At the time of writing, it's already about a month till I fly off and start my 9 month long Europe backpacking trip. How can I afford this? Well, I just live more simply than the average person is willing to live, and travel much more simply than the average can handle. And thanks to the interest-free loan from my school and my upcoming internship, I know that I'll be able to pay off any debt when I return home.
I'm honestly so excited for all the adventures that await me on this trip. From exploring the old towns of Eastern Europe, meeting new people and hiking in the mountains, I know that there will be no shortage of amazing experiences.
Even I am questioning myself on my decision to travel for so long. But YOLO. I want to experience new cultures, see breathtaking landscapes, and meet people from all over the world. Life is really too short to be wasted on waiting round on other people to do what I want. I'm already 23 and already feel so old. I feel like I'll regret it if I don't make use of my already dwindling years of youth. I'm already having back pains when studying for finals.
I know that this trip won't be easy. I'll have to adapt to new languages, navigate unfamiliar transportation systems, and live out of a backpack. But I'm ready for the challenge. I've learnt a lot from my experience in Korea which will hopefully help me in this journey.
Actually, since Korea was my first trip overseas, I felt like I had to see lots. But when I came back, I realized while the sceneries and views were amazing, it was people that I met there which made the best memories. So, striking a balance between the two is quite important imo.
Getting my visa was probably the most stressful part though. I really did not want to come back to Singapore just to collect my visa. So glad I managed to get it in time.
I found some of my inspirations on YouTube. I don't know if it was me or the algorithm, but I found shiey, GIFGAS and a couple more who share their backpacking journeys with others online. Their videos really have a whole different vibe compared to the rest. No 10 minute video bullshit, no ads, just pure adventure and exploration for 30 minutes. Even though they may do some illegal stuff like train-surfing, sometimes it's even centered around that, but being able to travel vicariously through them is an amazing experience. I've watched so many of their videos for the past month, recently there was one journey in Morocco that really warmed my heart. Seeing all the people they've interacted with and the hospitality that they've encountered just restores my faith in humanity. Some of the people had so little and still give so much to strangers.
Xiaoma has been a huge inspiration, I've talked about him before in my previous blog on learning languages. He has been learning some super obscure old language and then flying over to visit and interact with locals in their native tongue. It's amazing how much more you can connect with people and their culture when you can speak their language. I hope to follow in his footsteps and learn at least some basic phrases in the languages of the countries I'll be visiting. He recently also made an AI langauge teacher
Also, my man Steve Wallis. This man has stealth camped in every possible place you can think of. Inside a roundabout, U-Haul, parking lot, blanket fort. He is a true living legend and an inspiration to anyone who has ever wanted to break free from the constraints of modern society and live life on their own terms. His fearless spirit and unwavering determination have earned him a place in the hearts and minds of many, and his legacy will continue to inspire future generations of stealth campers for years to come.
While doing my research, I found many amazing communities who have been really helpful.
First off is the couchsurfing community, not sure if I should still call it that as these communities sprouted out because couchsurfing.com got greedy and started charging everyone a monthly fee and caused the community to start building their own free versions.
A couple of shoutouts:
- Couchers: an open-source platform for finding free accommodations while traveling.
- BeWelcome: the largest free hospitality community
- TrustRoots: another non-profit platform which enables sharing
Also found this gem of a channel, GearSkeptic who does reviews on stuff for backpacking. I really learnt a lot from his series on Performance Nutrition but he has videos on other stuff like water treatment as well. You could tell he put in lot of time into researching all these different food and how it affects the human body when we are physically exerting ourselves. The graph on the right shows that at walking pace, 90% of your energy comes from fats. But beyond a certain level of exertion, more and more percentage of your energy will come from carbs. Many assume we only need carbs, because the majority of advice out there for fueling workouts are focused on higher intensity activities. But since backpacking isn't that high intensity, we still need fats and protein to make good fuel for hiking. I've never really though much about food and just grabbed whatever energy bars and 김밥 i could find while I was hiking in Korea. But, if I plan on doing multi-day thruhikes this will definitely come in handy.
For gear, the Ultralight and backpacking communities on reddit have been really helpful in finding quality and light gear for the best price. But since most of the community is based in the US (I guess backpacking is not as well known in Asia), I had to find alternatives from AliExpress and the like.
I'm definitely interested in contributing back to all these communities once I return from my backpacking journey.
All these have been in the works since I booked my flight spontaneously in the middle of the semester. Did not spend much time researching about the countries I'm going to, instead just the things I would need to live out of a backpack.
I've prepared a list of phrases in every language that I may use during my journey. Then, used GPT-4 to fill in the translations for me. The leap in the language ability really helped to generate more accurate translations.
For my equipment, I really did went on a shopping spree. I found that some things are actually cheaper in Singapore compared to Europe, because many of the cheap and ultralight equipment shipped from China. Although, many a times, you have to go looking for alternatives. The US definitely have more tried and tested options when it comes to camping equipment, but I guess also because most of the community was also based in US.
Anyways, this is my lighterpack. Or at least what I'm bringing from Singapore. It will definitely change over the months of backpacking that I'll be doing.
Other than equipment I'm bringing there, I also had equipment that I needed to setup here in Singapore. As my unlimited google drive from my JC was shutting down, it was a perfect time for me to setup my own NAS and move all my data over. This would also make it easier for me to upload the photos I took during my trip and share it with family. Only took me about 2 months of procrastination and 2 weeks of execution. Thanks to my aunt who got me an old desktop and a Synology NAS, I didn't need to think too much about the hardware and could dive straight into setting up my homeserver.
Currently it's still super simple, with just a proxmox server and NFS share running. I only have 3 containers currently. One for my tailscale instance, one to host my services and one for my dev environment.
Shout out to all the open-source developers built all these amazing pieces of software.
Some random things I've found
- Mark Rober on Bedbugs - Something I've never encountered in my life so I have never even thought about checking hostel beds for bedbugs.
Thinking back, I kind of regret booking my flight so early just because I wanted to travel for as long as possible. I felt that it definitely affected my focus this semester. But then again, if not for this I would probably be doing some other random things anyway. I was certainty even more stressed after my finals, having just a few days to move out and prepare for this long journey. Anyways, hoping that I will have a good trip, and come back to Singapore just in time for CNY next year. I will be missing chicken rice so much...
This will also probably be my last post for the year.
Adiós chao chao!