Dave in Kazbegi, Georgia
Dave Kidd is an adventurer. A Kiwi Indiana Jones minus the hat and archaeological degree.
Earlier this year, he set out to get from Dublin to Sydney, with a single goal: not to fly. As he wrote: “Quite simple really enjoy a quiet Guinness at St James gate then travel South East by boat, bus, train, foot, donkey, camel, rikhaw until I can see the white curves of the Sydney opera house.” Quite simple indeed.
From a hot and muggy Varanasi, Dave wrote to tell me about how he has fared so far.
31 countries in 8 months, without flying... Why did you decide not to fly?
It was a man selling me a back pack for my move to London that planted the seed almost four years ago. His sales pitch was that his friends had used that type of back pack to do the old "Hippie Trail" and that it had held up great.
Flying home last year for a wedding, I was tossing and turning as only a 6ft Kiwi can, wedged in a Thai airways seat. I was watching the flight path on the screen: we were flying over these amazing places that I really wanted to visit. Delhi was one of them and as I looked out of the window and could see the lights of Delhi spreading out for miles far below I just knew that I was missing out.
Besides, travelling overland is a lot more challenging than trying to scam one more drink out of an air hostess.
What do you think drives you to travel?
Adventure, meeting new people, gaining new experiences, a loathing of being bored and the 9 till 5 syndrome drives me to travel. I think the challenge of not flying has been a very important aspect of my travel as it gives me something to work towards all the time instead of just wandering the globe.
Sunset over the Grand Canal
What have been some of the main highlights so far?
- Leaving the UK
- Being fed by an old Nomadic woman on the bus in Morocco and then being told that I was far too skinny and should eat more of her bread.
- Seeing the Statue of David in Florence
- The random guy that put me in a taxi in Albania, refused payment for it, asked five people for directions to my hostel and walked me to the door, shook my hand and wished me a good trip...... I love everyday heroes.
- Drinking Vodka with Gaylor and Nena in Tabilisi, then the random little adventures into the city so that they could share with me some hidden wonder that I would have never seen without them.
- Iran was definitely a highlight of this trip. After it just blew my preconceptions of the country out of the water, I really didn't want to leave.
- Eating dinner with my hands at a road side restaurant in Baluchistan and looking around at all these Pakistani men dressed in their Baluchis, who just included me as if I was any other man on that bus.
Were there any disappointments?
One disappointment was the doughnut that tried to rob me in Casablanca. It took such a long time to trust anyone again after that episode.
Also, the bureaucracy that I have faced with regards to visas, some days it really is just the mood of the Embassy staff that you meet.
When you started your blog you introduced the idea for your trip, and opened with this rather reflective statement: "Adventures are funny things: you spend all your spare time planning them, dreaming and longing to be on one. Then when you are actually on one you wish you were anywhere else. "
How have you found that? Have you been enjoying the adventure while you're on it, or has it been a case of wishing you were elsewhere?
Ah, yes, this comes from a few climbing adventures that I had been planning for ages. After an avalanche, I was trapped by a storm for days, finding that I had bitten off more than I could chew and just being plain scared, longing to be, well anywhere but hanging off the side of a mountain.
I would be a liar if I said that that I have loved every second of the trip. I have missed one of my best friend's weddings. There are days that I have lost the plot after getting robbed, walked around for two hours in the rain looking for a place to sleep, felt like death although really being far from it, or, being physically threatened. Luckily one of the only good things the army issued me was a very dark sense of humour and the ability to laugh at myself. So although some days I do wish for the comfort and normality of home I have never really seriously considered getting on a flight.
Besides I couldn't face the ribbing my mates would give me if I didn't make it and would be forced to move permanently to India.
In your last entry you were really positive about your experience in Iran... and quite angry about Western media that paints such a harsh picture of that area of the world. Were you surprised by the friendliness you encountered in Iran?
The response I get from 99% of people when I explain my trip and tell them that I plan to head through Iran is negative. "You will want to be careful there" they say or "You don't want to be mistaken as an American there" followed by a spate of comments about kidnappings, suicide bombing and general hate for the non Islamic West. I am also exposed to the usual media that show an anti US demonstration in Tehran and portray it as the entire Persian population. However I was lucky and had met another traveller that had been there and he gave me a heads up on what to expect. This was a god send as I was able to relax and go with the flow and get the most out of their amazing hospitality. However even with this information I was totally amazed by how welcoming and generous the people were.
What's the plan once you've made it to Sydney? Are you going to fly the final distance to New Zealand, or is the idea to hang around Australia for a while?
Firstly I plan to crack open a bottle of champagne at the opera house with all my Aussie family and friends and have a bit of a knees up. This will be after spending a month in the Outback travelling from Darwin through the interior to Sydney with my sister.
Then as much as I would love to stay I plan to fly home and catch up with family and friends and have my first Christmas at home in four years. Of course during the six weeks I plan to be home I will not just be sitting around putting photos in albums, I will be planning the next great exploit while my mother cooks me food. This will involve a climbing expedition to Mt Aconcagua. At 6962m this is the highest mountain in the world outside the Himalayas so should prove to give the body a wake up call after sitting on public transport for 8 months. Then it's back to the reality of the real world in the UK to save for the next trip...... I mean … a house and a responsible life.
You can keep track of Dave’s latest adventures on his blog.
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