So within 1000€ I visited 14 cities in 6 weeks.
*Long overdue post from 2016
Surviving 1,000€ in 6 weeks, 14 cities
If you have been a hard core backpacker before, this is not a big achievement. The truth is, I quit my job and thought of freelancing six months before this dream trip. To do so, I wanted to buy a laptop. But in the end, I got scammed for about 700€ for buying a laptop from an individual.
Because you have to make lemonade when God gives you lemon, I figured that this trip has to go on and that I just need to be on a tighter budget.
So within 1000€ I visited 14 cities in 6 weeks.
Kind people everywhere
As a long time couchsurfing member, I met and hosted travelers from Europe, and friendliness is engraved in them. Of the 14 cities I went, half of my stay was hosted by couchsurfers and one by coincidence of similar interest.
Even when I’m not staying with someone that I know, getting help from strangers made me realize that they are kind enough. We may not speak the same language, our sign language helped each other out. I remember vividly the first day at outskirts of Hamburg city, I asked an old lady for a bus stop. She replied in German so I figured it wouldn’t help. I just smiled and went my way. The next day, she waved at me, she called me and showed a shortcut (small alley between walkways) to the bus stop. I wasn’t sure if she stood there the whole day waiting for me to pass by but these are the small gestures that touched me.
Along the journey, I met some people who were trying to be nasty but at that point, I played pretend since I can’t speak their language. At the end, they just got angry with themselves.
Traveling allow me to know myself and my country
While my country is considered a third world, we are often bombarded by international news that made us famous for the wrong reasons such as a corrupted Prime Minister, missing flight, social injustices and so on. But when I spoke to people, this was not the case at all. When asked about what they know about Malaysia, it was nothing but good things. Some would ask how much is the fuel prices (about €50cent per liter), government health services (about €0.25cent per health check up and usual illnesses), meal per day (€2 per meal) they got mind blown and excitedly said they want to visit Malaysia. They would then tell me about the prices in their countries, which made me realize how lucky I am to be where I come from.
I would usually go on explaining about the multi-cultural elements in my country, and the Chinese culture according to my ancestry. I even managed to cook some Asian meals for some of my host! Just not too sure if they liked it.
I brought 10 pairs of chopsticks and give to people that I am grateful for along the journey. It is a way to show my gratitude to them. So if you are reading this and planning for a backpack trip soon, prepare something that is handy to pack and signifies your very local culture. It will spark conversations, trust me.
You have to pay for basic human rights
While the things I mentioned above are positive, this is something that I was surprised to – paying for toilet use and drinking water in the restaurants.
It has never, never ever caught me that you’d need to pay for toilet. As a person who has bladder issues, and having to fight the different temperature in foreign land, an average of 3-4 times per toilet-go is doubled in Europe. I recalled the most expensive toilet fee was €1, which was equivalent to a meal in my country. Someone mentioned to me that it is as cleaning and maintenance fee but I wonder if every person pays €1 for toilet, one day can easily make €500. Per day. But again, it is their country so their rule. I am just stating my opinion.
Some places offered free public toilets. At Düsseldorf, I went into a tourism info center to ask for public toilet. The lady showed me the direction and ended by saying, “I would suggest that you pay a restaurant to let you go. The public toilet is not so nice.” What she said intrigued me even more! I mean, my country has probably one of the worst record of public toilet hygiene so yeah, try me! (After visiting the free toilet, my verdict was it wasn’t that bad as I thought, really.)
No free water
While I understand that there are fees for toilets for hygiene and maintenance, I also think that water that we bring with us, should be of no charge.
This was rather a culture shock as I have the habit of drinking plain water (so I always have a bottle of water with me). When I tried to take out water from my bag, my host stopped me, and said I should order from the restaurant. I tried to look for signs that says “You will be charged for not ordering drink” just like in some of the coffee shops in my country. But there was none. It was weird for me. What if I ordered a beer but I need a small glass of water to go with me medication, do I still get charged?
DISCLAIMER: I’d like to emphasize that some toilet use and drinks are compulsory to pay at my country. However, traveling makes me feel that these should be made free or very super affordable rate at public area because it is a necessity, it is a basic human need.
If you read until this length, great job! I shall not bore you with my long story. The best diary to travel and experience it yourself. It really doesn’t matter how much money you have now because the truth is, it is always enough. If you have $100, travel like a $100 traveller. If you have $100,000 then travel like one. As long as you travel responsibly.
Before I sign off, here are some other little surprises that I found along my journey.
In Netherlands, dish soap is not washed off – like, whaaaaat? I thought it was an Asian thing to wash the soap off because I was the first Asian that my host hosted. I said, “But it is dangerous to eat the soap”, she looked on the bottle for a skeleton sign, “It didn’t say dangerous to eat.” My jaw almost dropped to the floor.
The get-back-25c-when-you-recycle bottles – In Germany, some bottles have the sign that allows you to get back money if you bring it back to the shopping mart. I thought that was sooooo cool and kept 2-3 of them from my 4th to last stop. For me, it wasn’t about the reward but I was really interested to learn how it works. Until today, I wonder if this would work if my country implements this system. Maybe it will encourage people to do recycling.
Organic and vegan food is so cheap – And delicious! Staying with my host for 5 days and eating his ham in the fridge every day, I just found that those were ‘vegan’ ham on the last day. Since then, I bought some vegan ham for myself around Europe. I could so be a vegetarian over there.