Who doesn’t want to read from someone who describes himself like this:
…he earns barely enough to feed his hunger for travel. So, to taste the local flavor and experience the local color are just excuses to travel on a shoestring budget. But as it turned out, his travel diary (with budget, local information and tips) is another man’s treasure trove!”
“HARD KNOCKS UNIVERSITY!”
said RV, our December Backpacker of the Month, when asked to describe BACKPACKING in three (3) words.
I’m always excited to learn from Pinoy backpackers, and I want to share the excitement by sharing my interview with RV.
James: How many years are you been backpacking?
RV: Hardcore backpacking? It’s a combined ten awesome years!
James: How did you start traveling/backpacking?
RV: There was a method to my first backpacking madness. And it involved a lot of research—about the place, cost and all things in between. Since I worked full time, timing was very crucial. Luck also played an important role since on the dates that I selected, the airline company had a major seat sale! It seemed everything fell into place!
Then, I prepped up the right gear and right amount of clothing. The works!
James: Share us your best experience ever while on the trip?
RV: On my way home to The Philippines, my airline seat was bumped off. In exchange, the airline company booked me in an expensive hotel that night plus a roundtrip travel voucher to any international destination the airline serves!
James:Wow! I hope that would happen to me too! Worst?
RV: I fell prey in Bangkok’s tuktuk scam. My girlfriend and I wanted to see the reclining Buddha but we were met outside the temple gate by a man who said the temple was closed because it was Buddha sleeping day. Believing he was telling the truth, we backtracked our way but the man introduced himself as a tuktuk driver and offered to take us to another temple and other tourist spots for just 20 baht. My alarm clocked ticked! But my girlfriend insisted we try it. The rest is history. I discovered about it later in wikitravel that the drivers bring tourists to jewelry shops and clothing stores in exchange for gas coupons and commissions. We wasted half-day hopping from one jewelry shop to another but not a cent since when we demanded the driver to bring us to a store which apparently was not on his list, he got mad and asked us to get off. We did. I was mad and almost choked my girlfriend. We took a taxi to Siam Paragon and just laughed about the silly experience.
RV’s fave travel quotes
“We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again — to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.” by Pico Iyer
“…never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite and never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience. And if it hurts, you know what? It’s probably worth it.” by Alex Garland
Longest Backpacking Adventure
James: This is the most exciting part, tell us your longest backpacking trip?
RV: Three weeks on the road: from Manila to Vietnam, then on a bus, off to Cambodia and Thailand. Then I took the train to Malaysia then bus to Singapore then fly back home to Cebu.
In Manila, I was hosted by a friend who eventually signed up in Couchsurfing upon my prodding.
In Saigon, I was taken care of by a kababayan who made Vietnam her second home. She showed me around town in what was my first authentic Couchsurfing experience.
Then, in Cambodia, I biked around Angkor Wat Archeological Complex for a day and eventually met new friends along the way.
In Thailand, I was hosted by a local and together with other couchsurfers we had a blast!
Then, I took the train to Butterworth in Penang and eventually to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia which really saved me hostel bills since I took the overnight trip.
After KL, I went to Melaka and then to Singapore for a couple of days before I flew back home.
Looking back, what truly made that trip an adventure and at the same time a heartwarming experience were not only the sights, sounds and flavor but the genuine people I met along the way.
James: Any realization/reflection while on the road?
RV: My self-diagnosed ailment called compulsive travel syndrome will stay with me as long as I can carry my backpack! Haha
James: Share 3-5 important things that should be in your backpack?
Aside from money and passport:
5. multivitamins and ibuprofen
4. photocopies of my travel documents
3. right amount of clothing (always pack one pair for a smart-casual affair)
2. camera + charger
1. important contact numbers and addresses
Insider Tips and more…
James: 3 backpacking tips?
1. Research. Research. Research.
2. Trust your intuition.
James: Agree with #3, now the best place you’ve been to in the PH? in other countries?
RV: I’m in my antisocial state of mind right now. Let’s see. In the Philippines, it’s a tie between Sagada and Chavayan (Batanes). In other countries, Angkor Wat Archeological Complex in Cambodia is the hands-down winner!
James: Plus 1 on the Angkor Wat. Picture this situation: a student/8-5 employee asks you, “How do I start my backpacking trip?”
RV: Traveling has become a level-playing field now with the advent of budget airlines. In spite of all these carriers bringing the cost to a very affordable level, no matter how low, it still boils down to moolah! So, first step is to start saving and then plan that first backpacking trip in a very realistic way.
Hope you are inspired to travel as RV did! You can read RV at LIVINGinAbackpack.
You can also follow RV at Twitter: @backpack_life.
Thanks RV for the very inspiring interview. Hope to travel with you some time.