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Touchdown in Sofia, Bulgaria!
It always makes me smile when the plane glides back onto tarmac and everyone starts clapping the pilot for not killing us all!
And almost everybody here talks to me in Bulgarian, which further encourages me to fantasise about my mysterious heritage. Me, my mum, her mum, and her mum, were all slightly darker featured! I’ve felt like I blended in to quite a few European countries in the past though. If only I did actually know the language here…
Traveller Of the Week: From Scotland to Australia with one simple rule – NO FLYING
“IM DONE INNIT” – an extract from Stu’s Facebook status, posted just over two weeks ago.
After a year of talks with cargo ship companies I had my bag packed and was preparing to sleep in the cargo ships spare room beginning in Hong Kong, my last chance of getting to Australia without a plane and they cancelled on me due to a storm. There won’t be another one for months and it’s impossible to sail/ferry/swim to OZ due to the strict immigration laws. Woke up a few hours ago with one of the worst hangovers of my life thought f*ck it and booked a flight to Melbourne and am leaving for the airport now.
Normally suspicious of an over the top ‘I went on holiday for too long and learnt so much when I did f*ck all on a beach’ status but would like to thank some people. Everyone who put up with me when I started working two jobs and saving up almost two years ago; sorry for falling asleep at your birthdays/every other events. I will repay you in annoying stories that I will find a way to fit into every conversation until you leave me, The Mongolian horse that dragged me into the desert, everyone who let me crash on their couch/car/floor/treehouse or work in their farm/bar/school. All the great people I travelled and lived with and all the mad sociopaths/’professional thinkers’/goofs for the entertainment, everyone who kept me sane over the internet/skype when I was crazy homesick and not feeling myself and all my family especially mum and dad for being so decent and dealing with awful emails.
I’ve lost everything (I have two t-shirts and swimming shorts and Muai Thai shorts and for some reason a suit in my bag) and definitely lost my nut and for the record I was never trying to escape my life at home, I just wanted to see some elephants. So will definitely not be my last big trip, but next time you should probably come with me.
And once again all the people I travelled with and the many people every day who pointed me in the right direction/randoms who gave me lifts to places and shared food with me. I can’t speak any other languages but all over the world there is a look of disappointment and frustration that I think is only made for when dealing with me. Didn’t manage to get [to Australia] overland but f*ck it eh was a good laugh for the most part.
Looking forward to having a go in Melbourne. Cheers and beers.
Name: Stuart Nixon
Time on the Road (this trip or general outline):
10 months spent travelling from Scotland to China without flying. Now living & working in Australia for the next 10 months. Afterwards? Who knows!
I worked two supermarket jobs simultaneously for a year to save up for this trip.
What initially inspired you to travel?
My curiosity to see the world was always there from a young age, but over the last few years I had started to question close friends who were between ten and twenty years older than me. I got a general feeling that quite a few of them wished they had taken an opportunity to see more of the world. As I approached my twenties I knew I would need to make it happen soon.
How have your inspirations to explore the world changed since you began travelling?
This is the dangerous part! As much as I have learned to appreciate the comforts of home, I continuously meet people on my travels that inspire me to keep going for as long as possible.
Nothing ever really goes to plan; you start off with these fantasies of cheap flights, a museum visit, maybe a few parties, before booking a flight back home. But then you suddenly find yourself in the company of the next travelling inspiration and it makes your mind go crazy with new ideas for yourself and your friends.
I met an English guy who, one New Years’ morning, got in a taxi to Heathrow Airport in London and jumped straight onto the Internet there to ask his hung-over friends and family to decide where he was going to go. He had spent the last nine months getting directed around the world by an online community who chose his every move, be it training with Shaolin monks, or becoming an escort in Toronto when the money went low.
Inspiration doesn’t stop there. There were the newlyweds I met, who travelled for nine months wearing their dress and suit. And the man I met in China, who had cycled all the way there from his home in the Netherlands. He had initially attempted to cycle throughout the eastern European winter, but he had turned around and headed to Spain to wait it out. It was there that he met his girlfriend. When I met him in China, he was talking about getting trains from China straight back to Spain after a year and a half of his bicycle journey.
I mentioned it’s the dangerous part, because when you actually meet people who are doing these things and learn how they have made it possible, your thought process fast-forwards from “maybe I could do something like that in five or six years…” to “done” with an automatic calendar and budget plan appearing in your head.
What has been your most memorable experience abroad?
For a single experience, I’d say it was touring around the Mongolian-Manchurian Steppe with some Swedish travellers who I met in an old Russian Volkswagen. I was dragged through the Gobi desert by a horse during that weekend (Do this! ((not the horse dragging part)) I recommend booking the tour through UB Guesthouse in Ulaanbatar. It’s beautiful, you’ll never feel further from home and it’s very cheap!). The most memorable part of the whole thing (and I know this is going to sound most cliché) really was all the great people I met.
When I used to look at a world map I’d get excited at the things I could potentially see. Now, when I think about the countries I’ve travelled or even just hear someone talking about the country, I find myself thinking of ‘her’ and ‘him’ and all the stupid stuff we did there. Even when I see the countries on the map that I haven’t been to yet, I can think of travellers I’ve met who live there, and all the great things they have had to say about their hometowns, and then I can’t wait to visit! So that’s always an exciting feeling to get out of traveling.
What would you say has been your most difficult or testing experience whilst travelling?
Hands-down, it’s missing home. I can deal with long train rides and smelly over cramped hostels, but even at the best of times I would have died just to spend an afternoon at my local pub with some old friends, or sat in watching TV at my Mums.
Where are you right now?
Do you have any survival advice for new travellers in this country?
I just arrived here a week ago! So all I can say so far is bring some money! Or better yet stay and get a job. I swear down, I got a job offer to do labour work on the first day while minding my own business watching a DVD in the hostel. So now I can enjoy the laid back day-to-day Australia life and save (the moneys good!) enough to have some fun travelling up the coast.
If you had to recommend one place in the world to visit, where would it be?
Mongolia! Just go and find out…
Where do you plan to visit next?
Home for Christmas hopefully! Then who knows. Like I said – the ideas keep ticking around your head…
You can read more about Stuart Nixon via his personal travel blog which he has recently started (now he has more reliable internet access!), which is: http://www.everythingilearneded.tumblr.com/tagged/learnededed/chrono