The Long Road through Laos and Thailand – Tom’s Big Hitchhiking Adventure

Thanks to the tourist-bus driver who took me for free from the border, I had a relatively comfortable ride halfway down Laos. Tree-laden, bottle-green mountains surrounded us as we ascended from the crossing and the clear sky of the standard, sweltering afternoon only highlighted the ruggedness of them; I did not realise how much struggling…

For When You Feel Like Going Home Early

I was asked for advice last week on how to get over the feeling of wanting to quit a trip and go home early. Having done exactly this on my first solo backpacking trip, I knew how this person felt. Being away from your home country and the familiar culture, emotional safety net of supportive…

Back to hitchhiking the world tomorrow

Tomorrow (Saturday 24 November) I will continue my world hitchhiking circumnavigation. I can count the happy memories from Vietnam on one hand, so I had to borrow this photograph from a friend. Thanks, Jason Saward! I'm being taken to the outskirts of Hanoi by a friend and from there I hope to reach the Laos…

Living without a phone for a month

I was walking down a narrow sidewalk in London on a brisk winter’s evening when I noticed that many of the people walking past me were not actually there; they were on their phones, communicating with people who were also elsewhere, and some were so engulfed by their screen that they almost bumped into me.…

Hitchhiking Around the World – China Part 2 – Turpan to Dunhuang

Xinjang (shing-yang) province was the worst introduction to China I could have imagined, but I had made it to Turpan, very near the end of the province, and I was getting ready to head East to the next one which I hoped would be an improvement. Just two more days of hitchhiking and I would…

This was not the China I had envisioned – Hitchhiking around the world

Had I missed a big piece of news? Riot police with machine guns, shields, steel baseball bats loomed in every direction. And the electric body scanners and bag searches on every street corner (literally) made me wonder if I should get the hell out when I reached Kashgar, my first stop in China. And every…

The Pamir Highway and Kulma Pass to China – Hitchhiking Around the World

Standing next to the sign telling me I was on the city limits of Dushanbe, I gazed ahead to the daunting white mountains which began the 1000km Pamir highway and my road to China - one of the most dangerous roads in the world. Gradually ascending to 4600m, traffic on this route would be incredibly…

Kyrgyzstan Part 2/2 – Bishkek to Dushanbe – Tom’s Big Hitchhiking Adventure

May 2018 Having walked for a few kilometers beyond the end of settlement in Bishkek, it worried me when a man stopped the car in-line with my tent and got out. I shrunk down behind the half-zipped door, trying not to move while watching him anxiously. Peep Show was playing quietly next to me, like…

The Winter of Shifting Personality – Georgia – Hitchhiking Around the World

Georgia was an adventure in itself in so many ways; for 6 months, I would struggle through a series of immense character transformations, get a dream job, almost die, fall in love properly for the first time and explore a country that does not technically exist. I would meet some of the most influential people…

Azerbaijan Part 2/2 – Tom’s Big Hitchhiking Adventure

October 2017 Winter was certainly here and the nights were too cold for my inadequate equipment. I knew I needed to push on to get to Georgia within the next few days. I would have one more stop in Azerbaijan - Ganja, where I was meeting a Couchsurfing host the next day. It started to…

Azerbaijan Part 1/2 – Tom’s Big Hitchhiking Adventure

October 2017 Countries blend together like paints on a palette and now that I had gone West from Central Asia, Europe's influence was seeping in. The familiar feeling of being in a big city was brought back by the sounds of revving engines, squeaking tyres, uninterpretable chatter, all blended with the smell of exhaust fumes…

…To the End of the World – Tom’s Big Hitchhiking Adventure – Uzbekistan Part 3/3

September 2017 As I woke up on my last day in Nukus, a wave of sadness came over me. I had made friends, integrated into the community and started to get comfortable. I knew I wouldn't be back again, as is the case for almost all of the places I pass through. I didn't think…

The Second Time I Almost Got Married – Uzbekistan Part 2/3 – Tom’s Big Hitchhiking Adventure

September 2017 On the roadside on the outskirts of Samarkand after walking out early morning, a car pulled in. I did the usual ‘I cannot pay’ mime and the man did not drive off. Thinking he had agreed to take me for free, I got in. But things felt different; There were no questions about…

Tom’s Big Hitchhiking Adventure: Uzbekistan Part 1/3: Tashkent to Samarkand

September 2017 From my train-track-side camping spot, I rose with the sun and jumped over the fence back to the road into the city. I had slept there because I couldn't find an open Wi-Fi signal to find a hostel, as I do whenever I enter a new city. But I had finally found one…

Tom’s Big Hitchhiking Adventure: Almaty to Tashkent

September 2017 Following the walk out of Almaty, I’d spent the night outside a shopping mall among some tall, dry and dusty weeds. My face scarf had kept me from sneezing through the night. I was on an 800km leg to Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. I had a dream that I’d given in and…

Almaty, breaking the 3.5-month hurdle  

September 2017 I spent almost two weeks in or around Almaty, the longest I’d stopped in the three-and-a-half month trip so far. I arrived exhausted but left even more tired. For 10 days, I stayed in a hostel and let myself focus on the looming and likely possibility of failure. Being around backpackers with nowhere…

Tom Hitchhikes the Earth – Days 74-78: What it Means to be British

"...Travel doesn’t make you a different person, it just helps you to realize yourself." It had been very challenging getting to Kazan but I was finally here, albeit a bit late - my host had given up on me and since I didn't have a local sim card, I couldn't update him. I found WiFi…

Tom Hitchhikes the Planet – Day 71-73 – A Mistaken Kidnapping and Sleeping on an Ants’ Nest

"My gut was telling me not to get in this man’s car, but I am British and British people are too polite, so I got in anyway. As I loaded my backpack into his car boot, I asked myself what the hell I was doing." The road to Moscow was easy, everyone was going there,…

Моscow and Another Adventure-Ending Crisis

In one sentence, Moscow was like London but in a different alphabet – the sticky, smoggy wind blowing from the underground stations, the rushing, nervous business people chattering gibberish around me and the beeping of thick traffic which never stops. And at night, street and car headlights illuminated the city which does not rest. But…

Dumpster Diving and a Sh**ty Situation – Hitchhiking Around the World Day 63

I woke in the early afternoon and sat up in my sleeping bag, admiring the emerald-green countryside with its buttercup-yellow fields as I ate the last of my food scraps. I took a few hours to myself in my tiny bubble of ignorance, attached to a much larger one which was the real world. Hunger…

The Day it All Went Wrong – Latvia Part 2/2 – Hitchhiking Around the World Days 51 – 58

“Not only had I been punched in the stomach, now I had been kicked in the balls, too.” I had been in Latvia for a week and experienced the capital city, Riga. Now I wanted to see somewhere that wasn’t a tourist magnet - somewhere in the countryside, somewhere which would show me the 'real'…

A Near-Death Experience: Hitchhiking Around the World Days 32 and 33

"I thought that the tall grass would be a safe, well-hidden place for sleeping in, but I was forced out of my sleeping bag just after sunrise by a man driving a lawnmower inches away from my tent." I spent a total of 3 days in the small town of Konin. It was my first…

Getting Lucky in a McDonald’s – Hitchhiking Around the World Day 27-32

On 1 June 2017, I left the small English town of Falmouth to hitchhike alone around the world. After a month-long 3100km sprint from Falmouth, I had arrived in Poland and I needed to rest. I found a cheap hostel which was empty and slept 10-12 hours every night and 2-3 during the day. Despite this,…

German Prostitutes and Another Swollen Face; Hitchhiking Around the World Day 20 – 27

- On 1 June 2017, I left the small English town of Falmouth to hitchhike alone around the world -  There are two types of fun. Type 1 is something that you thoroughly enjoy while it's happening; you don't want it to end, like enjoying a bottle of wine with friends. Type 2 is something…

Strange Men in the Night and a Swollen Face; Hitchhiking Around the World Day 13-20

On 1 June 2017, I left the small Cornish town of Falmouth to hitchhike alone around the world.  “I was dirty, smelly, had empty stomach and two inflated insect bites on my face. I looked miserable. A man approached me as I was sitting against a wall in the street and tried giving me some…

Goodbye, England (Finally!): Hitchhiking Around the World Days 11-13

On 1 June 2017, I left the small Cornish town of Falmouth to hitchhike alone around the world. “…After twenty kilometers the White Cliffs of Dover became one with the deep cobalt horizon and the distance I was set to achieve all fell into perspective. For the first time I realized that I was not…

Hitchhiking Around the World: Day 2–10

On 1 June 2017, I left the small Cornish town of Falmouth to hitchhike around the world. “Your mother is right, kids. Brush your teeth!” Before leaving on this adventure, I needed to have a dental check-up. I’ve had a fear of the dentist since a root-deep filling went wrong 4 years before and because…

Tom’s Big Hitchhiking Adventure: Day 1

On 1 June 2017, I left the small Cornish town of Falmouth to hitchhike alone to the other side of the world. “…The magnitude of what I was attempting hit me like a stampede. I began to feel sick, but that could have been the hangover from my the night before.” I knew the night…