Wei is a Chinese guy and one of our favourite travellers. Originally from China, Wei has travelled a big part of the world on an extremely low budget. In fact, his blog’s title is “What?! You don’t have any money?!”. He is a true inspiration for us as he does not let anything stop him from fulfilling his dreams. He always makes us smile with his new adventures and misadventures alike. To learn more about him, read on this interview. If you wish to follow his adventure-filled life, don’t forget to check out his blog, Always Wei.
1. When did you first begin to travel on your own?
When I was a baby, I guess. Once my mom was sleeping and I crawled out of the ward by myself. WOWO Jesus! It was insane experience!! The hospital was just so amazing! grin emoticon Sorry, just kidding… tongue emoticon First time? I would say it was when I left China for the first time and come to the Netherlands by airplane in September 28th, 2008 🙂
2. What made you decide to travel in the first place?
The first place? Where is that? No, I don’t think I have ever decided to travel in this place…… Sorry… I am just too unserious… WOWO! It’s the simple curiosity about our planet, which exists in basically everybody’s heart, I suppose? 😉
3. We know you travel on a low budget – what are some of the things you do to save money while you are on the road?
Ok, this time I will give totally serious answers!! The things that have saved most money are: Couchsurfing (I am against joining CS simply for the purpose of saving money BTW smile emoticon ), hitchhiking, train black-riding, walking, ticket escaping, bargaining for every cent and staying in the homes of strangers.
4. How do you fund your travels?
Robbing banks has been the main source of my travel fund and things are getting more and more on track as I am getting an AK47 in a few days from the rebels in D.R.Congo. WOWO! Amazing!! Sorry, it’s hard to keep serious… especially for a hard-working Chinese guy… I did my PhD in the Netherlands. In most countries in European continent, PhD students are employees of the university. Yes, we have salary!! and pension even! grin emoticon WOWO! It’s not a lot of money… but I did my best to save as much as possible! So now I am using the money earned by torturing little mice (just kidding, I never killed even one mouse…) and rats in the labs.
5. As a Chinese citizen, we can imagine visa restrictions must be a bit of a hassle compared to someone with say, a European passport. This stops many people from travelling but not you. For that reason, we’d like to ask you how you deal with this and if there is any advice you would like to give to someone whose passport restricts them.
“A bit”?! Oh dear! Let me tell you! The visa problem has been THE BIGGEST obstacle for my travelings! Money? I can survive at a minimal level. Transport? I can hitchhike. Accommodation? I can sleep outside with a sleeping bag. Thieves? I can be careful and fight. However, hey, visa, the visas… there is nothing I can do about it… When I need a visa to enter a country, I simply have to get it… otherwise I will be in trouble and will not be admitted… You know what, dear? I was sent back from borders THREE times during my travels… Once for Macedonia, once for Georgia and once for Azerbaijan. Never trust Wikipedia for the visa requirements map… The worst thing is that some countries don’t have well updated information for visa requirements on their websites… That led to my tragedies… Also, even the website said a Chinese citizen could get visa on arrival, such as in the case of Georgia, it actually all depends on the border police…. I arrived in Georgia by flight and the officers asked me what I was doing and how much money I would spend, then directly sent me to the next plane to where I came from (Turkey), without any explanation!! I was furious and avowed that I would never enter this country unless it becomes visa free for Chinese citizens one day! Sorry, I am a bit too talkative… Eh.. getting back to “how to deal with it”. I have to go back to China every now and then to prepare for some visas and then start my journeys again. Although there are many agencies able to fix it for me, they normally ask for quite some money, so I have been doing it by myself, which takes more time but saves substantial amount of money. Some countries require invitation letters or things like that for visa application. Luckily I have friends and always am ready to make new friends. Thanks to all my friends who helped me with visa applications!! I have also faked several flight tickets and other documents when it was necessary and the condition allowed it. I actually very much insisting to travel with my CN passport. It’s hard but it’s not gonna stop me! It’s my way to say no this system of visas and borders. Yes, it’s my protest!
My advice to those who are holding an inconvenient passports is — do not give up! There is always a way! Soon after you start to deal with these visa applications by yourself, you will get more experienced and it won’t be that hard for you anymore!
6. What has been your favorite place so far?
Oh dear, that’s hard to say. La Alhambra, Granada is the MOST beautiful place I have ever seen so far. My favorite countries are Poland and France. If you tell me, “Wei! Tell me one place you have been to and I will send you there for free, which one will you choose?” Then I might say Krakow! I lived there for one month and Oh Mamamia, you have no idea how much I love it! 🙂
7. Where are you travelling now and what are your plans for the rest of the year?
I am now sitting in the office of my Ugandan friend in Kampala, Uganda. The rest of the year? Basically speaking, I am planning to hitchhike all the way from Uganda to China. The biggest challenge is not the war in Sudan, Syria or the conflicts in Egypt. I can handle them. The biggest challenge is again visa…. Perhaps you don’t know, most developed countries (including Israel which will be on my way) requires us to apply for visa in our countries of residence, which means China in this case…. That’s very inconvenient…… I will find my way!
8. What has been the craziest situation you have been it?
I did surprise striptease for a girl who is a friend of my friend once for her birthday party. Stay calm. 😉
9. Has there been a moment in your travels that has touched or changed you?
Oh, so many! Of course the kindness of strangers is the most touching thing! Hard to pick just one moment actually. When the motorcycle taxi driver invited me to his humble home to stay overnight (Northern Cambodia), when I was hitchhiking on the road in Southern Iran and a random passer-by (not drunk BTW) offered me money without asking any questions, when I was dancing with my host of Couchsurfing and her friends in the rain in the main square of Bari, Italy, when I saw the beauty of La Alhambra, I was touched! All these moments reshaped my heart and my mind!