Thanks to our readers who told us they want more of Couple of The Week. So due to popular demand, we are going to continue highlighting, not just couples, but all travelers who want to share their stories with us.
If you are interested in being in our blog, contact us and provide a short description of your travels, a link to your blog if you have one, and we will gladly send you questions our readers want to know about you.
Without further delay, I would like to personally introduce our Traveler of The Week. Anthony is not only a good friend of ours, but we thank him for always entertaining us with his outrageous stories. Anthony is the kind of person that won’t leave you indifferent. This is mostly because of his passionate personality type. From an early age, his passion for foreign languages grew from curiosity of learning about other cultures. It now has become a very useful vehicle for him to meet and speak to others while he travels to foreign lands. Today, he can speak 6 different languages (French, English, German, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Italian) and is in the process of learning Greek. He financed business school and his travels through his obsession for poker. Besides being a Manchester United fanatic, he is also lover of Japanese pop music (Ayumi Hamasaki) and dead French singers (Claude François).
|Where do you currently live?|||||Montpellier, France.|
|Where is your next trip?|||||Greece.|
What was your first big solo trip?
Anthony: My first big travel was in 2005. I spent one month in Beijing, China for a linguistic internship. I was in shock because everything was so different. From that day on, my definition of travel literally became “a big change”.
How do you prepare for your travels?
Anthony: I don’t like to prepare things. I don’t like to plan because things lose their spontaneity. The only thing I planned was vaccinations, which cost me 600 Euros ($870 USD) for 4 different shots. I was also given Malaria pills. I took them in Laos and they made me sick. My conclusion: no more planning! If I did not plan for any vaccinations, I would have saved 600 Euros. I didn’t plan anything else. I didn’t even know how Thailand looked like before going or what was the name of the capital of Vietnam. I don’t regret my choices because things were most surprising.
What is your favorite thing you always pack with you?
Anthony: I have a teddy bear, a plush donkey, but I didn’t take it with me on my last trip because I was scared to lose it! I made the right move because I lost so many things like my USB stick and cell phone. I would have lost my monkey for sure.
I would recommend travellers to be careful if they take something important with them during their travels. There is a high chance they can lose it.
What is the most difficult part of traveling for you?
Anthony: First, I have to say money. It’s difficult to consider that you don’t have income anymore, that you just spend and at the end of the month, nothing’s going to happen: no salary. Your bank account only gets lower and lower everyday.
Second is handling family. You always have to reassure them.
Third, I would say loneliness. If it happens that you are alone in a foreign country, far from your home, it can be difficult to handle, psychologically. It happened to me in my first days in Germany for example. Your friends are not there; you don’t know anyone; you don’t know the city. It can be difficult. But it doesn’t last long because as a foreigner, you can easily meet a lot of people.
What advice would you give other travelers?
Anthony: I have one regret during the Southeast Asia trip I did, which is to have been only to the popular sightseeing sites. I regret not have been beyond the established trails. I would have preferred to reject conventional wisdom and be gutsier and go meet locals. Every time it happened by chance, it was so great, but sadly it didn’t happen very often. I’m guilty for it.
A second advice is never listen to what people say, “this place isn’t good, this temple is not worth going to, this place is not beautiful”. If you feel like you want to go, just go and make your own opinion! It’s only a matter of taste. Try not to stick that much to travel guides and absolutely not to fellow travelers, or backpackers you meet randomly in youth hostels!
What is your favorite country so far?
Anthony: I could say Vietnam because of all the variety of landscapes: busy cities, desert of white sand, nice beaches, Ha Long Bay, and Sapa are all so different, but still within the same country. And then there is the “Asian touch” with crowded streets, scooters everywhere, dirtiness, and hotness.
I could also say Japan for the cleanliness and politeness of the locals. It’s not a legend. It’s incredible how they make it easy and comfortable to live in their country.
But if I have to pick one and I swear I’m not chauvinistic, I’m going to choose FRANCE! I’m able to say that with more legitimacy now that I’ve been travelling in many different countries and I’m able to compare. There is no place like France; I must say South France. We have a perfect climate, 300 days of sun a year, many different cultural places, a long history, amazing landscapes, castles, churches in every little village. Even though there are only 70 habitants living in my village, we still have a church and a 1000-year-old castle; I find it just incredible. I didn’t realize it before, but people are nice too. We have beaches by the Mediterranean Sea, snow-capped mountains, and we are also near two amazing countries, Spain and Italy. I swear I’m not saying this because I’m a southern French guy! France is the most visited country in the world and there are reasons for it.
You just finished a trip to Japan. Why did you want to go to Japan and tell us about your trip?
Anthony: The reasons that made me want to go to Japan were very personal. I grew up with Japanese cartoons. Then I got interested in Japanese culture, the country, and the language. So since I was 5 years old, I was always into it. Going to this country was just the next logical step.
I stayed 2 months in Japan in July and August 2010. I spent 2 weeks in Tokyo and then I backpacked for 2 weeks. Then I spent one month in Osaka, in the region of Kansai where you can also find cities like Kyoto. I don’t recommend going to Japan during these months because of the weather. It’s fucking hot and humid and it can easily spoil your trip.
How many days did you hike for in Japan? Why did you do it?
Anthony: I hiked 15 days from Tokyo to Kyoto for a total of 400 kilometers, 30 kilometers a day of just walking. I carried a 22 kilos (48.5 pounds) backpack on my back and another 2 kilos (4.4 pounds) on my chest. I hiked for two reasons.
I have to admit the first reason was related to money. Tokyo is hella expensive! I didn’t expect it could be that expensive. I had been travelling in countries like China and Thailand before, so the shock was double the intensity! I wasn’t ready and willing to spend 400 Euros ($560 USD) for a train between Tokyo and Kyoto. I found a 25-euro bedroom in Tokyo, but it was a very bad hotel. It was very small and I had to leave between 8am and 4pm, even if I had booked 2 days in a row. So I was upset and decided to find a way to spend the least I could. Walking and sleeping outside was the solution. Nights were around 25 degrees celsius (80 fahrenheit) so it was fine. I slept on the beach often and overall, it helped me be in better physical shape.
The second reason is that I wanted to know Japan in more detail. I wouldn’t have done it in any other country. So I went through the countryside, where I wouldn’t have gone in any other case. I got lost sometimes and got upset (I lost 2 days without knowing I was going in the wrong direction and had to come back the day after: 10 kilometer to go and another 10 to come back). Of course I had difficulties with the sun waking me up around 5am everyday and the hotness that goes with it. It was also difficult to take showers; I was dirty. Now I realize how crazy it was, but I loved it!
What were some your budgets for your travels?
Anthony: Not considering cost of flights:
While I was on my internship in China, I had a budget of 900 Euros ($1,305 USD) per month, of which I spent 400 Euros ($580 USD) on classes and 500 Euros ($725 USD) for everything else (housing, food, transportation).
In my Southeast Asia trip, I traveled to Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and China again. I spent 2,500 Euros ($3,620 USD) in 3-months.
In my Japan trip, I spent 2,000 Euros ($2,895 USD) in 2-months, but this was a very low budget for Japan.
Any closing remarks?
Anthony: After each big trip, I am like, all this happened so fast, just like a dream. I would recommend to all those that want to do the same thing, to do everything that you want to do in your trip, have no limits, no restriction, and don’t restrain yourself. Go crazy because such travels are crazy, so they are made for crazy people. LOL.