How we move
Both of us being passionate hitchhikers, we decided to start this journey by bike as our main mean of transportation. Still, in an attempt to stay flexible and / or to be able to revise that decision, we carry backpacks and boots and are not to proud to jump a train if necessary. Following is a rough order from best to worst of our methods of movement:
By Bike: We are quite sure that bikes have to be among humanity’s greatest inventions! With the fascination of this pleasantly slow but still flexible, eco – friendly and close to nature way of moving in heart we set off to test if our legs and stamina can match our spirit. By bike we have the freedom to decide where to go and when to stop. We experience all aspects of nature right on our skin – for the good or worse. We travel with all our senses steadily activated and still slow and close enough to stay in interaction with people. But we started pedaling eastwards with nearly zero bike travel experience and surely no state-of-the-art equipment, conditioning and a surely suboptimal season could become obstacles.
By Foot: The primordial way to move. That’s what our legs are made for. Walking, hiking, trekking is still the very best way to get away from the roads, deep into nature to enjoy those places that show machinery their limits. On foot we experienced some of the best moments on past trips – looking down cloudy mountain peaks or walking along the waterline of lonely bays full of seashells. Our sturdy boots are always with us!
By Hitchhiking: Spontaneity! Aimlessness! Drifting! Kindness! Energy! From Jack London, over Kerouac to Alex Supertramp – hitching rides is an incomparable way to travel that is more a feeling, a lifestyle, a philosophy than a method. Hard to put in words! Hitchhiking can bring you anywhere in no time – or anytime nowhere – test your luck, keep smiling. Overcome your fears and live against nearly all principles of ordinary life…and you’ll forget about ordinary life. Restore your believe in people’s kindness. Always remember: The question is never IF you are taken, but WHEN!
Train or boat: If it is already necessary to travel planned and make a big jump, we at least try to do it in style. Boats and trains are probably the oldest motorized means of transportation and carry a certain factor of nostalgia. Well, a German high speed ICE train with all its sterility maybe not – but oh how beautiful the old Asian trains with open doors and windows, a dining car for the evening chai and this continuous “radadat-radadat-radadat” are. Not too mention the qualities of a boat ride between Indonesia’s islands, sitting on deck watching the endless blue of the ocean.
By Bus: If there is no alternative, sometimes buses have to do. Many countries’ meager rail network or lack of hitchhiking opportunities make them necessary every now and then. But they surely lack the freedom of trains or boats, the passengers squeezed into their seats without much chance to move around or socialize.
By Airplane: Basically a no-go for us. We want to avoid flying as good as possible. Why? The easy reason would be an ecologic one. More complex: In our opinion airplanes disable all important aspects of traveling and only leave you with the A and the B. But all letters in between are missing. As less as you can make words with two letters, as small will be your understanding of the places you are in. This world is so complex that the distance in between two places is a necessity to create a connection between them, to enable understanding. And anyway, for us the road is the destination. Leaves flying as an absolute emergency option.
Where we stay
As we can’t move 24/7, we have to rest somewhere else than on the bike saddle. And we want to take our time to stay in certain places more than a night’s sleep, to meet people and to enjoy what is around us. For that, we try to be as flexible as possible and as modest as possible.
Under the open sky: We absolutely love to be in the nature, to fully absorb its unparalleled beauty and fascination. Our tent and sleeping bags give us the flexibility to sleep nearly wherever we want. Some people feel the need to stick to 5 stars – in that regard we are not that humble, we go for the million stars! From a non-poetic point of view: There are situations where you got no choice and sleep in petrol station, barns, construction sides, train stations or just on the street. Having the ability to do so exchanges another bit of comfort for freedom.
Hospitality and kindness: For those who never tried, the kindness a traveler receives in basically everywhere, but specifically in certain areas of this world must be impossible to imagine. The many times complete strangers offer a roof, a meal, a tea or a smile without expecting anything in return makes you wonder: What if everybody would act like that? As soon as you convinced yourself that you are not a burden, but often seen as a gift in the form of a guest to those who accommodate you, feel free to enjoy it with all the adequate respect that should be expected!
Couchsurfing / BeWelcome / WarmShowers: The modern online based version of the aforementioned concept of ancient hospitality. Doesn’t make it any worse though! Especially through Couchsurfing we met some of the best people in our lives, many of those we gladly consider friends now. And well, we wouldn’t be together if it wasn’t for CS. Advantages are, that you can usually communicate with your hosts and you have a word in deciding whom you actually meet. With all the flaws CS has these days, we feel the concept is still among the best things internet has created!
Paid accommodation: Every now and then it can be alright to just pay for a place to be for yourself and get things done. Then, not everywhere Couchsurfers can be found and sometimes hospitality fails. Fortunately there are many places that are well worth staying and paying for! Some are great to meet other travelers, to exchange books or to organize yourself via internet, laundry machine or coffee machine 🙂
What we do
As this trip is far away from having a long term holiday, but mostly hard but incredibly rewarding work, we also try to do certain things to keep our minds busy, creativity activated or just the wallet filled.
Busking / Playing music: The busking surely goes rather to Maria and her violin, as Ben is busy trying to be a better ukulele player. But just having music instruments already is great! We feel carrying an instrument is the opposite of carrying a weapon – people seem to perceive you automatically as peaceful. The global language of music brings people together and makes strangers happy. Sometimes it is the only way to pay back the incredible kindness we receive.
Video / Photography: Both of us never paid much attention to the documentation of our trips. This is supposed to change. We realized that the lens of a camera helps us to share what we discover with those who mean a lot to us, but in fact with everybody. But we’ll try to be ambitious getting away from the snapshot mentality and are eager to improve our photography skills. Making videos also plays a role, as film editing was Maria’s field of studies and this journey is like a big experimental field trip – granted: with very limited equipment.
Volunteering: After a while on the road when the need for a static life comes through, volunteering seems like a great option to us. We hope to find projects where we can be with great people doing things that help us to grow in various aspects, to learn new things but maybe we can also apply the skills we bring along to help others as good as possible.
Working: Depending on our monetary situation and the options revealing themselves, we would also consider to work in either a simple job we would find pleasure in (e.g. agricultural work) or something more ambitious that fits our skill sets and where we can develop professionally.