I made this thread a couple of times before. Although some friendly posters helped me keep it bumped for a short while, I wasn't able to post often after my laptop's motherboard got fried. Now that I've bought a new computer, I figure I'll give this another go, despite the fact that /trv/ has way more shit-posters than I remember.
So yeah, here I am again: ask a guy who hitchhiked around Iceland and from London to Istanbul before spending three-and-a-half months living in New Delhi anything. I'll post pictures in roughly chronological order, unless anybody has any requests. I can also answer questions about places like Iraqi Kurdistan and Georgia, as I took another long trip last summer, too, mostly to different countries.
First pic is from Kashmir - I'll start on Iceland in my next post.
> also, fuck Windows 8
I was gone for almost five months on my last trip. I left at the very beginning of May and returned closer to October than not. I spent a week and a half in Iceland and mid-May until mid-June hitchhiking from London to Istanbul. I did cheat once or twice (I was hitchhiking because I was broke, not just because I thought the idea was cool), like when I took a paid car from Sarajevo to Belgrade in order to ensure my arrival in Istanbul in time to catch a flight to Dubai.
I saved $2900 or so for this trip and ran out of money after taking a brief "vacation" to Kashmir in August. I wound up doing a bunch of odd-jobs in Delhi to make ends meet. I'd say the experience of having to make ends meet on a couple of dollars every day was the most interesting I've had in quite a long time. It was funny how every Indian in the Paharganj tourist ghetto knew me before I left, despite my living some forty minutes away in South Delhi. Other than that, I had a great time climbing mountains in Iceland, solo-trekking in the Himalayas, bumming in Venice with a German friend I made last year, learning Serbian, hitchhiking in Eastern Europe, and exploring Belgrade.
I didn't have any particularly bad experiences outside of India; those that happened there were mostly related to annoying and uneducated people I had to work with.
My trip last summer lasted for three-and-a-half months. I think I had around $5,000 saved for that one and came back with $90 in the bank. I had a thread detailing the whole experience. It was a great and interesting adventure - I got caught up in the Gezi Park protests and a whole bunch of other stuff.
Just as sort of a heads up for anyone who might care a lot about pictures: I didn't realize I had my camera set to "Postcard" resolution until I got to Germany. That's why a lot of the pictures I took in Iceland and the UK are fucking tiny.
Oh, and I turned 21 in August. I afford traveling by way of two part-time jobs. I don't think I'm going to go anywhere overseas again until I finish getting my BS in Neuroscience, but I might take a trip down to South or Central America this coming summer or next winter break. I'm going to India again for a month and a half, starting in three weeks, but I think I'm going to take it easy on traveling until I graduate. As much of an addiction as I feel like I'm starting to develop, I'm fucking sick of working at delivery joints for tips and minimum wage.
Forgot pic. Along the cliffs near Vik in Iceland. I hitchhiked there with a Taiwanese girl I met halfway out from Reykjavik. She was also hitchhiking and the guy who picked her up stopped to get me too. We wound up getting a ride with this crazy Spanish guy who was incredibly friendly and wouldn't stop giving us food. He had just come to Iceland on a whim and started making plans to accommodate the cool places we wanted to go to.
I'll be monitoring this thread because it always amazes me that there are people able to go on such trips
I wouldn't even know how to start, or plan it, or how to prepare
maybe a list of the countries you went through (hopefully in order)?
It wasn't that challenging, man. When I was a sophomore in college, I finally realized that I could do whatever I wanted. So I started working two jobs, saved some money, and wound up going to Istanbul because a Turkish friend told me that plane tickets there were cheap. I had a big plan and thought I was going to go from Athens to Egypt to Israel to Jordan to Dubai and then India, but I missed my flight to Cairo and went to different places instead. I understand that everyone travels differently and some people get the most out of trips by planning fastidiously; I don't and tend to avoid making reservations very far in advance.
If you're of a similar mindset and don't mind not knowing what you'll do daily or where you'll be on a certain date, just gather up some money, get a flight to a place that looks cool and is well-located, and enjoy.
Last year I did: Netherlands-Turkey-Greece-Turkey-Iraq-Turkey-Georgia-Armenia-UAE-India-Kazakhstan, with most of my time being spent between Turkey and India. I didn't spend much time in Kazakhstan, for what that's worth.
The route I traveled this year took me through the following countries: Iceland-Scotland-England-France-Belgium-Germany-Austria-Italy-Slovenia-Croatia-Bosnia/Herzegovina-Serbia-Bulgaria-Turkey-UAE-India. I had long stays in Iceland, the UK, Germany, Croatia, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Serbia, Turkey, the UAE, and obviously India. I mostly passed through France and Belgium, having neglected to meet a friend who lives in Paris in favor of catching up with my German buddy (I'd gotten uncharacteristically lonely in Iceland and was still broken up over ending things with my ex).
Yeah, that's the order. Sorry, I like writing and type quickly, so most of my "please elaborate on "X"" responses are going to be lengthy. Folks seemed to like that in my first thread, but I got some bitches in the last.
Picture was taken close to the last.
I went from west to east. I wish I'd done the entire Ring Road, but my break-up got to me and I ended up spending a few days in Reykjavik before boarding my flight to Edinburgh. I still got to see a lot of cool stuff. Iceland may not be in my "Top 10" list but if I ever get enough money to afford more luxury and time there, I'd love to see the fjords and islands in the northwest.
In regards to gear: I pack as minimally as possible. This isn't to satisfy the conditions of any personal ideology: I just like being able to blend in. I'm also cheap and don't want to splurge on a $500 backpack or something, when all I really need to be happy are my clothes and enough room to take home some small souvenirs.
On my first trip, I used my regular school backpack and lived out of that for three-and-a-half months. I think that bag is 30 or 35L, but it's compact and designed for carrying books rather than clothing. The only reason I could get away with using it is because the main chamber is configured to carry a 17.3" laptop and has a lot of room.
This year I had a typical hiking bag. It actually has less volume than my school bag - I think it's 30L - but there's only one compartment and a few zippers. That means I had enough space to comfortably fit in my tent and sleeping bag, as well as clothes, camera, and toiletries. My tent is the yellow one in the OP.
I have no idea what the weight I was carrying was, but it wasn't bad. I got all the way up to the top of a minor Himalayan peak by myself, without hiring a porter or guide. It was a pain in the ass to lug all that stuff up alone but I did it.
The only electronic I've ever taken with me on a trip was my smartphone last summer. I didn't take it with me this time, because I remember it getting in the way of fun before. I might bring my new laptop with me to India when I go in late November, because that trip is primarily to visit friends.
Found the waterfall in pic related just off the side of the Ring Road
Hey OP, are you the guy that posted a thread months ago about being depressed in Iceland and wanting to drop it all and go back to India?
If so glad it all turned out alright, I told you you'd cheer up once you changed the scenery, it also happens to me everytime when I stay too long in some places.
Yup, that was me! I bumped forward my flight to India after getting drunk and listening to some Bollywood music in Reykjavik. I started feeling a lot better once I got to Edinburgh. My head was completely cleared by the time I met up with my German buddy in Gottingen.
Typical Edinburgh castle view.
I'm about to go to the gym and then spend the night at somebody's house, so I dunno if I'll be posting again until tomorrow. Thanks for the replies, and thanks again, dude - I was pretty depressed then! The chance of scenery definitely did the trick.
Another picture of Edinburgh. Is it worth it to post photographs from the UK? I feel most folks have seen enough of Scotland and London. The only major cities I visited there were Edinburgh, Glasgow, and London.
Good God, why can I never remember to attach pictures?
I'm >>915321 and wanted to first say a big thank you for all the details. It's always fun to read these stories
Another concern of mine is that if I do manage to go on such a trip, I'm afraid that I would just be lonely the whole trip and wouldn't be able to strike up conversations with anyone or find some travel buddy.
Obviously if I did have the option of having someone to take with me (even part of the trip) it would be a whole different story and way easier, but alas, forever alone.
>30-35L backpack for 3 months
damn dude. then again if it's mostly cities then it's probably fine
that waterfall is awesome by the way
what about communication and interwebs? I assume you had a smartphone with you, did you get roaming or something for interwebs or just lived off of random wifi's along the way?
>tfw went through all those eastern block countries but not romania
did you start off with shorter trips, like 2-3 weeks or so, or just went for the "fuck this place" 3 month trip around the world from the start?
It was the big trip from the start. I figured that if I was going to drop upwards of $600 on a round-trip plane ticket, I may as well be gone for a long time. I had the same mentality on the trip I took recently, with the exception of only buying one-way tickets: I didn't know when I'd come back and didn't want to be forced into returning any earlier than necessary.
And as much as I'd like to see Romania and other countries in Eastern Europe, I had a time constraint in getting to Istanbul. I didn't even plan on going to Sarajevo but wound up taking the trip south when a Croatian man and his nephew picked me up hitchhiking and offered to let me stay with their family for a couple days. They lived in a place called Zuponja, which is right across a river from the Bosnian border. I stayed a few days in Sarajevo and then went on to Belgrade, where I stayed for almost a week. Absolutely loved both places, by the way.
I stayed mostly in cities but did a fair amount of camping in Iceland and Kashmir. I didn't have many problems with supply shortages, but I did notice that my clothes kept getting harder and harder to wash!
For communications, I brought a smartphone with me on my first trip. I didn't take one with me on the most recent, because I had wasted a decent enough amount of time using it last summer. I just made use of hostel computers and internet cafes, which were abundant in less developed countries and everywhere in India. I bought a dumb phone in India and a very cheap tablet there, too, which I accidentally broke a week before I left.
Oh, and don't worry about feeling lonely or not being able to make friends. I can honestly and easily credit traveling with making me the confident person I am today.
I think it's easier to make friends when you're traveling alone than if you're with a group. Strangers will talk to you in places like hostels and you'll have folks come up to you in the street or bars in more sociable countries. You'll feel awkward and nervous at first but it'll get better after a week or two. My "breaking" point was when I was in southeast Turkey, wandering around a city called Van where hardly anybody spoke two words of English. My Turkish was awful and I was embarrassed to speak, but I had to eat and eventually find a bus station from which to hitchhike out of town. I started talking to every person I met to get directions and, from that point, I didn't care about approaching strangers any more. Things just happened naturally and easy.
Even now that I'm back in the States, I think about those days and sorts of experiences. If I'm afraid to ask a stranger for a favor or request (or a girl for her number!), I think about some traveling day and the situation I'm in ceases to be scary or intimidating. If I can get tear-gassed in Gezi Park and make friends with radical socialists - or hitchhike in Iraq, talk to brothel bouncers in Georgia, or work with tourist touts in India - I can ask a girl for her number.
Maybe that was a little off topic, but yeah. You'll meet plenty of people, some of whom you'll probably keep in contact with long after you've gone back home. And to top it all off, you'll feel more confident in everyday situations.
> If I can get tear-gassed in Gezi Park and make friends with radical socialists - or hitchhike in Iraq, talk to brothel bouncers in Georgia, or work with tourist touts in India
how did hitchhiking from one country to another go? did you end up on the streets during the night at any point? I suppose it's good to start early or just get some cheap train as close as possible to the border
Hitchhiking from one country to the next wasn't a challenge. The longest adventure I had thumbing it from one place onward was when I went from London to Istanbul. Although I did use public transportation here and there, I hitched at least 90% of the way. I never had any difficulties at border crossings. Needless to say, a lot of the time I was simply moving from one Schengen state to the next. I've never had the authorities scrutinize my passport too closely.
After my new Croatian friend dropped me from his house to the border, I walked across, had the Bosnian authorities give me a stamp, and stood with a sign reading "Sarajevo" in the middle of the opposite street. The police didn't bother me and I found a guy who took me all the way to the capital within fifteen or twenty minutes. The only annoying encounter I had was going from Serbia to Bulgaria, but it was the fault of the driver more than anyone else - he didn't have enough money to pay the road tax (he was a Bulgarian national residing in Germany and driving a car with German plates) and kept asking me for Euros. I left him after thirty minutes and got in with a family who dropped me right outside the hostel I was trying to find in Sofia.
I had to sleep outside once, after me and my German friend parted ways a number of miles outside of Venice in a city called Padua. He quickly found a ride north but it took me a lot longer to get to where I needed to go. I got as far as Kozina, across the Slovenian border, and had to camp in some woods near a farmer's field --- pic related.
Nice thread, op.
I camped in that same exact spot when I was in Kashmir. How long where you there for and how many cities did you see in the state?
Would also love to hear about your experiences in Georgia as it is one of my favorite countries I've been to so far. Did you hitchhike through the border? If so, which crossing?
And hell, maybe in another post tell me about kazakhstan. I just moved here a week ago lol.
I was in Kashmir for about two weeks. Since I was out of money by that point, I didn't travel around the region nearly as much as I would have if I were well-off. Nevertheless, I had a great time staying with the family of a Kashmiri friend I'd made in Delhi. They let me have a room in their shut-down houseboat for free, in exchange for helping with chores like cutting grass, fishing, and going on grocery runs. Actually having to trim most of an entire lawn with my bare hands (in fairness, the owner, who lives in Australian but was back in Srinagar to take care of his ailing mother, was doing the same) was so comically painful I don't think I'll ever forget it.
I took a solo trek up to Gangabal by myself. I also stopped in Jammu City for a short time and made a few friends before carrying on to Srinagar.
I can't say a lot about Kazakhstan because I didn't spend much time there. The biggest memories I have are of rampant and visible corruption that was apparent from the time I touched down in Almaty International Airport. I wouldn't mind going back some day, but the country didn't leave a favorable impression on me.
Georgia was cool. I spent a week in Tbilisi alone. I did a lot of touristy stuff there and also explored this bizarre, abandoned complex underneath the Radisson Hotel off Republic Square. It was hands-down the creepiest place I've seen in my entire life, and this is coming from somebody who's crawled through tunnels underneath 20th century insane asylums. The complex kind of came to life after dark, in that it turned into this crazy miniature Red Light district. There were different themed bars on the level above the floor that was entirely abandoned, with some having prostitutes who catered towards Iranians, others that were for Georgians, others for gays, and one place that only let in Nigerians. I didn't do anything with the prostitutes, but I got drunk in one of the clubs with my German buddy who wanted to see what it would be like.
(above pic is of the less-creepy part of this complex)
The manager of one of the bars was collecting money at the entrance. He started speaking to us in Georgian and my friend replied in Russian. Once he realized that we were, respectively, American and German, he gave us VIP seats and personalized service. This guy would ignore every other guest in the entire bar in favor of coming over to us and asking what we needed or wanted. It was kind of funny. Whenever I see my friend, we make fun of this one Nigerian guy who was dancing with his buck teeth pressed out over his bottom lip. He kept getting shoved away by the all the prostitutes; his friends were in the corner, drinking themselves to death, shaking their heads, and looking embarrassed.
And I didn't do as much hitchhiking on my first trip. My friend is big on that stuff (he was the one who convinced me to give it a try in the first place) and wanted to thumb from Istanbul to Tbilisi, but yet again, I had to catch a flight from Yerevan to Dubai and didn't think I'd have time to both hitchhike and see some of Georgia. We wound up taking the bus. Passport control at the Hopa/Artvin crossing was a fucking nightmare. They herded everybody into this narrow hallway with a leaking roof before releasing us into the main area. Everybody was pushing and screaming and some people were trying to haul through carts of vegetables and fruit. I guess a lot of the Turks kept moaning about the disorganized Georgians, all of whom are "the same, the same."
Pic is passport control.
It's been good, lol.
>abandoned complex underneath the Radisson Hotel
Shit nigga, you are fucking crazy. Why the fuck would you walk down there? Like wtf. I only passed by during the night so maybe it's safer in the day?
Pic is the place I think you're talking about? There were plenty of other fine looking establishments that didn't involve walking into pic related. But yea I know those iranian bars you speak of lol.
Not OP, but I hitched into Georgia through the Vale border crossing. Actually walked a lot of the way on the last leg because the only car on the road only took me a couple of km. Beautiful scenery the whole day.
My nigga. I was escaping Turkey and the last thing I wanted to see were more Turks in the Batumi. Funny enough, some turks offered to drive me and my m8 to the nearest town. Amazing scenery like you said and then we reached pic related where I turned to my friend and we both said "uhhh yea you can leave us here.."
Yeah I ended up drinking beer out of those 2l plastic bottles with a couple of local thugs before even finding a place to sleep, and then spent the evening celebrating some Armenian's birthday and discovering that khinkali was a thing. Good times...
Yeah, that's exactly the place I'm talking about. The "Free Hugs" graffiti is what gives it away!
We went there during the day and at night. The first time we went was in a sizable group - it was me, my friend, and two Germans we met at the hostel we were all staying in. I think we spent a couple of hours down there poking around, taking pictures and discovering absolutely bizarre remnants of only-God-knows-what. For example, there was one room that was full of matted fur and bones with a stuffed capybara sitting on top of it all. There was another chamber that had a pile of gloves that looked like they were covered in blood, plus a large, open area that had a burned out police car and paintball splatters on every wall. Oh, and I'm not even getting into all the empty syringes, broken glass, trash, and human waste covering the floor.
The second time we went down was just me and my German friend. We talked to an Indian bouncer at the Nigerian club who said that people used to get killed down there "all the time," until Georgian police stepped up security for the safety of visiting Iranian tourists. I still spotted a guy with a gun in his pocket. A lot of the bars were closed to Russians and Georgians, even locals, on account of their reputation for arguing over prices and starting fights.
Here's a picture of what that hallway looks like further down. I thought I Also had a shot of the "Free Hugs" graffiti but I guess I don't.
There were actually some regular businesses in the complex. I remember a couple of Turkish fast food joints and stalls, as well as a cell phone repair shop. These were all on the highest level above the brothels, which in turn were above the abandoned mess.
Well, hold on. It might not have been the same place. Here's the one picture I have of the entrance immediately outside the Radisson, kitty-corner to the big grocery store. However, there were multiple entrances leading to the same complex and that may have been one of them. If I recall correctly, you could walk around the hotel to an area overlooking a large highway or road with stairs leading down.
Fuck, I know I've seen that "Free Hugs" graffiti in Tbilisi.
Pic is the capybara thing I mentioned in my last post. We all flipped shit when we saw it, because we thought it was alive for a second. The whole bottom level was pitch black and we only had a couple of small flashlights and headlamps.
Alright. This is a shot of part of the bottom level of that same place. You can see the sign for one of the Iranian-geared clubs in the upper-left. This was literally the least creepy part of the basement.
Here's the last one I'll post tonight. I'll put up more tomorrow, but I've got to work at least thirteen hours before that.
Going to be so happy when I leave for India - not gonna work for shit until I graduate.
Nigerians are fucking everywhere these days. There's like 180 million people in Nigeria and the unemployment rate is around 30%. The ones who do work usually don't even make enough to support their families. They run away wherever they can.
Hey op it's that fag who was in Kashmir and posted that free hugs sign?
Did you ever get the chance to eat at Rachas?
a paid position of regular employment.
See: >>916977. Every fucking country I've been to has Nigerians, from the UK to India. I remember my ex-girlfriend telling me that one of the clubs she likes to go to in Delhi always has signs and posters up for "Negro Nights" (seriously) that take place occasionally. I was surprised at how racist Indians are against blacks - they characterize them as being a bunch of drug-dealing finds. One guy asked me where I was living in New Delhi and said, "good thing you're not in Saket, because there are a bunch of niggers there."
No, man, I've never even heard of that place. Where is it?
Pic is the bottom of the bunk I slept under in Reykjavik. Don't know why I'm posting this, but I got a good laugh when I finally noticed.
I met a lot of weird motherfuckers traveling in Iceland. There were some Swedish people who got drunk and told me about how one of their friends, who was over making food in the kitchen, kept them up all night while camping because his girlfriend was pegging him in the next tent over. Normally I wouldn't believe that, but the guy heard what they were saying and just turned red and told them not to talk about it.
Reykjavik City Hostel. I got that story a bit wrong, by the way - the guy's friends just said that he liked getting pegged by his girlfriend. He seemed embarrassed. I have no idea why I brought that up (or why they brought it up).
It was a nice hostel, aesthetically and in terms of facilities. I think there were at least three or four kitchens, plus a games room, a campground, a common room, and washing and drying machines. The bad part was all the little fucking kids who kept staying there for field trips. The hostel staff had to constantly corral them and scold noisy teenagers for running up and down the halls and screaming at odd hours of the day.
One time, after going out in the city with some chick I'd met at the hostel, I spent the next half a day in bed with a terrible hangover. I was throwing up in the trashcan and these little bastards outside started imitating puking sounds. I was so livid but found it funny a while after the fact.
Gotta be honest, Reykjavik was an ugly fucking city. As was mentioned earlier, I was slightly depressed while there because I'd recently broken up with my first long-term girlfriend. The atmosphere did absolutely nothing to help.
God dammit, it showed it was flipped in the picture preview. And in Paint, too.
I don't know why these keep posting horizontally.
OP, help an aspiring 'mirin traveler out, can you describe your inventory for this trip for me please?
Border trouble? Visas? Footwear and clothing, washing of said footwear and clothing. How to carry cash (card?). Essentials to pack, safety precautions, etc etc.
Sure. To answer the easiest question you've so far asked: I've never had any problems crossing borders. My greatest inconvenience thus far has been getting back into Turkey from Iraq. Security didn't give me a hassle, but it took almost twelve hours to get across the border. We were basically sitting outside in a bombed-out looking truck stop, waiting to get permission to re-board the bus and leave.
Aside from that, never any issues. Georgian passport control gave my documents an extra-long look but didn't say anything.
The only country I've had to apply for a visa in advance for is India. Oh, and there was Kazakhstan, too. Fuck Kazakhstan. The Indian visa application is a slight pain in the ass, what with all the confusing instructions and pointless questions. Americans are forced into using an outsourcing service called Travisa, who took care of the application process quickly and efficiently.
What you want to pack is pretty much up to you. Since I've been on a few long trips, I'm getting to know what works for me and what doesn't. I've so far found it best to go with smaller-sized backpacks. I don't take much more than I need and am not a big fan of electronics, cameras aside, given the temptation of wasting time on the Internet versus going outside, socializing, and sightseeing. I understand some folks need laptops or have more self-discipline than me; I'm not hating, but I left even my smartphone at home on this last trip, opting instead to use hostel computers and Internet cafe facilities.
Because I'm a light packer and prefer bags that give me a chance of blending in in white-people-countries, I can't take tons of clothes. For my last trip, I think I had one pair of jeans, khaki pants for hiking and formal wear (I don't care much about fashion if my primary mode of transportation is hitchhiking), and maybe three or four t-shirts, plus a lightweight, rainproof leather jacket, a long-sleeve shirt, underwear, and socks. I think the only times
What's the visa deal with Kashmir? Do you need a visa for both India and Pakistan? As an American would I be able to cross overland from China?
Sorry if this has already been asked; on phone, scrolling through threads is a hassle.
I washed my clothes in the first month and a half of traveling were when I got to my friend's house in Germany, at a hostel in Serbia, and again at my uncle's place in Dubai. I guess that was slightly disgusting on my part, but nobody ever commented on my hygiene and I still managed to hook up with a cute girl in Belgrade. Arriving in India brought a breath of fresh air, since I know a lot of washing people in Delhi who'll do all your laundry by hand for a matter of cents.
I tend not to carry more cash than I need for the span of one or two days. This goes especially in developing countries, where an obvious foreigner is going to be seen as a potential source of income rather than just another regular old tourist. Since I lost the only wallet I've ever used at a fraternity party some time back, I just keep my cash as-is in my side pockets. I've never had any problems with pickpocketing doing this.
Oh, and in that same vein, I find that the best way to acquire cash is to simply use your debit or credit card at select ATMs. There are always some banks in every country that will let you make free withdrawals, so that way you're only paying whatever fee your own institution charges (in my case, $1 per ATM transaction).
I can't give good advice on safety. I'm a fucking stupid risk-taker who goes to violent protests and shit. When it comes to people, just be street smart and trust your instinct. One piece of advice I read a while back that I always use as a basic guide for behavior is this: if you wouldn't follow somebody in a similar situation in your home country, don't do it abroad. If you're American and were visiting New York City, what would you think if a strange man came up to you and invited you to find prostitutes or go visit an underground bar? You'd probably flip shit, snub him, or maybe even call the police. Why then do people follow folks into obvious scam situations while in foreign countries? Sometimes we lose our common sense abroad.
Oh, and I just had a pair of Nike running shoes, lol. Same shit I used on my last trip. I also brought some sandals I got in Iraq last summer, as I've found it too uncomfortable to wear shoes and socks in countries like India and the UAE. FYI, nobody gives two fucks if you wear sandals virtually anywhere.
There's no visa deal with Kashmir. If you have a valid Indian tourist visa then you can go to Kashmir. Never trust people in tourist offices in India (unless you know for certain you're in a real government building; then again, even if you aren't, somebody will tell you that you are). Some folks will try to tell you that you need special permits to enter Kashmir or Srinagar, often using excuses about military tensions or religious festivals necessitating extra precautions for foreigners. These are all lies and, as much as I love Indian people, you should never listen to them when it comes to booking matters, unless you are 100% certain that you are at a reputable business. I met a group of Greek girls in Kashmir who got tricked by a fake government tourist office into leaving Delhi on their first day to go to Kashmir. The man behind the desk misrepresented himself as a government official and said the city center of Delhi would be closed for some holiday or celebration. Shit like this happens all the time and many tourists fall victim, despite the large number of warnings available online and in guide books.
Tourist touts are more clever than you think, and they get practice every single day. Some will bring you around an entire city and take you to dinner before mentioning this "great place to get tickets."
Okay, that wasn't related.
And yeah, you need visas for both India and Pakistan. The Indian visa was a mess to get, but I didn't worry much about getting rejected. I've been told by a few people that it's not difficult to get a Pakistani tourist visa either.
I don't know about crossing overland from China.
Hi OP, you say you make end's meet doing odd jobs like delivery? I am wondering, is it difficult to do this in a location you're not familiar with?
Any other sort of odd jobs you recommend?
I am taking a 3-4 week vacation to Iceland starting in December, and it'd be cool if I could make a little bit of the money back.
Also please let me know if there's anything crucial I should know about Iceland before going.
Do you have a tourist visa for India? Kashmir is split between Pakistan and India, with most of the well-known tourist sights being within Indian-administered Kashmir. If you're presently out of the country, than yeah, I guess that might be a problem for you. I don't know what course of action you might be able to take in order to get a tourist visa while traveling overseas; I doubt it's impossible.
Yeah, I meant that I worked delivery jobs in the States to fund my trips. I have worked in other countries as an article writer for a local magazine and a tour guide, among other things, but I've never done delivery abroad. Whether or not you can find employment in various nations depends on their economic situation and their need for whatever skills you might have to offer.
If you're talking specifically about Iceland, I do know a Hungarian girl who worked in a hostel some ways north of Reykjavik and was paid well by American standards. She was also given a room and free food as part of the deal she made with the owners. Her biggest complaint was that she wasn't given enough time to travel and that the hostel itself was very boring.
Working abroad isn't difficult, but you have to be willing to adapt and take some risks. It won't be nearly as easy to find a shit job in Iceland (or anywhere else) as it would be at home. They don't have any need for English teachers, either, so you can scratch thought if it's ever cropped up in your mind.
What do you want to know about Iceland? You're in for some miserable weather if you're going in December, assuming you're about as keen on winter as I am.
Been to Nepal? I'm wondering about crossing Tibet from Nepal, also, did you visit Pakistan? Seems like the security situation is decent-ish as long as you stay away from the bordering regions to Afghanistan and down south in Baluchistan and Karachi
Hey OP, thanks so much for all the details on your trip, I've recorded all the important information from your posts since I'll be doing a similar trip next year or the year after. Trying to decide to do a smaller trip later next year and go to Burning Man again, or save and do a three to six month trip. Eastern Europe to Nepal would be the ideal trip, flying from Tehran to New Delhi.
Did you stay in hostels mostly? Was it hard to find cheap hostels without any knowledge of new areas? Did you camp wherever possible? How much did you spend on gear and preparation before you left?
I heard certain sites are unvisitable in winter time in Iceland.
I was thinking of going Jan or Dec because desolate winter wasteland was suddenly something I wanted to see. But I would also like to be able to go outdoors as well to see it. Otherwise depressing nordic town and depressing nordic beer prices is probably not that interesting.
Nope. I had plans to go to Nepal in summer of 2013, but those got completely screwed up after I missed my flight from Athens to Cairo. I was supposed to go from Greece to Egypt to Jordan to the UAE to Nepal to India, but wound up returning to Turkey and bouncing around the Black Sea and Middle-East instead.
I'm hoping to go to Afghanistan and Pakistan some time in the next one to two years. I don't know much about border crossings with Tibet, but other posts I've seen on /trv/ have led me to believe (perhaps incorrectly) that it's quite difficult, if not impossible, to go from Nepal to Tibet as an international tourist.
I did mostly stay in hostels. I did some camping in Iceland, Slovenia, and India, and accepted homestays first from a drunk stranger in Venice (I was with a friend and we didn't have a place to go) and then from a man and his nephew in Croatia. I spent a week with a German friend I met on my last trip and rented an apartment in New Delhi.
Finding hostels was only slightly problematic in some places. If I knew with any degree of certainty that I'd be in a major city at some point in the future, I'd usually try to read up on availability through websites like Hostelworld. Once I found a place that had good reviews and a decent price, I'd write down a set of directions from a major city landmark and do my best to go there. The only time I had trouble finding a hostel was in Sarajevo, as I was completely unfamiliar with the city and didn't know that most of the tourist accommodation was in the Old City. I inquired about the prices for maybe a dozen establishments before settling on one. I wound up being the only guest in the entire hostel and had a great time.
On my last trip I was very random when it came to where I was going. To give you an example: I made friends with a Swiss man and his Hungarian friend at a hostel in Bodrum, Turkey. They were going to Pamukkale and invited me and a Brazilian to accompany them in their
rental car. On their way out to whichever city they were planning to visit next, I was dropped at the local "otogar" (bus station) in Denizli. I had planned on going from Denizli to Antalya but, lo and behold, every company was either sold out for Antalya or wasn't offering another trip until the next morning. I looked at the boards, figured Adana sounded nice, and went on ahead there. I used my smartphone with Wi-Fi to look up budget hotels in the area, found a hotel that sounded nice near the Central Mosque (pic related - taken from the front door or terrace), and walked over an hour from the Adana bus station to the hotel.
I stayed four or five days and hopped on another bus to Diyarbakir, which was my eventual destination. Some weird shit happened on the bus ride and I lost my motivation to explore the city, considering that I'd gotten booted to the side of the street at four o'clock in the morning, because, you know, I have sleep paralysis and was naturally paralyzed upon awakening at the Diyarbakir stop. The old man sitting next to me started trying to feel me up, I yelled at him, and the bus attendant realized that I should have gotten off some five or ten minutes prior. Instead of turning back, he just brought me outside, handed me my bags, and jumped back on the bus as it was already started to roll away.
A Kurdish dude hooked me up with a cheap taxi back to the bus station (after overcoming his initial shock at being approached, mid-pushup, by a young white guy in the middle of fucking nowhere). I was sitting on a bench, waiting for sunup and researching places to spend the night, when a little brown guy came up to me and asked where I was trying to go. I told him I'd just arrived, but he didn't seem to want to listen and insisted I come with him. He brought me to a bus company kiosk and asked, "you want go Iraq?" I thought for a few seconds, thought "oh, what the Hell," and wound up with a ticket to Duhok (where one of my best friends used
to live after fleeing Baghdad during the Iraq War, prior to his and his family's subsequent emigration to America) in Iraqi Kurdistan. When I asked him about the Erbil route and if the bus would go through Mosul, he got this crazy grin on his face, said "no, no, Mosul bad, many bomb!", spread his arms out wide and slowly, and yelled "boom!" to get his point across.
Um, yeah, anyway... I didn't spend much on preparation, plane tickets aside. I got my tent for free and spent $80 on a sleeping bag. Those are literally the only two items that I bought for my trip that I didn't already have.
Yeah, there are sites in Iceland that are closed off at various times of the year. It'd probably be pretty cool. I can understand why a lot of people like Iceland - it's a great place if you're in to nature and landscapes. I'd have had more fun if I weren't fresh off a breakup with a girl who'd been my first serious relationship.
Pictured: the architecture of beautiful Reykjavik.
Bumping again. Leaving for India in three goddamn days, which is crazy to me. I mean, I've hardly been in America for two months and I'm going to be out again!
I agreed to write articles for this one magazine in India back when I was broke and working there. The pay is absolutely terrible (maybe $13 for two album reviews) but I decided to continue with it for the sake of having my name published internationally. Damn, what a mistake. I've probably already been fired, but I can't keep myself motivated for such a small reward. Nobody here even reads that magazine anyway, and I make way more money off doing business advertisements and the like. Some dude just paid me $200 to write a CraigsList ad for him, lol.
Not to turn this into my personal blog or whatever. But that's the kind of work I wound up starting in India, because 400 rupees per review seemed like decent money when I literally had none.
>Gotta be honest, Reykjavik was an ugly fucking city. As was mentioned earlier, I was slightly depressed while there because I'd recently broken up with my first long-term girlfriend. The atmosphere did absolutely nothing to help.
When were you there? I didn't think it was ugly at all. I loved the mix of ultra-new construction, all modern and like every architect was trying to outdo the next. It even felt like stepping into the future or being on a movie set. From the opera house to laugerveger, and then the old scandinavian type buildings and colored roofs. A nice mix. The only thing that could bother someone about Iceland is the lack of forestry and some black lava slate.
That's awesome dude, how did you even find work like that in India? Or work at all? I'd imagine it would be pretty hard to come by, not knowing how everything works and not speaking the language. Is it hard to find work to feed and shelter yourself with as a foreigner?
I enjoyed some of the newer architecture. To each their own, I guess, but I didn't find myself being charmed by the city. It felt dismal, boring, quiet, and overly gloomy. Some of the themed restaurants (like "The Big Lebowski Bar") were absolutely hilarious, as were the English-language posters hung up all around Reykjavik's main shopping street, decrying and deconstructing various tourist myths that have been propagated by cash-hungry businesses. I remember one read, "Don't be fooled by the Icelandic Polar Bear - Polar Bears don't live in Iceland, but sometimes they hitch a ride here on icebergs. When they do, we shoot them."
But yeah, it just wasn't my kind of place. I was very turned-off by the average building in Reykjavik, especially in the area around my hostel. It just felt so... Scandinavian. And not in a cool, charming way. I was more impressed by the architecture in downtown Tbilisi, even if the backsides of buildings were rotten and disgusting when compared to their grand facades.
To add a touch of necessary clarification: the business advertisements and essays were all written in the last few months, after I returned home to the United States. I never found work in India that paid particularly well, in part because I had neither a work permit or a college degree. There were a number of businesses that seemed eager to hire me, though, even when I made it clear that there was no legal way for me to be hired. Usually the establishments that will take an unqualified foreigner are the sorts that deal with English-speaking customers, like call centers and small tourist agencies.
I went to a few interviews for call centers and, despite having absolutely no experience, was still accepted by several companies. I was rejected by Google, presumably for my lack of experience and profound confusion at several of the questions that were asked - I balked, for example, when the interviewer asked me about my "family background and history."
I normally pride myself at being exceptionally good when it comes to interviews, but that inquiry caught me completely off guard. I don't even know if somebody would be allowed to ask that question in America without the risk of facing legal repercussions!
Apparently these sorts of questions are considered tame by some standards. I have a friend of a friend who offered to get me a job as "Team Leader" or manager in a different call center. He said that I'd be guaranteed an interview since he grew up with the guy who owns the place, but warned me that they wouldn't have any control over the interview itself, which would be conducted by HR. I was told by my friend of a friend that he'd been asked if he had a girlfriend, was still a virgin, and more, by the man who was reviewing his application for a different company.
Tourist agencies, on the other hand, go the extra mile to try and seduce foreigners looking to make extra money in big cities. They'll relate to you, offer you benefits and commission, and then usually not follow up on any of their promises, save for that of delivering a certain percentage of the profit on the tours you helped make. The main reason these people are so big on getting white people to work for or with them is because their businesses are usually quite dishonest. These are the guys who pay rickshaw men to take you to them and then tell you that your hotel is closed, there's a festival in the city center of Delhi, and you should probably go stay on a houseboat in Kashmir instead. I didn't like this work and stopped doing it after a very short period of time, as I noticed that I kept meeting progressively unsavory characters, such as kidnappers and "jewelry scam" artists, who offered to take me with them to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands if I could find them even one customer.
I found the magazine job through an Indian girl I was and still kind of am dating. She writes book reviews for the magazine and introduced me to the
editor, who'd fired the music reviewer for being consistently late with his submissions (which is incredibly ironic, because I'm probably worse).
So yeah, you can find work, but it's going to be hard work that won't pay well by the standards you're used to. I remember when I ran out of money and started thinking in rupees. If I was making $3 an hour, every Indian person I knew was telling me that I was doing well and shouldn't complain. Earning 2,000 or 3,000 rupees in a single day made me feel like I was the richest guy in Delhi. But at the end of the day, I was still broke. I experienced jealousy in a way I hadn't before. It wasn't overpowering, but I could understand why tourist touts felt justified in selling foreigners overpriced tours. Like, you get annoyed if somebody who can afford to spend $30 or $40 on a hotel room thinks 2,000 rupees for an eight-hour city tour is "too much money."
I'm going to take your question slightly out of context. It's easy enough to find cheap food, but shelter is a different deal entirely. Many of the property brokers I dealt with thought I was rich and either attempted to overcharge me or were downright dishonest. One of my Indian friends, who accompanied me to see a few potential places, started screaming at a broker who, in Hindi, casually mentioned that I would have to pay a 5,000 rupee fee for "police paperwork processing," which is of course nonsense.
I found an apartment that cost $250 a month and was located in a good area. I realized later that this price, although low by American standards, was a complete ripoff. I also noticed that the landlady was very kind to me only when it came time to collect money and was otherwise absent and even unwelcoming when I had other concerns. The property broker charged me a month's commission (which is too much) and then disappeared when it came time to do paperwork, allegedly because of a disagreement he had with the landlady.
(for what it's worth, the property broker seemed to be the good guy in the dispute. He offered to let me stay at his place and return the money if I didn't accept a deal with the landlady and also said he'd help find me a new place. His commission was still way too high)
Anyway, the deal I had with the landlady was that I'd pay 15,000 a month, with this price including electricity and other utility bills. She started getting upset over me running the air conditioning "too often" and requested more and more money every month. There was one time when I went to pay her rent, bringing with me 15,000 rs, only to have her count through it and say "that's all?" She asked for 20,000, because of electricity costs, then 18,000, then 17,000, then 16,000, and seemed upset when I refused to relent from the price we'd initially agreed upon.
On the bright side, she let me bring girls and friends over, which is what stopped me from taking other apartments. Fucking so many Indian landlords lay down the dumbest rules for their tenants. This doesn't make sense to me, as a Westerner, because you'd figure that, as a business owner, you have to care about what your customer wants more than what your conservative moral sensibilities tell you is right and wrong. "No cooking meat." "No girls." "Girlfriend is okay, but she can't spend the night or come more than once or twice a week." "Try not to come back home too late at night." "No alcohol." "No smoking." Fuck, it was such a pain in the ass. My landlady may have been greedy (and she flipped shit when I told her I was leaving early. I didn't feel too bad, because I'd long since learned that her price was a complete rip off, given that it was a studio apartment and I had Indian friends paying 18,000 a month for two-bedrooms in better areas), but at least she let me do whatever the fuck I wanted, so long as it didn't involve using the electricity too much, lol.
You've got to a lot of balancing when it comes to misconceptions
*to do a lot of balancing when it comes to misconceptions people have about foreigners. Firstly, despite there being plenty of expats and white workers in Delhi, you will always be treated as a tourist by strangers. I won't pretend that I was living in Delhi for more than a few months, but it was still incredibly annoying to always be asked what hotel I was staying at, whether it was my first day in India, and "what I was looking for" when I'm clearly walking confidently in an area I know well. I dealt with all of these issues with a good sense of humor but it still got to be grating. There was one guy who worked for a ripoff tourist agency in Connaught Place who'd keep accosting me almost every time he saw me, asking the same questions about how I liked India and how long I'd been in Delhi. Every fucking time he saw me. He'd also try it on any white person I was walking with, until I told him that I knew all the bullshit he was trying to pull and that he's wasting his time and won't make any money off me or anybody I'm with. I also told him that if I ever saw him with a white customer, I'd tell them what was going on unless he stopped talking to me from that point onward.
Shit got fucking old real fast.
And yeah, it's true that everybody thinks you're rich. If you tell them that you have a negative bank balance, they'll ask you where your other card is. When I went to Kashmir and wanted to take a shared Jeep from Jammu to Srinagar, the driver kept telling me, "I'll take you by yourself for only 3,000 rs! We won't have to wait that way!" and wouldn't believe me when I told him that I simply couldn't afford to pay such a price.
India was frustrating at times but has been worth it each and every time I've traveled there. It's really an amazing country with hospitable and friendly people. Even Delhi, which I love, has a wonderful side to it that lots of visitors will never see - you just have to get away from the tourism industry.
Dude, you've pretty much convinced me to make my next trip end in India. This is why I love this board.
Your first post has that pic from Kashmir, what was the level of difficulty of the hikes you went on? And as for Kashmir itself, is it worth exploring for a longer period of time?