In 2009, immediately after finishing university, I set out on a five month around the world tour. I wanted to explore the world, to understand other cultures and ways of life better and meet people from all walks of life, to see the natural beauty of the world. My goal was not to be a tourist and not to visit the most touristed places. Rather I wanted to meet every day people, ideally people who had little to no influence and experience with the Western world. I wanted to walk into the wild and explore places where few people had recently been, and find myself alone with just the animals and insects in the jungles. I wanted to experience the earth, humanity and other species in the raw and lose myself in the world. This was my quest to see the world that I loved and cherished so dearly and to see in person what I had only seen on tv and in books and magazines for the first two decades of my life. I kept a blog during the journey but it is no longer online. It was also important to me to make a positive difference through my travels, so leading up to the trip I set aside 10% of my earnings and raised funds to help people I met along the journeey.
Here is a brief summary of where I visited:
I flew out of Chicago on January 14th 2010 and spent one day in Tokyo, Japan on a stopover. I then flew to Bali, Indonesia and from there and quickly fled the touristy island in search of secluded and pristine islands. I explored around a dozen of the 17,508-island archipelago of Indonesia, including the islands of Komodo National Park, Sulawesi and ending in Kalimantan. Visiting Komodo National Park was a life-long dream come true and like visiting a land where dinosaurs still roamed. I went on a trek with a few local guides and they took me to their village where I spent the night. I continued north to Malaysian Borneo where I spent one month experiencing some of the greatest adventures yet in my life immersing into the wild, including days of solitude and contemplation in the jungles of Borneo. It was my first time going days alone in the wild without seeing other humans.
During that time I made a short visit to the tiny country of Brunei. Peninsular Malaysia was next followed by four days in Singapore, two weeks in Thailand where I explored remote areas on a rented motorbike, and then two weeks in Cambodia. I aimed to volunteer and give back in each of the countries that I visited. Approximately three and a half months later I flew out of Southeast Asia and took a quick look at Hong Kong.
A half-week stop in Hong Kong and next I landed in Kenya. My intention was to also visit Uganda and Tanzania but Kenya captivated me and never allowed me out if its borders. My month of exploring the otherworldly city of Nairobi, roaming the great African wild, and mingling with the locals was life changing. I rented a car and explored the country on my own, solo-exploring the National Parks of Lake Nakuru, Lake Bogoria, Lake Baringo and Hells Canyon. Alone in Lake Nakuru I wrote, “Sitting there alone as the dusk set in with the entire valley to myself and twenty giraffes displaying their beauty was the most amazing moment of my life. I felt like I was looking at dinosaurs. Some of the Giraffes were so large and it was a completely new site to me. I never realized how absolutely gorgeous these creatures are.” Also while in Kenya, I volunteered at orphanages in Nairobi and Kisumu.
In Europe I spent some time in England, The Netherlands, and Sweden, and also enjoyed a bus ride through France and Belgium on my way to Amsterdam. When I arrived in London I was happy to be back in a Western nation but by Sweden I was ready to be back in the wild and I found that in North Sweden where I experienced twenty-four hour light for the first time.
“Through my travels I have gained an appreciation for how truly diverse and immense this world is and I have never been more inspired in my life. I intend on seeing more of this immense world than most people care to and I won’t be doing this through tourist groups or by frequenting popular tourist attractions. I will be immersing myself in local cultures and spending time in solitude truly appreciating the wilderness that this great world has to offer. Through these travels I will educate myself t the fullest extent about what else is out there. I hope to inspire and educate the people I meet along the way, the people following me at home, and myself.”