My travel life: Charlie Teo, neurosurgeon, host of SBS's Medicine or Myth?

Charlie Teo, Professor of Neurosurgery, who leads a panel of medical experts on the TV program Medicine or Myth? which premieres on SBS Monday, May 20.


Last count 76, But who's counting?


My passport fell out of my bag on the way to the airport once but thankfully, my daughter found it and had it to me in time to make the flight.

I GOT MY FIRST PASSPORT WHEN I WAS seven years old in 1963.

MY PASSPORT PHOTO IS as gangsta as it gets!

I CAN'T STOP GOING BACK TO Singapore for the food; the US for the pursuit of excellence; India … the need; Vietnam for the people; China for its sheer magnitude.

MY LAST TRAVEL DESTINATION WAS Naples, Italy, for three days to give a lecture in honour of a highly respected colleague who was an innovative paediatric neurosurgeon and a friend for many years who recently died.


MY NEXT TRAVEL DESTINATION IS Singapore next week for two days to operate on three people from various Asian countries with difficult brain tumours that have all been labelled inoperable.

I'M REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO the respect and support that I receive from the local neurosurgeons.

WHAT I REALLY WANT FROM MY NEXT TRIP IS to be upgraded on the flight there and back.

I LOVE TO TRAVEL BECAUSE travelling keeps you focused on the big picture. It opens your eyes to those less fortunate than us and hence is a constant reminder of how we should appreciate what we have and not be upset about what we don't have.

MY TRAVEL PHILOSOPHY IS I once missed a flight that subsequently crashed and killed all onboard. I would have made the flight if I hadn't stopped to go to the toilet and if a rude man had not pushed in front of me and purchased the last ticket! My philosophy now is very simple. Chill.

THE ONE TRAVEL MISTAKE I ALWAYS MAKE IS forgetting something … a tie, an adaptor, a belt. Never anything too disastrous, but almost always something.

THE ONE THING I REALLY DO GET RIGHT WHEN I TRAVEL IS I never get jet-lagged! It's probably because I'm never on the one time zone for long enough, but more likely it's because I have a system that I have developed over the years: Do an "all-nighter" the night before travelling, that way you'll sleep well on the plane, and set your watch, and sleep pattern, to Sydney time one day before returning.

IF I HAD TO SIT IN THE MIDDLE SEAT THE OTHER PASSENGERS I'D WANT ON EITHER SIDE OF ME WOULD BE the current leaders of Israel and Palestine. I'd like the opportunity to make them see sense.

THE ONE FAMOUS TRAVELLER I REALLY ADMIRE IS Ernest Shackleton. His lifelong ambition was to be the first person to reach the South Pole, yet he put the safety and welfare of his team ahead of his own personal glory.

THE ONE FAMOUS PERSON I'D LIKE TO TRAVEL WITH IS [US-born neurosurgeon who trained with Charlie Teo ] Dr Mike Sughrue. He's not famous yet, but he's definitely a potential Nobel Prize winner for medicine. He's a living, walking, talking Reader's Digest meets Encyclopedia Britannica meets Google meets Wikipedia.

AIRLINE FOOD IS mostly pretty good. Having gone to boarding school from year four to 12, any food is appreciated.

AIRPORT SECURITY IS a necessary evil.

HOTELS ARE mostly just a place to lay my head.

I'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO GO TO Alaska to see the bears.

I'VE NEVER WANTED TO GO TO bed. Sleeping is such a waste of time! Seriously, there is not a place on this Earth that I wouldn't want to visit.

AISLE OR WINDOW? Aisle, of course.