short periods, but I am also wary of the effect all of these e-book readers might be having on our eyes over the long-term … I still prefer a good old-fashioned bound book that won’t break if you drop it!

Bumbling Through Hong Kong by Tom Schmidt

Bumbling Through Hong Kong is an educational yet comical adventure through the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and its many manmade and natural environments. The reader is taken on an entertaining journey of discovery by following the misadventures of a fictitious cast of bumbling characters as they stumble across the cultural traditions, natural assets and historic relics of Hong Kong; including the numerous environmental and social challenges faced by one of the most densely inhabited places on the planet. With over 190 beautifully hand-drawn black and white illustrations, the book's day-by-day account of the bumbling backpackers' journey through Hong Kong seeks to instill the reader with an environmental and cultural awareness of the territory's rapidly changing situation and an appreciation of its natural and cultural assets.


  1. As a mother and part of a family of five who often vacation with grandparents in tow..i would adore to travel alone once in a while!