“Andy’s World Journeys” visits “Life in Russia”
So who’s your enemy and who’s your friend? Iran I suspect in many people’s minds isn’t thought of as being a travel destination but Andy who’s a world traveler found out the people there were hospitable and quite kind. I asked Andy to share his travel experiences here on “Life in Russia” for those who have always wanted to travel but just haven’t made the plunge yet. Andy who’s a consummate traveler has visited 69 countries and is ever expanding this number. He’s gained a lot of wisdom in his travels, I hope after you read about his journeys, you too will want to pick up your bags and begin to get a world education and perspective. In the end the experiences that you meet along the way will enrich your life, fill your memories, and learn more about cultures different than your own. Visit – Andy’s World Journeys
I’m really not sure. I remember when I was in my last year in high school I suddenly wanted to travel to the USA. Not sure why on reflection perhaps as an Australian we are bombarded with US culture (mostly on the TV in those days, we are talking more than 20 years ago now). But it took a few years before it became a reality that I could travel.
How long did it take you to become prepared or was it more of a spur of the moment type of thing?
Well, I’d been saving for a few years. My first solo trip was 1999, it had been something I wanted to do since high school finished in 1993. However, I only really started seriously saving with a couple of years to go. I planned pretty furiously for about a year as well. It snow balled, because I was originally thinking of maybe the States and the UK, but when I was introduced to the possibilities of round the world tickets by my travel agent, suddenly I wanted to pack in as many countries as possible.
I think a lot of people have a lot of fears about traveling, was this a problem for you in the beginning? How did you overcome it?
Not really to be honest. Sometimes I’ve worried a little about safety – when I went to Pakistan for example in 2004, but once I was there I felt there would be no issues and luckily I was right. I used to love flying, now though strangely I get very tense and stressed by it.
What was the first country you visited, why did you choose it? What were your experiences like there?
I first landed in 1999 in Thailand as part of a round the world trip. It seemed the logical place to start my world trip – it was on the way to Europe and had been keenly recommended by many people. Plus it’s the original backpacker country! Still full of backpackers today, although the atmosphere is not quite the same.
Where have you been in the world? Which was your favorite destination and why? Which was your worst experience, and what happened.
I’ve loved so many places, it’s hard to choose but honestly I found Iran probably the most brilliant experience of all. The people were so inviting and kind, I got to immerse in the culture a bit when I was invited to stay a night or two with a family and nearly stayed two weeks. As for worst experience, I had malaria in Burkina Faso. The hospitals were horrid and I was alone. That was pretty bad!
I know many world travelers travel alone, what has been good about it? What’s been bad about it?
I love the ability to do things at your own pace. You have a freedom when travelling alone, especially for an extended time. You can change your mind, stay longer or leave early as you wish. Having said that, some places are challenging and taking them on by yourself can wear on the old mental stamina. My first trip to sub-Saharan Africa was tough on me. When I returned with a friend the next year, it was so much easier.
Could you share a little about who you’ve run into and where?
I’ve met some very interesting travellers on my travels, people that made me think I wasn’t really going to far out places as everyone at home thinks I do. I met a traveller called ‘Kinga’ in Burkina Faso in 2006 before I got malaria who was travelling as freely as could be imagined – crossing borders in places where there was no passport office, ignoring visas, spending far less than I was and really spending time with local communities. Sadly, I discovered that not so long after I had met her, she had contracted malaria. She didn’t believe in western medicine per se, and had passed away.
It seems like many WT’s like to visit as many countries as possible, but tell me what’s the longest you’ve stayed at a destination and what did you think of the culture?
I lived two years in Japan teaching English. Japan is a wonderful place to live and visit, although you have to get used to the earthquakes! Japanese culture is multi-faceted with the ancient and the modern, which is really interesting. Today you see the love of robots and Manga versus the traditions of family and honor. I think though there has been too much of an American influence on modern Japan. This is obviously as a result of the end of WWII. It’s not all negative, but I wonder how different Japan would have been if it wasn’t for the ever-present American influence since 1945.
What kind of advice would you give someone who’s thinking about traveling abroad?
Do it! Throw yourself in there and you won’t look back!