I am a Northern Irish Travel Blogger. I was born in Bangor, Northern Ireland in the UK. My mum is from Edinburgh, Scotland and my dad from Bangor, Northern Ireland. I travel with a British passport and tell people I am from the UK. Being Northern Irish abroad is complicated.
Being Northern Irish Abroad
Coming from an obscure country can be a pain in the ass when living in Asia. I would proudly share my Northern Ireland heritage if people knew (or cared) that Northern Ireland exists. This is rarely the case. Asias knowledge of Europes geography is no better than Europes knowledge of Asias geography. Would the man on the street in Belfast know the Malay borders of Borneo? Add in language barriers and the ensuing explanation becomes tiresome. To date a close friend of mine still thinks Im from Northern ICEland. I am happy to leave it at that.
Avoiding the Stereotypes
To say I am from Northern Ireland brings questions of my non-Irish accent, recommendations of Irish bars and curiousity on Dublin (a city I know little about). Throw in popular â€œIrishâ€ stereotypes and I am begging to be called â€œMr Beanâ€. Irish stereotypes have no resemblance to my upbringing or background. The same goes for â€œEnglishâ€ stereotypes if I claim to be British. From years of trial and error the term â€˜UK showed best results. It is vague enough to expect no follow up and, if anything, the most popular response is â€œReally? You look Arab.â€ Admittedly I do look spiffing in a keffiyeh (Arab headdress).
Irish People are from Ireland
Here is my inevitable explanation for those probing me on Northern Irelandâ€¦ The popular â€œIrishâ€ stereotypes relate to people from the â€œRepublic of Irelandâ€ or â€œIrelandâ€. This is how they are known globally. Northern Ireland (my country) along with England, Scotland and Wales make up the â€œUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Irelandâ€ or the UK as most know it. Northern Ireland is split from mainland UK and as situated on the â€œIsland of Irelandâ€. Because of this Northern Ireland is lesser known as a UK country. To help complicate things the â€œIsland of Irelandâ€ is also part of the â€œBritish Islesâ€ and both Irish and British citizens live in Northern Ireland. I am a British Citizen. Please dont ask about politics. No Ive never met Jedwardâ€¦ Why do I botherâ€¦
Dual Passports and Citizenship
A â€˜perk of being a Northern Irish Travel Blogger is ability to claim both British and Irish citizenship. This means travelling under Dual (two) Passports. Why is this a perk? Dual Passports can make VISA applications quicker, cheaper and with two passports there are twice as many pages to stamp. Just one example was travelling to Kolkata India this month under my British Passport. If I had travelled under an Irish Passport I would have saved close to Â£40 with a quicker VISA application. So why didnt I chose an Irish Passport? Simple. I am not Irish. My identity means more to me than penny pinching. I wont claim another nationality to save a few British Pounds. To me identity is the one thing that will always be with me when travelling. A privilege taken for granted by many travelers, nomads and the â€˜Citizens of the World too pretentious to be claimed by a country.
A Long Way from Home?
Despite living thousands of miles from home; a flight could bring me back tomorrow. Living abroad is not a big deal. I speak to my family daily and fly back to Northern Ireland for the occasional fix of miserable weather. My latest visit was 6 months ago travelling in Northern Ireland to find a new appreciation for my home country. Check out my Top 10 Northern Ireland Attractions. This being said as a food blogger I do miss many of my favourite British and Northern Irish food
Bushmills Irish Whiskey
Other than irregular duty free appearances my favourite tipple Bushmills Whiskey does not exist in Bangkok. After (reluctant) research in Irish bars I find better selections of bourbon and tequila than I do Irish Whiskeys. Bushmills is what originally fuelled my love for local liquors and to date I have found no booze to come close. Northern Ireland is well known for its boozing culture; George Best and Alex Higgins just two of our claims to boozing fame.
Home Cooking and The Ulster Fry
Living in Bangkok I avoid expat hangouts, British Pubs and Irish Bars. I didnt fly across the world to do as I did back home. That being said I do occasionally miss some home cooking. Many foods just arent possible. The Ulster Fry the perfect example (similar to the Full English Breakfast only better). In Bangkok quality sausages and back bacons are expensive and potato bread, soda bread or black and white pudding cant be found. The Ulster fry tops my food schedule every visit back home.
Chip Shop Food
My main cravings are often for the disgusting British takeaway food which made my years in Northern Ireland so slobtastic. My hometown Bangor has a seafront lined with top notch takeaway foods. For unknown reasons my many favourite British takeaway food has failed to circumvent the globe. Check here for some of my more horrible chip shop cravings.
A staple of many alcoholics diet and a major influence of my wasted teen (and adult) years. The delightful Buckfast Tonic Wine is best necked outdoors; on street corners or park benches (bars wont sell it). As you might have guessed it is hard to find in Bangkok so I was forced to bring my own. I took the taste test to Thailand with Fanfan sampling both Buckfast in front of a Northern Ireland flag and Guinness in the Dubliner Irish Pub. Buckfast wins as she near â€œbokesâ€ on the Guinness (as below).