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Willover’s Travels Pt 1

My first two expeditions were neither spectacular nor particularly successful. The first overseas adventure was to New Zealand, which is a bit like going to a convent and hoping to see a strip show. It would have been completely forgettable if it weren’t for the fact that I was robbed the second night I was there, I wasn’t mugged, my room got burgled, but the result was the same; I ended up with no money (I had cash rather than travellers cheques), no clothes and no idea.

Two valuable lessons were learned from this unfortunate experience, (i) the value of security, and (ii) the wisdom of having travellers cheques and a money belt, I also got to work in a brewery for six months while I saved enough money to get the fuck out of there.

The second expedition, while being slightly more spectacular, was only marginally more successful. It started with a cross country trip in a  big rig that belonged to a friend’s father (that’s not the actual rig, but it was just like it, and the terrain is the same), followed by a bunch of buses, trains and ferries through Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand and ended with me being fucked and far from home. I eventually limped back to Perth with about three dollars in my pocket, after having gotten as far as Ceylon (yes, I know it’s Sri Lanka, but Ceylon sounds much cooler).

I got a job in a mine to get enough money to get back to Sydney where I could recover and figure out how I screwed up so badly (I was supposed to get to England). As with the first trip, this too was a learning experience, here I learned a) an absolutely brilliant way to pack my bag, b) heroin isn’t very good for you, and c) Thai girls are great, but they don’t make such great life partners.

Now back in Sydney, I was determined that the next trip would be more successful. So after working as a builder’s labourer long enough to get a thousand dollars, I packed my bag (it’s best to travel with just one bag) with what I now knew to be a successful combination of clothing. ie, t-shirts to swap for local clothes, enough underpants to last a week, some socks, and most importantly some border clothes; these are a nice shirt with a collar, tailored pants and decent shoes (it never ceased to amaze me that there was always a line of boneheads in wife beaters and shorts waiting to have their luggage inspected and wondering how come they always seemed to be the ones getting searched!).

Another thing I learned was that backpacks are like having a sign stapled to your forehead saying "Hi, I’m a Tourist! Please rip me off", therefore I always used a leather barrel bag that allowed me to blend in on arrival. In addition, this time I also figured out a way to include a cut down version of my tool kit so that I could work along the way.

I booked a First Class ticket on the Indian Pacific and was off again…


23 Responses

  1. Oooh, this is going to be very interesting. I’ve already picked up some hot travel tips (I never thought about the whole backpack scenario before). I’m trying to summon the courage to Google “wifebeaters” but I’m terrified of what will come up before anything about apparel appears.

    Oh and I love the title, very good!

  2. You meant Willuver’s travels, right?;)

    Good points about t-shirts for trade, and a decent set of threads for crossing borders.

    Looking forward to the next instalment.

  3. wifebeaters: those sleeveless undershirts that my neighbor two doors down wears every time he ends up in the back of a squad car.

    how did you get work permits to work in all these places? or am i being totally naive here?

  4. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a big rig. Wifebeaters? Plenty of those, especially where I work. You seem quite resourceful. I’m looking forward to your next installment.

  5. ah the joy of knowing how to pack a bag perfectly. enidd is sad enough to keep a travel list up-to-date, even though the chances of her going travelling again approach zero. you’re also dead right about the rucksack – enidd had one whose straps hid away, which meant it could be toted by hand like a normal bag and look cool at borders and posher hotels.

  6. Wifebeaters are men’s tank-style undershirts worn as a regular shirt. If it’s worn as an undershirt, I don’t think it can be considered a beater. A beater, old jeans, and work boots is my 17yods’ daily uniform, but he’s no sleezeball wifebeater type, just your average redneck kid who doesn’t like to dress too nicely.

    Great post, WT! I’m looking forward to hearing more. It seems you could continue for quite a while about your further travels or just give us more details about this portion. I’m sure we’d all like to hear about how you found out heroin is bad for you and that Thai women don’t make such good life partners. There have got to be some great stories in just those two statements alone.

  7. This is better than TV or a book!! This is going to be a fantastic series!

  8. I wonder how security checks have changed since 9/11. Maybe they haven’t changed in other places – but here in the US – Dave seems to be ALWAYS the one to be pulled out for searches (and he is normally in business attire on these trips). Maybe it is because of his height.

  9. Like Laurie, my first thought was how you were able to work. Well, that was really my second thought. My first thought was whether you would find yourself twelve times larger or twelve times smaller than those in the countries you visited.

  10. I would really like to hear more about each moment… you’re doing a flyby! Or… is this maybe the book cover version?

  11. Ah, the school of life, best there is!

    Did you stay on your own continent the next time? Can’t wait to hear about it 🙂

  12. You’re pretty much describing my fantasy.

    Well, without the wife beaters and the thai girls and the heroin and the brewery and getting robbed and all.

    But other than that…

  13. You’ve been, seen and done so much! I always find these tales fascinating!

  14. Wow, awesome, I am getting SUCH life lessons, I need to write these down!

  15. I would like to travel on the Indian Pacific. Was it fun or was it boring?

  16. Great beginning to your travel story, and you have included useful traveling tips too.

  17. Grateful for the enlightenment re. wifebeaters! we call those “vests”; they aren’t well thought of where I come from either …

  18. You are brilliant, WT!!! Love your posts! I have this image of a quite strapping looking Brad Pitt wandering around with a leather bag and …. never mind…. I’ll wait for the next installment!!! I hear ya on the whole backpack / travelers cheques / money belt thing…had a similar experience in the Bahamas!

  19. I wanna go on the Indian Pacific!! It’s not fair, I never get to go anywhere!

  20. ok, settling in for story time now…

  21. It’s all a learning experience isn’t it, this “life” thing, huh? heh heh

    Hope you’re all going OK with this weeks’ warmer weather.

    Mal 🙂

  22. a) How old were you at these ventures?

    b) Did you have any fear about what you were doing?

    c) Were you traveling with friends?

    d) Do you have a photo of your leather barrel bag?

    e) When you’ve actually traveled all over the place, you KNOW that Ceylon is Sri Lanka; otherwise, it’s news…:/.

    You’ve definitely lived on the edge; makes me realize how safe I’ve ALWAYS played it.

  23. When my hubby was in Thailand, he and a friend went to ones of the “bars” where the girls could…and we were all amazed.

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