CLEO (Malaysia) - - TRAVEL SPECIAL -

have a bad sense of di­rec­tion, hardly any sav­ings and zero busk­ing skills. But I could not ig­nore the urge to travel and it seemed rather ex­cit­ing to hitch­hike and wan­der around with­out any money. I told my­self to sur­vive in Europe for three to six months be­fore re­turn­ing home from Is­tan­bul, Turkey. I had US$200 on me and just enough cash in my bank for a flight back home. Hav­ing never done this be­fore, I was ner­vous for sure — yet ex­hil­a­rated at the same time. I kept hear­ing warn­ings of ‘Please don’t get your­self killed!’ and ‘Please don’t be so stupid!’.

At first, I hitch­hiked with a friend or other fel­low trav­ellers. But problems arose when we didn’t get along or when they made ad­vances on me. I de­cided then that I’d much rather be on my own! The longer I trav­elled, the more I learnt how to be thick-skinned and dis­re­gard the stares. I dug through trash for food, pounced on left­over meals at eater­ies or asked mar­kets for old pro­duce or fruit that have out­lived their shelf life.

Ba­si­cally I lived in the con­crete jun­gle as a hobo would, I even slept at petrol sta­tions, next to high­ways, parks and car parks, us­ing only card­board pieces as a mat­tress. Some­times I would knock on a stranger’s door to ask if they would let me sleep in their gar­den. My money ran out af­ter three months be­cause when I got tired of wait­ing for hours for a car to pick me up, I’d hop on a bus or when my dump­ster div­ing was un­suc­cess­ful, I’d go into a gro­cery store.

Of­ten times, I’d travel with­out a plan. I had no money and there­fore noth­ing

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