Joan Pol Mingot
During our traveling we often meet many tourists and not so often extraordinary travelers. Some of them travel hitchhiking, others on a bike, one time we met an American who was traveling always on foot – thousands of kilometers, mind you. Their journeys are several months to tens of years long. They come from different countries, look in a different way, some are very well equipped, others are skinny because they don’t eat so well and so often, but we always see something that is common for all – they emanate pure joy and have clear and sparkling look in their eyes. Every time we meet such a person we are overjoyed and the conversations we have with them are very interesting, the stories we hear are truly inspiring and many times they give us ideas, which prompt us to embark on even crazier journeys than the ones have taken up to now. These meetings stimulated us to publish some of these travelers’ stories in order to try to convey the feeling of meeting such a person.
We are extremely happy to present to you our first guest from Cataluña whose name is Joan and who travels from Thailand to Europe without even a single penny!
How we met
Our six-month journey in India was about to end. Our last stay was at Imphal, Manipur in northeast India. Right after we met with our couchsurfing.org host we came across his other guest called Joan who had come a few days ago from Myanmar. We started immediately exchanging ideas and information about our forthcoming journey in Myanmar and respectively his in India. One of our first questions was whether he had any problem exchanging dollars for the local currency. We were flabbergasted by his answer which was that he didn’t know because he traveled without money. We though we misunderstood something, but later on it became crystal clear to us that he traveled without any money except a small sum he kept for the visas. Here comes his story:
Name: Joan Pol Mingot; Nationality: Spain; Age 24 y.; student physics (quantum mechanics)
Tell us about your current trip.
August 2014: I travelled to Indonesia, Semerang (central Java) to join a long term voluntary project where I had to teach English in UDINUS – a local University. One year project. Within this year due to my loose schedule I had the chance to get to know deeper the city, Java island and its surroundings.
August 2015: My project is over but I am still not ready to go home. A friend came to visit me and we traveled around Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. I had money. We traveled low budget, Couchsurfing, hitchhiking (eventually, not regularly).
September 2015: I am going home overland. No money anymore (only for visas). Hitchhiking full time. Sleeping in Couchsurfing, monasteries, tent, random peoples’ homes. Around June 2016 I might be home… I might be not!
Why/How did you choose to travel this way?
Not having money! Ha ha ha! Not having money was not going to stop me from traveling, why should it? Once in it, once I overcame my fears and hesitations, it’s the best experience I have ever had. Feeling vulnerable and uncertain all the time makes you aware. It’s like forcing you to a certain state of mindfulness. I never know what I’m going to eat or even if I’m going to eat, never know where or if I’m going to sleep, where I might be able to arrive by the ride. It’s funny, because when you get rid of any expectation you feel so free. I’m happy I didn’t have money, I wouldn’t change it now.
Tell us an inspiring story from your journey
After crossing the border from Thailand to Myanmar I started hitchhiking and after 5 min. I got a ride. It was 4 p.m. A family going to Hpa-An (5 hours away). I was so happy. After 3 hours the old guy on the back and the little girl got off of the car and paid the driver. It was a damn hidden taxi! What looked like a family were random people going from one place to another. When we arrived to Hpa-An I still had some dollars remaining from the visa, so since I had the money, I didn’t like arguing. I ended up paying.
It was around 9 p.m., dark and I was looking for a place to pitch the tent. I was angry. All of a sudden a guy came and offered me to stay in his place. I said I have no money. He didn’t care. We went to his place together and the first thing he gave me was a traditional T-shirt from Myanmar. I hadn’t eat since breakfast. He asked me if I was hungry so he took me out for dinner. The next day he first treated me to breakfast and then asked where you wanna go? I said to Kyayktyo but I will hitchhike. He didn’t understand. Finally he paid for the bus to there and gave me some money to eat that day. Later on, after several days, I was told that hosting foreigners in Myanmar is illegal…
A place that impressed you
Thabarwa Centre in Yangon, Myanmar. I cannot explain it briefly. Google it.
I just want to make the world a better place and as is said: “be the change you want to see in the world”. Now I am on my way to grow up personally and spiritually. Learning how I can be the best person, how I can get wiser every day, how can I make the change possible in me so I could be able to spread it to the world.
Dream or goal
My goal is the same. Make the world a better place. Day to day job, every day counts. I mean it’s not this unattainable goal, every day I accomplish it, but it’s not enough, so the next day a little more.
End of interview
We want to shed some light on a very interesting phenomenon that we witnessed many times and as it turns out Joan also noticed it.
It happens quite often during our travels that someone (a person on the road or a passer-by) asks us where we are going to and whether he/she could help us with something. When we say we travel hitchhiking she/he says that in this country no one will take us and hitchhiking is impossible. The irony is that he himself had stopped to help us. It is a fact also that every day we meet dozens of people who help us and take us in their vehicles.
The question that arises here is: aren’t we all surrounded by mainly good people? Do we consider that our neighbor who sympathizes to the other political party and who we hate for years; the person who cuts our way on the road in the morning; the “friend” who gossips behind our back and so on – are (and we too) all good people? And maybe the programming we are subdued to since birth, and the roles we have to play in the society, are what makes us hurt the people around us and sometimes even ourselves….