Jet Setting Life
Travelling, hum, I’ve done a bit of that … Everything started the day I decided to go to Warsaw and Katowice in Poland for a student conference and for some fun, then pass by lovely Belgrade to visit friends and then get a visa to go to Ohrid for another student conference. All with a total budget of 250 Euro, back in 2005. I ended up spending five memorable weeks backpacking and couch surfing in Wisla, Krakow, Prague, Skopje, Nis, and Novi Sad, in addition to planned stops and I still had five Euros left for the cab from the airport to home once back in Tunisia.
That was when the travel bug bit me.
My highest level of circling the globe was in 2010 when, in 16 months I saved about 1,280,000 miles, that’s 5 times the distance from the earth to the moon + 30,000 additional miles which I could, if I wanted, use to purchase a round trip ticket from Dubai to Tunisia!
In packing I am the worst, because I never know in advance where I will end up after my business commitments, whether it be as a troubleshooter or business planner for some multinationals that are struggling to expand into the Middle East via the Dubai gate. If it is a warm place, that’s easy, I just take off some clothes and I am in harmony with the weather. However, it doesn’t feel so good when I land somewhere wet and gray, but bad feelings are easily cured by: shopping!
It just happened that I’ve gone through a couple of dozen countries this way, and there’s unfortunately no lesson learnt for me… However there are so many stories to tell… On how to survive monsoon with a sleeveless t-shirt in Goa or Langkawi, or how frustrating it is to carry a heavy backpack or a suitcase full of winter clothes from Japan’s cold winter to 45 degrees Celsius hot and humid Singapore …
I am not a bad planner, but it’s just more fun to jump into the adventure with bare hands or feet, ready to face whatever and keep circling around the planet.
I love business trips when my client pays for a limo to pick me up from my place in the Springs in Dubai, cross the airport all the way to the Emirates VIP lounge in ten minutes then enjoy a flying bed, like Aladdin, but in a super-luxurious state-of-the art European A380 or American 747 aircraft. Then I head to the best hotel in the city center of Kuala Lumpur or Osaka for a week or two of all inclusive five-star service.
More fun starts when I am done from work and decide to travel a bit around and end up in the cheapest hostel in Bukit Bintang (Malaysia) or Taman Negara, using the slowest public transportation in the world to cross the country all the way up to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand and eating what the rest of the population has every day.
This manner of travel yields many more interesting stories and adventures, as I exchange life, stories, facts, culture, religion, thoughts, and beliefs with the locals, in Ku Chi Tunnel with the Vietcong and with the Totos in northern Bhutan. These are lessons to be learnt by heart and shared with the world, with the people who only know all about our planet through a 17″ screen.
Seriously, things can get tough in backpacking, when I ended up in the middle of a snow storm in base camp in Nepal, when temperatures went below -50 Celsius and the wind blew up to 80km/h and I was in the middle of a 4 kilogram tent without basic amenities and no knowledge of how long this was going to last or if I would ever come out of the experience alive.
The further you go, the longer the journey, the more adventures and situations you face, and you will find more and more stories and lessons along with big discoveries, breathtaking views and nature, at every little corner, not available for everyone to discover, not even local people or tourist guides.
The biggest discovery of all is “yourself,” the inner man or woman, the fighting soul. Traveling opens your heart so that you know en toute connaissance de cause what you really want, how you want it, and when you want it, from life. But still, you cannot know who you are if you don’t know your limits, so you need to keep pushing yourself further. Life always pays you back, in cash and in-kind!
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