Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Las Americas

It´s already more than 5 months since I left Poland. Sometimes I´m fed up, sick (literally, like now) and tired, wanna go back to do... I don´t know what in Europe or in Poland.
I´m in Mexico. 5 min decision. Ticket bought. Damage done. I´ve been here more than 4 weeks now. Hitch hiked all over the place, yes- alone, yes- without much of Spanish, altough I´m learning.
Back to ¨third world country¨ or whatever you call it. It took me whole 5 days, I think, to get used to being different on the streets, in the restaurants. It´s all normal now, and I feel almost like home. Like in Asia, which Mexico resembles a lot.
And even though sometimes I wanna go back, there´s something which pushes me and keep me going. And that´s what I will be doing, again.

Monday, 13 October 2014

italy? it's all about sex!

Ok, firstly, I gotta say, it's not gonna be objective feedback from travelling in Italy, as I've only been there 4 days, only hitch hiked from Swiss border to the coast near Savona, and only surfed with one CS host. But!
Go to Italy if you wanna wonder if every driver is gonna invite you for a few minutes in the bushes, and before that stand by the road in perfect hhiking spot for hours.

I've been hitch hiking alone 1,5 years now, is some 15 different countries and never ever requested stopping like here, now. In Italy - 3 times in 2 days. In Italy, literally (I've counted) every second driver asked me for sex (so what I've only had 6 of them ;), the statistics are statistics).
So I was hitch hking from Geneva, Switzerland, through France (fucking amazing views, btw, Mt. Blanc etc), where I was picked up by 32-year-old dude from Milan. 20% in English, 80% in Italian (and vice versa with me), and somehow we manage to make some kinda conversation, until guy started asking me for English names for dick, pussy, ass etc and then wanted me to show him my pubic hair as he "couldn't believe it's blond as he never seen a blond one" (really? can you be that stupid?). It was all said in kinda funny way, so II thought he was joking, but then I saw he was actually searching for some parking lot to pull over. When I refused to do so (duh!), and started talking about a place I was supposed to get off, he said he wouldn't let me get off, that he was "the boss in this car" and he was taking me to Milan to fuck me for 2 hours (he was saying that while passing by yet another petrol station and motorways junctions).
I was playing it cool till the end, and just demanding stopping, some 4 times, and finally he did stop, at the emergency stopping area, where just at the same time (!) a truck pulled over, so all I did was to get off the car and ask the other driver (German, and god bless this guy for being German) to take me to the nearest petrol station. Finito.
And my regular self would call the Italian guy "@#%!#%@$!!&&^#!@%#", but my Buddhist self would try to understand his behaviour. The guy either hated or envied my lifestyle, as he was saying smth that I didn't know what the real life is, that I should have family, kids, work for them etc, not just mess round and do "nothing". So the only way I can explain what has happened is that he wanted to scare me from doing this again (not so easy, dude!). He wasnt a vilain, he did stop (and honestly, what could he have done? drag me to his place where his wife and kid lived? come on. I knew he would let me go sooner or later, but was kinda in hurry to get to Turin to play this game with him), and at the end he gave me a pear (?!).
My lovely host, who let me stay at his place, actually invited me after my last minute request (this whole Turin trip was planned in 5 min the evening before). We enjoyed local red wine (1.7 euro per bottle), finished one bottle each, and then finished all the remaining alcohol in the flat. Then the guy tried to kiss me and then do all the other things which come next, plus we had an argument which he apologised for later on, but then Turin is the most misterious place on Earth as it makes the angles for both Black and White Magic Triangle (Google it if you wanna find out more, that's pretty scary story I had no idea about, but somehow I ended up in the place anyways, thanx to Powers-That-Be I guess). So all the bad energy caused weird moments in the city (the other person discovered her camera was broken just in fron of the obelisk which is told to be standing on the entrance to Hell).
I wanted to get out of the high tension triangle place, so hitch hiked south, towards Savona.I would have been stuck at the gas station for sure if not 2 Moroccan guys who stopped and took me 100 km south. There I changed for local road, instead of motorway, and started 5-20km rides for the whole day. The spot was perfect, no one would stop. I walked some 7 km in total that day. But actually it stared ok, from that oldish man who stopped after just 3 min of waiting, and was supposed to take me 30 km further. Took 15, I forced him to stop after he was gibberishing about sex for 5 min and then tried to touch my boobs.
The same day! After 1 normal driver, another freak comes. This one looked fucked up from the very beginning but it was only 15 km to go, and I was sick and tired of waiting for over an hour. He actually looked like Pavlov's dog. His mouth almost watering when he was looking at me (fully dressed, jacked zipped till the end, but still...). After 5 min of ride he pointed at his dick and I could only mumble "oh, gosh" and told him to stop. 2 times and he still says smth about paying me 20 euro (hm... I lost a value a bit, last time it was 50 proposed). Final "stop" came out a bit more like a shout, so he stopped at the hard shoulder, I got off, slammed the door (a bit too soft. My Buddhist self got tired this time), and the man made U-turn and came back. Hell, he was stopping just for sex in the first instance.
Holy crap, this is Italy.

I'm proud of everyone who read it till the end.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

just another day on the way.

12:25 pm, +22 degrees in shade (and some +25 in sun), I'm sipping 2,5 euro beer (250ml) in French bar on the main street in the old town of Clermont - Ferrand, and trying to be posh and sophisticated (while carrying my $100 tablet in a plastic bag at the same time). Yeah, I'm on holiday in the end. Over-3-year-long holiday, so I have (a little) right to spoil myself, or to pretend to be one of these hundrets of tourist.
It's been over 2 months now, since I left Poland. Another "dream" from childhood came true - I've made it around the Baltic sea, I've made it to Nordkapp, I've made it all alone. The last one is not so much of an achievement as I've met dozens of people who helped me, and it's actually them who made this trip come true. And not only CSers, but local people of these vast places such as northern Norway, who proved that even Europeans can be extremally hospitable and helpful. Language spoiled me, as everyone uses English, so there's no problems with communication and the lack of barrier actually helps in getting know the place, from the history and geography, to current political and social situation.
Same for England, which (again) surprised me - hitch hiking is not as bad as I've thought it was, and actually it went surprisingle well, with a few extras such as a person stopping by herself and taking me 2/3 of the way (which was not a straight road).
And then, the country of weirdeness - Estonia. I can't really tell why I got so mesmerized by this place, but it's unique, really. It's like you suddenly discover that great place, some far far away, in the end of Europe. The place you knew it existed, but you would never tell it is so nice.
So yeah, first Eesti, then Norway and then England. 3 surprises which encouraged me to still believe that people everywhere are good (with a few exceptions, as usual). Round the Baltic Sea tour - checked. And I'm slowly heading to the end of continent from the western side. France, Spain, Portugal, and then the great unknown. And as usual, I try not to think about it, just go with a flow and wait for Nature to make thing going the right way...

ps. I'm already doing the second longest trip in my life (over 9 weeks now).

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Long Hard Road Out of Home

Been staying home for 4 weeks now! It's the second longest stay in one place this year and I really haven't planned it. Due to some unforeseen circumstances I was forced to stay in Poland for 3 weeks more than I expected. Firstly it was anger, later annoyance and frustration that I'm wasting my time, that I should have been on the way already etc. "Home time" I transformed into never ending meetings with friends (I can't really look at them now, after whole days spent with them, day by day), house parties, sunbathing, ice creams eating and everything else you can call "holiday activities". Well, at the end (maybe) it wasn't so bad, as I haven't done these things for years (apart from the fact I\ve thought about my last 3 years of life as one long holiday, but not in strict sense of the word). I got over the feeling of time waste and started thinking about it as a new life experience, with just a little time wasted...
But yeah, I'm finally moving from this "velcro seat" and soon will come back to what I sacrificed my recent life for - viajar! (And hopefully next trip will be quite a long one, but pssst, that's a secret so far...)
By the way, August 10th will be 3rd anniversary of my travelling lifestyle. Let's celebrate it somewhere! 

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Land of Polish poets


Again long break in writing. Well... sometimes I just don't feel like there's anything very interesting happening and on the other hand when something is, it's hard to put it into words and describe. Anyway, I did some minor trips since the last one to the Balkans. And again I've proved (or it has been proved) that I really am destined to travel alone.

In May, thanks to Hockey Championship in Belarus, the borders got wonderfully easy to cross, and you didn't need anything more than a ticket to any chosen match. So I got in touch with a guy who had already bought two tickets and we agreed on travelling together. It was OK until we reached Minsk (even though I had enough after 3h waiting in the rain 30 km from the border) and then the first break down when I started wondering why the hell I had a travel mate (all right, the truth is, that I wouldn't probably have gone to Belarus if I had been to go alone, so thank you my ex-travel mate for dragging me there). Me and my travel mate had some misunderstanding or maybe I was just very tired of 10h Minsk sightseeing, so I found myself a CS host. We firstly split for 1 day and afterwards, after my suggestion, we took different ways for 6 days - me going north-east and he went to get to closed Charnobyl zone (unsuccessfully).

For me, that 6 days were another attempt to fight my depression. Lack of motivation from other person caused thinking of leaving it all, ending the trip and going back home. That's what recently been going on with my, apparently after visiting ruined Maidan in Kiev, which made me quite depressed, nihilistic and melancholic. Then I realized having travel mate wasn't such a bad idea and it would be nice to meet up again, which we eventually did and continued the journey until reaching Poland.
While alone, I spent almost 3 days talking only Russian (both with the drivers-of course I hitch hiked around if you are still wondering- and CS hosts), visiting some patriotic events, inhaling socialistic air of Belarus (not that I don't like it, I was actually pretty amazed how many Lenin statues and socialism-related street names still exist in Belarus) and eating tons of sour creme.
In general, probably whatever you think of Belarus is far from the reality. It is safe and clean country. Almost no mafia, corruption, thieves etc. Nice roads, far way better than Polish ones. Poor, but kept under good conditions village houses and fences. And great people, who are happy that someone wants to visit their country and are always willing to pick the hitch hiker up even from the most remote areas.

We managed to get to some places related with Polish history and literature, which was my goal on this trip. Switez lake, Bohatyrevici village ("Nad Niemnem"), Orzeszkowa's house, Mickiewicz's house (one of my 3 favourite Polish writers). Of course Belorussians claim these people as their natives, and Polish do the same, but the truth is, that they usually wrote poems or fiction in Polish language. That was probably the most interesting and metaphysical part of the journey (the highlight was meeting an old woman carrying the same last name as the characters from "Nad Niemnem", which in fact I thought was a fictional story, but it turned out it was not).

We also had a bit of a local culture tested personally, when I got invited (at 8 in the morning but postponed to 7 pm) for a beer by two locals. I took my travel mate with me, and we ended up drinking beers in public, got stopped by militia, going to one of the guy's house while the other was taken to the militia station, drinking till 3 am and eating pork fat with raspberry jam. Life's great!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Destined to travel alone

Finally (after 2 months spent in Poland) I hit the road. I even found a travel mate to hit the road together! So we left Poland with the plan of exploring the Balkans; for me the remaining countries, for him all new places. Thanks to fabulous Mr Andrzej, who actually invited me to go with him all the way from Poland to Italy, we spent 2 days and 2 nights in his truck, getting 3 meals a day, free bed and loads of conversations. We even changed our (hell, mostly mine anyways) plan and visited Italy for some 5-6 hours before going back to Slovenia. In Ljubljana we waved goodbye and started "real trip".
As usually for me: CouchSurfing, tent, hitch hiking and cheap food was all i needed. Couple days here and there, total exploration of a tiny country of Slovenia, where we've seen probably all the biggest cities, got drunk with our CS host (and now you tell me that Poles are not drunks :>). Later Croatia and long awaited Bosnia, which I always considered a mysterious country. Well, at least until I crossed the border (which was by the way quite a story: Croatian customs ask me about any drugs, booze etc, I deny everything, forgetting a had some specific sleeping pills on me, which happen to be prescribed and of course I don't have any papers for it with me. So they try to fine me with 100 euro in exchange for a jail. Cute. To make 30 min story short, I (of course) got away with it, didnt pay a penny and even saved the pills. And I will definitely remember Croatian police if I ever step on their land ever again.) Bosnia was cool. I love burek and was stuffing myself with eat every day, trying every flavour possible (including Serbia, I've tried 5).

And then, one day, my travel mate says he's going back to Poland as he had (literally) 5 euro on him. So I say "bye, good riddance". I turn left, he turns right (ok, after the last beer drank together) and off I go, alone, again. And then the fun starts. First car, for which I waited 50 min, takes me directly from Sarajevo to Montenegro border, where I jump to his friend car and we go to Budva, on the cost of Montenegro. As it gets real late (like 1am) the driver organizes a place for me, which happens to be a room of his 2 Bosnian friends. Kinda awkward situation to show up at 1am at strangers flat and say "hi, I'm Monika, I'm gonna crash here for a night". Dunno who felt more weird. Them - having a stranger to share a room with, or me - staying with 2 guys. In the morning I was properly welcomed with 2 coffees, 2 cigarettes and a joint (!) and had a nice chat with the guys (and learned what kurcy-palcy means, don't ask me...).
I can actually say I never really hitch hiked in Montenegro, coz each time it was the driver who stopped for me, without me even waving for him. I'm not going to go into details i.e. how I ended up on a local car fair and was "helping" to sell 20 year old car and then wanted 30 pounds for petrol he used to take me to Podgorica (wtf?!). Lesson learned from Monte: a guy who says he's your "friend" means he wants to fuck you. Proved twice (guy never succeeded though).

For some (unknown and unplanned) reasons which was/is a beer-tasting-tour. I tried local beers in almost every country on my way, in different amounts. From one glass to uncountable amounts while pub crawling and clubbing (Novo Mesto, Zagreb, Banja Luka, Plovdiv) and drinking by the river (Polish style, hell yeah) in Nis. That of course caused exceeding my budget, but as they say, whatever makes you smile, you shouldn't regret. So I don't.

In Bulgaria first time ever I left my CS host as he was... well... at least creepy. Thanks to other surfer who stayed with him too, I survived the night (we barricaded the kitchen door where we slept :P), but moved out in the early morning to another one - Szymon Majewski's look-alike.
On the other hand, in Sofia I met a bunch of Greeks, so another party with all stuff included, including shaving half of my head (damn, I still dunno if that was more planned or more booze-caused decision).
About hitching alone: never waited more than 30 min (except that one time in Sarajevo) and even hitched with 3 guys in a car (first time with road builders sipping beers while driving, second with 3 great Romanian guys who I would have definitely gone for a beer if I had stayed in Galati one day more, but I had to leave for Moldova the next morning). One guy (still in Bulgaria) for 15 min tried to convince me to have a 5 min long sex in the bushes and totally couldn't understand why it was a problem for me (he stopped only when I asked him to leave me on the road). Ah, he even offered driving me an extra 30 km further if I agreed. Duh! I read some other blog of a girl who, in this kind of situations, leaves the car asap. Well, I'd rather keep it cool, with no false moves.

Moldova, as people said, was a big countryside but I liked it. I pity the people who work for 150 euro per month or those, whose families live abroad to make ends meet, and visit home once a year. The fisr lift there I got from the customs worker, the second from a guy who dropped me off and after 10 min showed up on the road and saw me eating a yoghurt. Shocked by the fact that I feed my self with a "sour cream" as he said, he invited me for a "normal" food which was prolonged till next morning. I stayed for a day and night in his village, visiting his neighbours, cooking plov in the house with no running water (he had well tough!) and a toilette 30 m away from the building. Lovely ^^ I mean it, I really liked that place. Something a bit out of space even for a person from not so rich country (call it Poland). Tusk (notorious prime minister) was in Chisinau 2 days before I got there! I saw him on the TV and then I saw flowers he put somewhere in the capital. Then I saw Stanislaw Mrozek's play shown in some local theater in Chisinau and that would be it when it comes to little Poland abroad.

And finally! My beloved Ukraine! Again, after 5 years, I'm back in here. And again, I love it from the first sight. I'm so regretting that Crimea is accessible only with Russian visa and I cannot go, but Odessa (where I am now, sitting in CSer-former-squater's flat, drinking 10 cups of coffee a day and smoking damn cheap cigarettes) is great.
Sorry, no photos this time. Need to organize the stuff and put it properly. Even this note is quite chaotic, more like my personal diary. Even though I have loads of free time, it comes hard to actually sit and write a proper post.
For you, not to get lost, that's my route (till now):
Poland-Italy (1 day)-Slovenia-Croatia-Bosnia-Montenegro-Serbia-Bulgaria-Romania-Moldova-Ukraine.

oops, I forgot to add. Someone's getting famous here. It's my article about Brunei published in Polish travel magazine Poznaj Swiat http://www.poznaj-swiat.pl/

Monday, 17 February 2014

Welcome to China

Some time ago I saw a list of 20 things which change in you after living in China. So true. Drinking hot water, spitting all over and being tolerant for any kind of weird noises made for example during a meal by Chinese people is no longer weird at all.
4718 m above sea level pass
But anyways - China. Exactly 5,5 months spent in my dream country. 2,5 travelling, rest teaching English (duh! what else white European can do over there :>). I absolutely adore this country, which I probably mentioned in previous post. From the very first moment after crossing Vietnam-China border I was overwhelmed. Maybe not as much as later on, when I was more and more sinking into the world of China. But the positive attitude from the beginning stayed till the end with almost no interruptions. Probably only one or two breakdowns and panic "how can I survive in this place?", but in general I was extraordinarily calm when it came to facing problems.

I hitch-hiked some 5000 km over there, all alone and what should I say? I'm fucking proud of myself. I did it, I survivedthe place I definitely need to visit again.
Hardcore pass through mountainous Sichuan ended in Chengdu - the capital of the province. From there, hitching around 400 km a day, I reached Xi'an with Terracotta Warriors and had a chance to use my fake student card, which I bought in Bangkok, for the first time - it worked all right.
tibetan praying place
yak on my hitch-hiking route
While visiting Yichang - the place of the biggest dam in the world (Three Gorges Dam), I got the humble idea of applying for some teaching positions as I've already found out how easy it was to get a job. On the way to Guilin - one of the top 10 places in China - I dropped by to the house where Mao Zedong was born, and surprisingly I was the only waiguoren (foreigner) over there...
In Guilin I stayed 15 days, 1. because I had to wait some time for my visa extension, 2. I got involved in volunteering as English teacher with quite nice conditions and great environment and nature around. In the mean time, as I expected, I got offered a few teaching positions and after choosing one, went to Beijing to see the agent who organized the school for me. From there I was sent to Harbin, which was like a present for me: I wouldn't be able to visit it on my own due to lack of time, which I would have regretted a lot. Unit 731, which interested me for the last 4 years was/is located in Harbin. Coincidence (fate?) that from all the cities in China I was sent to deal with new visa right in the place I really wanted to visit?
From Harbin I hit the train for a deadly 40 h travel on hard seat with 7 h break in the city with the biggest statue of Mao. How could I miss that! I reached my final destination - Fuqing (pronounced Fuching) near Fuzhou, where I stayed for 4 month, teaching in public Middle School. The best job I've ever had in my life! 3 h a day, 4 days a week, all public holidays off and paid and being the only foreign teacher in the school for 3000 students. The city, or rather town for Chinese standards (only 0,5 mln people) was... very Chinese and not Mandarinian Chinese, which complicated everything quite much. But after fist week of apathy and wishing to run away, I started finding small details which made my stay over there actually damn good time. I loved my students and the other teachers. I loved most of the Chinese anyways :) The best people ever! 
last day and dozens of signatures
miss teacher

Friday, 14 February 2014

Valentine's Day with Chinese memories.

"enjoy capitalism" so-called democratic tunisia still has a lot to fix.

 Well, well, well...
"we make revolution" tunisia still unstable.
First, I'm leaving Polish section of the blog as I guess most of the people who are interested in my posts in here can more or less understand English and it was quite an issue to translate every post into 2 languages. Second, great apology for abandoning the blog for more than half a year! My laziness and unforeseen circumstances made me do this. Mostly, because I spend almost 6 months in China behind iron curtain of Internet censorship which blocked my blog (even though I manage to open other devil's websites such as youtube and FB). After I came back to Poland (yes, I finally came back home; absolutely temporarily though!) I was really too lazy to catch up with the posts. And I'm not gonna do it now either, as I can't quite imagine writing about my last 7 months of life. I can do some retrospections and digressions in following posts or adding some stories from my time in China.
Long story short, I travelled 2 months in China, alone, hitch-hiking, it was fucking awesome and I absolutely fell in love with this country, and as today's Valentine's day: I'll always love you, China! Later 4 months I spent being so-called spoken English teacher Middle School, in the city facing Taiwan. Awesome time of working 3 hours a day, 4 times a week and earning over $1000 ^^ If that was bigger city, with a little more than 5 foreigners (including me) I'd beg to stay longer. But I'd really wanted to do big homecoming and making my folks drop dead when they saw me (almost succeeded). Anyways, 6 months in China, was probably the best time I've had from those 28 months I was abroad.
Again, unforeseen circumstances lead me to Tunisia for lovely 2 weeks of hitch-hiking, meeting loads of people and smoking Algerian hash. As I had 3 weeks time before flight China-London and London-Poland, and I wasn't reach and spoiled enough to spend it in the UK, I chose Tunisia as my side trip. Couldn't have made better decision!
I was chickening out a bit before going to Tunisia alone and, what's more, with a brave idea to hitch the country. But I did and survived, and had a blast! From the first moments of hitting the road from the airport to Tunis until my last lift back to the same airport, I had only 4 immoral proposals (don't forget: blond European female, solo in a Muslim country - Turkey was 100 worse even with a male travel mate) and 1 semi-dangerous situation (which I, personally "asked" for, as I agreed to go alone to some guys flat - don't ask me why, coz I don't know myself :/). In most of the cases drivers were more worried about me then I was myself. I exchanged dozens of phone numbers and was almost forced to inform the previous driver when I reached my destination. 4 times was invited to spend the night with locals:
village on the desert in the early morning
1. in the desert village near Matmata - village which was a film set for Star Wars. Amazing experience to come out after sunset and see all the stars on the sky and absolutely no lights; and to wake up at 5:30 am to set up the fire to bake morning bread for breakfast.
2.family who gave me a lift invited me for a wedding in the village, where I also spent a night and got henna tattoo on my hands.
me and bride at the wedding party
3. random guy on the street of Douz asked me for help with writing a letter in English to his foreign friend. It started like this and ended up with a party in his flat with his brother and friends, drinking beers, smoking hash and making a BBQ inside a room.
4. another driver and his family got so interested in my story, that they invited me to their house some 400 km away from the city I was going to. But because I saved some time afterwards I finally made in to Kasserine, there they lived and stayed there one night. We're still in touch until now.
I really couldn't believe in those people, so friendly, helpful and welcoming. And always greeting you by kissing either twice or 4 times in the cheek. Kinda Polish style (we do it always 3 times).
After China and its size, whole Tunisia seemed to me like a tiny place. I've never had to hitch more than 200 km a day, which makes you feel comfortable without worrying about being too late or having problems with lifts. I've never waited more than 10 minutes for a car (ok, ok, I'm a single female, that helps a lot!), sometimes squeezed between 2 guys, sometimes having really comfortable ride with extra snacks and coffee. Thanks to the size of the country I managed to visit most of the places I wanted to, including 3 or 4 UNESCO sites (I think I've missed only one or two more), but on the other hand I had this feeling I've been doing some kinda race, changing cities almost every day, not like before - staying in one place for 2-3 days and exploring most of the attractions. Anyways, small country, so you don't need much time to see medinas and ports (actually, after being in 2 or 3 port cities, all you see in another medina, another souk and another port, so you get sick of it). I love Tunisian tiles! They're everywhere, in every house and every city, with lovely ornaments and bright colours. And on the last day in Tunisia I prayed in mosque in Sousse, first time in 1,5 years I think. I love the people, food, architecture. Got at least 2 invitation for another weddings and had to make promises I'd visit all those people again in summer or in not specified future. And I will! I really, genuinely want to :)
And now I'm still at home, Radom, Poland. Starting from Xmas Eve, 6pm. i did, what I wanted to do - got drunk, high, stoned, met loads of people, went to dozens of parties, read books and watched films whole days, slept whole day and generally did nothing constructive. I even tried to get a job and lead "normal" life for some time, but well, that's Poland, what's more - that's Radom, where some things are harder to be done than the other. But leaving is quite easy, and that's what I plan to do in near future...
 bakery in Sidi Bou Said