Zbyna’s Travel Stories

P1000891

Camping in Vietnam

November 16, 2013 at 4:38pm

This article is specially written for Jerry Flores and Janice Beaton my good old friends who always encouraged me and supported me. I am writting it on my mobile phone with no internet connection so I can not check spelling nor find exact words which I would like to use so sorry for that this article is gonna be written in really simple English.

Once upon the time there was a boy and a bicycle… and no money :-) Seriously… After a year in Bolton, UK, working I’m factory for the minimal wage (6£/hour) I was really ready either to die or cycle again. I said just goodbye in that fucking slavery and never came back. Just loaded bicycle and went from Bolton to Lisbon… with few hundreds kms in Morocco – Africa for the first time. Got home in March, met Lucy, checked her bicycle, told her that we are going East and it means it’s all the way downhill wit h huge tailwind, Lucy said – That’s fine! and at April 1st, 2013 we started to cycle. To questions where we were going to we answered – China. It’s not t hat far (ehm… well, haha) and it’s definitely possible. What happened fro m Czech to China is long story and how I struggled by my own in China is even longer tale and I’m pretty sure that specially China was so hard th at not many people would believe that and nearly nobody could imagine it. Alone. Yes, Lucy had to return home from Urumqi (after 8.000km) cause of her serious health problems. To be honest I begged her to do that bec ause losing weight on road while cycling is pretty much normal, but in he r case it was absolutely abnormal. And I think we made right decision.

Alright, the Vietnam… I really didn’t want to go there because I had been t here before as a backpacker and it had been very tough with people but amazing scenery though. A friend of mine from Russia wrote me a mess age that I could stay in Hanoi any time so in Kunming (China) I decided t o give Vietnam a second try. Camping was from the beginning just a fucking nightmare. The people were everywhere and to find a hidden place without being spotted was mission impossible! Fucking h ell. One day I have cycled 30 kms in hope to find a good spot. I was nearl y ready on sleep on the road when I saw some palm trees and the place l ooked good. It took me an hour to fetch all my stuff there and when was getting dark I was ready to start to cook and pitch up the tent. But a dog came… “Fuck off you stupid idiot! Don’t bark for god sake!” Well and an o ld guy came… “Fuck off you… “Well, not like this but I wasn’t happy at all to see him, problems… And conversation when dumb talks to deaf starte d. Him: “Jduebdjskwdhaiao?” (I guess something like – what are you doi ng here?). Me: “Fishing?” The guy: “Come to my house to sleep! ” Me: “No ! I don’t want! Please, let me stay here, all is fine, I’ll be gone in the morni ng! ” Guy: “You cannot sleep here, too dangerous – snakes, lizards, spide rs, wild dogs, wild people, aggressive poisonous birds, dragons, the Chin ese kids and more and more.” Fuck that! I had to pack everything and ca rry all the stuff on the road again, load the bicycle and go to his hut. Imm ediately when I came with my monstrous bicycle I turned over some plat e where some seeds were left to dry. The seeds where everywhere and I hoped he’d tell me – fuck off you stupid idiot. But he pretended he didnt s ee that and offered me the smallest chair I have ever sat on. In few secon ds I got my classic spasms to legs cause of uncomfortable sitting. I stoo d up but wasn’t able to explain why. He probably thought I didn’t like his chair. Then he showed me the bed. At the first moment I didn’t know wha t he meant but gesture was obvious. The pile of old furniture, garbage, b ooks and a child dead body (hahaha) was my bed. He pushed all the me ss off the wooden bed on the floor and he said again it was my bed. For f uck sake it’s even worse then I imagined. The spider webs are hanging fr om the ceiling and when I stand I have my head in these webs… I’m too t all. This is not gonna be good.

His wife’s coming and starts to do some strange activities in the corner. Well, in complete dark she probably started to cook. Oh man, I am bit of a fraid what is gonna be on menu. Today I have already eaten a plate of be es (the menu wasn’t in English and it was cheap and on the picture it loo ked good, haha) so nothing can actually surprise me. Sticky rice…, alrigh t I know that. Some strange sauce… Good for me. But the old lady brings some strange bowl with something what looks like worms! Ah, fuck… Th e old pair eat it with tremendous enthusiasm so I eat it as well, because I ‘m hungry like I haven’t eaten for years. It’s actually eatable… We are watching news in tv and the guy comments single event and tran slates me from Vietnamese to Vietnamese so I don’t understand shit. Anyway, time to sleep. I take my sleeping bag but the guy doesn’t like it h e says that’s not important because he has blankets for me! Blankets… F rom the dark corner he lifts some pile of cloths and dust is everywhere. It ‘s dark but I’m pretty sure that the blankets is home for many friendly cre atures. Jezuz! I take at least my matress and pretend I cover myself with the black stuff called blankets and when the old people go to bed I take my sleeping bag. It didn’t help. All the night tens of animals and insects are crawling across my face and I count minutes till sunrise. At 5 am I’m already on the road! Please don’t invite me to your homes again! hahahaha

Rest of Nothern Vietnam was ok. I got lost and made 500 km detour, but it’s normal stuff. Hanoi was surprisingly ok, except the traffic that’s real h ell and motorbikes should be forbidden for most of the people. People and more people even south of Hanoi, but I am still able to find pl aces to tent. From Paradise Cave (camping right on the parking lot) I too k small Ho Chi Minh trail south. It’s 200 km I should be able to that in 2 d ays… That was my idea. Well, sometimes hills are steep but what was ha ppening overthere was too much even for me who has done megahills in China. First day I did 60 kms in 7 hours of cycling! Next day it was bit better, but 3rd day (roughly in half of that part) I did 50 kms in more than 7 hours of cycling and I was ready to die. The steepness of the hill was pro bably joke. No food, no people, no cars, no motorbikes, just few monkeys , rain and road through total jungle! Memorable time. Hungry like an ani mal. …what a great place to camp, flat, sun, close to trees… Let’s make it here! I took off shoes, put matress on the ground and relax. What a stran;ge cat erpillar bothers me… Strange. Anyway, time to build my house. I take on my shoes… Well, something must be inside, probably some thorn. I took a shoe off again put my hand in the shoe and I see that on my hand are 1 0 small caterpillars but these are not caterpillars these are fucking LEEC HES! How I hate them! Already one leg is nearly covered by these beasts. I will fucking vomit! Panic! These fucking bloodthirsty motherfuckers are practicaly everywhere and all coming towards to me! Fuck! I crawl into my tent and scared to death check all possible corners for leeches. I fou nd few. It’s very hard to get rid of them. My foot is bleeding. All night long I cannot sleep still checking out all corners. Becoming paranoic. In the morning I see one of the leeches how easily comes through the moskyto net. Panic again! It means they are inside!

It’s not that horrible but packing up the tent is a long process because I c annot rid of them. I cook tea and I am ready to go. Put some sugar and tr y the tea. Shit, it’s too hot because I feel I have probably a plaster in my mouth. What the fuck is that? Takes me 5 minutes to get the piece of ski n out of my mouth. …it’s a worm it’s a LEECH! I have had a leech in my m outh! I will vomit right now! Disgusting! All my body is shaking with repul se… All day long I struggle not to vomit everytime I come back to this sit uation!!!!! Rest of Vietnam was ok… Well, there were ants… But that’s another story. :-))))

(Text written at unknown place in Cambodia during long rainy evening in hotel room for 5$ and being watched by rat that lives here with me.)

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Don’t Tell the Truth!

For long time I’ve had this article in my head and I guess now its the time to write it down. No internet connection so no endless staring to facebook in hope there will be something interesting. No, there’s nothing like that. During my travels I realized that people ask still the same questions and my honest and truthful answers have been sometimes very dangerous to me so the longer I’ve been traveling the lesser truth I was revealing to a void misunderstandings. And right now I just lie and make up the stories in 99% cases/questions. So here we go…

Where are you from?
Truth: Czech Republic
Reality: Nobody knows Czech Republic. I’m sorry to say that but my country is not famous for anything. Beer? Ok, but in muslim world where not many people drink? I don’t think so. Some football players? That’s history. Times of our golden age is gone and Nedved or Poborsky are icons bu t going to be forgotten soon. Jaromir Jagr (a legend of NHL and our best ice hockey player in history? Do you think people know anything about ice hockey in countries where the snow has been seen? Vaclav Havel? For people who don’t have tv nor can read? What or who else is famous from Czech Republic? Yeah, I’ve forgotten to our new president! In Azerbaijan is our president very famous because in Russian tv he was shown drunk as pig. The Azeri people told us that president is a face of nation. Can I b e proud of him? I don’t think so… Bata shoes? Skoda cars? Well, nothing really worldwide famous. So sometimes I try to say that I’m from Czechoslovakia, country that hasn’t existed for 20 years. Its strange but some people heard more about Czechoslovakia than Czech…, even people who are too young to remember Czechoslovakia. So where the fuck it is? Europe? Alright, most of the people know where Europe is, that’s good. Where exactly? Part of Russia or former Yugoslavia? Hard to explain non of these. Between Slovakia, Austria, Poland and Germany. And here we go – the magical word “Germany!!!!”They know that! So doesn’t matter what I’ve been trying to explain for 30 minutes now I’m from Germany! Well, if you want… Sometimes I’m also from Russia and Poland. Whatever…

What’s your name?
… and the nightmare continues…
Truth: Zbynek
Reality: Oh! WHAT? No matter how many times I try to repeat it nobody can pronounce it nobody remembers it. So… Everyday I introduce myself in different name. Most of the time I’m Vinney that’s how co-workers called me i n UK. But sometimes I’m also Rehor (incorrect spelling though) which is probably the most difficult name to pronouce. Even more difficult than Zbynek/Zbyna. You know if you have such a strange name why not to have even stranger. Anyway, people tell me that no fucking name can start with Z, B, Y. So I’ m usually “the Czech guy” or “the guy on the bicycle”. Sure, I would like to thank to my mother for giving me such a strange name. I could have been worldwide famous star, a legend, but if your name is Zbynek you’ll be always only the guy on bicycle, hahaha

Where are you cycling from?
Truth: Czech Republic
Reality: Nobody will believe you you’ve cycled more than 80 kms. If I say I’ve done close to 20.000 kms people usualy smile and think that I’m trying to look even more interesting. Nobody will believe you! So the best wa y is to say you’re cycling from the capital city of their country and if this one doesn’t work you should say you go from the nearest bigger town. Then you’ll be a hero. One expectation is Russia and Kazakhstan where 100 km is still around the corner. So in these two countries you can say you’ve travelled a bit more. Usually people will say that you’re pretty slow because its not that far!

Are you married?
Truth: You must be joking…
Reality: Always better to say you are. Family means everything and children are small gods in muslim countries. So I say I’m married I have two kids (usually I forget the names ans ages and I’m trapped in my own lies) and I’m just on small holidays. In this case the truth: I don’t want to get married and don’t want to have any kids. is very very dangerous. This one is usually too much for everybody. Don’t tell the truth!

What’s your profession?
Truth: No profession
Reality: I’ve changed so many professions already. From an English teacher (I hate children and my English sucks…, but who cares? haha), through a garbage man to an astronaut. People believe to everything except the truth… I’m really nobody and I have no profession.

Where are you going?
Truth: I don’t know
Reality: Better say you go to the nearest city. People don’t understant that somebody just goes. Why couldn’t i just go??!!! And of course, I’m not going to the other country… by bicycle…, no way… I’m taking plane from the first airport and coming back to my family, haha

How much is your bicycle?
Truth: 400€
Reality: It depends on country. But in this case the truth is ok. Its not too much… Other question is how much money I have. People don’t believe if they had sold all their stuff as I had done they would have had probably 10x more money as I have now. People absolutely don`t believe I have practically nothing and all my belongings are in the bags on bicycle. So its better to say you have at least something but not much. In my case the truth is also too much for everybody and they think I lie…

What’s your religion?
… the most dangerous one!
Truth: I don’t believe in any fucking god and I’m strongly against any religion!!!!!! I dont like children and this… if I say that in one sentence I’ll be probably killed immediately! In this case the truth is a life hazard.
Reality: Of course I’m not muslim, nobody will believe that but I have to be at least some Christian or something like that. Sometimes people ask if I’m Catholic or Protestant (it doesn`t count I protest against system, does it? They mean probably something different) but I have no idea what they talk about. Atheist… it doesn’t work either. You must be in some fucking well know religion! Oh, that’s the hardest for me! But as I said too dangerous to be just your own god!!!!! Strange world!

Conclusion
Truth: I’m Zbyna from Czech Republic, I’m nobody, I have no belongings, I don’t believe in any god, I don’t know where I’m going but I’m on the way, I’ve done around 20.000 kms, I have no wife, no kids, not much money.
Reality: I’m John from Germany, I’m an English teacher, I’m married and I have two kids. I believe in god, I have a house, a car and lots of stuff back home. I came from your capital city and from the first city with airport I’m going back home.
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Hello hello!!!

Its not easy for me to write this, but I am not coming to Indonesia… I will try to explain the reasons why and hopefully you (those i have asked millions of questions about Sumatra… and actually about Australia as well) wont be angry to me. Its really awkward to cancel my trip to Indonesia/Australia after lot of planning and asking about situation many many times. But plans are here to be changed, arent they?

Maybe I have mentioned it before maybe i havent, but this long trip (starting originally from Czech at April 1st, 2013) i started with my girlfriend Lucy. We have been travelling together for 4 months and we reached China hand in hand wheel by wheel. These months have been pure joy and when Lucy had to leave me (cause of the serious health problems) i wasnt happy at all, but thats life… I have cycled 5 months alone all the way from China to Malaysia (and its been alright as well. Sometimes i was happy to be alone because the conditions have been really extremely tough). Lucy got better at home and was still thinking of joining me, but money issue was the problem.

Anyway, she got some money as a Chrismas present so she decided to join me again. The logical place wouldve been South East Asia from where we could have continued to Indonesia and Australia. Well, it wouldve been best, but Indonesia wouldve been very very hard for her, then there wouldve been a point of taking a plane to Australia, Australia is very very expensive and of course taking plane back to Europe from there wouldve eaten half of our budget.

There was also one option – going back to Czech by land. It wouldve meant to (kind of) retracing our/mine steps and thats the thing that no cyclist likes. Even taking a different route (India, Pakistan) wouldve required taking a plane from Thailand or Myanmar (Myanmar/Bangladesh border still closed), getting Indian visa for me wouldve been very hard and getting Pakistan visa impossible, so another flying and another money wasting for stupid plane.

So? Where to go to stay for a couple of months without taking more planes, just the one back to Europe when all money will be gone? Africa? Too tough i guess… So what remained? Usa and Canada? In this time of the year? Ridiculous… and expensive of course. The last continent we have…

On January 17th i have a date with Lucy in Buenos Aires. We will have probably a half a year for travelling through South America and then go home from somewhere…
So this is the story. I am taking plane from Kuala Lumpur going through Istanbul, so my trip cannot be considered as a around the world one anymore. I am bit sorry for skipping Australia, because the country is just amazing and i couldnt wait to cycle there. But thats life, i cannot have everything. Life is full of compromises, isnt it?

Thank you very much and I strongly hope that one day i will be back!

Have good day, week, year, life!!
Zbyna