For those thinking about taking an excursion, here are some updated numbers from a French couple traveling the world (who sold everything in preparation for their trip). Reference point Australia vs Asia; How expensive? 4 months in Asia cost the same as 3 weeks in Australia. $2000 Euro ($2585 dollars).
“During a romantic fling in Russia, I quickly lost track of time. An email from the friend who I had been traveling with asked if I had made it out of Russia in time. He was refering to my visa which was expiring in one day, which if ignored, grants a pleasant border crossing arrest. I quickly packed my bags and rushed to the train station catching the only train that would get me out of Russia in time (with only 2 hours left on my visa). The train took me to Ukraine in the middle of nowhere arriving about 11pm. In order to find a place to sleep I walked up to everyone I saw asking if they spoke english. Running out of options I started knocking on random doors offering money for lodging. I finally saw a man standing in his front door, so using hand gesturers I tried asking if I can walk on his property. He gestured his pointer finger as to say “one minute”. About 15 seconds later he comes back to the door, raises an AK-47 assault rifle, points to it, then points down the road. I slept in the park.”
This story is long so I tried to cut it back but it’s completely nuts and worth reading the whole thing;
“We thought we were lucky when this old Indian man who claimed to be a famous doctor and his three dogs pulled over and gave us a lift…after squeezing in between his dogs and all his junk, he told us “I’m an alien doctor and this is my spaceship…don’t worry bout my driving you’re safe!”… we thought he was joking…
Soon after he stopped the car got out and started yelling at two police officers by the road. Walking back to the car, he continued to yell at a policewoman who followed him holding a can of pepper spray… she demanded he get into the car and remain calm. He continued to yell insults and complained about getting in trouble for helping us (fact: the police didn’t even pull him over… he was just looking for trouble because he hates police… he mentioned witnessing the police killing some innocent dude in Canberra. He’d had enough.).
Suddenly he got in the car and shouted “Chase me if you want, let’s kill each other you fuckers!!!” sped off down the road driving 180km/h cutting off any vehicles in his way… we were very close to crashing into a road train coming from the opposite direction… almost shit my pants! Vince tried to calm him down telling him the police are not chasing us anymore and maybe they might have someone waiting for him in the next town so he should try and take the bush way instead, but he refused to listen and asked him to keep his advice to himself and that he knew what he was doing… we also tried to get him let us get off but he insisted he’ll let us off once he knows he’s safe… kidnapped!
We drove about 100km and he finally calmed down a little and asked Vince to roll him a cigarette… Reaching a border quarantine check, we saw a police car stopped right in front of us. Without hesitation he hit the gas and slammed into the back of the police car… Startled, the policewoman failed to respond quick enough and he was able to reverse and drive through a platform, entering the wrong side of the road (fact: the police car was not there for him, he could’ve just drove through the check point). Only when Vince asked if he realized he’s driving on the wrong side of the road did he swerved back on the correct side, but still driving like mad cow on fire. Another 100km later we were almost in the next town, Renmark, and worried the police could be waiting for him there… Vince again try to convinced him to dropped us off at a camping area just before town centre but he kept insisting he’s coming to Darwin with us, a few thousand km away… over my dead body! We would have been killed anyway!
In Renmark town he started to go crazy again… we begged him to let us out and were ignored. Cutting and swerving on the busy narrow roads, I was scared and almost in tears…Vince held my chest down every time he felt we’re gonna crash but this time he held me behind him and kept shouting for him to stopped his fucking car… at that moment we saw a policeman jump out from the side of the road throw a bunch of spikes in front of the car…he drove through them but didn’t slowdown… the car swerved from side to side nearly flipping. Vince clench a knife fearing only a threat would stop the car when suddenly he made an abrupt turned and stopped at a farm… got out of the car and ran into the farm waddling like a fat man, leaving us and his 3 dogs there shaking… I wasn’t sure whether to laugh at the sight of him running or panic… Knowing the police were going to be there soon and worried we were going to be arrested as an accomplice, we quickly located all our belongings and ran off. The dogs were adorable and friendly so we felt bad leaving them, but we had no choice (Also, one of our travel visas had negative time on it, oops). As soon as we got to the main road we saw a police car turn down the farm road behinds us… phew!!! We acted normal and kept walking back to town… We were shaken but couldn’t help laugh and rejoice that we were still alive. Almost to town police officer stopped next to us and asked if we have seen an Indian looking man. Visa and accomplice in mind, we said no. He offered us a lift into town… sweet but no thanks. That whole night we saw police cars rounding the town, clearly unsuccessful. While camping that night at a nearby farm we imagined Dr. Tony (the madman) jumping out from the dark to take revenge on us.”
“3 or 4 in the morning I notice two people having sex on a couch just outside the hostel. They had no idea I was there because I saw them from the security camera, leaving them to believe they were completely alone. After a quick chuckle I decided to let them know that others could see them. Peering around the corner I politely yelled, “Police, freeze!”. The kid jumped back so hard he flipped over the back of the couch leaving the girl to fall to the floor… unfortunately my efforts were in vain as they didn’t have the tapes running in the security system.”
Just checked into Friendly Fun Franks Backpackers Hostel in Latvia. Why from Croatia to Latvia? Because I keep hearing amazing things about this area but it’s getting cold fast. So, I now must race the winter south toward Ukraine.
First question upon arrival; “do you want a free beer”? While I judged them for feeling the need to ask, I rejoiced in the offer. Just so you know what I’m getting into here is a list of activities at Frank’s;
-AK – Shooting Tour Everyday in Soviet Union bunker
-Winter Olympic Real Bobsled Tour Everyday
-Summer Bobsled Tour Weekends Only
-Go-Karting Grand Prix Style Everyday
-Paintball Tour Everyday
-Friendly Fun Franks Famous Backpackers Pub Tour Every Evening
-Many Other Activities; Quad Biking,Skydiving,Bungee Jumping
This doesn’t require much explanation… Someone forgot to log out of Facebook at the hostel. I’ll let him tell the rest of the story:
Hysterical prank and a lesson to be learned… log out. While that should be the end of the story he decided to use it as an opportunity to really look like an ass;
For those comment curious,
As you know, I’m way off track. I really didn’t feel like retracing my steps, so instead, I am now stuck in Dubrovnik Croatia waiting for my flight on Saturday. While I’m slaving over Mojito’s on the Adriatic Sea, I figured it would be a good time to shell out some of my favorite stories from other travelers. Enjoy!
Everyone swore by Mostar. I “had to go there” and “had to do Batas’s tour”. I was a little skeptical when the only site people talked about was a bridge in the center of town, but recommended destinations seldom do me wrong.
The town is very cool with a long history that tends to be masked by the Bosnian war (92′-95′). Any building not covered with bullet holes is new or has been repaired. One of the popular sites is an old shell of a building that was once a bank and is now nicknamed “Sniper Tower” because of its Croatian sniper occupants during the war (Sniper used loosely as they just fired at all things that moved, civilians or soldiers). Inside the tower broken glass still covers the floor along with bullet casings, graffiti, trash and used needles. It was an odd place to visit. Thoughts of how awesome the view from the top were constanly put in check with the appreciation that those same views enabled indiscriminate killing during the war. Moving, disturbing, but worth it.
BATAS! The emotional roller coaster continued with the legendary tour guide Bata’s. I feel guilty disclosing the secretes of his 12 hour tour (twelve…) so I’ll just use a few words to describe it; Turbo Folk (Music), disco ball, strobe light, waterfalls, swerving to music, history, emotional history, 20 backpackers fighting their way in to a moving van thats blasting, blasting turbo folk with strobe lights.
Bata and his sister Majdas run the hostel “Majdas” in Mostar and is worth a visit (one of the top rated in Bosnia) and it is especially worth attending his tour. Among backpackers his tour is legendary and people travel all over the world to Bosnia just for the opporturniy. Do it!
AND Lastly. The Bridge. The big question is; Will you jump off it it? I personally had a cold that day or would have totally done it. Right. At roughly 90 feet, it’s very dangerous and for 35 Euro you can be taught the proper technique by a local (on the practice platform, 30 feet) before your plunge. But be warned; The bridge took a life this year sponsored by bad judgment and too many cocktails.
(Below; Chazo and I on the practice platform. I kept the audio raw because 40 views later, the noise made from the camera guy still kills me.)