How I manage to afford my adventures
Commonly people ask “how is it that I can financially afford to venture to so many countries?” It is all about research and planning. Typically prior to booking a trip, I look at the prevailing currency exchange rates, to see where my dollar can take me the furthest. Where the dollar stands usually will determine the region and duration of my next adventure. Once I have narrowed my options to two or three countries, I look to see if there are any employment opportunities. I would recommend finding a job teaching English, when you are in a country where that is not the first language. It would help to become TEFL or TESOL certified. Teaching English as Foreign Language certification does require a chunk of change but is a good investment to have, if you plan on trekking the globe. Institutions recognize the TEFL/TESOL certification, and the programs aids in finding employment with institutions that accept the certification.
If you would rather not teach English, there are other jobs, primarily manual labor jobs that you can get. Generally these jobs are off the books, (paid in cash) but they can help with your expenses as you travel from country to country. A lot of hostels offer free room and board for volunteering in their establishments, which eliminates a large part of your cost. I also use social sites when I am in need of advice, a guide and places to stay. Couch surfers is a great community website that connects travelers from all over the world. The website connects with hosts who are offering a place to stay, or natives who can offer suggestions or meet up with you when in their home town. I have used it during my travels, and have met welcoming, friendly locals, experiencing a trip off the beaten path.
Overall, no matter where in the world you go, be sure to research and plan ahead for any possible circumstances. Be sure to always look up the nearest embassy/consulate of your nation and keep loads of copies of your passport on you, and with family.
Residents of Bkk
Bangkok has an estimated population of 8.5 million people. A fraction of these people are living on the streets, becoming apart of the backdrop for the locals, expats, and tourist.It is thought that the homeless that fill the streets and slums of Bangkok were born into their circumstances. May Methinee, a native of Bangkok, said that some of the beggars on the streets were kidnapped as children by “pimps,” at times being burnt enough to cause deformation, and or having their limbs amputated. All done to be given to the beggars who are under the pimp’s control to be used as a prop, to get more money when begging. There is no proof that this theory is true, but the sight of disfigured men, women and children that line the streets, have resulted in agreement of this theory with majority of the locals.
Kelsie Black, an American who had lived in Thailand for a few months recalled feeling sick when she first saw homeless people all over the city. Black felt overwhelmed with emotions and confusion, trying to understand why and how these people ended up on the street.
“Many of our homeless people are people who lost their business and gone crazy,” Methinee said.
A few years back, I was recounting a night out, when I walked past a young girl, no older than 30, asleep on a sky bridge. Under her arm was an infant, smaller than a football, wrapped up in a thin cloth. Though I had been conditioned not to pay attention to the beggars, emotions guided my hand to reach in my clutch and place a 100 Baht in the pocket of the fatigued mother. My colleague had advised that I do not repeat such actions. She believed that if anyone wanted to help, buying food is the best option. That way, despite the possible beating the beggar may receive from their pimps for not getting enough revenue, they at least would not be hungry for that day.
Local, Joy Phusrijan believes that despite the fact that some of the beggars do not get their money, it is not her concern. Instead, she believes that “if you wish to give them money then do it.”
Exploring the prom
Driving over the cattle grates, slamming our feet on the floor as a homage to the surfer gods, vibrant colors of fuchsia, lime green, turquoise oceans, and clear skies, overwhelmed my senses. A few minutes later as I turned the corner, I had to pull over. As far as the eye could see, there were tall mountains, wrapped in lush green bushes. Just below were white sand beaches, and the ocean. I was ecstatic, grateful for the strong encouragement to visit this national park.
Wilsons Promontory National Park, known to the locals as the prom, is located in Victoria state. The closest well known city is Melbourne. The park is great for day and overnight trips, though some travelers have said that the park’s camping fees are a bit pricey. If you were to free camp, I would recommend driving out of the park and going to the local gas station or pub and asking the locals where there are free camping locations. Australia has an abundance of free camping, typically along or on the beaches.
Wilsons promontory is a peninsula. If surfing is something you wish to do, I would recommend going out early in the morning to ensure you get the best waves. There are sites to inform surfer’s of the conditions at each beach in the promontory.
While at the park, kayaking down the tidal river is a must. The river is formed from the Bass strait, that cuts in and out of the park, which is a great way to tour the promontory. If you want to see wild kangaroos, emus, wombats, and kookaburras, drive away from the ocean towards the desert and park your car. If you happen to get lost in the “outback” simply immerse yourself into the Savannah, and forget your troubles. You are just on a walk about. That is how the locals define walk about, getting lost in the outback, another authentic Australian tradition you can mark off your list. [Be sure not to get close to any of the native animals, as they are still wild and can severely harm or kill you, if they feel threaten.]
In cases of emergencies or questions while attending the park, there are various locations for information and shops that can accommodate most needs. Australia’s emergency line is 000, if that number does not work you can call 112.
Thailand in Al-Khobar
As the bus stops in front of our villa, I look at my mother in anticipation, as she slowly puts on her abaya. An abaya is a black robe, women are encouraged to wear in the Saudi Arabia, whenever they are leaving their house and going into public. The robe goes past the ankles and wrist, with a neckline that sits above the clavicles. As I step off the bus, the comfort of the air conditioning is no longer present, instead I am greeted with a stale heat. I wonder how my mother is able to endure the heat under her robe. Being a child with no signs of puberty just yet, I am safe from having to wear the garment.
We walk past vendors, who are eyeing my mother and I as we enter a small shop,where we were greeted by an older gentlemen, who always seemed happy to see my mother. Later in reflection, I realized why. He was a gem shop owner and my mother loved to buy gems. In fact, most of the merchants in Al-Khobar loved my mom, she, along with my aunts were their best customers. Buying cosmetics, perfumes, gems and most importantly gold. It was not a wonder why they would receive discounts and welcoming embraces.
After a hard day of shopping and bargaining, we would go to Bangkok Thai or Thai house to eat and bring home food for my dad. These two restaurants were operated by Thai men who were living and working in Saudi to send money back home to their families. These restaurants were the only place my mother and her friends could take off their robes, and sit and talk with fellow Thai’s in a nation, where social interaction between men and women was frowned upon.
I did not understand why, until I started going through puberty and realized the garment my mother wore was not to oppress her, but to protect her. The Thai restaurants that I would tire of, were not just restaurants but a little piece of home for my mother and aunts.