Sunday, 27 December 2009

Train to Beijing from Mongolia

I have enjoyed Mongolia a lot, it's a great place, mostly because you are rich if you have English money! Kinda went a little wild, never been rich before. was fun for a couple of days, better go back to being stingy if I am going to make it out of China.

stalactites from an air-conditioner.

I won't forget how absolutely freezing cold the Mongolian winter is, coldest it's been was -38! But being freezing has it's advantages; nothing smells for a start and after staying in Bilbao for ages that's quite a bonus, no dog poo's on the street, ice sculptures don't melt and everything is pretty with stalactites. Also you can skate alone the pavements as they are icy. Ok, fine there isn't many!

a pretty frozen river from the train.

You would have to see to believe what happens on the road, they have 4-6 lanes in the middle of Ulaanbaatar and people are doing U-turns and all sorts, people cross by running out and hoping. Quite a sight to see. Don't think they believe in safety here, there are open lamp posts with bare wires sticking out, and manholes with no covers. I personally like a bit of risk now and then so it's quite refreshing.

Train 1
me and Carl taking photos from the train after Jimmying the window open.

The sleeper train from Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) to Beijing (China) was totally worth doing as there was some amassing views, specially as we managed to jimmy open the locked windows in the cabin, knew taking my leatherman was a great idea! and also the changing off the wheels on the carriages on the Mongolia-China border was very interesting (they both use different gauge tracks, so they lift the cabins up about 6 foot with us in and put different gauge wheels on!)

Cabin on the trans-Mongolian.

While on the train I met a amusing group of travelers that were on a tour and had done the route from Moscow that I wanted to do, best of all I meet Carl who is also planing to go down to Thailand, so we may stick together, who knows. I shared my cabin with a girl from Manchester, which was certainly unexpected!

a view of the train from out of the window.

what else? mind has gone blank, saw a camel, and a guy cycling across a frozen lake, other things like that. going to go, dead bored of writing.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

first day in Mongolia

Parliament house (ulaan baatar)

after a rather harrowing journey I have finally arrived in Mongolia. was 3 flights, 12+2+1 hours, and many hours of waiting for transfers, I left Spain at 7am and Arrived 4pm one day later! so by the time I turned up I was very tired as I hadn't slept at all in 2 days.

 Peace street.

It is pretty nippy here, about -35 at night and -20 in the day time on a warm day, which is pretty spiffing. there are many stalagmites of ice around as half the year it is bellow zero, so any ice doesn't melt for 6 months. While walking around you notice the cold quite a bit, every time I breath in the inside of my nose freezes, then defrosts when I breath out, which is an odd feeling. The food here is nice, and has millions of calories, as you lose lots of energy just being outside. Also I have seen a few people in traditional Mongolian attire and they look amassing, think I am going to try and buy a Chingis khan style hat today as I saw someone with one and I absolutely want one.

peace street again.
The first thing I did after finding a guest house was to go out drinking obviously, can't let the British reputation down! it was excellent, drink is extremely cheap, and the exchange rate makes anyone with pounds rich, which is nice. one club had bears and Sphinx's as wall decorations and 2 giant stuffed eagles, which I thought was very entertaining. Also went to a live music pub, which had great music, The music was mostly English, with some Russian and Spanish.

clearly a temple.

As usual I haven't really been taking any photos, and I have only wondered around a bit as I have only just turned up, so I will give it a go today and try to get a few great pictures before I leave. Shame I didn't take a photo of the amassing mountains, I might on my way to China.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Hanging with family

a photo of Bilbao.

I am not going to lie, spending time with my mum's side of the family hasn't been the highlight of my bimble, if anything I am looking forward to continuing on my travels. At least it has given me enough time to organise the rest of my bimble, as visa's and tickets unfortunately don't sort themselves out, also picking the route took quite a long time too, as each country has different rules concerning entry and applying for visas, some you can apply when you get there, but most you need to spend days fighting the bureaucracy demon. But I have enjoyed bits, also learning Spanish is worthwhile.

 Left: from my grans Balcony. not inspiring. Right: Bilbao's famous flower dog

Most of the time I have been staying with my Gran, which is about the most boring thing I could imagine! but at least I am getting to relax and recharge ready for the next leg of my voyage, and the weather has been pretty great too!

uncle's house.

I have also spent a couple of weeks at my uncles lovely old house in the country near Bilbao with my 2 cousins and his wife, my uncle is rather interesting, he's a conceptual artist (I personally don't like most of his work) spent a few days making him a website, which kept me amused, he lives in a cool mountainy place near Bilbao, problem is he has 2 children (cousins) that are now young teenagers and not interested in hanging out with there uncle (me) and wifey dislikes me a lot, so I have ditched hanging out with my uncle in favor of being bored at my grans (as I don't like imposing where I am not wanted).

Monday, 30 November 2009

Wobbley road ahead

What it will be like in ulaanbaatar.

Off again in 2 weeks, done a bit of research finally, Mongolia might be a wee bit cold, between -20 and -35. So looking forward to making a snow man! Also might buy a stylish Mongolian coat.

now thats a firewall!

May have a huge problem posting any updates to this blog, as everything is blocked in China, been looking into it, and it is almost impossible to access anything that may possibly speak against the government or state, Facebook is blocked, blogspot too, pornographic material and pretty much everything really. also all your emails are read and many more creapy things as it is estimated that about 30,000 Chinese civil servants are monitoring Internet traffic and blocking content that is deemed undesirable. So if I don't post for a while it might not be that I am lost or kidnapped, may just be I can't get a signal out. If I brought my own computer it would be easy to do, but the problem is I am using internet cafe's to post this. To read more about it golden shield project

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Hitching Gear

 new bag, 50 litre.

The trick to hitching is to not bring anything! as I can verify its knacking if you bring anything you don't completely need. Remember, if you really need something, you can probably buy it / find it / or often get given it along the way.

Essential (priority order):
  1. passport and visas (goes without saying really)
  2. 30-50 litre rucksack
  3. 2 litres of water
  4. Sleeping bag
  5. Army poncho (groundsheet / tent / waterproofs!)
  6. emergency food (high in carbohydrates is best, something like cous cous)
  7. knife
  8. perminant marker (a tip, if it dries out, soak up parfin to get it working again)
  9. minimal toiletries (flanel, shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrush)
  10. mobile (leave off)
  11. spare clothes, minimum!
  • 1x camping saucepan (you can do without)
  • Firesteel and lighter
  • hammock (can come in handy!)
  • first aid (bit of savlon will do)
  • Torch / Lamp (I would say a lamp is more useful)
  • Bivvi bag
  • pad and pen is fairly handy
  • ear plugs and eye mask (try sleeping some of the places I have without!)
  • battery charger
  • Camera (if you must, best if it takes AA's)
Try to not take:
  • too many spare clothes (1x trousers, 1x jacket, 2x change of T-shirt, 2x socks and 2x undies)
  • anything electrical

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

budget and spending

Thought I would take a moment to explain how much all my travels are costing, as it is a blog about me being a cheap-skate.

The first month (in which I hitched around abit of Europe and ended up in Spain) I did for about 3£ a day. Which was well in budget. I am planing to Stay with familly for 2 months, which I am spending about 2£ a day, which is awesome! Over all I am probably going to end up over budget because of my tickets to Mongolia and China, if I would have just stuck to Europe 3£ a day would have been easy to keep to.

The problem is I am forked-out for lots of tickets and visas which has totally screwed my budget, as you would expect! So I am hoping to not spend much when I get to China, as I will be there for 1-4 months (could stay 5 with the visas I have, if I go to hong kong in the middle, as have a double entry visa and hong kong counts as leaving, also they let you stay for 3 months without visa)

So to sum up, I will probably manage 6 months for under 10£ a day. Which is totally fantastic as I will have crossed more than 6 countries!

Monday, 26 October 2009

Trip to Barcelona

Had much annoyance sorting out my Visa for China, so in the end I desided it would be easier to go to the Chinese embasy and sort it out there, so off I went to Barcelona. got a Bargain train there and back (400 miles each way).

nice pic of Barcelona.

Got there at night, checked out the embasy and it said it wasn´t open in the morning, so I spent 2 nights before I got to see anyone. second night was rather amusing, as I walked out of Barcelona (which is huge by the way) and strung my hamock up a tree, the night pasted very slowly as it was amasingly freezing also got woke up by a pack of wild bore twice, which I thought was pretty cool.

The great light-up colour changing giant fountain

When I actually got into the embasy it was all very easy as I had brought everything needed, so I had my visa done by the end of the day. efficient chinese. Then I got a ticket back for the following day, which ment I had another day to explore and also to find a place to sleep.

one of the many street performers. now that's good money scrounging!

I could tell you about all the great things in Barcelona, or you could go there yourself one day, so instead I will tell you of the amusing guy I met. After seeing the fountain (above) I had crossed the whole of Barcelona and was tired, so started looking for a place to sleep; while investigating a nice looking place I met another homeless guy, he showed me a great place to kip. He was from romania, didn't speak Spanish at all, and had got a super cheap flight for 15$ to meet a girl he liked from the internet (which wasn't into guys by the way), so he now lives outside her flat watching her window sleeping on a door and when he isn't doing that he begs for an hour or 2 to collect enough money to play world of warcraft online at one of the many internet cafes. So I guess the lesson is there is always someone less good than you!

Monday, 19 October 2009

Leg 2 plans

I Have been Relaxing with my Grandmother in Bilbao, also My uncle and cousins just outside of Bilbao. But I have also been planing the next leg of my voyage!

I wanted to take the Trans-Mongolian Route to Bejing in China (via Russia and Mongolia). It would have been amasing doing the whole thing by train, but I had to many problems with the paperwork. So know I am just going from Mongolia to China by train, which will be the prettiest bit.

I now have visa´s and tickets, so I am definately going. Have changed plans ever so slightly to get round Russian paperwork, sadly this means getting a plane, not really the idea of the whole voyage but I tried my very best to go another way. Still going as I want to see Mongolia, China and possibly other countries.

here is the route so far and the next leg:

View total bimble in a larger map

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Third week: Map of progress

heres the map of where I have been aproximately. It doesn´t show per hitch, just the route I have taken. 4000km.

View Larger Map

Third week of bimbles

The third week was quite relaxing compared to the first 2, as I spent 3 days doing the last bit of hitching to Bilbao (in Spain) where my Granny lives then I relaxed.

After a couple of days hitching without much effort I got to Vienne, where I desided to take it easy for a couple of days, was quite a nice French Town, nothing amasing to note.

The only thing worth mentioning was the lift I got out of Vienne, with a nice guy called Simon that worked most of the year with sheep as people did his head in, he lived in his clapped-out van and was very amusingly French. wish I was a good writter so I could conger up a vivid image of him, but instead you will have to fill the gap with something amusing yourself.

After that I spent a hard days hitching and got 8 lifts which managed to get fairly far and got me into Spain. Most memerable where: a guy in a campervan with a dog named after the hologram in quantum leap ("Ziggy"), and a guy that was drink-smoke-driving - with a can in one hand and a cigarette in the other! he was nice, gave me 10€ and a beer for the way. Also he drove safer than me so I wasn´t bothered. Oh, and a guy tried to get me to pay 20€ before I got into the car, clearly didn´t.

By the time I got into Spain I was fairly bored of hitching so spent a day bimbling arround monte blanco, and a good hour up a fig tree scrumping them all! after that I walked 40km to a service station while it was seriously hot as it was a terrible spot to hitch from. On the walk I noticed the differences between Spain and England, the biggest were the heat, the amount of scrumpable fruit and the difference in what you find by the road. In england its mostly mouldy rabits, maybe a badger. In Spain it´s dogs and cat´s and numberplates. And the bug´s are huge!

Second week of bimbles

Once I recovered I tried to hitch, after a couple of hours of failing to hitch to a destination around the coast I gave up and tried to hitch to Paris, which was alot easier, within an hour I got a lift from 2 great guys from Taunton belive it or not! They were having problems using there GPS, so I helped them navigate and we got talking, turns out they we´re going to Italy, which I was well up for!

a hotel we stopped in.

when we went into the hotel (somewhere not special on the border with Germany) I think the receptionist thought I was a escort, as we asked for 2 beds for 3 people, Which was damn funny!

one of the million crazy corners.

In the morning we crossed into Switerland, which was amasing! beautiful mountains, glaciers, and amasing roads just like the ones in topgear. Many of the roads where shocking, only a peice of rope between you and certain doom! which makes a change from health and saftey britain. I can´t really describe how beautiful it was, if you care photo´s might give you a small idea, but it was far more shocking than they can portray: Bimble photos - try and spot the secret doors in a mountain, seriously.

a glacier. more pictures in my photo´s.

anyhow, After afew hours of amasingly winedy roads and amasing views we entered Italy, which was also amasing, as it was still surounded by mountains, but had Italian style houses etc.

Lynn´s castle. Spent a night.

When we got to the destination we were rather impressed with our accomidation to say the least! Was a fricken castle, ok a small one, but after spending most of my nights getting bitten by everything outside it was amasing! to get an idea of size it had 5 floors and behind of what you can see. Everyone there was very welcoming, and best of all, we got taken on a mad ride half way up the mountain the other side of the valley in the background of this photo, at great scarry speed I may add! the mountain was 2800 meters. The view from half way up was crazy, was like being in a plane. And the ride, we were sure this guy was 'the stig', there where real hairpin at scarry inclinations, I could not beleive it.

After all that excitement, we went and baught pizza´s, which as you can imagine where damn good being in Italy and all! In the morning I helped load the van, and we were off, more amasing views, amasing waterfalls, stupidly high road bridges, another glacier, beautiful clear bright blue lakes and many more lovelly views. After afew hours we went through the longest tunnel in Europe (monte blanco) which was someing impressive like 10 miles. And finally I saw my first hitcher! sure ain´t many. And finally I parted ways with Steve and Ray somewhere unimportant in East France. Had a kip in a wood, and in the morning I met a hitcher, was going the opposite way, but was exciting as he was the first person that was spanish, so we had a natter.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

First week of Bimbles.

Have had a strange time over the last week and have seen some amassing places and met some great people. I will do my best to sum up the best parts.

So to Start with I hitched down to London to The eco-village (land occupation) and had a lovely few days, was sad to leave. worth a visit, full of lovely people. After 4 days I had to head off before I moved in! so first step was hitching across on the ferry to Calais, which was surprisingly easy; found a German Lorry driver that didn't speak a word of English at a service station and I was across. Once in Calais I chilled out for a day and had a look around, got bored so hitched via 2 Lorries (a rather ridiculous route) to near Boulonge.

Where the policeman caught up with me.

This is where it starts to get amusing; the guy just ditched me on the motorway, which was pretty bad, specially as there was only on way out accross a slipway. so I waited for ages until it was very clear and crossed it, only problem was a Policeman spotted me earlier from the other dirrection so after 30min of walking away from the motorway he caught up with me and pointed his pistol at me, told me to drop my bag and searched me! then he told me never to go on the motorway and took me 5km into the middle of nowhere and ditched me there and told me to hitch from there! was rather fun if I am honest.

After that the weirdness didn't stop, as I didn't know where I was I thought it wise to hitch to Boulogne and start again, so I tried for an hour on this desolate road, eventually a girl picked me up that only spoke French and she misunderstood what I tried communicate by the biggest amount possible and dropped me at a homeless shelter, which I was hugely entertained by and thought I may as well give it a try, the suppricing thing was it was great! lovely food and a good bed; far better than most backpacking hostles! someone explained that there are a lot of n.f.a people in france so they even have a number to call anywhere in france where they come and pick you up and drop you at one of these shelters for free. They people have it good in France.
A castle in Boulogne. 

I thought I may as well check Boulogne out, it was fairly rubbish, but I did meet an amusing fellow called Andrew I asked him for directions and we got talking, turns out his was vaguely travelling around France after doing the same in Spain for a year. He Asked me if I wanted to help him carry abit of metal that weighed about 30Kg for about 10km for 15euro, I thought it was a rather odd propositon but was intrigued. After I helped him do that we hung out for a day or 2 which was rather odd, finally I tired of Boulogne and hitched out to the nearest motorway Sevices. Which I later realised was a bad idea as I was ill for a day and a half and didn't enjoy myself a whole lot!

Friday, 11 September 2009

Left on Bimbles!

I have finally head off! I am now in Boulogne in France, as I am taking it nice and easy.

I would love to write a long entry about all the strange things that have happened, but I have blagged the use of this computer so I can't stqy on too long, so the short of it is I am having a very interesting and strange time; I have spent about £25 so far and it has been over a week, so I am well on budget!

got to go!

Monday, 20 July 2009

Practise Hitchhike

Kew bridge eco village.

I have recently got back from hitching to London and back via Bristol, and found it fun and fairly easy going, which makes me feel a lot more confident of my plans! (route).

The picture is of where I stayed, it's a land squat or "eco-village" as they termed it in Brentford south-west London. I also dropped by the Keen's house (the mp's house that got squatted over the expenses fiasco).

mp's house squatted over the expenses fiasco
I took a leisurely pace of 3 days there (stopping in Bristol) and rushed back in 8 hours, which is good time for 200 miles.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

nearly there!

I am getting very close to my leaving date, only around 9 weeks and I have managed to sort out most things, if I was a normal person this is where I would start worrying about my lack of plan and money, but instead I am rather looking forward to the adventure! Have been getting plenty of exercise and getting good at camping over the last few months so I am starting to feel ready.

The main problem I have been working on is having enough money to travel for more than 6+ months, this has been rather tricky, I have managed to save a lot, which will be quite helpful in a crisis, but I am planing to spend as little of that money as possible. In the end, the money isn't much of a problem, as I would enjoy working along the way and even busking if necessary, as I am traveling fairly light and quite willing to camp at any opportunity food is the main outgoing, which thankfully is fairly cheap.

The only other annoying problem is getting my passport sorted, in the end after quite a few months I have given up getting a British passport for many annoying reasons, so now I need to renew my Spanish passport, as I am in England I will need to travel to London, no big deal, gives me a little trip to try out if I am ready to travel for practically nothing.

So, if all goes according to plan, which it seldom does, I will be off very soon! an until then I am just going to practice my camping and being thrifty.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Trial week plan

image of a camping stove I made with 2 beer cans.

In the last 2 weeks I have achieved a lot, and have proved that most parts of my idea are theoretically possible. Which has given me a lot of motivation, so I think it is time to do a small trial; I will aim to live a week for 5£ a day (only £35 a week)..

Progress over last 2 weeks:
  • massively decreased outgoings from about £115>£50.
  • tried having 3 meals for under £3. managed!
  • got camping equipment.
  • created this blog to chart my progress.

For my trail week I will be ignoring bills I can't cancel (for example car insurance), and will ignore days that I need to go to work (2-3 a week) so it won't be a week of consecutive days, but will be the best I can manage. If it goes well, I will try a month, might even get the time off work and go up to the high lands (Scotland). I won't use my car during the trial also, as I won't have it for the real thing.

Over all I am convinced I can make this happen. As long as I travel for free using hitching, sneaking onto freight trains and maybe working for passage on boats also don't pay for accommodation by camping, couch surfing and working for my keep Then this will hopefully only leave food that I have to pay for, which I can afford.

Friday, 24 April 2009

lowering outgoings

(Camping at peppercombe)

I have been making headway, I have been sorting out my outgoings. I figured the first important thing is to eliminate all outgoings. So I cataloged them and have canceled what I can in preparation. The bonus is I am now saving nearly all my income! so am rich!

Swimming membership = £5 a week.
Car insurance = £10 a week.
Car fuel = £20 a week.
Car tax = £3 a week.
Charity = £7 a week. I feel bad, but I will reinstate when I am not living on less than £28 a week.
Phone = £5 a week.
rent = £35 a week.
food = £30 a week.

total = £115 a week.

after canceling what I can:

Car insurance = £10 a week.
Car fuel = £5 a week.
Car tax = £3 a week.
Phone = £5 a week. Will cancel the day I leave.
food = £28 a week.

total = £51 a week!

I have spent every day I am not working camping or couch surfing. Also I have been experimenting with eating for under £4 a week. And I have found it is more than doable, it is easy! If you look at it as £2 for breakfast and lunch, and £2 for dinner, it is quite doable using value brands, as I have been eating very well for £4 a day, I could manage £3!

Also I have been learning which wild plants are edible, as it makes a big difference to save 50p when you only have £5 a day! so far nettles and wild garlic have been the best, as they taste great. also nettles are a good green to have in your diet, high in iron.

I am getting closer, and I am sure I can manage to lower my outgoings further.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

The plan

Well, how do I start? I have a very strange idea, which I think someone may be interested in, so I have started this blog to share the process, so you can see what happens.

I am planing to try and get from England to Asia and back living and traveling on under 5£ a day by hitching, camping and maybe working all the way.

A good example of how possible living for so little is possible is posted here where a teacher lived on £1 a day for a year, the traveling would have to be free for this to be feasible, so mostly hitching and similar things, which is quite possible. The accommodation would have to be free also, so wwoofing, couch surfing and camping.

so this blog will document the process, at the moment I am selling everything and buying camping equipment, so it isn't a pipe-dream!