528 days, 95450 km and 24 countries. Around the world trip without flights was completed March 18, 2013. This is not a point of arrival but the beginning of a fairy tale that I will continue to tell around the world. After publishing VAGAMONDO i came back on the road. Photos, videos and stories of a free life dedicated to the travel.
mercoledì 23 novembre 2011
lunedì 14 novembre 2011
martedì 8 novembre 2011
I have decided to rate - give a mark for - my travel experiences in every country I visit. It will be based on personal experience, so feel free to disagree. The ratings below are temporary and may well be changed in the light of later experiences. I give a rating out of ten to four areas which mainly concern the local people: travelling with them on public transport, taking into account the road conditions; the local food (variety and quality); their friendliness and hospitality towards foreigners; the cost of living for a foreigner on a budget.
Public transport: 5, terrible secondary roads, overcrowded means of transport;
- Friendliness and hospitality: 9, extremely kind and peaceful people;
- Cost of living for a foreigner: 8, definitely cheap, you can live on €10 a day.
Dopo alcuni giorni trascorsi a visitare la maggior parte dei templi buddisti e induisti nelle vicinanze di Kathmandu, stamattina mi sono presentato per la seconda volta in ambasciata indiana per proseguire la richiesta del visto. Una settimana fa esatta ho effettuato la prima richiesta in cui si consegna un form compilato e paghi circa 3 euro, dopo di ciò ti invitano a ripresentarti tra una settimana.
After a few days spent visiting most of the Buddhist and Hindu temples around Kathmandu, this morning I went for the second time to the Indian Embassy for my visa. A week before, I had started the procedure, filling in a form and paying about €3 before being told to come back in a week.
So there I was at the Embassy at 8 in the morning to get my number for the queue, and even though the office opens at 9.30 there were already about thirty people queueing up. I met various people I already knew, including Rodney, a 64-year-old American freak who looks like Father Christmas with a sailor’s hat and a really funny, friendly face. An hour later along came Amjad, a German Turk I had met at the Shanti Jatra Organic Festival. He had lived and meditated in a monastery near Kathmandu for a month. I also got to know an Italian couple who had been travelling around the world for a year on a round-the-world ticket and who managed, luckily for me, to take me with them into the office when they were finally admitted after a three-hour wait. I handed in my filled-out form with a photo, paid another €30 and was told to come back at 17.00.
In the meantime, I went back to my guesthouse as I was going to be interviewed about my journey on Skype by Claudio Vigolo of Radio Lifegate. This should be broadcast on Friday at 18.30 - don’t miss it!
Then back to the Embassy. Another hour’s wait and it was finally my turn, but when I showed my receipt to the officer he said I had to wait a bit longer. This worried me and I noticed I wasn’t the only one when I saw Rodney’s expression, but a few minutes later the last passports arrived, including mine with another wonderful new stamp in it! When you are a traveller, getting your entry visa to a new country is a moment of joy, it’s like a tattoo that will remain impressed in your mind forever. For five years I have dreamed of going to India, thanks to Shantaram, a book that changed my life.
I then sorted out my backpack, got rid of the now-unneccesary heavy clothing and went out for my last Everest (Nepalese beer) before leaving at six the next morning with the cheapest and most adventurous bus I could find. Danjabaad Nepal (Thanks Nepal).
venerdì 4 novembre 2011
Not even a month of travelling and I was ‘adopted’ by a Nepalese family. Kim invited me to celebrate the Tihar festival with his family in a remote village on a hill in a forest. The Hindu festival of lights is really important here in Nepal. In the five days it lasts, all the houses are lit with candles and kerosene lamps. Every day a different theme is celebrated, but basically life and prosperity. I arrived just in time for the last and most significant day, which celebrates the very important bond between brother and sister. Kim’s family decided I could take part in the ceremony as one of the brothers, something I felt greatly honoured by. I was the first foreigner to be invited to their village, which is completely off the tourist track and not easily reached: it took several hours on foot through a forest full of butterflies and monkeys to reach their farm.
The ceremony began and I was politely invited to the central room of the house. The room was made of baked clay and the cooking was done on a brazier dug into the floor. I sat next to my two
new Nepalese brothers while the sisters first walked around us, letting flowers fall on our heads, then sat before us, wished us a long life, and applied different-coloured tikas, religious marks, to our foreheads with their fingers. They gave us several flower necklaces with orange flowers that wither very slowly. Lastly, we were served food and beer. To conclude the ceremony, after marking their sisters’ foreheads with tikas, the brothers had to give them a small gift or symbolic sum of money.
After this ritual, everybody drank Rakshi, a rather nauseating Nepalese wine. A few hours later,
I realised that everybody was drunk and, of course, all interested in their ‘adopted’ foreigner.
There was singing, dancing and joking well into the night.
The next day, Kim walked with me from the village to the bus stop on the nearest road, which was not only almost impassable, but also a good two-hour walk away. Unfortunately, I missed the bus by just a few minutes, so we said goodbye and I got ready to wait for the next one. I had no idea that it would be the longest I’d ever waited for a bus: twenty long hours, with only the side of the road to sleep on in my sleeping bag, whilst waiting for some form of transport to show up.
At six the next morning, I decided to set off down the road. I had little water, hardly any money – no sign of a cash machine for two weeks – and, above all, no food. But as soon as I got moving, I started feeling better, knowing that I was on the way again towards something unknown. Luckily, after an hour or so I came across a box truck and managed to get a lift, although it was already jam-packed: fifty-odd people squashed like sardines in the space of only six metres by two. I was clearly not the only one finding it difficult to be going places, and later learned that the traffic had been paralysed for a day because of a fatal accident involving the bus I had missed by just a few minutes the previous day. The sisters’ blessing had worked!
I tried several times to find a comfortable position in the lorry, but none worked and in the end the journey was four hours of suffering. It struck me that travelling with the local people on public transport or whatever turns up is part of the adventure in places like Nepal. You can forget about comfort, your body will ache and ache - but there is something special in the togetherness and mutual support that grows between travellers - even with me, and I’m often the only foreigner. This is the basis of this country’s culture.